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Turn 15? You May Now Be DACA-Eligible

Since President Obama first authorized the granting of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) two years ago, between 100,000 and 140,000 children who were not eligible to apply on the first day of the program have become eligible to apply. Unfortunately many of them do not know it. 

To apply for DACA, the young immigrant must be at least fifteen years of age. This means that while children born between 1997 and 2007 might be eligible to apply for DACA someday, they could not do so on August 15, 2012, the first day of registration. Every month approximately 4,000 to 6,000 young people become eligible to apply as they celebrate their fifteenth birthday, but many of them don't even know they are eligible. 

You may ask why they don't apply. The main reason is that they were only middle school kids when the program began. All the publicity was on the students who could apply. Often, when their parents sought counselling on applying for their younger children and were told that they could not apply right away, they did not understand that they would still be able to apply later.

Here are the rules on who is eligivble to apply for DACA, according to the National Immigration Law Center. The applicant must:

Have been born on or after June 16, 1981.
Have come to the United States before your sixteenth birthday.
Have continuously lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
Have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and on every day since August 15, 2012.
Not have a lawful immigration status. To meet this requirement (1) you must have entered the U.S. without papers before June 15, 2012, or, if you entered lawfully, your lawful immigration status must have expired before June 15, 2012; and (2) you must not have a lawful immigration status at the time of your application.
Be at least 15 years old. If you are currently in deportation proceedings, have a voluntary departure order, or have a deportation order, and are not in immigration detention, you may request deferred action even if you are not yet 15 years old.
Have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. armed forces, or “be in school” on the date that you submit your deferred action application. See below for more information about meeting the “be in school” requirement.
Have not been convicted of a felony offense. A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Have not been convicted of a significant misdemeanor offense or three or more misdemeanor offenses. See below for more information about offenses that may disqualify you.
Not pose a threat to national security or public safety. (DHS has not defined what these terms mean but has indicated that they include gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the U.S.)
Pass a background check

Pat Young is an attorney with CARECEN.

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