Two-year status grants applicants temporary stay
The United States Department of Homeland Security is receiving nearly 5,000 applications per day for deferred action status from undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
However, even the experts can’t say what receiving that status ultimately will mean.
The United States Citizens and Immigration Services department stresses that deferred action is neither a path to citizenship nor a way to obtain lawful permanent resident status. Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can make that happen.
Nor is deferred action a substitute for the DREAM Act, which stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. That, too, is congressional-level legislation that involves a variety of proposals for paths to citizenship.
If granted, DACA status is only a temporary stay of action, a grant to remain in the United States for two years without threat of deportation.
An applicant also can apply for a work permit during the period of deferred action. With both in hand, the Social Security Administration says you can apply for a Social Security number. Proof of age and identity, such as an official birth certificate from the country of origin, are required.
Deferred action, once granted, is good for two years. After that, it can be reviewed for possible renewal. The employment authorization has to be renewed, too.
States vary on other rights they will convey on a person with deferred status. In Oregon, the Department of Transportation is on record as saying people with deferred status can apply for an Oregon driver’s license. But the Oregon University System still requires them to pay out-of-state tuition at state colleges and universities.
Perhaps the most common question that comes up from people thinking about applying for deferred status is whether the application itself will draw attention from the deportation officials in the Department of Homeland Security.
Dave Lefkowitz, a Portland attorney who specializes in immigration cases, says that doesn’t seem to be the case at this point. The branch of Homeland Security that certifies deferred action has said it will not share its information with the branches that cover the Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and that’s the most he knows.
“I can say, from my very limited experience with this and what I’ve seen online and following it, I have not heard of one case where it has been used as a trap,” Lefkowitz said. “It seems to be presently being honored. That’s, I think, a good sign.”
However, Lefkowitz cautioned, the guidelines of the program itself state that DHS “can terminate or renew deferred action at any time at the agency’s discretion.”
“So how stable is it?” he said. “On paper, in my view, it’s not stable at all.”
Plenty of questions haven’t yet been tested under the new policy. What happens, for instance, if someone is arrested after receiving deferred status? Would the type of charge make a difference? And what happens to that Social Security number once the two-year deferral is up?
Nobody knows, Lefkowitz said. “The short answer is, a lot of these things are going to have to be dealt with as they come up in real time.”