On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced that certain young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, went to school here, stayed out of trouble (for the most part), could prove residence, and were under the age of 30, would qualify to receive a two-year reprieve from deportation and be issued a work permit. In the Government's estimation, these individuals constituted a low enforcement priority, and federal resources would be better spent deporting persons who posed a real threat to national security or public safety.
At the time, Republicans roundly criticized President Obama for being lax on immigration enforcement and for pandering to the Latino community in order to gain support for his re-election.
Now almost one year later, the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is less talked about. The surge of DACA applications has ebbed. The Republicans, for reasons which have much to do with their defeat at the polls last November, now embrace Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). They claim to have seen the light -- or at least the writing on the wall.
With the emergence of bipartisan support for a bigger, bolder initiative to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, the talk on Capitol Hill these days is less of DACA and more of creating a path to lawful permanent resident status, and eventually citizenship, for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. So who needs DACA, right?
Not so fast. American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) President Laura Lichter has written a piece (posted on AILA's InfoNet) called "A Bird In Hand -- CIR and Deferred Action" which reminds us of the continuing viability of DACA. As Lichter points out, the benefits which flow from DACA can open doors leading to greater opportunities for DREAMers to participate more fully in civic life and to become even more productive individuals. Some of the immediate benefits of DACA include the issuance of a work permit, the ability to apply for a travel document, eligibility to apply for a driver's license and other official identification documents, and avoidance of deportation.
Moreover, Lichter says, the passage of CIR is not a given. And if new laws do pass, then DACA recipients may have a leg up in the process of applying for citizenship, since they will have already completed some of the steps necessary to qualify to become U.S. citizens. So does that mean DACA is right for everybody?
Some qualified persons may have more direct options for immigrating to the United States, such as through family sponsorship or by petitioning for a non-immigrant visa for which they may qualify. But the decision should never be entrusted to an unlicensed person -- or "notario" -- or be made without consulting a lawyer. "Scammers," as Lichter calls them, can do more harm than good, putting even the most well-intentioned applicants at risk of deportation.
DREAMers who think they may qualify for DACA but who have been putting off applying should consult with an immigration lawyer who can review their situation and properly advise them on available options for obtaining immigration relief, including potentially DACA relief.
If you want more information about residency or deferred action, then discuss your situation with the San Jose Immigration Attorney at the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman today!