On Wednesday, as many as 1.7 million undocumented immigrants became eligible for a two-year break from prosecution in the United States.
The move, known as deferred action, comes with a lot of rules.
Deferred action targets immigrants who were brought into the U.S. with no choice – say, with parents – but there are other requirements.
Idaho Falls immigration lawyer Kyle Hansen said he has been getting dozens of calls from folks trying to wrap their heads around the qualifications required for deferred action. “Yesterday, seriously, I couldn't do anything.”
Hansen used to work for the U.S. government sending illegal immigrants home. But two years ago, he went to the other side.
“Instead of trying to get people deported, I'm trying to keep them here,” he said.
Although a person under deferred action might be able to legally work in the U.S., it's not a long-term solution.
“This is not a path to citizenship,” said Hansen. “It's not a permanent fix.”
The Obama administration enacted deferred action to offer registered applicants a break from prosecution of their undocumented status.
Hansen said there are five basic requirements:
An applicant must
- Have come to the U.S. before the age of 16.
- Have lived here five years.
- Be in school, or hold a high school diploma or GED.
- Not have felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions.
- Not be older than 30.
If you think you are eligible for deferred action, go to http://www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.