Since President Obama announced that his administration would be deferring enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children immigrants and activists have been waiting for details of the program. The policy, which went into effect Aug. 15, is being touted as a way to motivate many young people to pursue higher education.
The policy allows applicants between the ages of 15 and 31, who were brought in to the country before the age of 16 and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, to apply for work permits and renewable two-year deferments on any action that could lead to deportation. Eligibility is also restricted to applicants who are in school, have completed a high school diploma or its equivalent, or have been honorably discharged from the military.
Applicants to the program cannot have been convicted of a serious crime or be considered a threat to national security or public safety. Some analysts are predicting that the program could allow immigrants to receive driver’s licenses, legally travel outside of the country, and, depending on state policies, apply for financial aid for college.
However, when the Department of Homeland Security laid out the process’ guidelines in June it stated that “the program offers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship.” Regardless of the scope of the program, the impact is expected to be enormous.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency has already hired additional staff to process applications from the 1.76 million estimated eligible people. To insure the program is not dependent on tax dollars, immigrants will be charged $485 to apply for deferred action and work authorization.
Follow Alex Wukman on Twitter @AlexWUkmanCMN