Catholic News Service reports on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Potential applicants for the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals may be anxious to submit applications as soon as the system opens Aug. 15, but as the date approached, many issues remain unsettled.
At an Aug. 7 panel briefing, Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which will handle most of the applications, said many specifics remain to be worked out for the program that will allow certain undocumented young people to be at least temporarily freed from the threat of deportation and get work permits. The application itself would not be available until Aug. 15.
President Barack Obama announced June 15 that effective in 60 days the Department of Homeland Security would offer the chance for undocumented people younger than age 31 to request that the government use its prosecutorial discretion to defer deportation proceedings and give them work permits.
The program, referred to as DACA, applies to young people who were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and who meet various other qualifications such as passing background checks, providing proof of how long they've been here, and proof that they are in or have completed school or military service.
In early August, Homeland Security released more details about the program, such as the types of documentation that will be accepted and answers to some questions, including the program's cost -- a total of $465 for the DACA application, fingerprinting and the application for a work permit.
But as demonstrated by questions from the audience at the Aug. 7 briefing, sponsored by the Migration Policy Institute, some things remain unclear.
The organization Dream Activist has compiled information from many organizations and posted it on www.dreamactivist.org. One blog essay on the page written by a self-described DREAMer and law student talks about the importance of consulting with legal experts, partly to be sure there aren't better options for legalizing someone's status.
"First, since June 15, 2012, dozens of DREAMers have walked into our immigration law firm," wrote the unidentified blogger. "Close to half of them actually qualify for better relief than deferred action."
He went on to describe lawful permanent residents who didn't know they were already legal. "We've had cases of people who would not qualify for deferred action but are eligible for special immigrant juvenile status, and hence, a green card. We've had cases of people who've been victims of serious crimes and persecution, who would qualify for asylum. ... We even had a case of a DREAMer who was actually a U.S. citizen because his dad had naturalized as a minor -- he just did not know that he automatically became a U.S. citizen."
And United We Dream has on its site www.unitedwedream.org.a list of local town hall meetings around the country where potential applicants can get answers to their questions.