Articles Posted in Deferred Action for DREAMers

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graduation-022-300x225On June 15, 2017, Department of Homeland Secretary John Kelly issued a Policy Memo regarding two programs:  the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens (DAPA) and there was good news and bad news.  The bad news – Secretary Kelly rescinded the November 20, 2014 memo that created DAPA.  DAPA was an Obama program that awarded deferred action from deportation and a work permit to those parents of U.S. citizen children that met certain criteria, such as having lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010 and other factors.  But before the program could be implemented, 26 states joined in a lawsuit against DAPA, and a Federal Judge from the District Court for the Southern District of Texas enjoined the DAPA program, preventing it from ever being executed.    The good news – Secretary Kelly left in tact the Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals (DACA) program.  Unfortunately certain provisions in the DAPA policy memorandum that expanded DACA  such as allowing a 3-year work permit instead of 2 year, and eliminating the eligibility age cap of 31 years old were also eliminated.  So DACA remains as is for now, pursuant to the June 15, 2012 Memorandum.  Although this appears to be a reprieve for the DACA program for now, the Trump administration would not commit to the long-term fate of DACA.  For now, Work permits for DACA recipients will not be revoked, and the program continues to be open to new and renewal applications.  You can still apply for DACA if you meet the following requirements:

  • You were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
  • You came to the United States before your sixteenth birthday;
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100203houston_lg-300x227If you are undocumented and approached by Law Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, ICE or other Immigration Officials – you do have certain rights.  If encountered at home, you do not have to open the door unless the officials have a search warrant.  You have the right to remain silent, and the right to speak to a lawyer if you are detained or taken into custody.  If you are approached in a Public area by immigration officers, you have the right to remain silent, you may refuse a search, and you have the right to speak to a lawyer if detained or taken into custody.  You can refuse to sign any and all paperwork presented to you until you have spoken to a lawyer.  Print out the attached Know Your Rights pages and keep them for your reference.  Cut out the Know Your Rights Card and carry it with you.  You may give it to immigration officers if you do not wish to speak to them.

Know your Rights – Home

Know Your Rights Card

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Seal_of_the_United_States_Department_of_Homeland_Security-300x300On January 25th, President Trump signed and executive order “Enhancing Pubic Safety in the Interior of the United States.”  Early this week, Department of Homeland Security Director John Kelly issued a memo further defining removal priorities of the undocumented.  Although the new policy memo expands the deportation priorities to almost all undocumented immigrants, the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) remains in tact for now. Kelly states “the Department shall faithfully execute the Immigration Laws of the United States against all removable aliens.” Regarding prosecutorial discretion, DHS is directed to initiate removal proceedings against “any alien subject to removal under any provision of the INA.”  Clearly every undocumented person is at risk for deportation (with the exception of those who have DACA approval)

With limited resources, it is unlikely that the current number of CPB, ICE, and USCIS officers and officials will allow for mass scale deportation.  The priorities are meant to define individuals that the Department should seek out for deportation.  Individuals who have been convicted of any criminal offense, charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved, or have committed acts that constitute a criminal offense are priorities for removal.  Criminal offenses are not defined and can presumably be anything from driving without a license to aggravated felonies.  Other priorities for deportation are those who engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connected with any official matter before a government agency, anyone who has abused any program related to receipt of public benefits, subject to a final order of removal but failed to leave, or those who pose a risk to public safety or national security.  Within these categories, DHS is directed to fast-track removal of Criminal Aliens, bypassing the Immigration Court for any noncitizen convicted of an aggravated felony.  To quote Trump “Were getting really bad dudes out of this country and at a rate that nobody’s ever seen before. . . And they’re the bad ones. And its a military operation.”

Enforcing the Immigration Laws of the country also includes the due process afforded to legal permanent residents and undocumented persons that meet certain criteria.  In many most cases, undocumented persons are allowed a hearing before an immigration judge. There are certain defenses and waivers are available for some (not all) grounds of .  Make sure you talk to an immigration lawyer experienced in removal hearings if you come to the attention of any ICE, CBP, or USCIS official and are eligible for deportation.

 

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bridge-1526248-640x480-300x225Senators Dick Durban (Dem.- Illinois) and Lindsey Graham (Rep.- South Carolina) have introduced legislation titled “The Bridge Act” to allow people who have received work authorization through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) an extension of their status for a three-year period.  DACA is a program initiated by President Obama in 2012 creating work authorization for certain undocumented persons who came to the United States as children.  DACA was created by Executive Action and President -Elect Trump has promised to repeal all of President Obama’s Executive Action programs on the day he takes office, eliminating DACA and leaving DACA recipients in a vicarious position.    DACA provided more than 730,000 undocumented aliens with temporary work authorization and deferred action from deportation and was renewable every two years.  The Bridge Act would make it possible for DACA recipients and others that qualify under DACA eligibility “provisional protected presence” and work authorization for three years.  The Bridge Act also imposes restrictions on the sharing of information from DACA applicants with USCIS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB).  The bill has bi-partisan support in the senate, however we don’t know yet whether it will pass both houses and become law.

The Bridge Act will have the same criteria as the DACA program.  Like the DACA program, The Bridge Act does not grant legal status or a path to a green card.  It merely provisionally protects qualified applicants from deportation and allows them temporary work status.  Since the new administration’s immigration policies are uncertain, be sure to consult a qualified immigration lawyer before you file a DACA application.

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The results of yesterday’s presidential election are weighing heavily on many immigrants in this country.  From the  start of the primary season, Donald Donald_Trump_August_19,_2015_(cropped)Trump made the removal of undocumented immigrants the cornerstone of his campaign.  Fear and uncertainty resonate throughout immigrant communities.  But Trump’s policy has gone through so many evolutions, it is hard to say what his policy will be by the time he takes office in January 2017.   Early on in his campaign, Trump was promising  to immediately deport 11 million undocumented people and their spouses and children.  Trump argued that children born in the United States to undocumented parents should be denied automatic citizenship and deported with their parents; a plan that  disregards the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, conferring citizenship on all persons born within the United States.  Trump said that after removing all of the undocumented immigrants, he will immediately “bring the good ones back,” showing an astounding lack of understanding of current Immigration Law and bars to re-entry.   Trump has since backed away from those positions, stating his deportation priority will be undocumented aliens who have committed crimes; which, coincidently, has been Obama’s Policy for the removal of aliens in this country.  Under the Obama administration, the first priority for apprehension and removal includes public safety or terrorism risks, aliens convicted of criminal gang activity and aliens convicted of felonies and aggravated felonies.  The second enforcement priorities are those with misdemeanor convictions and new immigration violators, and the lowest enforcement priority are those aliens with other immigration violations.  So it would seem that Trump’s most recent policy announcement of prioritizing removal of the criminal undocumented maintains the status quo of the Obama administration.

It is not known how Trump will handle the recipients of work authorization permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created by Obama’s executive order.  Trump has promised to immediately withdraw the executive order that creates the DACA work authorizations.  How he will treat those who currently have DACA status is another question.  One would hope that if Trump’s true priority is to remove criminal aliens from this country, he will leave those work authorizations in place for those who were brought to the U.S. as children, educated here and now are productive and working residents of our communities.

Keep following this blog as I will continue to update Trump’s immigration policy as it evolves.  I will also begin discussing some of the legal means to obtain status under the current immigration law for qualified individuals.

 

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EqualJusticeUnderLawLast week, the United State Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case regarding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. In United States v. Texas, the Supreme Court was split 4 to 4. Because the Supreme Court was unable to come up with a majority, the ruling of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is affirmed. The decision, which affects millions of individuals without status in the United States, was just nine words long: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.” As you may recall, the 5th Circuit struck down President Obama’s executive actions on immigration last year. That ruling is effectively still in place because the Supreme Court 4-4 split affirms that judgment.

This decision is a major setback for President Obama as he had hoped to have the new DAPA and expanded DACA in place prior to leaving office in January 2017. Because the 5th Circuit decision struck down the president’s executive actions, President Obama will not be able to implement his much anticipated reforms. After the decision, many politicians and activists criticized the Supreme Court as well as Congress for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Responding to the decision, President Obama said “I think it is heartbreaking for the millions of immigrants who made their lives here, who’ve raised families here, who hope for the opportunity to work, pay taxes, serve in our military, and fully contribute to this country we all love in an open way.” While the Supreme Court split effectively ends the legal battle regarding the president’s executive actions, attention will now shift to the presidential election as the two major candidates will have to outline their immigration policies for the country as the campaign wages on.

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The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case involving President Obama’s executive action on immigration, United States v. Texas. During oral arguments, it appeared from the questioning that the eight justices on the Supreme Court were divided among ideological lines, with the four liberal justices strongly questioning th5554035521_fc88284a34_oe twenty-six states challenging the President’s DACA and DAPA orders while the four conservative justices strongly questioned the government lawyers defending the President’s immigration orders.

In an extended oral argument session, each side laid out their case as to why the President’s expanded DACA/DAPA order should be upheld or struck down. Lawyers in favor of the President’s executive orders argued that Congress only gave the government so much money to deport alien’s unlawfully present in the United States so prioritization had to take place. Government lawyers argue that the President’s order simply grants Lawyers opposed to the President’s executive orders saw things differently, arguing that the President exceeded his discretion under the current immigration laws passed by Congress.

While it remains uncertain what the Supreme Court will do with the case, there are a number of scenarios that can play out. Firstly, a majority of justices might be able to agree on an opinion for the case, thus resolving the legal issues presented; however, most experts seem to agree that this outcome is unlikely. Secondly, the justices can decide to hold the case over to the next term for re-argument in the hopes that a new justice will be seated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Thirdly, a divided Supreme Court can issue no opinion and let the decision of the lower court stand. If you remember back in August of 2015, the 5th Circuit affirmed the injunction against the President’s expanded DACA and DAPA executive orders, which would mean the President’s executive action, could still not be implemented.

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The lawsuit regarding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration has been making its way through the federal court system for over a year now. Just this week, a new development in the lawsuit took place. Below is a brief history of the lawsuit followed by the most recent update.Supreme_Court_US_2010

History of the lawsuit:

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DACA.jpgDreamers around the country are celebrating the third anniversary of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Announced in 2012, President Obama, through executive order, took the fear of deportation away for countless undocumented young people in the country. While the expanded DACA program remains on hold while a lawsuit plays out, since the President announced DACA in 2012, Dreamers all over the country have taken advantage of the program. Since USCIS began accepting applications, over 700,000 individuals have benefited from the DACA program. To celebrate, here’s a reminder of the requirements for the DACA program and what you need to apply.

To be eligible for DACA, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
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lawsuit.jpgImmigration policy is complicated enough but it gets even more complicated when a federal lawsuit is involved. So let’s take a minute to rundown what’s actually happening with the DACA lawsuit currently going through the federal court system.

  • Back in November, President Obama announced his long anticipated executive action expanding the DACA program and creating DAPA.
  • Almost immediately after the announcement, a group of 26 states filed a lawsuit in a federal district court to stop the President’s new program from going into effect.