By JW Law
On Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Trump administration will terminate the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama –era program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
The administration will wind down the program, which gave undocumented young people a chance to work and study in the US without fear of deportation, over the next six months leaving the fate of the dreamers in the hands of Congress. Unless Congress passes alternative immigration laws in the next six months, dreamers will lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the US.
“The decision to wind down the program without providing a legislative solution has left hundreds of thousands of young people, who were raised alongside US citizens, facing an uncertain future, said Martin Asatrian, chair of immigration department at Javerbaum Wurgaft.
What do We Know?
As of September 5, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stopped accepting new DACA requests. In a memorandum, issued on Tuesday, DHS stated that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “will reject all DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) filed after the date of this memorandum.”
The department will, however, continue to adjudicate- on a case-by-case basis-properly filed pending DACA and associated applications for EAD that have been accepted by USCIS as of September 5.
The memorandum further stated that current beneficiaries whose documents are scheduled to expire on March 5, 2018, would be allowed to apply for two-year renewals. They must do so before October 5, 2017.
According to a new FAQ released by DHS, USCIS will no longer grant DACA recipients permission to travel abroad through advance parole and close all pending applications. Those with a valid advance parole will retain the benefit until it expires.
DHS further stated that “Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will retain the authority, it has always exercised in determining the admissibility of any person presenting at the border. Further, USCIS retains the authority to revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time.”
What Happens to my DACA benefits?
Immigration Resource Legal Center, a national non-profit resource center that provides legal training, educational materials, and advocacy to advance immigrant rights, put together a helpful advisory on their website. We pulled out some of the key points below:
Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) or work permits are generally valid until they expire or the government demands they be returned. Unless the government demands that you return your work permit, the following applies:
• If the DACA program ends but you are allowed to keep your work permit, you have the right to work legally until your work permit’s expiration date.
• When the DACA program ends, you have no obligation to inform your employer that DACA has ended. The employer does not have the right to ask you whether you are a DACA recipient or how you got your work permit.
• Your employer does not have the right to fire you, put you on leave, or change your work status until after your work permit has expired. If your expiration date is nearing, your employer may ask you for an updated work permit but cannot take any action against you until after it is expired.
Social Security Number (SSNs)
• Your SSN is for life. You can and should continue to use the SSN even after your work permit and DACA approval expires.
• If you have not done so already, apply for an SSN while your DACA and work permit are still valid. You can use your SSN for education, banking, housing and other purposes.
• Your SSN contains a condition on it that requires a valid work permit to use it for employment purposes.
Driver’s Licenses and other identification cards
• Eligibility for these depends on the state in which you live.
• If you have not already done so, apply for a driver’s license or state identification card if your DACA is still valid and that makes you eligible for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card in your state.
Travel on Advance Parole
• DACA recipients should be cautious about travel abroad on advance parole.
• If you are outside the country with advance parole, make sure to return right away while your advance parole and EAD are valid.
• If you have been granted advance parole under DACA but have not yet left the United States, speak with an attorney to determine potential risks planning your trip.
Other Immigration Options
• Many DACA recipients may be eligible for other immigration options to get a work permit or even a green card. Talk to an immigration lawyer to understand your legal options and your eligibility for other immigration benefits.
• Any criminal arrest, charge, or conviction can put you at risk with immigration authorities. Avoid contact with law enforcement that may result in a criminal arrest. If you end up being arrested, make sure to consult an expert immigration attorney.
• If you have a criminal conviction, find out if it can be changed to lessen the impact on a future immigration case you may have.
Know Your Rights
All people in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have certain rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution:
• DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR if an immigration agent is knocking on the door.
• DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent if they try to talk to you. You have the right to remain silent.
• DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING without first speaking to a lawyer. You have the right to speak with a lawyer.
• Beware of fraudulent service providers who promise to expedite immigration petition or promise to provide work permit for a fee. Confirm their credentials, ask for a written contract and a receipt for any payments, and if you have doubts, get a second opinion.
If you or your loved one is a DACA recipient, call our law office at (973) 379-4200. Our immigration attorney can help you determine if you qualify for other programs now that DACA has been revoked.
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