By W. John Vandenberg
It hurts to write this title. But we also need to be honest about where we are now. Because DACA is dying.
In case you missed it, on September 5, Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions announced the “winding down” of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”). There are a lot of sources of information directly from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service. Here is a summary of what you need to know about the announcement NOW:
- No new initial (first ever) DACA applications will be accepted after September 5, 2017. If you didn’t already mail out your initial DACA application so that it arrived on September 5 – no DACA for you. That said, maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. At least you didn’t give Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) your home address — there has been some concern that ICE could use this information to find and deport DACA’s after the program ends.
- DACA expiring before March 5, 2018? You have until October 5 to renew. Don’t wait til the last minute!!! If you’re short on cash for the filing fee, the Mexican Consulate can assist you if you are a Mexican Citizen. Other non-profits may help. Or maybe even your employer. Ask! Because you got less than 30 days to get this done. If you’re in the Philadelphia Area, the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition, HIAS, and the Nationalities Service Center are all scrambling to help DACA’s who need help and even money for the filing fee. This is a deadline. Got it?
- If your DACA expires after March 5, 2018, then you’ve got what you’ve got. Which may be 6 months or longer. Make good use of it! And pray for a legislative fix, or at least an extension.
- If you lose your Employment Authorization Document (“EAD,” or Work Card), don’t panic! You can get a new one. Though you won’t get a new expiration date.
- No new Advance Paroles will be issued. If your application is pending, it will be administratively closed and you’ll get your money back.
- Do you currently have Advance Parole? Good for you! It’s still valid for the period of time given. Recent reports of post-September 5, 2017 DACA Advance Parole entries have been fine.
- When your DACA/EAD card expires: that’s the end of your Deferred Action. If and ICE officer arrests you, they can detain you. Even with DACA, if ICE arrests you – especially for criminal matters – they can ask USCIS to cancel your DACA. And they will. So PLEASE do not get into trouble!
OK, info and warnings over. What next? Lawyer up. Now. For three really good reasons.
First, an experienced and trustworthy immigration lawyer might be able to figure out a way to get you something better than DACA. Maybe you or a DACA you know has been a victim of crime, or trafficking. Or maybe they qualify for Amnesty through a parent or family member. If you just filled out DACA forms, you don’t know. Because DACA appears to be coming to an end, now is the time. To get an idea, answer our 27 questions. Then call us to see how we can help.
Second, it’s time to lawyer up because you may need a good immigration lawyer sooner than you think. To help you or a family member or friend who gets placed into deportation proceedings. To file a Stay of Removal. To try to bond you out if you are detained and eligible for a bond. Or just to help you make sense out of all the info you’re getting from Googling it (yea, I know you are). And you might just note that Google actually hires immigration lawyers for their Immigration Specialist positions – it doesn’t Google for immigration answers. They’re smart people.
And third, lawyer up because we can be really helpful. I reached out to everyone I represent to answer questions personally. All the good immigration attorneys I know did the same thing. DACA is special, and DACA’s are special people. You have a lot of allies cheering for you – don’t forget that. I want to make sure none of my DACA clients quit school (don’t do it), that they realize they have options out there (everyone does, some more, some less), and reminding them that if Immigration Law has one maxim, it’s this: be here. As long as you are in the United States, you have options. And everyone DACA has been here for at least 10 years, so they know what it takes to make sure they are here when we get a DREAMER bill, or DACA gets extended, or something good happens to the person (like a loving marriage to US citizen, which can lead to a greencard), or something bad happens (like being a victim of a violent crime , which can give you a chance for a U visa that can lead to a greencard).
So, make the most of the time you have, DACA’s. Stay out of trouble, of course. And lawyer up! Hogan & Vandenberg is here to help you. Our office number is (610) 664-6271 if you’re in Philadelphia, and (302) 225-2734 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Hogan & Vandenberg or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.