DACA – It’s time to have a talk about Life Under the Trump Administration.

by W. John Yahya Vandenberg

With the election of Donald J. Trump, it is a good time to find out if you or your family member is eligible for something better than Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”).  There are three reasons we should talk.

First, it’s a good idea to find out if you qualify for something new.  For some if you it has been years since we had our initial consultation; perhaps something about you or your trumprelationships has changed.  Also, no one knows exactly what President Trump will do about undocumented immigrants after he is sworn in as President on January 20, 2017.

However, he has told us what changes he wants to make.  President-elect Trump has said he will end Obama’s “Executive Actions” — and DACA is an Executive Action.  But no one knows when, or even if, he’ll do it.  So we are still filing DACA renewals as early as we can.  There doesn’t seem to be much downside.  If your DACA is ending in 6-9 months, TELL ME.  We should give it a shot. If you didn’t file already, we should discuss and see if it is the right choice for you.

Second, it seems inevitable that President Trump will make life harder on the immigrant community once he becomes President.  It would cost billions of dollars to deport all undocumented immigrants, so many don’t foresee mass deportations as a viable option.  But there is a sense that his administration might just try to make it so hard to live life normally that some would decide to leave on their own.  So, for instance, his

Secretary of State Kris Kobach voter fraud
Kris Kobach, Trump Transition Team Member, Potential U.S. Attorney General

Administration, in the words of transition team member Kris Kobach, could crack down on employers of undocumented immigrants, or he could make unlawful employment a serious offense.  Can’t legally work, can’t drive – this would be enough pressure to convince some undocumented immigrants to leave on their own.  Ending DACA, or just letting the program die out by not allowing renewals after he is President, might also accomplish this. So we try should try to find an alternative before he officially becomes President.


Third, now is the time to plan, not panic.  DACA’s are already doing so many things right – you don’t have a criminal record, you graduated from high school (or are studying to do so) or college, and you’ve probably got at least one job keeping you busy.  photo-of-dreamers-graduating

If Trump is smart, he’ll figure out a way to keep you here, legally. He has already stated that his first priorities are deporting criminal undocumented immigrants and building a wall.  THEN, Trump has stated, he will decide what to do about the “terrific people” who are in the U.S. without status (he actually said you DREAMERs and DACAs are terrific!).  A number of commentators feel like real Comprehensive Immigration Reform is on the horizon, though it’s probably going to make things tougher for most, rather than easier.  In order to be harsh on some groups (most likely persons with a criminal record), Congress could try to soften and sell it by helping some immigrant groups.  DACA’s and DREAMER’s are probably a group who could finally win big.

Problem is: when?  And what if he doesn’t?  We don’t know when anything will happen.  But we know that if President Trump leaves the system we have in place for the time being, many of you could be able to maintain your current status, or get something better.

So I want to hear from YOU.  To get the conversation started, here are 27 questions:

  1. Have you gotten married?  Even if your spouse has DACA, or even if they don’t have legal status, perhaps they have a way to stay in the United States that would also give you status.
  2. Are you now married to a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card holder”)?
  3. Does a parent, spouse, or child expect to become a US citizen or get a green card soon?
  4.  Do you have a U.S. citizen child?
  5. Do you have a spouse, parent, or child who has severe mental, medical, or emotional disability?
  6. Have you or a family member (parent, spouse, child) been a victim of crime in the United States, and cooperated with the police in any way?
  7. Have you ever in the United States had to call the police for help?
  8. Have you ever been forced to work exceptionally long hours without a break and/or 7 days a week without a break and you were not free to stop, quit, or leave?
  9. Have you ever been forced, coerced, or tricked into having sex or doing sex industry work like stripping or working as an escort?
  10. Did any relative or employer ever file a petition for you, your mother, or your father before April 30, 2001?
  11. Do you have spouse, parent, or child who is in the U.S. Military (including the Reserves), or who is an honorably-discharged veteran of the U.S. Military?
  12. Do you have a spouse, parent, or child who intends to enlist in the U.S. Military, or would do so in order to help you legalize your status?
  13. Has anyone in your family (like a parent, spouse/partner, or child) ever hit, pushed, choked, or otherwise physically or mentally harmed, threatened, insulted, controlled, or otherwise abused you, your parent, or your child?
  14. Before you came to the US, were you, your family, or members of a group you belong to (including LGBTQ) targeted by a government, people, or gangs trying to hurt, scare or recruit you?
  15. Are you afraid to return to your native country because the government, people, or gangs might target you because of your race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or because you belong to a certain group, including your family, clan, or because you are LGBTQ?
  16. If you are under 21, do you live away from your parent or parents, or would you choose to, because they have abused, abandoned, neglected, or similarly mistreated you?
  17. Do you have an employer who is willing to sponsor you for a work visa or a green card?
  18. When you came to the United States, did you come using a visa?
  19. When you came to the United States, did you come using fake papers, or the papers of a family member?
  20. When you came to the United States, were you “waived in” without having to show any papers?
  21. If you came to the U.S. and were not admitted by Customs, and were never caught by Immigration, do you have a reason to return to your country using Humanitarian Parole to visit sick/elderly relatives or participate in an educational or business opportunity?
  22. Were you or your parents born in El Salvador or Guatemala, and did you or your parents enter the US before September 19990?
  23. Was your spouse born in El Salvador or Guatemala and entered the US before September 1990?
  24. Were either of your parents US citizens when you were born?
  25. Were any of your grandparents US citizens when your parents were born?
  26. Have you been here at least 10 years, and were not caught at the border coming in?
  27. Do you have a field of research or a skill in which you are one of the best?


If you answer “Yes” or “Maybe,” then we should talk, because you may have an opportunity to obtain lawful status.  If you are already a client of Hogan & Vandenberg, call my office, there is no additional fee to figure out if we can make your situation better.  If you are not already a client, contact the office and schedule a consultation.

Even if none of the above apply to you, be sure to “like” our firm on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/hvlawgroup/  ) so you can get regular updates about immigration law. And if you have a friend or family member who needs our assistance, please have them contact us.


Can Love Survive Borders?

By W. John Yahya Vandenberg & Guest Writer Wei “Keira” Peng

Mixed Race Wedding

As immigration lawyer, I often meet with Americans who are dating or who have already married a person from another country. These consultations have recurring themes, such as “does my loved one have to leave the country?” and “Can they obtain status to stay in the United States legally?” These are questions that depend on each couple’s specific facts.  And the answers are sometimes simple, sometimes complex, and sometimes I just have to advise them to be a good spouse/parent, and come see me when immigration law changes!

While we can assist you if you already have a spouse or potential spouse, we can’t help clients find spouses.  But Wei “Keira” Peng does help clients find spouses, good ones. Wei is the founder of WeLove LLC, and is a certified Health and Wellness Coach. We had the chance to ask her about dating a person from a foreign country. We hope this is helpful!

JV: So, Keira, any tips for meeting the right person, in the right way, for the right reasons?

KP: Absolutely! The internet! With cultural/political advances, lovers across borders are coming closer every day.  Empowered by new technologies, people from around the world are able to find each other, fall in love, and stay in love in unprecedented ways. I started WeLove as one answer to assist professional Asian females to succeed in on-line dating. My colleague, Jason Sherman, CEO started the global video dating app Instamour, which is working to break down the traditional barriers that separate people from each other.

JV: Best advice to succeeding on a dating website?

KP: Get a coach! A coach helps you save time, condensing years of other peoples’ successes (and failures!), and ensures that you represent yourself best to avoid heartbreaks – and horror stories!

JV: Got any horror stories to share?

KP: That’s where Instamour comes in. Kristin LaSalle, the co-founder of Instamour, was stalked and attacked by a “blind date.”  This motivated her to start Instamour with Jason, to create a better, safer dating environment for men and women.  The internet allows dating with a greater degree of safety, compared to a blind date, or a date where you hardly know the person.

JV: Tips to look your best?

KP: Have great pictures, preferably taken by a professional. They should highlight the best of your physique. Beware of selfies! Post a selection of photos highlighting your face, your physique, and activities that you do with friends so potential suitors can see you’re not a sociophobe. Have a fun, engaging profile that highlights the best of your personality (be creative!). And tell the best version of your truth, meaning never lie, but shine that spotlight on the best moments of your life. Be positive! You may not go to a tango competition every day, but highlight these activities to help a potential suitor understand what they’re getting when they date you.

JV: Negatives – disclose them, or spin them?

KP: Save’em for the date! Haha! But seriously, a dating site is not the place to disclose that you are a recovering… whatever. It’s the place for you to make yourself interesting enough that a potential suitor would want to get to know you better, and give you the opportunity to present your true self.

JV: True self – what if that means telling a potential suitor you are a foreigner? Or perhaps that you don’t have status?

KP: For as long as I’ve been here in America, the guys I dated seldom failed to ask me about my ‘status,’ and I’m not talking about just whether I’m single or married! While I can understand the U.S. Citizen’s concern over getting taken advantage of, it doesn’t take away the sting, and it almost always start the relationship with a bad taste. So, to save myself the embarrassment and to start the relationship on the right foot, I’ve learned to address the concern myself before the relationship gets serious. I “come clean” about my intentions, that I’m not just dating a guy for a Green Card. Even though I’ve learned to treat it matter-of-factly over the years, it’s still not the most comfortable conversation to have. And the guys usually don’t really know what to say other than “Sure,” “Ok,” or, “Alright…can we go to your apartment now?”…Sigh.

Mixed Race Couple Suspicion 2

JV: What would be the right response?

KP: I totally melted at my last boyfriend’s response. He chuckled, and then held my hand, “Oh boy, I was more thinking like ‘ok, even if she doesn’t like me, maybe I can still offer a Green Card to keep her…’ – of course that was just kidding!…In all seriousness, sweetie, I’m not too worried about it and you shouldn’t worry about it either – if it comes to the point where we need to make a decision, then we’ll see how much we are really attached; and if I can’t let go, that means I really like you…so I won’t (let go)…anyways, it will be a happy problem to have.”

How I loved that guy for it! Alas, we both did let go – for other reasons and for the best, but he’ll always keep his Best Answer Ever Award! I would encourage Americans to learn from him if you don’t want to alienate your foreign-born sweetheart on this very tricky, very special topic.

[ File # csp5954020, License # 2432021 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / nruboc

JV: Do borders, distance, and nationality kill love?

KP: No, borders, distance, and nationality do not necessarily kill love. However, the insecurity and suspicion that comes with it, DOES. You can’t blame a foreign national for yearning for stability or feeling insecure about his/her status in America. It affects their dating lives, just like you can’t blame them for seeking love in the first place. You can’t blame U.S. Citizens for looking out for their own interests, and worrying about commitment for reasons other than pure love. But it takes trust to melt away insecurity, and it takes confidence to address suspicion. It is a two way street.

Big Colombian Family

Thanks, Keira! We hope this has been helpful to our readers. If you are in a relationship with someone from another country, and are looking for immigration answers, we are here to assist you. If you’re looking for someone, that’s a question for Wei!

HIV+? Wait here, please….

by W. John Vandenberg

We all know that HIV is no longer a ground of inadmissibility, meaning it can’t block you from getting a visa to the United States. But this year, in March of 2014, the CDC decided that persons with HIV must get a special TB test. And this particular test takes 6-8 weeks for results! The first step is to have a “sputum test” administered on 3 consecutive business days to get the process started. CDC.  Then they are going to wait 60 days to see if the cultures are positive.

We understand the reason for testing — TB is a serious disease.  And we understand that persons who are HIV+ may show a false negative.  But aren’t the x-rays determinative of an active TB infection?  And there is no reason that an HIV+ person can’t take the same TB test as everyone else.

So, for those who are expecting a loved one to process overseas who is HIV+, don’t worry — they’ll get home.  But just make sure you don’t purchase any tickets or flowers for the airport until they actually get here — two months later than just about everyone else…