Despite all the fanfare over the Obama Administration’s announcement of deferred action status for DREAM-eligible youth, it hasn’t actually begun. Eligible applicants must fill out a form to get the deferred action status for themselves, and that process will commence on August 15. And US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced yesterday that the immigrants will have to pay the US government $465 for the privilege.
Young illegal immigrants can start applying on August 15 for two-year deferrals from deportation, but will have to pay $465 in fees, a top immigration official announced Friday.
The announcement provided the first details of the Obama administration’s policy change announced June 15 that provides some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children a path to an employment authorization card without fear of getting deported.
Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation as well as an employment authorization card.
Applicants must meet a number of other requirements, including certification that they have lived continuously in the US for five years, beyond their age and lack of a criminal record and student or military status.
The application costs pay for implementing the policy change, which includes a criminal background check and the verification of biometric detail, which is disturbingly part of the application process. USCI maintains they will not use the private information for immigration enforcement, but of course that’s under this regime and not a future one.
But let’s look at the $465. This may or may not be a barrier to the application process. In some cases, these talented students come from successful families. In other cases – probably the majority – they represent the lower end of the income ladder. Being undocumented, they have trouble finding legal employment. And their families might not have the means to help. So $465 could easily be a barrier to applying for deferred action status. A senior Administration official did say on a conference call that some immigrants could get an exemption from the costs, but only in “exceptional” cases, like homelessness or disability.
You have to look at this in the context of the Administration’s announcement. “It makes no sense to expel talented young people who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans,” President Obama said on June 15. But it does make sense to charge them $465 to allow them to stay in America.