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.