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DHS answers educators' questions on deferred action (2 of 2)

This summer, the Department of Homeland Security announced a major immigration policy change involving young immigrants who are in the country illegally. Essentially, the program gives young immigrants meeting certain qualifications the opportunity to apply for differed action to be safe from deportation and obtain work authorization for at least two years.

But while the new policy change is exciting, it also poses many questions for students, their families and their teachers, as we began discussing in the previous post. DHS officials recently joined educators on a conference call to help clear up the role schools will be providing as their students apply for deferred action. As we discussed in the last post, school records are very important to the application process.

That is because in order to qualify for deferred action, students must show that they either are currently enrolled in school, have graduated from school or have earned a GED, and have lived in the country for five years continuously.

One school official on the conference call asked how students could prove they stayed in the country during the summer or during holiday vacations. The DHS officials said that this would not be necessary because it is accepted that schools have breaks and it would be very difficult to prove the whereabouts of a student on a given day during the summer or holiday break.

Another question posed by educators was whether students who qualify for the differed action will be eligible for Pell Grants and other government-provided financial aid or work-study programs. The DHS officials made clear that the answer to this question was no. The deferred action program will allow qualifying students to avoid deportation and work legally in the country, but no other benefits are included.

Finally, educators asked the DHS officials if students would be flagged for fraud and denied differed action if they had used other people's names, addresses or Social Security numbers to obtain a driver's license or for other purposes. The DHS officials acknowledged that this has been a common practice among illegal immigrants and said students will not automatically be disqualified from differed action for doing so.

Talk to an experienced immigration attorney in your area for more information.

Source: Education Week, "Immigration Officials Advise Educators on Deferred Action," Lesli A. Maxwell, Aug. 29, 2012

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