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Federal Deferred Immigration Action for Childhood Arrivals may Impact State Courts

The SJI-funded Immigration and the State Courts Initiative, led by the Center for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), is alerting state courts that deferred action for childhood arrivals recently announced by the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will likely result in requests for state court records by individuals applying for consideration under the program. The program provides deferral of removal action for two years, with the possibility of renewal for additional two-year periods, and applies to individuals who meet certain requirements, including having not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors, or posing a threat to national security or public safety.

This requirement will likely result in numerous requests to state courts for records, as any individual with an arrest record will have the burden of showing to USCIS, on the initial request and as part of any request for subsequent renewal, that the arrests did not result in conviction of any of the crimes that preclude eligibility for deferred prosecution. CPPS has published an article on the uses of state court records in removal proceedings that explains the different types of records that may be used by federal immigration officials to determine the character of a criminal conviction.

CPPS has a website available for background information on these issues, recent reports, and guidance for how to obtain technical assistance.