Today the Trump administration announced the end of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Since 2012, it has enabled Dreamers—undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children—to remain in the U.S. and work here without fear of deportation.
The Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting new applications for DACA status after today, Sept. 5. However, it will allow any DACA recipient with a permit that expires before March 5, 2018 to apply for a two-year renewal until Oct. 5. This means that if your work permit, also called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), expires in the next six months, you have 30 days to request your final extension.
The DACA phase-out will give Congress a chance to pass an alternative law. The demise of DACA deals a severe blow to the estimated 800,000 DACA recipients living in the U.S. If you or somebody you know is a Dreamer, please know that you still might have options to stay in the U.S. legally.
Strategies to Consider
Immigration lawyers are familiar with the intricacies of immigration law that may allow you to stay in the U.S. for months or even years while seeking permanent residency. That may be the case even if you arrived in the U.S. as a child without approval by a customs officer under any of the following:
- The Violence Against Women Act
- Special Immigrant Juveniles Status
- As victims of crime
- Through marriage or sponsorship for permanent residence if benefited from protection under the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act.
Many of the green card strategies depend on:
- Whether anybody sponsored you or a parent for a green card in the past;
- If you came to the U.S. without inspection or you overstayed a visa; and,
- Whether you have a family member, such as a spouse, or an employer who can sponsor you for a green card for permanent residence.
We frequently advise DACA Dreamers on whether they are eligible for these options. We welcome your call to set up a consultation.
UPDATE: I will discuss options for startup founders, investors, professionals, and Dreamers to remain living and working in Silicon Valley and take your questions at a free webinar on Thursday, September 21, 2017, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Click here for more information and to register.
Law Enforcement Priorities
If you have DACA and you’re concerned about getting deported, please know that it is very unlikely that anything will happen soon. Department of Homeland Security officials have indicated that Dreamers will not be high priorities for deportations. If you are targeted, you would likely receive by mail a Notice to Appear in immigration court. Immigration cases can take years. You might have ways of asking the judge for special permission to stay in the U.S. And you can also appeal if your case is denied.
That said, make sure your DACA and work permits are current. And make sure you know your rights if you are detained or arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other law enforcement officers. Please read our previous posts about what to do if ICE agents come knocking on your door or what to do if ICE agents or other law enforcement officers stop you in public.
Know Your Rights
Every person in the U.S. has rights granted by the U.S. Constitution regardless of immigration status. Those rights remain even when immigration laws change or enforcement escalates.
Be sure to remember the following:
- You are not required to answer questions posed by law enforcement agents beyond giving your name when asked.
- Have the number of a trusted immigration attorney with you to call in an emergency.
- Do not sign any paperwork, especially a voluntary departure document. If you accept voluntary departure, you can be immediately deported. You would not have a chance to remain in the U.S., get your belongings or say goodbye to family and friends. And you it would be extremely difficult or even impossible for you to return to the U.S.
- Exercise your right to see an immigration judge. Insist on seeing one at the court closest to where you live, which will help ensure you will not be transferred to a faraway court.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one need assistance now that DACA is being phased out, please contact us at Alcorn Immigration Law.