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On June 15 2012, the Obama Administration announced that it will exercise prosecutorial discretion through the deferral of removal proceedings or the granting of relief from removal from the U.S. for certain young people who were brought to the U.S. as children, who do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and who  meet several key criteria.

Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders.

Under this directive, individuals who prove that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, also known as deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:

1.  Came to the United States under the age of 16;

2.  Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012, were present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and are currently in the United States;

3.  Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

4.  Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and

5.  Are not above the age of 30.

Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Additionally, eligibility appears to be based on satisfactorily passing a background check.  Furthermore, this exercise of prosecutorial discretion does not confer any substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship since only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.

This directive takes effect immediately; USCIS and ICE expect to begin implementation of the application processes within 60 days.

Becuase application for deferred action is a serious matter, individuals who believe they may be eligible for this program should consult with counsel before taking any action.

For more information, please see the June 15 deferred action policy memorandum from the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.

This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.

Established in 1925, Gunster is one of Florida’s oldest and largest full-service law firms. The firm’s clients include international, national and local businesses, institutions, local governments and prominent individuals. Gunster maintains its presence in Florida with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, Vero Beach and West Palm Beach. Gunster is home to more than 165 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, providing counsel to clients through 18 practice groups including banking & financial services; business litigation; construction; corporate; environmental & land use; government affairs; health care; immigration; international; labor & employment; leisure & resorts; private wealth services; probate, trust & guardianship litigation; professional malpractice; real estate; securities and corporate governance; tax; and technology & entrepreneurial companies. Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 250 largest law firms.

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