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DHS gives green light to DACA renewals

Last week, the Homeland Security Department made headlines when it announced that renewal applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program were now being accepted and processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The news was understandably greeted with a sigh of relief from the hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom live right here in New York City, who had concerns about falling out of status sooner than later.

"Despite the acrimony and partisanship that now exists in Washington, almost all of us agree that a child who crossed our border illegally with a parent, or in search of a parent or a better life, was not making an adult choice to break our laws," said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

To recap, the DACA program was announced by the Obama Administration back in 2012 as a mechanism to help young people who came to the U.S with their parents secure a sort of temporary status, meaning both a deportation deferral and a work permit.

In order to qualify under the DACA program, which grants the aforementioned temporary status on a two-year basis, applicants must have been in the U.S. prior to the age of 16, been younger than the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, and have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. They must also have graduated, earned a GED or currently be in school or served in the U.S. armed forces. Finally, applicants must also have no criminal record and pay a $465 application fee.

The news that the more than 560,000 young people who secured a temporary deportation waiver under the DACA program could start applying for a two-year extension was not universally applauded by Congress.

Indeed, many Republicans, who have previously referred to the DACA program as a form of "backdoor amnesty," expressed concerns that the sheer volume of renewal applications would serve to prevent USCIS workers from reviewing the applications of those immigrants attempting to enter the country through more traditional channels.

It is worth noting that the 2012 announcement about DACA was made on the eve of the presidential election and, according to political experts, the move galvanized Latino voters who went to the polls in record numbers and contributed largely to President Obama's reelection.

In light of this reality and the stalled immigration reform in Congress, experts indicate that it's not out of the realm of possibility for the White House to introduce additional immigration measures prior to the November elections.

For instance, unnamed insiders have indicated that the administration is considering stopping the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have U.S.-born children and slowing the deportation of those who have broke immigration laws but pose no public safety risk.

Stay tuned for developments ...

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about U.S. immigration law and how it applies to your unique situation.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "White House allows young immigrants to extend deportation waivers," Brian Bennett and Kate Linthicum, June 5, 2014; Fox News Latino, "Young undocumented immigrants may renew shield against deportation, DACA, for 2 more years," June 5, 2014 

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