Approved Applicants of the DACA program are finally seeing some movement to help them attend institutions of higher education and live the American Dream. There is a program for undocumented students called “TheDream.US” fund[i]. This scholarship program was created to match qualified DACA approved students with the money they need to pay for tuition, fees, and books. TheDream.US fund has already raised $25 million to help approximately 2,000 students over the next ten years, which comes out to $12,500 per scholarship recipient. To learn more about TheDream.US please visit their website.
Why apply for DACA when Immigration Reform is on the Horizon?
As hopes for comprehensive immigration reform wane, children of undocumented immigrants should know that they can still take advantage of a program that helps them obtain certain protections from deportation and also employment authorization. Many watch as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) bill is continuously put on hold for political reasons. Congressional Democrats are focused on offering a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants and expired visa holders in the U.S. while Congressional Republicans seek better guarantees that southern border security will get the attention they feel it needs. Negotiation and compromise are on hold until after the November elections. Please read our blog article, Problems and solutions in bipartisan immigration reform: is President Obama over a barrel? for more information on the current status of CIR.
The reality for many undocumented immigrants and those who has overstayed visas is that their parents brought them into the United States as children and now they find themselves in the only country they know without control over their ability to change their immigration circumstances. The problem for these children is that without legal status they not only do not qualify for federal student loans and aid, they cannot legally work, and they live with the constant fear of deportation.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) is a policy making it possible for undocumented immigrants to go to work and school without fear of deportation.
DACA was created by President Obama’s administration and became effective on June 15, 2012[ii]. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued orders to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CPB”), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) directing that they use the policy called “prosecutorial discretion” (read our article Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Enforcement) when addressing those who came to the U.S. as undocumented immigrant children and who still do not have a lawful immigration status. DACA provides a formal application process so that immigrants who meet all of their requirements of the DACA initiative may apply for this special immigration relief.
If approved, applicants for relief under DACA reprieve from their fear of deportation as they will not be subjected to removal from the U.S. assuming that they meet DACA’s strict requirements that they not have any serious issues with law enforcement. DACA does not provide a path to permanent residence at this time. DACA is still available as many wait for CIR as promised by politicians on both sides of the aisle many times over.
Who is eligible for DACA?
From the DHS website[iii], the following is a list of criteria for DACA eligibility:
- Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum (June 15, 2012) and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum (June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
- Are not above the age of thirty.
If you or someone you know may qualify for DACA relief and wants to go to college or work in the U.S. after finishing high school, you may contact the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley for assistance with their applications. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.