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What will happen if I tell the truth about my crime to the USCIS?

Undocumented immigrants have messy histories with instances of breaking the law:  Many DREAMers contemplating applying for a work permit and deferring action on their removal, have written to me mentioning that they have been working with fake Social Security numbers, or have stolen identities, or have bought fake SSN cards, green cards, EAD, etc., or used their ITIN to work.  In other cases, these individuals have broken the law but they were not aware of it.  For instances, many parents never told them that their SS# or green card or passport or visa is fraudulent or that they are not American citizens or are in the country illegally.  As a result, many of these people have ticked the US citizen category in job applications or happily provided documents and numbers that are either made up or illegally obtained.  I have also come across cases where parents have not told the complete story of how the applicants ended up here, hiding details or past removals and such other relevant details.

Cases that are not clearcut will simply be rejected:  It is important for you to recognize that while DACA is a relief available to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria, you must otherwise also be totally clean in every respect (in other words, unlike other immigration cases, there is no amnesty for crimes committed or US laws broken).  In other words, employment without authorization or using false documents or hiding any piece of information are not only grounds enough to reject the application, the action itself is punishable.

US Government will punish lawbreakers:  According to the USCIS, if you knowingly and willfully falsify or conceal a material fact or submit a false document, not only will your application denied as part of prosecutorial discretion inherent in the program, you will also now be subject to criminal prosecution for whatever law was broken.  Being undocumented also means that instead of deferring removal, you will not be placed into deportation for admitting to a crime.  USCIS is also very clear in stating that you will also be denied any other petitions for immigration pending at this time or applied for in the future.

Decision to apply requires a lot of thought and research:  That is why I want you to thoroughly review your case with your family, make sure that everything in your background is clean, meet with a good immigration attorney (if you have committed related crimes, you may have to meet with other experts as well), weigh the risks and benefits of this program, and only then file your paperwork.  This program does not have an appeals process and your case can be rejected at the sole discretion of the prosecutor handling your application.  It also appears that all criminal cases will be automatically referred to prosecutors for necessary action.  This may appear like a great step for the overexcited youth, but in the end it is a legally complex process for anyone with a messy record, so it should be dealt with caution.