We are waiting for regulations about the deferred action program.  Hopefully it should not be long, and USCIS has promised to begin the program on August 15.

In the meantime, here is what you need to do:

1.  If you haven’t already, make sure that you qualify by consulting an immigration lawyer.  Stay away from notarios and immigration consultants and do not listen to your friends.

2.  Get a copy of your birth certificate.  If you do not have it, contact your country’s embassy and apply for one.

3.  Collect all your school records.  If you are still in school, a recent trascript.  If you graduated, a copy of your diploma.  If you did not graduate, now is the time to get your GED.  DO NOT apply if you dropped out of high school and do not have a GED.

4.  Get the oldest evidence you can find showing when you came to the United States.  Some examples:

Criminal Record:

If you have any criminal record – even traffic-related misdemeanors, it is important that you tell your lawyer.  Even if the case was dismissed, nolle prossed, probation before judgment, community service – it doesn’t matter.  TELL YOUR LAWYER ABOUT IT.  There is no such thing as expungement with immigration.  If it involved the police, TELL YOUR LAWYER.

Should I Be Worried?

Many of the young people that have come to see us are afraid of giving their personal information to the government.  They might not trust the government, or not believe that they’ll really be able to get a work permit.

First, this is a widely publicized promise, and a new policy by the Department of Homeland Security.  If they start breaking their promise, it would be very bad for the government, especially in an election year.  So it is in the government’s own interest to live up to its word.

Second, many people have a false sense of security with the life they live in the shadows because they have never been caught.  Yet.  But anyone who is here illegally should know that it only takes one wrong turn to cause everything to end.  People get deported for broken taillights, beads handing from their rearview mirror, taking a wrong turn, being with the wrong person…any number of reasons.  Filing under deferred action may be the best thing you can do to safeguard the life you’ve built for yourself in the United States.

Third, the government already has all your information.  If they want to find you, they can.  Even if you’re not documented.

So remember – filing for deferred action may be the best thing you can do.  There are always risks involved, but nothing is risk-free.  You might not know it, but living undocumented is a far greater risk than getting deferred action.

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