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Deferred action opens up possibilities for young immigrants

The Obama administration’s Deferred Action program is not a permanent law – at least not yet. But it is already starting to change the lives of many undocumented people who would otherwise find their lives on hold out of uncertainty about possible deportation.

Here in Minnesota, young immigrants may seek a college education to gain greater entry into the American mainstream. As undocumented immigrants, however, they soon find that their immigration status poses many barriers. For example, federally-supported student loans are generally not available to would-be students with undocumented status.

The Deferred Action program, however, allows young people under 31 who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 a chance to move forward with their lives in a way that simply wasn’t possible with the threat of deportation hanging over them.

The program’s full name is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Besides the age guidelines, applicants must meet other basic criteria. These include living in the U.S. for at least five years, graduation from high school or the receipt of a GED, or honorable discharge from the military.

Those who meet these requirements are not only able to defer deportation for two years, with the possibility of renewal at that time. They also are granted two-year work visas.

In addition to these tangible benefits, there is also an intangible one that is also very important. With Deferred Action in place, immigrants may find America to be a more humane place in which to live.

Hispanic immigrants are one of the key groups that are energized by the possibilities that Deferred Action opens up for them. Many other immigrant groups are excited as well.

Source: “Undocumented students get deportation deferrals,” Minnesota Daily, Linda Yang, 10-10-12

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