This summer, the Obama administration announced a deferred action policy which would allow qualified young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation for two years and gain work authorization by applying for the program. Deferred action has received a great deal of press and interest. Once applications began to be accepted, many young undocumented immigrants applied for deferral. Now, the first applicants have been approved and according to Department of Homeland Security reports 4,600 qualified applicants have been granted deferred action.
Check if you are eligible for deferred action.
The applicants may have dodged a challenge. Recently, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stated that he would honored the approved deferred action applicants who are accepted into the program. However, he also stated that if he is elected President he will end the policy and not permit more applicants for the program. Those with pending applications at the time would also not be granted deferred status. This means that those who seek work authorization and relief from deportation under the program must hope either that their applications are accepted before the election or that President Obama is re-elected.
The first batch of deferred action applicants were processed and approved within two months of application. However, the Department of Homeland Security reports that processing times for the applications will be an average of four to six months. If Mitt Romney is elected, that could mean that time is running out for those qualified undocumented immigrants who are just now applying for deferred action. According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 180 000 applicants were being considered as of early October. Of these, 6,400 were in the final review process while 158,000 applications were still submitted for criminal records – an early step in the review process.
Mitt Romney’s intention to stop the program does not come as a surprise to many. President Obama announced deferred action in June 2012, after many years of unsuccessfully trying to pass the DREAM Act. Republicans claimed that the policy overstepped the authority of the President because the policy did not go through Congress. Republicans and Democrats have long disagreed about how to handle the undocumented immigrants currently in the US. Under President Obama, the policy has been to focus deportation efforts on criminal undocumented immigrants. If elected, Mitt Romney has promised immigration reform.