The President’s announcement of deferred action for DREAMers has ignited the passions and imaginations of the immigrant community. As it should have. For an immigrant community that has suffered through over a decade of harsh and punitive immigration laws as well as draconian decision-making by the government officials in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, the news that the President was instructing the Department of Homeland Security to exercise discretion favorably for a class of individuals known as DREAMers was like a basin full of water presented to a man dying of thirst. It is hard to knock him for trying to drink the whole thing all at once.
However, as euphoria yields to reality, as it always does, DREAMers must come to grips with the fact that relief will not be immediate. Or permanent. Or guaranteed. While the announcement of the new policy has provided a taste of a more hopeful future, such gratification must be delayed until the government can come up with a process to provide deferred action to the estimated 800,000 eligible individuals who will benefit from this new policy. As the government works to establish procedures to implement the change in policy, potential beneficiaries must be on guard against the “notarios” and other scam artists who will take their money, promise the moon and the stars, and, when revealed as frauds, will disappear with the money and the trust.
Con artists are already setting their traps for the desperate and vulnerable. Immigrants in need of work permits certainly can fit this description. The con artists prey on ignorance, so the best defense is knowledge. Here is what you need to know:
- No procedures have been implemented. This means that CIS will not yet accept applications for those seeking benefits as a DREAMer. Any fees allegedly provided for CIS filing fees and being filed in the coming week are scams and not going to pay for an application. CUIS will announce when they are ready to accept applications. The June 15 memo from the Homeland Security Secretary says that CIS must have procedures in place in 60 days.
- If you are in removal proceedings, see a lawyer about how to address this issue. Find a lawyer who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Ask for references. Google the lawyer. A “notario” is not a lawyer.
- Join listserves. Blogs like this one, DreamActivist or AILA’s blog will provide current and up-to-date information as it becomes available.
In addition, you should be aware of the criteria established by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for DREAM Act deferred action:
- You must have entered before the age of 16.
- You must have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
- You must have resided continuously in the U.S. for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012.
- You must be in school, a high school graduate, obtained a GED, or honorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the US or the Coast Guard.
- You must be no older than thirty
- You must not have been convicted of a wide variety of criminal offenses.
These criteria leave a lot of questions- questions that will be answered in the coming weeks. For example, the criminal exclusions are extremely broad and anyone with any contact with law enforcement should consult a reputable attorney before filing anything with the government.
Benach Collopy will keep you up-to date on the latest regarding deferred action. So stay tuned and don’t do anything impulsive!