As many as 1.4 million undocumented young immigrants currently residing in the United States could meet the requirements of the deferred action program that halts their deportation and gives them work permits. The program is formally known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
How to Prepare for Deferred Action
The application for the program was made available Aug. 15 by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). VOXXI compiled this checklist of what undocumented youth can do before they apply. You can also download the checklist here.
- Contact a lawyer, but beware of scams. Not everyone will need a lawyer to help them fill out the application. But if your case is complicated or you simply want one, you can find trusted lawyers on National Immigration Law Center or United We Dream. USCIS warns against notarios and lawyers who promise undocumented youth to help them begin the application process in exchange for thousands of dollars. Undocumented immigrants are advised not to fall for such scams and to report them at www.stopnotariofraud.org.
- Get a background check. Do a background check on your criminal history. Local county websites or state government websites may provide tools to do a free, open-to-the-public data search. If you suspect that you might have a criminal history, it is recommended that you go through a background check before applying for deferred action.
- Collect documents. Create a binder for documents that show, in chronological order, the date you entered the U.S. and prove that you have remained in the country between June 15, 2007 and June 15, 2012. Though documents for only those dates are required, it could help to also include documents dating back to when you first arrived in the U.S. Those documents could include:
- Financial records: lease agreements, mortgage agreements, bank statements, checks, bills.
- Medical records: immunization records, a medical history report from a doctor, medical bills.
- School records: report cards, progress reports, diplomas, transcripts, GED certificates. If you’re still enrolled in school, you will need to submit proof of current school enrollment. This could include a letter from the school, a teacher or a counselor.
- Records that show your involvement with a church, a union or an organization.
- Network. Look for immigrant youth groups and organizations to join. All across the country, there are youth-lead organizations that are providing information about deferred action to undocumented youth. Joining these groups will help you stay informed on the latest developments of the deferred action program. Also, many of these groups will provide you with legal help for little or no cost to fill out the application once it becomes available.
- Get informed. Groups all across the country have hosted and will continue to host community forums and webinars to educate and answer questions from undocumented youth about deferred action. Organizations affiliated with United We Dream — the largest organization advocating for the DREAM Act, which has a “deferred action guide” on its website — have hosted more than 120 community forums and have reached more than 80,000 people across the country.
- Build your future. Freshen up your resume and seek job training. Many community organizations and public libraries offer assistance with this.