Since issuing an immigration policy change that will disproportionately help gay and lesbian youth, Homeland Security has not established any application procedures. Prerna Lal, a Northern California attorney, Immigration Equality board member and co-founder of the Dream Activist Movement, said the process has not started yet. She said the government has 60 days to issue rules.
“Dreamers” are those who were brought illegally to this country and do not qualify for citizenship. Many heterosexuals who came to the U.S. as children obtain green cards and citizenship by marrying someone of the opposite sex. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, gays and lesbians do not qualify for residency this way.
To qualify, a person must be under the age of 30, entered the country under the age of 16, lived in this country continuously for the past five years, have a high school diploma, be in college or have military service and no criminal record.
Until policies are established, Lal advised those who qualify to get their paperwork in order.
According to the Homeland Security website, financial records, medical records, school records, employment records and military records will all help establish residency. Each person will have to pass a security check before receiving the document that will be good for two years before being renewed.
According to a member of the group QUIR Dallas, some local Dreamers started getting documents notarized last Friday to establish residency at that time. QUIR — Queer Undocumented Immigrant Radicals — is a new group based in Oak Cliff dealing with this and related issues.
Lal advised those who do not have a passport to get one from their country of origin to establish their identity.
She said getting a Mexican passport shouldn’t be too difficult, especially with a number of consulates around the U.S.
“Venezuela is much harder,” she said. So is any country without local consulates because of the difficulty of traveling without paperwork as well as differing amounts of red tape from foreign governments.
“People in deportation proceedings should call or email Homeland Security,” she said.
Those with questions should refer to this document issued by Homeland Security or call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at 888-351-4024 or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at 800-375-5283.
Lal said she wasn’t sure how Homeland Security will handle the expected flood of applications. About 800,000 people are expected to qualify. Many more will apply.
“They’re already backlogged in every category,” Lal said.