DACA is Dying: What You Need to Know

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 08-daca-dreamer-w710-h473announced 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. No new Advance Paroles will be issued.  If your application is pending, it will be administratively closed and you’ll get your money back.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

keep calm and lawyer up graphicFirst, 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 schotumblr_o13hq5RjSe1qaedvuo7_r2_250ol (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.

 

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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.

3 Year DACA Work Card? You gotta give it back….

by W. John Vandenberg

Because of the quirks of USCIS administration, some DACA recipients received a 3 year work card because of President Obama’s Executive Action announcement.  However, it seems that that gift just got a massive recall.

frustrated man

USCIS is sending letters to everyone who got the three year card.  Here is a sample 3 year daca return letter.   You must return your 3 year work card by July 17, 2015.*    You must also return the approval notices.  The reason for the recall is the lawsuit filed to stop President Obama’s Executive Action in Texas.

I guess the good news is that USCIS is happy to give you a normal two year card.

But try to stay positive, folks.  Perhaps some of you have been in deportation proceedings.  Remember that government attorney, who fought to get you deported?  Well, government attorneys are now fighting in that Texas courtroom for your right to stay and get a three year DACA work card after all.  And if you’re a parent of U.S. citizen children, they are fighting for the Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA“) program.  And a lot of other great ideas from President Obama’s Executive Action.  I personally am happy that my colleagues across the aisle are fighting for immigrants — it’s a nice change, and I genuinely wish them success. At least in this case!

* However, if your EAD card was issued on or before February 16, 2015, then you can keep it in your pocket. Judge Hanen only issued the Injunction on that date.  Be sure to check!