Today, Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) joined Hispanic leaders in applauding President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano for announcing that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States before the age of 16 without legal authorization, who do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible on a case by case basis to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
"I am pleased that President Obama and his Administration are working to reform our nation's immigration laws," said Congressman Cardoza. "There is still a lot of work to be done, but I believe this is a positive step in the right direction, especially for many young people throughout the Central Valley who are here illegally, but have the same hopes and dreams as any other young American."
In an official memorandum, Secretary Napolitano highlighted the fact that these young people are not a threat to national security and issued the following criteria for individuals wishing to qualify for deferred action:
1.) Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2.) Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3.) 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;
4.) 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;
5.) Are not above the age of thirty.
The memorandum further clarifies eligibility:
Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today's date. Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis. DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.
While this guidance takes effect immediately, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) expect to begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days.
Individuals seeking more information on the new policy are encouraged to visit USCIS's website (at www.uscis.gov), ICE's website (at www.ice.gov), DHS's website (at www.dhs.gov), and continue checking Congressman Cardoza's website for more information. The Department of Homeland Security also recommends that, beginning Monday, individuals should call USCIS' hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE's hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during normal business hours with questions or to request more information on the forthcoming process.