On June 15, 2012, when President Obama announced that deferred action would be made available to an estimated 1.5 million “Dreamers” we celebrated. This initiative promises to temporarily remove the threat of deportation from certain young people, who were brought to the United States as children, and allow them to apply for a work permit. Although far from being perfect, this immigration policy was welcomed with open arms by the immigrant community. Many of these young people are talented and ambitious, but they see their futures slipping away because they are undocumented.
However, as we started to meet clients for consultations regarding this program, we realized the many flaws and risks that this program presents. First, it is expected that a large number of potential DACA applicants have used a social security number that is not their own in order to enter the workforce, and may have even claimed US citizenship on an I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form). This is especially the case among young adults, between the age of 18 and 30, who already graduated from high school and had to get a job to support themselves. These young adults are also the ones which the program was supposed to benefit. Although these facts must have been considered when creating DACA, so far there has been no official statement on how these issues will be handled in the DACA process.
According to USCIS Q&A, even though information provided during DACA may not be used for removal purposes, it may be shared among agencies "for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense." Therefore, DACA will not shield applicants who disclose of using fraudulent Social Security numbers.
So, the real question is whether it is advisable to even apply for DACA when (1) using someone else’s Social Security number may be a criminal offense, and (2) false claim of U.S. citizenship will render an immigrant permanently inadmissible (preventing them to ever be granted permanent residence or citizenship). This question is especially relevant considering that the benefits of this program are very limited: the program does not confer legal status or citizenship; it has to be renewed every two years; and, an employment authorization can be obtained only after demonstrating an economic necessity for employment. We cannot forget to mention that the determination is completely discretionary.
Even tough deferred action will provide relief for some undocumented young people, if USCIS does not provide a waiver for applicants who have used false documents to work, the program will be for many others nothing more than an invitation to deportation.