Tag Archives: Deferred Action

Oscar goes to “Inocente,” keeping immigration in center stage

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tonight recognized the film “Inocente,” a fearless documentary about a 15-year-old undocumented girl living in Los Angeles who copes with homelessness, her immigration status, family turmoil, and the challenges of adolescence all at once.

In winning the “Oscar” for Best Documentary Short, the film has not only validated the hard work and creative talent of its creators but also the trying experience of Inocente Izucar and hundreds of thousands of young women like her whose lives are shaped by federal laws and migration forces that are beyond their control.

Although policies like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have helped to empower this class of young people so they can come out of the shadows and live a semblance of a normal life, much work remains to be done to pass legislation like the DREAM Act or comprehensive immigration reform that would legalize the status of and offer a path to citizenship to millions of unauthorized immigrants.



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Filed under Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), National News, Uncategorized, Undocumented Immigrants

DACA Information Session this Thursday

Please see this flyer (English) flyer (English) or this flyer (Spanish) for information about our Deferred Action Information Session to be held this Thursday at 7PM at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Stay tuned for future Info Sessions!

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Filed under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Uncategorized

As election draws near, DREAMers watch anxiously

One week from today — assuming the election is not so close and contested as it was in 2000 and therefore ends up being refereed by the Supreme Court — we will know who will be in the White House from January 2013 until January 2017. For many DREAMers who are contemplating filing for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) the outcome of this election is a major factor in making that decision.

It feels like this election cycle has been churning along for well over two years as a result of the lengthy Republican primary process as well as a near standstill of bipartisan compromise since the 2010 midterm elections. Yet in all this time the issue of immigration has scarcely come up.

Both presidential candidates promise to address the issue in the 2013-2017 term of office, and neither man has a squeaky-clean record to run on. Governor Mitt Romney positioned himself on the right flank of the Republican party during the primaries, pledging not to permit any kind of “amnesty” that would legalize the estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the country presently and offering only a watered-down version of the DREAM Act that would be based solely upon military service. When President Barack Obama announced a new Deferred Action policy on June 15 of this year Gov. Romney criticized it and pledged to end the policy of shielding young undocumented immigrants from deportation if he wins the election. In the second presidential debate Gov. Romney pledged to address immigration reform but took a stand both against “amnesty” and against a massive “round-up” of the undocumented population, leaving questions as to how he would accomplish this. To the extent that Gov. Romney has articulated an immigration policy it has largely been to encourage “self-deportation” by making life as an undocumented worker increasingly unbearable.

For his part, President Obama is vulnerable to the criticism that he has promised much and delivered little. He poured most of his political capital into passing the Affordable Care Act in March 2009, and the only significant movement of immigration legislation was the passage of the DREAM Act by the House of Representatives…but the legislation failed to secure the 60 votes required to overcome a fillibuster in the Senate, and the dream died. President Obama also makes much political hay about his attempts to target immigration enforcement on high-priority cases — ramped-up use of the Secure Communities program has turned most jail facilities in the United States into immigration screening points. Individuals arrested on criminal charges — irrespective of their guilt or innocence and mostly irrespective of the severity of the crime — are routinely flagged by immigration enforcement, interviewed by ICE officers, and either detained by ICE or pressured into signing stipulated orders for deportation. Averaging about 400,000 removals per year, the Obama Administration now has a legacy of over one million deportations. President Obama argues that Secure Communities has allowed his administration to focus on “dangerous criminal aliens” and thereby show mercy to long-time law-abiding immigrants with family ties to the U.S., but the statistics reveal that 30 percent of those removed through the program had no previous criminal history and 60 percent had only minor convictions or clean criminal records.

Ultimately President Obama commands a strong level of support among Latino voters and he is widely seen as being the better advocate among the two candidates for addressing immigration reform in a way that is favorable to the nation’s current undocumented population. He is likely to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process and ultimately parlay that arrangement into the DREAM Act or even a more sweeping reform of the immigration laws.

Gov. Romney has indicated that he would no longer accept new DACA applications after taking office, but he stated that he would not rescind previous grants of deferred action on the principle that he does not want to “take away something [applicants] purchased.” What is unclear is if this principle applies to pending applications at the time he (theoretically) takes office. Those applicants have also paid for fair consideration of their applications, but to date Gov. Romney has not made it entirely clear what would be fate of these applications.

In light of all this, DREAMers are watching anxiously as the election draws near. Will the current president show himself to be the champion they had hoped for four years ago? If he is unseated will it be by the harsh Gov. Romney from the primaries in early 2012 or will it be the kinder, gentler, consensus-seeking Gov. Romney campaigning in the general election? With so much in the air and so much at stake, DREAMers are watching with open eyes.

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Filed under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), National News, Uncategorized, Undocumented Immigrants

USCIS provides monthly tallies of DACA case progress

Through its “Straight From the Source” publication and by other means, the federal agency U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is doing its part to sate the growing hunger among DREAMers to learn about how the agency handles applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). USCIS has released two blocks of data on the progress of the process, although the figures mainly paint a portrait of a badly needed form of relief for the nation’s undocumented youth without offering a great level of detail.

In the first month of application acceptance 82,361 packages were accepted and by mid-September 29 individuals had been granted Deferred Action. The stats as released by USCIS are below:

Through October 10 USCIS had accepted 179,794 applications and granted Deferred Action in 4,591 cases.

DACA statistics through mid-October

A remaining unknown is what portion of cases are being denied or issued Requests for Evidence (RFEs). The USCIS data do not speak to this and so far we have had to rely on anecdotal evidence. Most cases seem to be advancing without RFEs, but this perception is also skewed by a strong selection bias: the community we hear from is made up mostly of AILA attorneys, BIA-accredited representatives, and the rest of the CLINIC network. Because we are hearing from a group of talented, cautious, thoughtful practitioners it is likely the case that we are hearing about RFEs less often than they are being issued overall.

For the most reliable guidance on DACA you should contact a CLINIC affiliate near you. Click here to review our DACA Applicant Guide in English or Spanish.

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Filed under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Immigrant Youth, National News, Uncategorized

Guns N’ Roses and…Deferred Action?

What can Guns N’ Roses tell us about the new Deferred Action process for undocumented young people, also known as “DREAMers”? Probably not much, but at least one of the band’s songs contains an important lesson for the immigrant community and their advocates: “Patience.”

Congressional testimony by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and rumor-mill speculation had most of the immigrant community (our program included) waiting with bated breath for new details on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and these details were ostensibly to be released August 1 or 2. Both of those days have come and gone, and we’re no better informed about this exciting process than we were on June 15 when it was announced.

But, as Axl Rose cautions us: “…take it slow, and it’ll work itself out fine / All we need is just a little patience.”

What if DACA is not in effect on August 15? What if applications aren’t accepted until September 1, or September 15? Who will be harmed? The answer may just be “Nobody.”

Granted, it has been more than ten years since the last major expansion of eligibility for immigration benefits for undocumented immigrants, and in the intervening years we have seen Republican and Democratic administrations frustrated in their efforts to pass immigration reforms in an increasingly polarized political system. The feeling throughout the immigration community that “¡Ya es hora!” and that some new solution is greatly overdue is a valid feeling, and it is one that we share.

Our concern is that we have been talking with more and more families over the last two months that seem to be scrambling to find someone to take on their DACA cases, and this creates enormous potential for fraud. When the accredited non-profit immigration programs in town offer the humble and honest answers of “We don’t know yet,” and “We’ll have to see exactly what the process looks like,” it opens the door for notarios, unscrupulous attorneys, and all kinds of other unqualified practitioners to prey upon immigrant families desperate for some form of relief.

At the same time, some observers are skeptical about DACA because it is just a change in policy that could be reversed by this president or his successor at a moment’s whim. We think it is unlikely that this would happen — deporting young people is not exactly good PR — but the risk remains.

So whether your concern is deciding whether or not to apply for DACA based upon who wins the November election or just making sure that every i is dotted and t is crossed in your DACA application, it seems like the best course of action is to work steadily toward your goals, gather the necessary documents, select an immigration practitioner you can trust, and stay tuned for the latest details about the case.

After all, sometimes all we need is just a little patience.

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Filed under Immigrant Rights, National News, Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law, Undocumented Immigrants

New details about DREAMer Deferred Action

Our friends at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) have informed us that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before Congress last week on the new Deferred Action process for young immigrants. A lot of uncertainty and speculation has been swirling around the details of the application process for people who were not already placed in Immigration Court.

Some of the key points that were clarified:

  • AGE — anyone under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 is eligible
  • PROCESS — details should be available August 1, applications accepted August 15
  • FEES — $465 for work permit ($380) and fingerprinting ($85). There may also be a separate fee for the actual Deferred Action benefit. We do not yet know if a fee waiver request will be possible.

Many thanks to CLINIC for its continued diligence in getting the word out. Contact a CLINIC affiliate in your area for information about Deferred Action for DREAMers.

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Filed under National News, Undocumented Immigrants

Beware misinformation about Deferred Action for DREAMers

Since the Obama Administration announced on June 15 that it will implement a three-pronged policy to provide administrative relief to certain young undocumented immigrants, our office has been flooded with questions about the new initiative. We are hopeful that this small policy tweak will provide much deserved relief to this class of young immigrants, but we have been frustrated and worried by apparent predatory practices unfolding in our community around this issue.

At the time of the announcement, the Department of Homeland Security announced (1) that it would administratively close pending removal (deportation) cases affecting qualified individuals, (2) that it would direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to avoid placing qualified individuals into proceedings, (3) and that in the next 60 days it would craft a process by which qualified individuals can apply for youth Deferred Action.

What this means is that for most affected individuals, there is no new process nor will there be one until mid-August. Unfortunately, this has not prevented some news outlets from promoting the idea that the new policy is already in effect and “open,” and it has not prevented notarios, unscrupulous attorneys, and other predatory practitioners from encouraging immigrant families to pay them and sign up for “advanced processing” of this new process.

Generally speaking, we do not think it is a good idea to pay someone in advance for completion of a process that neither they nor you nor anyone understands in detail. A young woman called us yesterday to ask us if she should sign up with this Web site, which appears to be one such predatory immigration operation. We directed her instead to the USCIS immigration Web site, which states clearly that there is no process available yet.

For the time being, the advice we are giving young undocumented immigrants is to gather proof of their 1) identity and age, 2) time of entry and presence in the U.S. on approximately June 15, 3) clean criminal record, and 4) current attendance or completion of high school. Students who have left school without graduating can pursue their G.E.D. and may be able to qualify for the program that way. And aspiring Deferred Action candidates should not pay anyone to pre-process applications for a process that doesn’t exist yet.

We will keep our readers updated as new information becomes available.

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, Undocumented Immigrants