Advisory issued. Immigrants with convictions or arrests: Don’t let the DREAM become a nightmare

The Obama Administration’s decision to exercise prosecutorial discretion to extend deferred action to DREAMers is a step in the right direction toward ending unjust deportations, but may pose risks for some people who apply, especially those who have criminal convictions or arrests, juvenile dispositions, or possibly even tickets for minor violations.  The policy that the President announced includes broadly-worded bars to eligibility that may include even minor criminal and juvenile offenses.  People who apply for deferred action under the new DREAM policy could end up being detained and placed in deportation proceedings, and should proceed with caution.  Some things that do not count as a “conviction” for most purposes, including some cases that have been dismissed, sealed or expunged, may still cause immigration problems.  IDP strongly urges individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system or with the juvenile justice system to call our helpline at 212-725-6422 before seeking DREAM benefits, or to have their criminal history reviewed by an experienced, licensed attorney who is skilled in deportation defense before applying.  For more information, see the advisory prepared by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and partner organizations.