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Update on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

22 February 2013 No Comment

Attorney L. Patricia Ice of MIRA Legal Project

On June 15, 2012, Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children who meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization if he or she can demonstrate economic necessity for employment.

Individuals who can demonstrate through verifiable documentation that they meet these guidelines will be considered for deferred action, even if they are in immigration court proceedings and/or have a final order of removal from an immigration judge and are not currently detained. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis under the guidelines set forth in the Secretary of Homeland Security’s memorandum. The nickname for this program is DACA.
Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. That means that an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) attorney or agent will decide whether to prosecute a case and seek an order from an immigration judge to deport the subject immigrant. USCIS recently clarified that an individual who has deferred action is considered to be lawfully present during the authorized period, but in the case of those over 18 years of age, deferred action does not excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence. DACA recipients can travel anywhere in the United States and in certain cases can travel outside of the United States with permission in the form of “advance parole,” which must be applied for before departing the country. The DHS can terminate or renew deferred action at any time, at the agency’s discretion. (FAQ page)

Unfortunately, deferred action does not confer lawful permanent resident status or a path to citizenship on a DACA recipient. Only the U.S. Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.
Newly-released DHS (Department of Homeland Security) USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) statistics (PDF) on DACA cases filed since August 2012 show a total of approximately 423,634 DACA applications accepted for processing. Less than half of those requests have been approved.

DACA recipients in Mississippi have reported that they have been issued social security numbers from the U.S. Social Security Administration and Mississippi driver licenses from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol with the required documentation, which includes the employment authorization card, country of birth certificate (properly translated if necessary at a Mississippi college or university), proof of current address and passport or other government issued identity document. Many Mississippi DACA recipients have also been admitted to and begun studies at Mississippi public colleges and universities. Most, however, report that they have been required to pay out of state tuition. There is a movement in Mississippi to change this so that DACA recipients can receive in state tuition at these public educational institutions.

The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance encourages eligible individuals to apply for DACA benefits. We have been extremely successful in assisting individuals in obtaining deferred action. For a scheduled appointment to discuss your case, or for more information, please contact Attorney Patricia Ice at 601-354-9355 ext 3 or by e-mail at p.ice@yourmira.org.

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