One of the concerns most clients have when visiting the office about the DREAM Deferred Action Program is whether they will be exposing themselves to removal proceedings by coming forward. This is a very legitimate and understandable reservation given that these people are, so to speak, “off the radar.” By coming forward and, in a sense, “registering,” they are providing their information and whereabouts to the government. Young people with criminal records and convictions should be very wary of rushing forward to apply. They most definitely would want to consult with qualified immigration counsel regarding their eligibility for Deferred Status given their involvement with the criminal justice system. For those without criminal records who can prove that they meet the criteria of the program, USCIS has attempted to allay those concerns by announcing that any information provided by an applicant as part of the process is protected, and will not be disclosed or referred to ICE or CBP, unless there are facts and circumstances that would render the applicant removable pursuant to USCIS’ November 2011 NTA (“Notice to Appear”) Memo. The NTA Memo pertains to “Egregious Pubic Safety Cases and Non-Egregious Public Safety Cases.” In line with this policy, most applications for Deferred Action will not be filed with ICE directly, which is in charge of enforcements and removal. Rather, applicants under most cases are directed to file the applications with USCIS, which is geared more towards the granting of benefits. So, hopefully, this should be encouraging news to many out there who have apprehensions–understandably so–about coming forward. The best thing to do, of course, is to consult with an attorney to determine eligibility and to honestly assess reward against risk.
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