The definition of just who is eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty was opened a little more broadly yesterday by USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas during a stakeholders' teleconference.
This is the program of delayed (perhaps forever) deportations for aliens who arrived illegally in the States prior to their 16th birthdays and who meet other criteria.
When the program was announced initially, the DHS press release said that the program was for "certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children". (Note the passive voice: "were brought".) There was much DHS talk about families bringing the children to the States and how these children should thus be treated differently from other illegal aliens.
That raised the question: What about a 15-year-old who, for instance, swam the Rio Grande at some unguarded point and managed to enter the country illegally all by himself? Would he be eligible for the amnesty?
As soon as a 1-800 number was created for the program, I called it repeatedly asking if someone like that would be eligible. I received a blizzard of differing answers and non-answers as reported in an earlier blog.
During yesterday's teleconference I had a chance to ask the same question of Director Mayorkas, and it was what I expected all along — accompanying family members on such a cross-border trip are not needed to qualify for the program. (To the credit of USCIS, they do not have — or at least do not use — a technique for screening out callers like me who might ask troublesome questions.)
The only thing that counts in this connection, Mayorkas said, was an illegal arrival before the age of 16.
The rhetoric about families bringing young children in illegally was just that, a verbal flourish.(That's my comment, not the director's).
I sense that most of the eligibles were, in fact, accompanied by parents, but I wish the earlier governmental conversations of the subject had been more straightforward.
The DACA program starts taking applications today, August 15.
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