On June 15, 2012, Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, published a memo that could have lasting consequences for certain young eligible illegal aliens who are currently in the United States. Upon release, this memo has created tremendous uproar within the immigrant community. The memo sets forth how the various agencies under Department of Homeland Security control (USCIS, ICE, and CBP) should exercise prosecutorial discretion in enforcing the Nation’s immigration laws.
The main beneficiaries’ of this new outlook on immigration enforcement will be certain young people brought to this country as children and who know only this country as home. The memo specifically states that the new directive does not confer immigration status and is not a pathway to citizenship, but grants “deferred action” and work authorization for qualified individuals. Additionally, individuals MUST meet the following criteria to qualify:
· came to the U.S. under the age of sixteen
· is not above the age of thirty
· has continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding the date of the memo (06/15/2012) and was present in the U.S. on the date of the memo
· is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces
· has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety
However, even if an individual meets the above requirements, agencies have been directed that requests for relief pursuant to the memo are still to be decided on a case by case basis. What this means is that individuals must at least meet the above requirements, but are still not guaranteed the relief of deferred action. Deferred action, which will be granted in two-year intervals that can be renewed, means that the government will not bring removal proceedings against individuals and will halt removal proceedings already in progress.
At this time, however, how this memo will be enforced and the mechanism for working permit application has not been clarified. We think that our clients and readers should take this Memo as a policy announcement, and wait for the further regulation to come out. Any youth currently in the removal proceeding or qualified as above described should contact us. If you have additional questions, or believe that you qualify for this form of relief, please feel free to contact the attorneys here at Lin & Valdez. We will be happy to answer any additional questions you might have.