Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Providentially, a new program to assist our Dreamer young people goes into effect on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, August 15, 2012.

Young people who are under 31 years and who were brought to the US. as infants or children are often referred to as "Dreamers" and they would have been granted legal status under the provisions of the Dream Act in Congress.

However, various forms of the Dream Act have been stymied or even voted down in Congress over the years, the last time occurring in December of 2010.  This means that Dreamers have no legal U.S. national status or identity.

Many Dreamers find out about their legal limbo when they try to get a driver's license a Social Security card, or try to get a job.

Two months ago President Obama announced the Deferred Action Program for Child Arrivals [DACA].  This program will apply to undocumented children and young people brought by others to the U.S. under the age of 16 years, who have spent the past five years here, and who are under 31 years as of June 15, 2012.

The program is set to take effect on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary.

In charge of implementing the program are the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service [USCIS].
What will Dreamers be able to achieve under the provisions of this new program?  Their benefits will include a two-year reprieve from the danger of deportation, renewable in two-year increments.  They will have the right to apply for a work permit, and therefore, be able to work legally.  Obviously, they will now begin paying taxes when they are legally employed.

Unfortunately, no legal immigration status is conferred--either temporary or permanent.  Only Congress can grant that status, and to date, they have refused to do so.
The young people who qualify, however, will have no ability to petition for the legal status of a spouse or other familly member.
Applicants must be at least 15 years of age and have a clean criminal record.  Any applicant who is suspected of being a danger to the community or national security will be denied.

Applicants will need to obtain a passport and birth certificate, and I urge them to apply at once to the Consulate of their country of origin.
Applicants also need to check to see if they have any criminal record, including misdemeanors, and they will have to prove that their status is not a threat.  The applicant will have to pay the costs involved in all of these steps.

It is anticipated that at least one million young people will apply.  Fees will include a $465 processing charge for the "Request for Deferred Action for Children Arrivals" form, and this includes an $85 biometrics fee.

The work permit appllication, which is submitted with the DACA form, is an additional $380.
Applicants must show that they have completed education or military service requirements.  Fortunately, they can now enroll in school and GED classes in order to meet this requirement.
Dreamers are encouraged to begin now collecting proof of their date of birth, their date of arrival in the U.S., and proof of residence for the past five years.

These requirements could be met from various parsh records, such as Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and the like.  Our parishes may be the only place where such proof of residency could be located, and we must urge our parishes to cooperate with our young people making application.

Some Dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, are developing a parish identification document for parishioners in order to demonstrate their stable presence in the U.S.

There are several links that are helpful for our Dreamers:

     1.  USCIC website:  www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals

     2.  ICE website:  www.ice.gov

     3.  DHS website:  www.dhs.gov

Applications will be accepted on-line beginning August 14 or 15 with a new form "Request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals."  Look for it on:   www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals

We also need to alert our young adults about the danger of scams, of some people and even attorneys offering to do everything for the Dreamers for a large additional fee.  Many of these are bogus and not helpful.

Uncertainty remains because of unanswered questions.  What happens when a young person has been denied the new status, but now have their name, address, and other information with the federal government?  Will there be appeals for denied applications?

Since the Catholic Church has been in the forefront of advocating for the rights of all undocumented persons, this offers us a good opportunity to oencourage our young people to apply, and to assist them in any way that we can.

Our Lady of the Assumption, strenthen our Dreamers in this new phase of their lives in our midst!