According to The Times Herald, immigration lawyer Matthew I. Hirsch recently gave a presentation at Norristown Area High School on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recently put in place by the Obama administration after the DREAM Act stalled in Congress. The program reportedly offers an alternative to deportation for undocumented residents who meet certain criteria.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the program represents an effort by the current administration to focus immigration enforcement on "public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system."
Individuals are eligible for deferred deportation if they:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching the age of 16;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making a request for consideration of deferred action with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Residents granted a deferred action receive an Employment Authorization Document giving them an opportunity for legal employment, a driver’s license and social security number.
"Having deferred action is not legal status," Hirsch said, according to the Herald. "It’s a partial step, but it gives you the first step towards other opportunities when you leave high school."
Hirsch stressed the importance of a path to citizenship as a cornerstone to the American identity.
"Immigration is part of America. It’s part of who we are,” Hirsch said, according to the Herald. "America has been a nation of immigration since its beginning and it still is. Immigration is part of America. It’s part of who we are.”