Now that I’m back from the AILA National Conference, I thought I would comment about President Obama’s announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be granting deferred action to certain non-citizens that would fall under the DREAM Act. It was really amazing to be at the AILA National Conference when the announcement was made. Being around so many immigration lawyers as the news was announced made it seem like there was electricity in the air. Everyone around me was excited and happy. Now I’m going to be the spoiled sport who complains . . .
For people who are in removal proceedings and have final orders of removal that qualify for deferred action, this will be good. For people who are not yet in proceedings, I am skeptical. It has been announced that they do not yet have a procedure for these people to apply for deferred action. It has been said that it will take 60 days for a procedure to be created. On April 2, 2012, it was announced that Citizenship Immigration Service (CIS) was going to accept waivers of unlawful presence from within the United States. Soon after, it was announced that CIS was not yet accepting these waivers and that they would not be accepted until regulations were promulgated. We’re still waiting for the regulations. About a year ago, it was announced that ICE would review files of removal cases for administrative closure as part of efforts to exercise prosecutorial discretion and focus on removing criminal aliens and aliens that pose a danger to the national security of the United States. Recently, it was announced that of 288,361 cases reviewed, only 4,403 cases had received administrative closure.
I have another reason to be skeptical. June is almost over. If DHS takes 60 days to create rules on accepting deferred actions requests for DREAMers, that means that they won’t be accepting these applications until about August 15, 2012. The election is November 8, 2012. If Obama is not re-elected, it does not appear that Romney will continue with this program. If Romney is elected president, then all of the people that are not currently in removal proceedings who apply for this new program will be bringing themselves to the attention of the Government. My advice for anyone who is not yet in removal proceedings that would benefit from this new policy is to wait until after the election to apply.