Whew! In the past 72 hours Atlas has spoken to over 500 youth and their supporters about deferred action and what this all means. Awesome articles (here and here and here) have been written and support is galvanizing! Here are ten things we haven’t heard talked about all that often and wanted to spread the word! We will keep you posted on what else is going on as news develops.
Much Love, Atlas: DIY
1) We Don’t Know Anything Yet:
This announcement was made just days ago and an official way to apply for deferred action has NOT yet been made. Don’t believe anyone who says they can get you deferred action already and don’t trust those who claim to have all the answers (even this flier is based on the best information we have and is not meant to be a definite account of anything.) We simply don’t have all the answers…. Yet.
2) It’s Not All Good….But It’s Not All Bad.
The Dream Act did not pass and Deferred Action will not put you on a path to citizenship but (I believe) this also isn’t an attempt to round up all undocumented immigrants in the country and put them into deportation proceedings. Deferred Action, even for affirmative applications, has been around and has been used for awhile. The new announcement has simply extended Deferred Action to a broader category of immigrants.
3) You ARE Putting Yourself At Risk …Just As You Always Would Have
Anytime an undocumented person puts forth any sort of application to USCIS they are exposing themselves to possibly be placed in removal proceedings. Applying for ANY type of relief (Deferred Action included) is like waving to immigration and saying “Hi! I am here!” USCIS receives thousands of applications every day and a percentage of immigrants who do not receive their requested relief are “referred” to ICE for deportation proceedings. The number of referred applications is not 100% but it is not 0% either and there is NEVER a guarantee that you will or will not be referred.
4) PRUCOL Status and Stopping Your Clock Are Not for Nothing
If Deferred Action is applied the way it has been in the past, there are two great benefits along with receiving your EAD. The first is that you will become a “Person Residing Under Color of Law” or PRUCOL making you possibly eligible for some in-state benefits and expanding your ability to apply to some colleges and receive in state tuition in some states. For more on PRUCOL visit here: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500501420
Secondly, if the past holds true to the present, Deferred Action will effectively “stop the clock” of unlawful presence for those who have not yet turned eighteen, or for those whose visas (ie a visitor visa) have not yet expired. For more on Unlawful Presence, see here: http://imminfo.com/Resources/CIS/unlawful_presence_memo.pdf
5) Be Extra- Cautious If …
Immigrants who could be construed as ever having been unlucky enough to have been caught doing something “wrong” (most teenagers I know have jumped the turnstile at some point or ran a red light, just not everyone gets stopped for doing so) should be extremely cautious in applying for this status. Not only may you not qualify if you have committed certain crimes or have a record, but you have a higher chance of having your application “flagged” for referral. The same goes if you have used a false social security number in the past, have an old order of deportation, or a previously denied form of immigration relief. ONLY move forward with these applications if you have a lengthy consultation with a reputable lawyer and tell them EVERYTHING and you decide that, for you, the benefits outweigh the risks.
6) Talk to a Reputable Lawyer
Actually, please please please just talk to a lawyer no matter what and find an organization you trust you help you find one who will help you for the right reasons at a reasonable rate (or for free!) Though the application is not out yet, when it is, no matter what USCIS says, these will be complicated applications involving advocacy, documentary evidence, and persuasive abilities so find yourself a great attorney before you apply.
7) It is All Discretionary
There is no way to know or not know if you will definitely win and, as of now, there is no way to appeal a decision made against you. You may get an adjudicator who loves your application, you may get someone on an off day. If you meet the requirements and have no issues, you SHOULD get deferred action status. That does not mean you WILL get deferred action status. Just something else to go into your cost/benefit analysis.
8) There are Things You Can Do Now
If you are even thinking of applying for Deferred Action, you can be your own advocate and start preparing your documents now. If you decide to apply you will be close to ready to go and if you don’t there is no harm done. Some things to think about gathering include: All school records, all diplomas, college acceptance letters, scholarships and awards won. Records of employment, volunteer work, extracurricular activties and sports. All previous immigration applications, your passport(s) and visa(s) (if you have any), photos of yourself at various ages showing you were in the U.S. (landmarks are great!) letters from teachers, employers, friends, that lady who you babysit for down the hall, talking about what a rockstar you are. Bank records, cell phone bills, utilities, taxes paid. Old criminal records and dispositions. Basically, any document from your entire life EVER.
9) It Is Your Personal Choice
Applying for Deferred Action will come down to what makes sense for YOU as a person in YOUR situation. Weigh the pros and cons, talk to family and friends who you trust, and make the decision that is right for YOU.
10) This is Far From Over
Thousands upon thousands of individuals are still in deportation proceedings. This does NOT put you on the path to a green card. If you came into the U.S. at age 17, turned 30 before 06/15/2012, or had less than five consecutive years of presence when Obama’s announcement was made you do not qualify. Deferred Action does not protect our parents who sacrified everything to help us escape from certain death or bring us the promise of a new tomorrow. We must, and we will, keep fighting. This is just one tiny tip toe forward in the long road ahead.