DACA: CURRENT STATUS AND OPTIONS

March 2, 2017. As of this writing, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is still available and the government is still accepting and approving DACA initial and renewal applications.

On February 20, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a memorandum   and Frequently Asked Questions implementing the president’s recent immigration executive orders. These materials state that the DACA program remains unchanged. However, President  Trump said during his campaign that he would terminate the DACA program. Therefore, the DACA program could end at any time. Also some DACA applicants could be at risk under some   of the other deportation priorities outlined in the executive orders.

Here are my recommendations on what to do now.

Current DACA Recipients – Stay Calm and Stay Out of Trouble

DACA should continue to provide you the same benefits you’ve enjoyed – protection from   deportation for having no papers, work authorization and more. However, under the President   Trump’s new executive orders, immigration authorities could detain and attempt to deport   anyone, including those with a currently valid grant of DACA. In other words, even if you have   DACA, immigration authorities may detain you if you:

  • are arrested or convicted for any criminal offense,
  • admit to any offense (including minor traffic violations),
  • are determined to pose a threat to public safety or national security,
  • have been deported or been ordered deported from the United States before,
  • admit to fraud in connection with a government agency (such as use of a false social security number),
  • admit to gang affiliation, or
  • in any way come to the attention of local law enforcement.

Initial DACA Applications – Recommended Only With Attorney Representation

If you have not yet applied for DACA for the first time, there are still benefits and risks in   applying. You should only apply if you have consulted with an attorney, have considered your   personal risks and benefits, and have an attorney help you in applying. I do not recommend   that you apply if you have any prior criminal, immigration, fraud or gang issues as outlined above.

Initial applications may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to be processed. If   a new application is not approved before the DACA program is changed or terminated, you may   lose your application $495 fee. Furthermore, you risk exposure to immigration authorities by   sending them your personal data.

  • If pending federal legislation (the BRIDGE Act) passes to replace DACA, you may be eligible for another, less risky opportunity to get protection from deportation and/or a   work permit.
  • If you’ve had prior contact with immigration authorities or have a criminal record, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney before applying.

A DACA application may be particularly risky if you have:

  • previous criminal arrests or charges (even without a conviction);
  • any type of criminal conviction (including either misdemeanors or felonies);
  • any history of fraud related to any official matter (such as use of a false social security number); or
  • been deported or been ordered deported from the United States before.

DACA Renewals – Recommended for Certain Applicants

If you currently have DACA and want to renew it, you should renew immediately after consulting   with an experienced immigration attorney. As of this writing, DACA renewal applications are still being accepted and approved which  means you may receive a new work permit valid for another two years. The main risk is that the   DACA program could be changed or terminated suddenly. If your renewal application is not   approved before the program is terminated, you may lose the $495 application fee. If you have any prior immigration or criminal issues, I do not recommend you apply to   renew your DACA application unless you first consult with a trusted legal service provider to   assess your case. Some past criminal or immigration issues could impact your renewal   application now even if you were approved for DACA in the past.

Advance Parole – Not Recommended

Do not apply for or travel under advance parole through DACA at this time.     If you have already been approved for travel outside the United States with advance parole or   you need to request emergency advance parole (in person at a USCIS office), do so only after   consultation with an experienced immigration attorney. You should not travel with parole of any type if you have:

  • previous criminal arrests or charges (even without a conviction);
  • any type of criminal conviction (including either misdemeanors or felonies);
  • any history of fraud related to any official matter (such as use of a false social security number); or
  • been deported or been ordered deported from the United States before.

WARNING

Individuals with citizenship or travel documents from the following countries   should not, under any circumstances, travel on advance parole because you may not be let back   into the country in accordance with President Trump’s ongoing executive actions barring   individuals from these countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Everyone, regardless of their status, has constitutional rights before the immigration   authorities.

Remain Silent    

  • Don’t respond to the questions of an immigration agent or provide any personal information. They may continue to ask you in a forceful, harassing or intimidating   manner. You still have the right to remain silent.

Do Not Open Your Door    

  • If agents come to your home, ask that a search warrant be passed under your door or   shown through a window. Do not open the door for them if they cannot show you a   warrant signed by a judge. You lose certain rights by allowing agents in to your home.

Do Not Sign Anything    

  • Do not sign any document. Ask to speak with an attorney and for a hearing in immigration court before signing away any of your rights.