June 21, 2011
Date: June 21, 2011
RE: Reaction to U.S. Supreme Court Decision / Deferred Action for DREAMers
The Diocese of Davenport joins with the U.S. bishops in greeting with hope and caution the June 25 Supreme Court decision to strike down provisions of an Arizona immigration law that would have allowed warrantless arrests of people suspected of an offense that is deportable, that would have made it a crime to seek work in the state and that would have made undocumented presence a state crime.
The bishops found hope in the decision in Arizona vs. United States and said it reflects the bishops’ call for humane and just immigration laws and concern for laws that could tear families apart. Their caution lay in the lifting of an injunction against immigrants having to show papers in some circumstances.
Recently President Obama signed an executive order ordering the Department of Homeland Security to defer deportation actions against undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country before age 16, have resided in the U.S. for five years or more, and are in college or are high school graduates or serve in the military, who are currently under 30 and have no criminal record.
This is not the dream act. It is merely a presidential decision to defer action on the efforts to deport these youths. It does not lead to citizenship or even legal permanent residence. It will not provide access to any federal benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps. Its intent is to provide justice to children brought here without documentation and without a say in the process. It may allow youth who qualify to work, to go to college, to enlist in the military, without constantly looking over their shoulders, fearing deportation for a period of two years. It may be renewable. It may allow those who qualify for participation the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license. It does not provide any protection or benefits for the parents of the youth, nor for any other relatives of the youth. It is provided on a case by case basis upon application, it does not automatically apply to all youth meeting the general requirements.
As an executive order of the president, it can modify the procedures of the administrative branch of the government to direct the deferring deportation actions, but it is not law, and does not change the federal immigration laws or any state law unless the state voluntarily agrees to make the changes. This means that no driver’s license will be issued in a state that has laws requiring essentially legal permanent residence or citizenship to obtain one, unless the state acts to allow it. Similarly, decisions about eligibility for in-state tuition, grants and loans for students are state decisions not affected by the order. In fact, as this is an executive order of the president, not a law, a new president could rescind the order.
It will be at least 60 days, possibly longer, until the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies involved will publish rules, forms, and implementing instructions so that attorneys and agencies such as the Diocese of Davenport Immigration office can begin processing cases. There are no instructions or forms presently.
These cases will be under great scrutiny to prevent fraud. Fraud in the application process will lead to deportation. We do not know what evidences of entry, time in the country, freedom from criminal record and age that the Department of Homeland Security will require. Applicants will need to document economic necessity in order to obtain a work permit.
The following is a summary of the eligibility requirements and a list of the types of documentation we expect will be required or will be helpful in the application process.
ü Entered the U.S. before age 16 and before June 15, 2012
ü Currently aged 15-30
ü Continuously residing in the U.S. for five years and present on June 15, 2012
ü Currently in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces
ü Not been convicted of:
· A felony
· A significant misdemeanor
· Three or more minor misdemeanors
ü Not pose a threat to national security or public safety
Proof of Eligibility (Documentation Requirements)
o All applicants must submit biometrics (finger prints) and undergo a background check
o Proof of entry before age 16, age, five years of continuous residency, and physical presence on June 15, 20012. Documents that may assist:
o Bank records, tax records, paid bills with addresses
o Medical records
o School Records
o Employment Records
o Military records
o Church records
o Proof of current school enrollment or completion
o School enrollment records (report cards, registration records)
o GED certificates
o School Transcripts