DACA: Frequently Asked Questions

I created this Frequently Asked Questions about DACA and the injunction. I have now updated it. Generally speaking, people should continue to renew their DACA and see the USCIS website for up to date information.

WHAT IS THE LATEST INFORMATION WITH REGARDS TO DACA?

The Trump Administration, pressured by 9 attorney generals from various states, decided to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave temporary work permits and protection from deportation to almost 800,000 people. An official DHS memorandum rescinding DACA is here and an FAQ developed by USCIS is here. However, on January 9, 2018, a federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction on the repeal of DACA. No stay was sought at the Supreme Court, and no decision should be expected till at least June 2018. This means individuals can continue to apply for DACA as the case makes its way up through the courts.

I CURRENTLY HAVE DACA AND IT EXPIRES IN THE NEXT 6 MONTHS. CAN I FILE FOR RENEWAL?

Yes. If your DACA is expiring this year or even early next year, you can file for a renewal now.

I USED TO HAVE DACA BUT IT EXPIRED OR WAS TERMINATED. CAN I FILE FOR RENEWAL?

Yes. If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request.

If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or your DACA was previously terminated at any time, you cannot request DACA as a renewal (because renewal requests typically must be submitted within one year of the expiration date of your last period of deferred action approved under DACA), but may nonetheless file a new initial DACA request in accordance with the Form I-821D and Form I-765 instructions.

I NEVER APPLIED FOR DACA BUT I AM ELIGIBLE. SHOULD I APPLY NOW?

No initial DACA applications are being accepted at this time. They will be rejected by USCIS.

CAN I APPLY FOR ADVANCE PAROLE?

No. USCIS will not accept advance parole applications from DACA recipients at this time. Please speak to your study abroad advisor and academic counselor to make alternative plans.

I HAVE DACA AND I NEED TO TRAVEL ABROAD FOR EMERGENT REASONS NOW. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

USCIS is not processing advance parole applications at this time.

I WANT TO APPLY BUT I AM SCARED. WHAT IF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION GETS A HIGHER COURT TO REVERSE THIS DECISION?

The Trump Administration will definitely appeal this ruling to the Ninth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. We cannot predict how long the DACA program will continue to be in place, so if you are in the fortunate position to renew your DACA right now, and have no new criminal history, we would urge you to renew.  It is very likely that even with an emergency stay from a higher court, the only risk is that your application may be administratively closed, and your check returned to you.

MY DACA IS NOT EXPIRED AND DOES NOT EXPIRE FOR THE NEXT 6 MONTHS? CAN I STILL APPLY?

Yes. While USCIS recommends filing for renewal between 150 and 120 days from when your DACA expires, requests received earlier than 150 days in advance will be accepted. However, this could result in an overlap between your current DACA and your renewal. This means your renewal period may extend for less than a full two years from the date that your current DACA period expires.

I HAVE NEW CRIMINAL HISTORY. SHOULD I APPLY?

Please speak to an attorney or accredited BIA representative as to whether your criminal records makes you ineligible for DACA. Your attorney should be able to advise you on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and recommend post-conviction relief, that may make you eligible for DACA again.

I CURRENTLY HAVE DACA. WHEN DO I LOSE THE ABILITY TO WORK LEGALLY AND PROTECTIONS AFFORDED TO ME BY DACA?

Current work permits will remain valid until their expiration date. The work permits are not being canceled or rescinded. For example, if your work permit expires December 10, 2018, it will remain valid until December 10, 2018.

I WANT TO RENEW MY DACA BUT CANNOT AFFORD THE FEES?

We are working with community partners to raise additional emergency funds to be able to provide the $495 renewal for other members in our community. Community partners such as the Mission Asset Fund, the Mexican Consulate, and various non-profits have also stepped up efforts to provided full financial scholarships for DACA applications fees ensure that those who can renew their DACAs can do so. A great guide for all workshops and fee-assistance programs is available here.

CAN I CONTINUE TO WORK IF AND WHEN DACA EXPIRES?

When your current DACA work permit expires, you will be out of status, and start accruing unlawful presence. It is critical that you speak with your immigration attorney about other legal options that may exist for you to continue working and legally residing in the United States.

See more guidance with regards to DACA and your rights in the workplace here.

I TRUSTED THE GOVERNMENT WITH MY INFORMATION WHEN I APPLIED FOR DACA. CAN THEY USE IT TO DEPORT ME?

Generally, USCIS has stated that information provided in DACA requests will not be proactively provided to other law enforcement entities (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor poses a risk to national security or public safety, or meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria.

The vast majority of DACA recipients, unless they have a final order of removal, cannot be simply picked up by CBP, ICE and deported. They are entitled to proper notice and court proceedings conducted before an immigration judge, and these proceedings can take many years to adjudicate.

WHAT BENEFITS CAN I GET WITH MY EXISTING IMMIGRATION STATUS?

If you currently have DACA, and never got a social security number, now is the time to go to the local Social Security Administration to request one. You will continue to need and use this social security number for many other things besides employment such as housing applications, graduate school applications, filing taxes, and applying for credit/loans and so on.

If you do not have a California ID or driver’s license, you should make an appointment with the local DMV to obtain these benefits.

Do note that AB-60 remains the law in California, so if the DACA program eventually gets revoked or even if you have no immigration status, you can still get a driver’s license in California.

MY DACA WORK PERMIT WAS LOST. CAN I APPLY FOR A REPLACEMENT?

If an individual’s still-valid work permit is lost, stolen, or destroyed, they may request a replacement work permit. The replacement work permit will have the same validity period as the lost/destroyed/stolen work permit.

WILL I LOSE MY FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE IF MY DACA EXPIRES?

Instate-tuition benefits in California, such as AB-540, the California DREAM Act, and the California DREAM loan program, remain in place as these are state benefits.

CAN LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS FOLLOW AND ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAWS?

California is leading the way to fight local law enforcement collaboration with federal immigration authorities, though there is always more work to be done. In 2013, the state enacted the TRUST Act (AB 4), which ended local police collaboration with ICE (or ICE holds), except for in cases of individuals with serious criminal convictions. This remains the law in California, so students and community members should continue to report crimes committed against them to local law enforcement. The TRUTH Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, brings transparency to local jail entanglements with ICE, and thus, further protects our community members from ICE custody. California passed a slew of new bills to protect immigrants in 2017. Campus officials across the UC system are currently investigating how to best protect undocumented students.

CAN I CONTINUE TO TRAVEL TO OTHER STATES IF I AM UNDOCUMENTED OR IF I LOSE DACA STATUS?

Traveling within 100 miles of the U.S. border (the “constitution-free” zone) is dangerous, and exposes people to detection, arrest, and detention by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operating various checkpoints along these routes. Undocumented immigrants have traveled to other states, including Hawaii and Alaska, in the past, with an unexpired passport from their consulate, or a government-issued identification document issued by the state of California, though they should fully understand and evaluate the risk of doing so to themselves under a new political Administration. When in doubt, consult with your attorney.

IF I CAN NO LONGER WORK, DO I QUALIFY FOR ANY KIND OF PUBLIC BENEFITS?

California has implemented some major benefit programs that are available to immigrants and people with non-immigrant status, such as a pending green card application, SIJS status, pending U or T visa.

Children, regardless of immigration status, up to the age of 19 are eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal in California.

This handy chart tells you about your public benefits as a U visa or T visa applicant. Generally, not just recipients but even applicants for a U visa are eligible for CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, Food Stamps, IHSS, General Assistance, and Refugee Social Services (RSS).

#FreeLuis: What You Can Do To Bring Berkeley Student Home

Update: Since ICE has refused to release Mr. Mora on his own recognizance or under an order of supervision, we’ve requested a bond hearing for Mr. Mora. It will be on January 17th, 2018. This means he will likely miss the first few days of classes at UC Berkeley, and have been detained for merely overstaying a visa for over 2 weeks. 

On December 30th, Luis Mora, a junior at UC Berkeley, was apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a checkpoint in Jamul, near San Diego. Almost immediately, through Luis Mora’s partner, the Berkeley undocumented student group, RISE, got in touch with me and informed me as to what had happened. They started organizing as I tried to figure out where Luis was detained. I finally got a hold of him on Monday evening. He was detained in deplorable conditions for over four days at Barracks 5, which is supposed to only be used as a temporary holding facility. I contacted Barracks 5 for visitation rights with the help of another attorney more familiar with the area, and they told me that I could see him only between 12pm and 2pm on Thursday. They did not even allow him a pencil to write down my phone number.

As I traveled down to San Diego to see finally him on Wednesday evening, Luis was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at Otay Mesa Detention Center, a facility that has been sued for human trafficking. I finally got to see him on Thursday morning. I sought the help of his Senators and Congressional representatives, and requested that ICE release him on an order of supervision or an order of recognizance so that Luis can come back to UC Berkeley in time to resume the Spring semester of classes. Thus far, ICE has refused to accept this reasonable offer despite Congressional and mounting public pressure. They have kicked the can to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), and want us to fight for bond in front of an Immigration Judge. Alas, they have not filed his case with the court yet so Luis is languishing in detention without due process.

I have never had to conduct a bond hearing for a mere visa overstay; for those who do not understand how egregious this situation is, it is akin to asking for a bond hearing for someone jailed over a speeding ticket. And Luis does not even have a speeding ticket.

At this point, we are preparing for a bond hearing and to represent Luis Mora in removal proceedings before the EOIR. We are also working on long-term immigration relief for Luis. We are overwhelmed by the media attention as well as the community support behind Luis. Here is what you can do to assist us in bringing him home:

  • Write letters of support on behalf of Luis to the Immigration Judge to set bond. We would love to have letters from Congresspersons, state and local officials, national organizations, friends and family. Directives as to how to do this are posted here, along with information on where to mail the letters.

 

  • Donate to his bond fund: Once the Immigration Judge sets bond, we can post the bond, and have Luis home in no time. Once Luis gets lawful residence status, we will get this money back, with interest, and the funds will go towards helping other undocumented students who are similarly detained.

 

  • Write to Luis while he is sitting in a jail cell: For those interested in writing to Luis Mora, you can send letters via U.S. mail to:

Luis Angel MORA VILLOTA

A#216-265-396

Otay Mesa Detention Center

P.O Box 439049

San Diego, CA 92143

  • Put money in Luis Mora’s detainee account: The Otay Mesa Detention Facility was recently sued for human trafficking because the private facility coerces jailed immigrants to work at $1.00/hr and sometimes without pay for basic necessities. Please continue to put money into Luis Mora’s detainee account so that he can make regular calls to his legal counsel and he is not forced to work or trafficked in this private facility.For those interested in doing so, using Western Union transfer services, you’ll need the following:

First Name:  Luis Last Name:  Mora

Facility:  Corrections Corp of America

Inmate #: 5400517

Receiver Information

Biller or Facility Name: CORRECTIONS CORP OF AMERICA

Code City/State: XOTAYM IA

  • Leave Luis messages: Call 888-516-0115. You’d first need to deposit money into your friends and family account. Then go back to main menu and leave a voicemail for him. Voicemails cost $1.17 plus tax/fees to leave. He can call you back from the center from his detainee account.

 

  • Tweet your support for Luis Mora: The graphic above contains a list of demands to continue to pressure our elected representatives–and UC Berkeley–accountable to our community.

Thank you so much for all your love and support. I am confident that we will bring Luis home. He may miss a few weeks of the Spring semester, but we are working hard to ensure that he will still graduate in Spring 2019 with a Political Science degree in one hand and a green card in the another. You can count on me for that.

If you have something to spare after doing all the actions for Luis Mora above and if you appreciate my work, please consider donating to my tip jar. I’ve been doing this work pro-bono for a long time, and I don’t get paid much relative to Bay Area housing costs and supporting my own family. I need help taking care of myself too so I can take care of Luis Mora and other students like him. I would also appreciate it if friends could bring me food or kombucha while I’m burning the midnight oil. Every little bit counts.  

What To Do When Your DACA Renewal Is Delayed

DACA delay

First, lets try to make sure your renewal is not delayed. Apply at least 6 months in advance and use the mailer that you received with your last work permit for the renewal for a more speedy turn-around.

However, if you do everything right, and your renewal is still delayed, here is what you can do:

1. Check your case status online at USCIS – You will need to enter the receipt number for either your DACA application or your employment authorization application.

2. Initiate a service request at USCIS – Call USCIS National Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 and request to use the Service Request Management Tool (SRMT) to request expedited processing of your case and ask for an interim EAD, if your DACA renewal application was filed 120 days in advance. In most cases, you have to ask to speak to a supervisor. In any case, write down any number they provide you.

Be prepared to provide your name, alien number, and receipt numbers to the customer service center. In some limited cases, applicants who have had their initial DACA denied, can also use this tool as an appeal to inform USCIS that the denial based on an administrative error.

3. Elevate your case status: After making the initial service request, contact the USCIS Headquarters Office of Service Center Operations by email at: SCOPSSCATA@dhs.gov. You should receive a response within 10 days.

4. Seek assistance from the USCIS Ombudsman – Open a case assistance request with the USCIS Ombudsman by filing DHS-7001. Make sure to state any reason why you need your DACA to be renewed ASAP such as employment opportunity or travel abroad or financial detriment.

Once you have completed and submitted the online form, you should be issued an Ombudsman-specific case number. Then you can contact, by email, one of these Ombudsman staff people, and request them to look into your case:

Rena.cutlip-mason@hq.dhs.gov

Margaret.gleason@hq.dhs.gov

Messay.berhanu@hq.dhs.gov

5. Contact your Congressional Representative: If the matter continues to be unresolved and there is a lapse in your work authorization, contact your individual Congressional representative for assistance. You can find your representative here.

6. Contact the Service Center that is processing your case:

  • California Service Center: csc-ncsc-followup@dhs.gov
  • Vermont Service Center: vsc.ncscfollowup@dhs.gov
  • Nebraska Service Center: NSCFollowup.NCSC@uscis.dhs.gov
  • Texas Service Center: tsc.ncscfollowup@dhs.gov

If you do not receive a response within 21 days of emailing the service center, you may email the USCIS Headquarters Office of Service Center Operations at SCOPSSCATA@dhs.gov

I see delayed renewals quite a bit these days so while I am not certain that the steps above will work in all cases, it is worth a try and better than waiting around for a response.

As a final note, applicants renewing their DACA should make sure to file 180-150 days before the expiry date listed on their Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Applicants who anticipate traveling abroad while their DACA renewal is due should always file earlier than the 150 mark. Filing less than 120 days in advance may lead to delays in lapses of work authorization, and accruing of unlawful presence.

Selling “Undocumented and Unafraid” – $10

Dear DC friends:

I now have a bunch of “Undocumented and Unafraid” books to sell, which celebrates the lives of our friends, Tam Tran and Cinthia Felix, and charts the undocumented youth movement. I contributed a piece for it on social media.

The books are only $10 each and I’ll even autograph them for you. Please email me if you want to purchase one:

If you are not in D.C., you can send your online order here.

Thank you.

Obama’s Immigration Announcement Creates New Generation of “Undocumented and Unafraid”

President Obama’s directive to affirmatively issue deferred action to DREAM Act eligible youth is fostering a new generation of “undocumented and unafraid” students who will be spared from deportation. But it isn’t just young people who are coming out in throes. It is also our parents.

At the National DREAM Graduation in Washington D.C., which was the largest gathering of undocumented students ever, Alejandra Pimentel, an undocumented mother, addressed an audience of undocumented youth. She spoke about fighting her son’s deportation, and shared some great words with the young people in the room, telling us that her dream was our success and that we should never give up. She told us that because of us, she was undocumented and unafraid.

But Pimental is not the only mother who is coming out as undocumented and unafraid. Across the country, at community gatherings, workshops and town-halls about the new deferred action program, undocumented parents are showing up in large numbers with their undocumented and U.S. citizen children to gain some understanding of what the new Obama announcement does for them.

This bold new coming out by undocumented parents is ironic given that young undocumented immigrants have often been accused of being selfish for advocating for the DREAM Act as opposed to comprehensive immigration reform. Maybe we have always been right. Maybe piecemeal immigration reform is the way to go, adding ingredient by ingredient till everyone can share in the pie. Undocumented parents coming out of the shadows to seek some sort of status for their kids certainly cements our claim that our dreams were never selfish–they are in fact, tied to the dreams that our parents had for us in bringing us to this land of opportunity. And deferred action for DREAMers is emboldening them as much as young people into coming out of the shadows.

I was at JEB Stuart High School in Northern Virginia last week, helping my law firm conduct a workshop about deferred action for members of the community and over 400 parents showed up to listen intently, ask questions and seek help for their children. We stayed for over 3 hours and ran out of our materials. The next day, our phones at the office did not stop ringing.

While some organizations are discouraging young immigrants and their parents from seeing immigration attorneys regarding the new program, within the last week alone, we’ve told a DREAMer that he is in fact, a U.S. citizen, assisted someone in registering for the GED, discovered an in absentia order of deportation, discouraged a DREAMer from engaging in marriage fraud, and discovered a entire undocumented family that should have received their green-cards a long time ago. An undocumented mother told me last week after consulting with our law firm that she was finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. It is thus, critical, that we should straddle the fine line between warning people of scammers and notarios, while encouraging people to seek legal advice.

At DreamActivist.org, we released a FAQ explaining deferred action, which received over 10,000 downloads within a couple days. Well over a thousand people have emailed to ask whether they are eligible for the program and to request legal support for more complicated cases. For perhaps the first time, people who were not already “undocumented and unafraid” are coming out to seek legal advice regarding their immigration history, and that is a good thing that we should all encourage especially since it is quite likely that many people qualify for far more than just deferred action.

Additionally, the renewed coming out is not restricted to community forums and law firms. The USCIS has already stated that the parents of everyone granted deferred action will not be put into deportation proceedings, so there is nothing to fear by seeking information. The government agency reports getting over 75,000 calls concerning the program. They have hired over 100 new staff to process applications, which could take anywhere from 5 to 9 months. Despite criticism that DREAMers would take away jobs from American citizens, the new program is already creating jobs for Americans.

From undocumented and unafraid, we are increasingly becoming documented and unafraid. Immigration attorney, Andres Benach, has suggested that by applying and receiving deferred action, young immigrants and our parents will further integrate themselves into American society. We would have driver’s licenses, social security numbers, and jobs. We would be able to rent apartments, go to college, buy homes, pay more taxes, take care of our parents, invest in our communities, get married and have children.

As our roots grow, it would be much harder than it is now to uproot us from America and the appetite for the social disruption of deporting us will will decrease exponentially. Hence, even if a Republican such as Mitt Romney is elected to office, it is doubtful that she or he would order the deportation of millions of DREAMers, along with our families. Congress will have to act as it did with NACARA, and grant permanent residency to DREAMers living in an amorphous legal state under deferred action.

Thus, I believe that any future DREAM Act would be short, simple and sweet: anyone granted deferred action under the premises of the DREAM Act or anyone who was eligible for DREAM Act deferred action in 2012 shall be eligible for permanent residency.

If you haven’t come out as undocumented and unafraid, come out of the shadows. The only thing you have to lose is your chains.