Category Archives: Immigrant Youth

Q and A with future Hispanic leaders

We were privileged to present at the 2012 Hispanic Youth Leadership Summit presented by the University of Nevada Reno’s Center for Student Cultural Diversity. We provided some basic information about the state of undocumented immigration today, what the DREAM Act is and would offer, and what the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process is. Our handout from the event is here.

We made time in our presentation to take questions from those present about immigration-related matters. Below are some of the questions with our responses:

What happens if I still don’t have the 4 years when I graduate from high school? Can I still apply for the DACA?

This is a common misconception that we have encountered. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is only available if you can show that you entered the United States before June 15, 2007 and were physically present in the United States for the five years until June 15, 2012 and since August 15, 2012 with only short absences if any. If you entered the U.S. after June 15, 2007 you cannot qualify for DACA no matter how long you stay here.

Does the dream act work for a trade school or does it have to be for an actual college?

To qualify for DACA you have to have earned your high school diploma, GED, or certificate of completion OR you can have been discharged honorably from the U.S. military OR you can be enrolled in an education program that will lead to a GED or job placement. Full details are available at www.USCIS.gov/childhoodarrivals. A common misconception is that you have to remain in school to earn DACA. Continuing to attend school is only required if you did not finish high school or serve in the military. Enrollment in accredited trade and vocational schools can meet the “in school” requirement where it applies.

What can you do under the dream act? What privileges do you get?

Remember, DACA is not the same as the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act would put people on a path to Permanent Resident status and it would allow them to work, remain here with lawful status, and even travel. DACA is a two-year protection from deportation that does not create any new status. Travel may be permitted if you get approval for Advance Parole. DACA can end at any time and is only being discussed as a renewable two-year protection with work authorization.

What scholarships can I get once I have Deferred Action?

A grant of Deferred Action will not create new opportunities for federal financial aid. Individuals who are non U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents will not be put on a path toward such status simply by getting Deferred Action, and as such they will not be eligible for federal or state financial aid that is only available to those categories of individuals. Private scholarships and personal finances are still going to be key for DREAMers who want to continue their educations. Note also that the Millennium Scholarship is available to Nevada high school graduates who meet the requirements irrespective of immigration status.

If you get deferred action would it protect your parents or family? Is it good leverage?

Deferred Action only protects the grantee and does not extend to that person’s parents, siblings, spouse, etc. Undocumented individuals who have been in the United States for more than ten years may qualify to fight their deportation cases if they are placed in such a situation, and in this case having a child with Deferred Action might help as a small discretionary factor. But there is no formal or guaranteed benefit for the parents or family of a Deferred Action grantee.

Can kids fix their parents’ papers?

Again, having Deferred Action is not going to change a person’s parents’ status. A U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old may file a petition for his/her parent(s), but this is just one step in a process toward lawful status. Many undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children must leave the United States for a consular interview and in so doing they trigger an automatic ten-year punishment that can only be overcome in certain circumstances.

What if Romney becomes president? What is his policy on this issue?

Governor Romney has indicated that he does not believe the Deferred Action was the right step for President Obama to take. He has indicated that he would end the program for new applications upon taking office in January 2013, but he has also said that he would not take away the “visa” [incorrect terminology, but he means the grant of Deferred Action] from those who have already “purchased” it. This leaves it unclear what he would do with applications pending at the time he takes office.

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Filed under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Immigrant Youth, Nevada News, Reno News, Uncategorized

USCIS provides monthly tallies of DACA case progress

Through its “Straight From the Source” publication and by other means, the federal agency U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is doing its part to sate the growing hunger among DREAMers to learn about how the agency handles applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). USCIS has released two blocks of data on the progress of the process, although the figures mainly paint a portrait of a badly needed form of relief for the nation’s undocumented youth without offering a great level of detail.

In the first month of application acceptance 82,361 packages were accepted and by mid-September 29 individuals had been granted Deferred Action. The stats as released by USCIS are below:

Through October 10 USCIS had accepted 179,794 applications and granted Deferred Action in 4,591 cases.

DACA statistics through mid-October

A remaining unknown is what portion of cases are being denied or issued Requests for Evidence (RFEs). The USCIS data do not speak to this and so far we have had to rely on anecdotal evidence. Most cases seem to be advancing without RFEs, but this perception is also skewed by a strong selection bias: the community we hear from is made up mostly of AILA attorneys, BIA-accredited representatives, and the rest of the CLINIC network. Because we are hearing from a group of talented, cautious, thoughtful practitioners it is likely the case that we are hearing about RFEs less often than they are being issued overall.

For the most reliable guidance on DACA you should contact a CLINIC affiliate near you. Click here to review our DACA Applicant Guide in English or Spanish.

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Filed under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Immigrant Youth, National News, Uncategorized

DEFERRED ACTION UPDATE: Teleconference with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas

We just joined Mr. Mayorkas on a teleconference, where he provided us with some new information regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. Here some of the points that were discussed:

  • The form will NOT be available and/or accepted by USCIS until August 15, 2012
  • The applicant can have obtained his/her GED after June 15, 2012
  • If the case is denied an appeal will not be available
  • Only those who are currently detained will have to start the process with ICE. All other applicants will make the request directly through USCIS.
  • Individuals with a felony or multiple misdemeanor charges will NOT be eligible
  • An interview will not be required, unless there’s a concern about the applicant
  • Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances

Although U. S Citizenship and Immigration Services provided us with more information today, they did inform us that more details will come up as we near August 15, 2012. We ask for everyone to have some “Patience” as mentioned on a previous blog, and please make sure you seek help from the right people. Here’s a link to help you avoid scams: www.uscis.gov/avoidscams know that the forms are still being developed by USCIS and will be available on August 15, 2012.

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, Uncategorized

Beware misinformation about Deferred Action for DREAMers

Since the Obama Administration announced on June 15 that it will implement a three-pronged policy to provide administrative relief to certain young undocumented immigrants, our office has been flooded with questions about the new initiative. We are hopeful that this small policy tweak will provide much deserved relief to this class of young immigrants, but we have been frustrated and worried by apparent predatory practices unfolding in our community around this issue.

At the time of the announcement, the Department of Homeland Security announced (1) that it would administratively close pending removal (deportation) cases affecting qualified individuals, (2) that it would direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to avoid placing qualified individuals into proceedings, (3) and that in the next 60 days it would craft a process by which qualified individuals can apply for youth Deferred Action.

What this means is that for most affected individuals, there is no new process nor will there be one until mid-August. Unfortunately, this has not prevented some news outlets from promoting the idea that the new policy is already in effect and “open,” and it has not prevented notarios, unscrupulous attorneys, and other predatory practitioners from encouraging immigrant families to pay them and sign up for “advanced processing” of this new process.

Generally speaking, we do not think it is a good idea to pay someone in advance for completion of a process that neither they nor you nor anyone understands in detail. A young woman called us yesterday to ask us if she should sign up with this Web site, which appears to be one such predatory immigration operation. We directed her instead to the USCIS immigration Web site, which states clearly that there is no process available yet.

For the time being, the advice we are giving young undocumented immigrants is to gather proof of their 1) identity and age, 2) time of entry and presence in the U.S. on approximately June 15, 3) clean criminal record, and 4) current attendance or completion of high school. Students who have left school without graduating can pursue their G.E.D. and may be able to qualify for the program that way. And aspiring Deferred Action candidates should not pay anyone to pre-process applications for a process that doesn’t exist yet.

We will keep our readers updated as new information becomes available.

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Deferred Action for DREAMers: Update

The Department of Homeland Security has posted a memo from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano outlining more specifics on the proposal leaked/announced this morning. You can read the memo here: Deferred Action Process for DREAMer Undocumented Youth

The language being used is Deferred Action, which can be deployed both in the context of relief from deportation and in the context of an affirmative benefit (for instance, this is what VAWA Self-Petitioners file for initially when they have suffered from domestic violence).

DHS states that the benefit is available immediately to qualifying individuals and an affirmative application process will be developed in the next 60 days. DHS notes that this is not a guaranteed benefit and all cases will be reviewed individually with an eye to proving that all requirements have been met.

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, National News, Undocumented Immigrants

BREAKING: Obama officials describe administrative relief for DREAMers

The Associated Press is reporting at this hour leaked reports from Obama Administration officials that describe a memo from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that would offer protection from deportation and eligibility for a work permit to certain individuals commonly referred to as “DREAMers.”

The term comes from the perennial legislative proposal the DREAM Act, which itself stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors act. DREAMers are an increasingly outspoken group of young people brought to the United States as children — sometimes as babies — and who have stronger social ties to the United States than they do to their home countries (often in Central America).

In recent years DREAMers have become impatient with being tossed around as a political football, with the DREAM Act legislation introduced in Congress each session since 2001 yet never passing both houses of Congress. Through rallies, marches, sit-ins, and cross-country walks, the growing community of DREAMers and their allies has begun agitating more aggressively for a solution to their plight. DREAMers complain that their entry to the United States (whether without inspection, on a long-expired visitor visa, or by other means) was not their choice, that they know this country better than their actual “home” country, and that despite having worked hard in school and done everything asked of them they cannot put their talents to work for themselves or for society because they lack lawful immigration status.

Now, to the Obama Administration’s proposal: details are scarce. The criteria that have been outlined parallel those in the DREAM Act legislation that narrowly fell short of passage in the U.S. Senate in December 2010: individuals must have been brought to the U.S. before age 16, they must now be under age 30, they must have been in the country for five continuous years, they must have a clean criminal history, and they must have graduated from high school, earned a G.E.D., or served in the military.

Under the proposal, these youth would be able to apply for a deportation waiver and a renewable two-year work permit. The work permit would allow them to get a Social Security card and authorization to work, but it would not seem to give them access to some public benefits or federal financial aid for college. Nonetheless, this would be an improvement for the thousands of DREAMers who have excelled in high school, gone on to college, and now have university degrees that they cannot use because they lack employment authorizations.

Also unclear is whether or not this will be a proactive benefit — one for which DREAMers can apply no matter their circumstances — or whether it will be a defense form of relief. At first blush the mechanism seems to be the latter: DREAMers in removal proceedings will have an unexpected reprieve, but the benefit will not be available to all comers. It also remains to be seen how a “clean criminal record” will be defined and how much the discretion of jurisdiction-level officials will come into play. Recent promises that 300,000 pending deportation cases would be reviewed and closed according to a generous set of criteria have fallen short, as the review has only resulted in the closure of about ten percent of all pending deportations.

We will provide updates as more specific information becomes available. Observers note that this is an “election year announcement” targeted at a Latino voting bloc that has soured on the Obama administration’s aggressive deportation policies and failure to squeeze blood from a stone in achieving compromise with Congressional opponents of immigration reform. The president speaks to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials next week.

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, National News, Uncategorized, Undocumented Immigrants

Americorps VISTA opportunities

We are proud to announce that our Immigration Assistance Program has been approved for up to three VISTA volunteers through the federal Americorps program. We are accepting applications for these positions through July 14.

VISTAs are paid a stipend for a year of community service. At the end, they emerge from a highly respected program with a year’s worth of intensive service under their belts and the option to take a $1,500 cash award or a $5,550 education award.

The three positions available will all help launch our Legalization and Empowerment Assistance Program for Students (LEAPS), which works with public schools to identify and assist talented undocumented youth in Washoe County and guide them toward lawful immigration status wherever possible.

The three positions are for the LEAPS Outreach Coordinator, LEAPS Program Coordinator, and LEAPS Volunteer Coordinator. Please follow the embedded links for information and to apply!

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, LEAPS Program, Nevada News, Reno News, Undocumented Immigrants