Published: October 23, 2012

Just when it seems I have a grasp of where presidential candidate Mitt Romney stands when it comes to immigration policy, he contorts to a new position. According to statements made by him in recent weeks, including during presidential debates, Mitt Romney would do away with the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which allows certain undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children to obtain a 2 year deferred action status and employment authorization document. But, Romney also stated he would not undo any 2 year deferred action approvals issued for applicants, or take adverse, enforcement measures against those lured out of the shadows to apply – whether their applications were approved, denied or still pending.

The pool of eligible applicants for DACA is estimated to be at 1.2 million. DACA, according to Romney, is a counter-productive, band aid solution to a bigger societal problem. Instead, Romney asserts, a permanent solution needs to be arrived at for this population as well as for the estimated 12 million in the general undocumented population. And yes, he now supports a program to allow a path to permanent legalization for the very population covered by DACA.

Yes, I am as thoroughly confused as you are. Romney has come full circle from the strong, anti-“path to legalization” position for any segment of the population he advanced during the Republican debates. And truly, his current stated position is no different than what’s been President Obama’s all along: that a bold legislative measure to permanently address the issue of our undocumented population needs to be implemented, starting with the DACA applicant population.

The reason the kind of permanent solution Romney refers to has not yet been implemented, again, is not President Obama. The reason: politics, divisive politics. Not unlike most of Obama’s other legislative initiatives over the past 4 years, legislation to advance a permanent, comprehensive immigration solution has been thwarted by Republican factions in Congress who’d sooner drive our nation off a cliff than give Obama a legislative victory.

The net effect of all of this discussion is a thoroughly confused pool of current and prospective DACA applicants. Fear and anxiety are rampant, causing a huge segment of the pool of prospective applicants to not apply. “What if I am deported if I come out of the shadows and apply?” is the big question that appears to paralyze most. Certainly, it’s a good question, and eligibility for DACA needs to be thoroughly assessed before proceeding. However, a decision to proceed or not proceed with a DACA application is not that complicated. If an applicant is clearly qualified, he should proceed, since the benefits of a successful application include the issuance of an employment authorization document – a life transforming document that allows for authorized employment, as well as the issuance of a social security number and driver’s license/state I.D. And of this writing, the risks to qualifying applicants appear to be non-existent.

Developments in this area of immigration policy will continued to be reported on here.

Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois