National Immigration Forum

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Immigration Policy Update: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

August 16, 2012 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

On August 15, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting requests for deferred action from certain young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. On August 14, USCIS posted the latest guidance and forms related to the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Included in the updated information was further refinement of the educational requirements. All of the latest information is posted on the USCIS Web site at The relevant forms, three in total, are also available on the USCIS Web site, and they are:

Form I-821D is accompanied by nine pages of instructions, which among other things describes the type of documentation needed to prove eligibility. The instruction form addresses the issue of confidentiality, stating that,

    Information provided in this request is protected from disclosure to ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purposes of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria for issuance of a Notice to Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS’s Notice to Appear guidance ( The information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal….

The confidentiality provision also covers family members and guardians.

Form I-765 and Form I-765 Worksheet for employment authorization must accompany form I-821D, and the total fee is $465, including the cost of biometrics.

Information about the forms and links to the forms can be found on this page of the USCIS Web site.

Once forms and fee are received by USCIS, the agency will send a receipt notice and will send notice for a biometrics appointment at a USCIS Application Support Center. Processing will take several months, depending on how many individuals request deferred action.

Overwhelming Interest on Day OnePhoto: New York Times
Early indications are that there is very high interest in the program. Around the country, several DREAM Relief Day group processing and information workshops attracted hundreds to thousands of young immigrants on the first day USCIS started accepting requests. In Chicago, the number of people who showed up for assistance, estimated at 13,000, was far more than could be accommodated in an event organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and long-time DREAM Act champion, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). More than 1,000 young people packed into a church in New York, to attend a free legal clinic organized by the New York Immigration Coalition. Hundreds also showed up for events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities.

On the Hill, the Same Old Gripes
While there was a celebratory mood across the country with so many young people being given the prospect of relief from deportation, on Capitol Hill it was politics as usual. Two immigration hardliners in Congress, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano expressing their concern about the potential for fraud in the program. In their letter, they wrote that “the administration plans to press the replay button for the large-scale fraud from the 1986 amnesty,” comparing this program to the Special Agricultural Workers program that was part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

It shouldn’t be news to these gentlemen, considering they are the highest-ranking Republicans on the Committees with oversight over the immigration agency, that a lot has changed since 1986. When IRCA was implemented, the immigration agency was largely paper-based. It was long before the era of instantaneous checks with multiple federal criminal and national security databases. The Immigration and Naturalization Service did not have an entire anti-fraud directorate, as does USCIS. Perhaps Mr. Smith and Mr. Grassley should take a tour?

How you can get involved.

Volunteer. Over the course of the next few months, hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth will be requesting consideration for deferred action. Informational and application workshops are being organized around the country to help potential beneficiaries determine their eligibility and to assist them in filling out forms and organizing their documentation. Community organizations hosting these events will need volunteers. You can find a list of events taking place around the country on a Web site dedicated to deferred action, “Own the Dream.”

Donate. The total filing fee is $465, and USCIS has said it will waive that fee only in very limited circumstances. The agency will try to recover its costs for doing the background checks and other work that are part of this benefit via the filing fee, and critics of the program will use any cost to the taxpayer as another line of attack against the program. The Public Interest Fund, a public charity, has set up the Fund for DREAMers, a national fundraising effort to support young people who are applying for deferred action. Individuals are encouraged to donate, and you can make a donation online here. You can find out more about the Fund for DREAMers here.

Learn More. The National Immigration Forum has collected links to government and colleague organization resources pertaining to deferred action for childhood arrivals. From that page you can learn more about the program, the requirements, who are the potential beneficiaries and where they reside, and why the program will benefit the country as a whole. CLICK HERE to go to our resource page.

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