The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA, is a policy that was implemented in 2012 during the administration of President Barack Obama.
It aims to protect young immigrants who came to the United States as minors.
It’s estimated that the DACA program supports more than 653,000 Dreamers, but unfortunately, this number falls short of the 3.6 million young immigrants in the U.S. who could qualify for DACA.
Thousands of young people who belong to the DACA program contribute more than $12 million in tax dollars to the country, and if they continue to work over the next 10 years, they will contribute an estimated $433.4 billion to the U.S. economy.
Despite the advantages offered by the program, the U.S. Government has failed to provide Dreamers with the security of a secure future.
There are very few options to become a citizen or obtain a Green Card if you are a Dreamer, if you already have your DACA, and that program also doesn’t provide you with the ability to help your family members, i.e. they cannot have referrals to obtain their adjustment of status.
What Is The DACA Program?
DACA is an executive action program, this means that it is not a law that has been taken to Congress, it’s a program that President Obama made to give deferred action, which is a benefit for the immigrant.
This benefit has a Work Permit, but it does not imply or entail any permanent status.
To qualify for DACA, Dreamers must have entered the United States as minors before June 15, 2007.
For that reason, many young people cannot qualify at this time, because for example, they entered after 2007.
Also, the individual must be able to prove continuous presence since entry, and normally have graduated from high school in the US. or have taken its GED (General Educational Development) or are taking GED classes.
We have talked to many young people who did not graduate, but now they can study to take the GED test, and that is a way to qualify for the DACA program.
The program is currently on hold due to many complications, but most people who already have DACA may be renewing their status.
Initial DACA for people who have not yet applied for DACA can plan or apply for DACA, but will not receive a response at this time.
What Kind Of Impact Has DACA Had On Immigrants In The U.S.?
It’s been a huge impact, especially on the Dreamers. They are young people who feel like they are almost Americans because they grew up in this country, and they have dreams of being doctors, lawyers, engineers, or any other profession.
They want to go to college, get married, have children, buy homes, and have a normal life, and to do those things you have to have security and stability in your future.
Knowing a lot of Dreamers and from our point of view, that’s what the program has offered for the young people, a way to feel more at ease about their future and allow themselves to make plans, but unfortunately, we still don’t have a permanent solution for them.
It’s been a good chance for the Dreamers’ families, but the Government can do more for them and the immigrant community in general.
How DACA Came About
In 2008 we had Bush as president, and in Texas, we had detention centers for families who were not doing well.
Since 9/11, we have had no immigration reform to help the immigrant and undocumented community, and when Barack Obama took office, he canceled the family detention centers and started this DACA program.
What happened, in our opinion as immigration attorneys in Texas, was that we saw more immigrants coming from Central America fleeing gang violence.
Unfortunately, what happened was that President Obama, by creating this DACA program, allowed Republicans to express their fear of the border and immigrants from Central America.
In the press and the news they were also talking about that border risk, and that caused a movement that stopped a lot of changes in Congress and changes in the administration, and unfortunately, Obama didn’t do much more and Congress hasn’t done anything for the Dreamers.
Over the past ten years, we have seen legislation proposed to Congress, but they can’t do anything, and this stalemate is due to racism, and fear of immigration at the border that is not based on real facts, the immigration reform, and is what is causing the paralysis of good laws that would benefit the immigrant community.
Can I Currently Apply For DACA?
At this time you can apply for DACA if you qualify for the program. Suppose you entered before June 15, 2007, if you have been in the U.S. since then if you graduated from high school, if you are studying to take the GED, if you entered before your 16th birthday.
There are also other requirements, for example, no serious criminal record, including a DWI, but if someone allows, they can apply for DACA at this time.
We currently have a lawsuit with this program, President Biden wanted to reopen DACA because former President Trump had canceled it in his administration.
When Biden reopened it, there was a lawsuit by the Texas Government and that paused the program. Then, Chairman Biden announced proposed rules to give the public a comment period, that’s the process for announcing a new rule and that’s exactly what the lawsuit against Obama was about, because he had not done it.
Biden has been following the required steps to announce a new rule, time is up for public comment about 6 months ago or so, and we still don’t have the new rule.
We are stuck in the same situation where people who already have DACA can renew their Work Permits, and now it is possible to do it from the website and not by mail, but those who have never had DACA yet or have a work permit expired for more than a year, have to apply for DACA and wait for a change in the law until immigration responds to your application.
If I Have DACA, When Can I Renew My Work Permit?
It would be a good idea to renew your Work Permit at least six months before your permit expires, that way you give immigration six months to process the renewal.
Normally, it does not take that long, we are looking at a two to three-month wait, but for the person not to be without their Work Permit for some time and thus avoid having to resign or leave their job, it would be best to apply for renewal six months before the expiration date.
If My Father Is Renewing His Residency Can You Help Me Adjust My Status?
If the father is a resident, he may petition for his unmarried children who are minors or adults, regardless of age, but cannot be married.
The difference between a minor and an adult is the waiting time, if for example, you are from Mexico and you are over 21 years old, the wait for your priority date can be very long, it can be more than 20 years, for example.
Depending on the family’s situation, it may or may not be worth it.
Other options would be better in the immigration process and the speed of your process, that is why in Lincoln-Goldfinch Law we recommend a private consultation, so we can investigate all your history, your entries, your contacts with the police, other relatives, if you have been a victim of any violence or mistreatment in the country.
Sometimes, even if a family member is a citizen or permanent resident, we find a more efficient way to grant legal status in the United States.
Normally, yes, a resident parent can petition for a child if the child is unmarried, but if the parent is renewing their residency, it would not be possible to include a Family Petition in the renewal, those are different procedures.
Even if your Green Card has expired, you can still file a Family Petition. An important point is that a permanent resident who has an expired Green Card is still a permanent resident, their status have not expired, only their plastic card expired.
Can Dreamers Leave the Country With DACA?
Depends, there is a program for Dreamers called Advance Parole, and if a Dreamer has a reason to leave the U.S., based on a humanitarian, job-related or educational reason, the individual may apply for Parole to allow for that departure and in turn legal re-entry.
A humanitarian reason could be to visit a family member who is ill perhaps, a work reason would be to go to a conference, or for something academic would be a Travel Abroad or if you want to study something for a while in another country.
A positive aspect for a Dreamer is that they can apply for Advance Parole several times and have several departures and trips out of the country.
Another benefit of Advance Parole is that maybe that Dreamer entered without a Visa for the first time as a child when they entered with their parents are now married to a citizen, but do not want to go through Consular Process with a waiver.
One option would be to apply for Advance Parole-based travel, leave and make a visit to family, school, or work, then enter and have a legal entry. It’s possible to use that entry with marriage to a citizen, with a child, or a citizen parent, and adjust status without needing a waiver, without having to leave.
Advance Parole: Is it Safe? Should I Apply With A Lawyer?
It is safe as long as you are exiting and entering. The official at the border has the power and jurisdiction to grant or deny entry, and because of this, most Dreamers who are leaving and re-entering are very fearful.
If you have plans to travel in or out of the United States, you should consult with us, with an attorney you can trust, because there are many ways to have complications in this process, if you have been detained or have had an arrest or some other detail.
Contact us to review your history and make sure it is safe to leave and re-enter the United States, you should not leave this whole decision in the hands of someone from immigration approving Advance Parole, because that’s the process of requesting departure by mail, but then there is the return trip, the re-entry.
Here we will make sure that everything goes smoothly during the whole process because the final point is the most important, which is the re-entry to the United States.
If My Advance Parole Is Not Approved Should I Travel?
You shouldn’t leave if your Advance Parole is denied, there’s no way to legally enter if you leave the country.
Some people decide to move permanently out of the United States, but if you plan to enter, you must have a positive answer on your Advance Parole.
We have had calls from people who left for a family emergency, for example, before applying for Advance Parole, and we have to tell them that there is no way back. This is something that has to be planned very well.
Should you have further questions about DACA, your renovation, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.