January 11, 2016
In June 2012, the Obama administration enacted a policy called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This policy permits certain immigrants who entered the country illegally before June 2007 and their 16th birthday to receive a work permit and gives them a two-year deportation grace period—deferred action—renewable every two years.
In order to be eligible, the applicant must be in high school or a high school graduate. Honorably discharged military veterans are also eligible. Additionally, the applicant must be under 31 as of June 15, 2015, have no felony or misdemeanor convictions and cannot be on any government terrorism watch lists.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services awarded 713,300 individuals DACA as of December 2015. In 2016, 1.3 million people met the criteria for DACA. Eligible DACA candidates have found that they can make themselves eligible for permanent residence by taking advantage of a loophole in U.S. immigration law.
Under certain circumstances, they might be granted permission by the U.S. government to travel abroad for educational, work and humanitarian purposes. Upon returning to the U.S., that is, entering the country legally, these immigrants now potentially qualify for sponsorship for permanent residency by an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen.
President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, 2017, has pledged to put an end to DACA. For those who have already taken advantage of this program and are planning on traveling outside of the country, this presents a problem if they don’t return before inauguration day. Not only would they not be eligible for residency, they might find themselves arrested and deported upon their arrival.
As of December 2015, USCIS awarded 22,340 DACA immigrants advance parole. Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, expressed that some people are using DACA as a way to circumvent existing immigration laws. The group sees this as an abuse of the intent of U.S. immigration law. With Trump’s election, they hope this loophole will be ended.
John Rosenbaum is an Orange County lawyer with an exceptional track record in Workers Compensation and Personal Injury cases. For legal representation, contact our offices today.