Immigration Law Update

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Immunity for Younger Immigrants:  The Facts

Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from deportation or from entering into deportation proceedings.  Those who can demonstrate that they can meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.


Individuals who meet the following criteria may have their situations reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Came to the U.S. under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and were present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
  3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Are not above the age of 30.

Immunity for Younger Immigrants:  The Meaning

Over the past 30 some years, millions of undocumented immigrants entered the United States searching for a better life.  Entering the United States without permission is not a crime and one cannot be prosecuted; at least the first time around.  However, it is certainly a violation of U.S. immigration policy.  Most of the undocumented immigrants are hardworking people looking for a better opportunity for either themselves or their children.  In cases where parents bring children, especially under the age of 16, the children generally have no say in whether they come or not.  Generally, children follow the direction of their parents. 


Children that are present in the United States have a constitutional right to an education regardless of their immigration status.  As children grow from infancy into adulthood, there are virtually no differences between undocumented children and U.S. citizens.  These children were raised in the U.S., educated in the U.S., and grew into adults seeking to contribute to society.  They graduate from high school and either seek employment or a higher education.  However, these situations create a multitude of problems since the children have no right to work, no Social Security numbers, no driver’s licenses, and spend their days looking over their shoulder.


The new policy and the idea behind the DREAM Act are to fix a problem that was created by the parents of these kids.  It would be difficult to imagine blaming an infant for coming to the United States illegally.  While there are no benefits available to the parents, this policy will permit otherwise law-abiding people the opportunity to at least work and pay their fair share of taxes.  Currently, individuals under these circumstances are faceless.  No one knows of their presence.  There is no regulation or identification. 


The benefits of this policy are numerous.

  1. Regulation; we will know who and where they are;
  2. Reduction in crime; given the opportunity to work reduces the chance of a life of crime;
  3. Insurance security; allowing for a driver’s license and insurance instead of driving without one and without financial responsibility for any motor vehicle accident;
  4. Higher tax revenue;
  5. Lower tax burden for unnecessary deportation proceedings.

Who qualifies?  Currently there is no precise guidance in this area.  Deferred action has been used in immigration courts for years.  Essentially anyone who has not committed a crime may be eligible for deferred action.  That being said, if you or someone you know entered the United States illegally and brought along a child, the child may qualify.  If you are the child of undocumented parents and have no status in the U.S., you will probably qualify for the benefits of this new policy and should contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible.  Jay Whittle, Esquire, can be reached at 717-763-1383 or

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