Young Immigrant Dreamers Feel Frustrated by Deferred Action
DREAMer Noemi Romero can’t apply for DACA. Portrait provided by Noemi Romero.
Image by Jorge Rivas for Fusion (@thisisjorge)
In August 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began deferred action to provide undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. as children with a two-year protection from deportation.
The latest statistics show that a total of 430,236 applications have been approved in the past year. These applicants will be allowed to remain in the U.S. without the threat of deportation while receiving a work permit and driver’s license. Had deferred action never become policy, these applicants with approved applications would not have these benefits.
Currently, there is no other policy that provides this sort of relief for childhood arrivals (often referred to as dreamers.) This means that if someone is not approved for deferred action, there’s really nothing else he or she can do.
This is why a lot of young immigrant dreamers feel frustrated and hopeless. They are not able to get deferred action because they can’t defend or prove their eligibility.
The deferred action eligibility requirements are:
- Entered the U.S. before the age of 16
- Currently be at least 15 years old and younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Physically present in the U.S. as of June 15, 2013
- Resided in the U.S. for at least five years
- Currently in school or have a high school degree or GED certificate or have been honorably discharged from U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard
- Have no felony convictions, significant misdemeanors, three misdemeanors, or otherwise do not pose a threat to national security or public safety
For a dreamer to prove that he is eligible, he has to try to come up with documents often times not available. An undocumented immigrant lives in the shadows and may not have any documents that prove when they entered and how long they have been living in the U.S.
An applicant may have all other requirements, but if, for example, an applicant is missing one document to prove physical presence, his application willnot be accepted. An applicant has to try to come up with the documents,but often times, even after submission, he will likely not know if and when they will get approved.
It’s hard to say how long deferred action will be in place. If immigration reform passes, then it may go away, for immigration reform would give legal status to dreamers. Still, the same frustrations may remain. The eligibility requirements under immigration reform would most likely not be that different from the deferred action requirements.