With all the buzz about immigration reform, why apply for deferred action now? For those who were waiting to see how the elections turned out or whether the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or “DACA” program was “real” and not just a trick, the answer is clear: if you are eligible for deferred action, applying now is still the smart way to go, regardless of what Congress does—or doesn’t do—with Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).

  • If you qualify for deferred action, a grant can mean an incredible opportunity to take charge of your future. DACA relief includes a work permit and you can apply separately for permission to travel outside the US without abandoning your deferred action status.
  • In many states, having an immigration work permit means you are eligible to apply for a driver’s license or other official identification. That means you can open a bank account, start a business, apply for a job, establish your credit, get professional training or start your career. Some states are even welcoming young immigrants to higher education at resident or near-resident student rates.
  • If you “wait and see” what happens with CIR, you may be putting yourself (and your family) at risk. Immigrants granted deferred action are considered a “low priority” for enforcement. Unless that changes—for example, because you commit a crime or serious immigration violation—someone with deferred action is unlikely to face arrest, detention or deportation by immigration officials.
  • Many proposals already hint at providing a more direct pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. While nothing has been decided yet, it makes sense that people who have already completed the background checks and application process for deferred action might be at the front of that line and have an easier time establishing eligibility.
  • A majority of Americans believe that smart immigration reform is critical for our country’s future, and that a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented is a fair and practical solution for the millions of undocumented. The opportunity to fix our broken immigration system is better than ever, but there are no guarantees and real reform could be derailed by partisan politics.

Get the facts and don’t get scammed! Not every young immigrant qualifies for deferred action, and some people have better options for immigration relief that offer a more direct or permanent path to citizenship. Only a lawyer can give you the advice you need to decide whether applying for deferred action is safe and smart, for you.

For AILA members and other stakeholders, there are a lot of easy ways to get the word out to potential applicants in your area. Check out the eight different print Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that AILA has developed to use in our outreach to the community about Deferred Action.