Deferred action program protects illegal immigrants, but what if you're here legally?

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Michael Carroll came to the United States when he was 8 years old from Great Britain. His father had taken a job in the United States and moved the entire family.

Michael graduated from a Chandler high school, and was offered a presidential scholarship for his excellent grades. He planned to attend Northern Arizona University on a full ride scholarship, only to be told he could not accept the scholarship because he wasn’t a citizen.
Instead, he started classes at Mesa Community College, where he was charged out of state tuition, and was working to pay his way. His work permit was revoked three times, each time his parents’ green card application was denied.
As things stand now, when Michael turns 21 in 2013, he will be forced to leave the country or remain here illegally.
Michael was thrilled to learn about the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program, which will allow thousands of young undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United State since childhood to stay and work here without fear of deportation.
“I was quite excited because at 21, I’ll time out and I’ll have to leave the country so I was very happy to hear about this,” said Michael. “Then my lawyer tells me that unfortunately it’s not applicable to me. “
Michael does not qualify, because right now, he is in the country legally.
"I like the deferred action plan. It's nice to do those things. I just don't see how it's fair that I'm not covered when my family has tried to do it the legal way," he said.
3TV contacted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about Michael Carroll. A spokesperson said she could not comment on individual cases, but sent 3TV a copy of the law.
Among other requirements for the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program, a person must have “Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012.”
 
Michael entered the country legally with his parents, so he does not meet that criteria.
 
The Carrolls battled for 12 years to become American citizens, but their green cards were denied three times because of complicated immigration law technicalities.
 
“They’re file is 20 pounds. It’s the biggest file I have,” said Atlanta-based immigration attorney Cheri Cookorinis, who represents the Carroll family.
 
According to Cookorinis, the U.S. government mistakenly denied the Carrolls’ application, then sent them a letter saying it was a mistake, but never corrected it . As a result they never got their green cards.
 
Their daughter Vicki married an American citizen, was naturalized in July, and will be able to sponsor her parents. They should become citizens in the next few months.
 
However, a sponsorship for Michael could take up to 12 years, according to Cookoronis. That is time he does not have, since he “times out” at age 21.
 
She says Michael’s only hope may be a Congressional Appeal. 3TV contacted Senator McCain’s office, and a spokesperson said they would look into his case.