Deferred Action
Undocumented UCLA students attend a workshop on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program earlier this year. Reuters

Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson announced on Tuesday that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would begin accepting applications immediately from young undocumented immigrants seeking to renew the protections from deportation and work authorization granted under the 2012 program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program, which the government says has extended protections to over 560,000 young people, also remains open to first-time applicants. For a list of eligibility requirements, hit the checklist from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Local immigrant-advocacy groups are helping file applications.

In addition to the initial eligibility requirements, Dreamers seeking a renewal must not have left the country on or after August 15, 2012 without advance parole; they must have continuously resided in the US since submitting their most recent successful DACA request; and must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor (or more than two misdemeanors) or pose a threat to national security or public safety. The renewal fee is $465, the same as the initial request. Because USCIS expects the review process for renewals to take up to 120 days, it is requesting that applicants file about 120 days before the two-year protection period expires, but no more than 150 days in advance, either -- the agency won’t accept applicants filed before then.

The Associated Press notes that DACA has been applauded by immigrant advocates as a good temporary fix. Democratic lawmakers in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have urged President Obama to extend the program’s coverage beyond young people, to the estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants who would gain legal status under a reform bill passed by the Senate last summer. House Republicans have taken aim at the program, with nearly all members voting (in a largely symbolic vote) to defund it last October through an amendment to a homeland security appropriations bill.

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