If you “otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety” you will be denied President Obama’s program for DREAMers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Gang membership, participating in criminal acts or in activities that threaten the U.S. are considered threats to public safety or national security. The question is: How does immigration know whether you are a gang member? What if you have been arrested but not prosecuted, your case was dismissed or acquitted, or these events occurred years ago and you have changed your life? Are you really a threat to society today?

Juvenile actions may be used against you, but in my opinion they shouldn’t be.  They are civil proceedings to rehabilitate, not to punish. How can a proceeding meant to rehabilitate you, and possibly succeeded, be evidence that years later you are a threat to public safety?

A threat to public safety should be based on a present threat, not on a ten-year old incident.  In comparison, a long record of arrests or several reliable and confirmed reports of criminal activity, you likely are a threat to public safety or national security and you will likely be denied any discretion in granting Deferred Action. Immigration should consider mitigating factors, like circumstances of arrest, length of time since occurrence, and subsequent conduct. You should also have the opportunity to contest any claim of gang membership.

If you were charged with a crime or a juvenile action, you must consult an experienced attorney. Ideally an AILA immigration attorney knowledgeable in immigration and criminal laws is the best choice.