Last Friday, June 15, 2012, during the AILA Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, we were surprised with exciting news from DHS. Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a Memorandum on Prosecutorial Discretion for DREAMers in the U.S. The memo outlines the criteria by which individuals subject to removal proceedings may seek deferred action and subsequently apply for work authorization. More detailed explanation is available on AIC’s website. Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) conducted a national stakeholder conference call to discuss the current developments within DHS to provide further guidance and clarification on how the three arms of DHS will implement this directive from the Secretary of Homeland Security. Here are some important takeaways for our immigration practitioners who missed today’s telephonic meeting:
From USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas:
- Individuals seeking deferred action from removal proceedings must affirmatively make such a request (but the details have yet to be defined).
- Guidelines, forms, processing procedures and times will be determined in the next 60 day period June 15, 2012. More information will be released via subsequent stakeholder meetings once it becomes available.
- Be on high alert of notarios or other entities not authorized to practice immigration law seeking to take advantage of individuals seeking assistance in requesting deferred action. ICE has a public hotline for individuals to call in the event of fraud issues: (866) DHS-2ICE.
- Individuals who are eligible for deferred action under this directive may apply for work authorization with USCIS (not ICE or CBP).
From USICE Director John Morton:
- ICE will consider different state classifications of offenses, including misdemeanor offense, when evaluating individual convictions in removal proceedings.
- Please refer to the USCIS FAQs webpage for more details as it will be updated regularly.
From USCBP Commissioner David Aguilar:
- Encounters between individuals eligible for deferred action and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will involve a brief detention to the extent that it allows CBP officers to:
- Individuals should not be detained for any longer than necessary for CBP to obtain the information needed to conduct a screening. Individuals should be released afterwards. The process to release eligible individuals has yet to be established. These individuals should not be placed in removal proceedings with CBP or with ICE. They should affirmatively seek deferred action with USCIS.
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