Digital Version of November/December 2014 Print Edition
USCIS prepared for childhood deferral filings
USCIS' Alejandro Mayorkas
The agency charged with handling the paperwork for the new White House policy allowing certain young illegal aliens to remain in the country legally for two years said it is prepared to begin processing applications beginning on Aug. 15.
“We’re pleased and proud to deliver on the commitment” to start the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, said United States Citizenship and Immigration Services director Alejandro Mayorkas in an Aug. 14 conference call with reporters.
Mayorkas said his agency was prepared to begin accepting applications for the deferrals. All the necessary forms and information on the process were to be made available on the agency’s Web site on Aug. 14. The application costs $465 to process. Mayorkas also pointed out that deferral relief doesn’t confer full lawful status or a path to permanent residence or citizenship, but defers possible removal action against the applicant for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
That the process doesn’t provide an official path to citizenship for applicants is an important point, since federal documentation could arguably be used to obtain state identification documents like driver’s licenses. A senior administration official also on the Mayorkas call said it was up to the states to deal with those issues and that the federal government was concerned with federal immigration policy.
The official said an approval of an application, which includes an appointment for a biometric background check, could take months to approve, but applicants could follow their application’s process online. The official also said USCIS had hired enough staff to handle what is expected to be a high number of applicants. The $465 fee will cover the costs of that staffing, he said.
Myorkas and the administration official stressed that the process incorporates extensive protection against fraud by applicants. The administration, said the official, is closely watching for evidence of fraud in applications. If any is suspected, he said, the applicant will have to meet with an investigator and anyone found trying to game the system would be referred to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for deportation or to law enforcement for criminal prosecution.
Students hoping to get the deferment have to submit records that show they are attending school, including elementary, middle or high school, university or vocational school, or a high school equivalency. They also have to show they are making significant progress in those educational programs, said the official. “They must show substantial, measurable progress” in school, he said. School transcripts will be part of the documentation that is submitted, he said.