“Deferred Action” and Prosecutorial Discretion for Young People
On June 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum announcing that certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, who do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and who meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.
Pursuant to the June 15, 2012 memorandum, to be eligible for deferred action, individuals must:
- Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen (16);
- Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five (5) years preceding June 15, 2012 and are present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
- Currently be 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 Forced in 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;
- Not be above the age of thirty (30).
Decisions to exercise prosecutorial discretion in favor of “deferred action” will be made on a case-by-case basis. Individuals already encountered by DHS or already in removal proceedings shall be immediately considered for “deferred action.” Individuals who are not currently in removal proceedings must submit requests to USCIS. Applicants will submit the request through a form, along with a form requesting an employment authorization document. The total fees will be $465. Please check the USCIS website for instructions on how to apply and for updates.
What Qualifies as a Felony Offense
A felony is a federal, state or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
What is a Significant Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is defined by federal law (specifically, one for which the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is one year or less but greater than five days) and that meets the following criteria:
- Regardless of the sentence imposed, is an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or, driving under the influence; or,
- If not an offense listed above, is one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of more than 90 days. The sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and therefore does not include a suspended sentence.
Avoid “Deferred Action” Scams
Many people who offer help with immigration services are not authorized to do so. If an individual is in removal proceedings because he or she was a victim of the unauthorized practice of law, practitioners should file a request for prosecutorial discretion to terminate removal proceedings.
- Sample Request for Prosecutorial Discretion for Victims of the Unauthorized Practice of Law, prepared by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington Immigration Legal Services.