When does the deferred action program take effect?

The federal government's decision to grant deferred action to hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth has generated many questions from readers. This week, in my column from La OpiniónI answer some of them.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Each case is different, so you should consult a lawyer for personalized legal advice.

When does the deferred action program go into effect? - Karla L.

It is estimated that in 60 days from June 15, 2012, the program will begin to be implemented for those who are not detained by the federal government. In the meantime, do not send any application because it will be rejected.

For those who are already in deportation proceedings and meet the requirements, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will immediately begin offering them deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.

If a person is about to be removed from the country and believes he or she is eligible for deferred action, he or she should immediately contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Law Enforcement Support Center at 1-855-448-6903. The office is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

In addition, you can call the ICE Office of the Public Advocate for assistance at 1-888-351-4024. They are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Also, you can email them at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.

My son entered this country at the age of 3 and is now 10 years old. Will my son be able to take advantage of the new law? - Doris M.

Your child is too young to enroll in the deferred action program.

Applicants for deferred action must be between 15 and 30 years of age. In addition, to be eligible, they must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday; have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012 and be currently present in the country; be a high school graduate or in high school; be a veteran of the armed forces; and not have committed certain crimes.

When your child turns 15 and if the deferred action program still exists, he or she will be able to enroll in the program if he or she meets all the requirements.