The current state of DACA

Immigration programs exist that could allow people who entered the country illegally as children to stay here legally.

For the hundreds of thousands of people currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, it is both a lifeline that holds them legally here in America to continue the life they love, and a potential path forward that offers a possible means to citizenship in the future. DACA is only available to people who were brought here illegally as children under the age of 16, have resided here consistently since June 15, 2007, were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, and have completed or are furthering their education. For the great majority of DACA participants, America is the only home they have ever known, but they may have had to live in the proverbial shadows without legal immigration status.

Many DACA participants and immigrant advocates alike have been worried about the future of the program given President Trump's vocal criticisms and his repeated promises to end it. Abolishing the program could lead to the possible forced removal of roughly 800,000 enrollees, not to mention the possible millions of undocumented older family members who weren't eligible.

For now, DACA is safe, as the Department of Homeland Security - the agency that oversees the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) - has just renewed it and issued a memorandum explaining new guidelines.

For now, business as usual

First and foremost, it is important to note that the current administration has given no indication that they will be revoking work permits before their expiration date or turning away new applicants seeking protection under DACA. The program is still in effect accepting applications, and work permits are still being issued as of the time of this writing.

There are many benefits associated with DACA, not the least of which includes protection from removal (commonly referred to as "deportation"). Having status under DACA also prohibits potential employers and educational institutions from discriminating against you when it comes to opportunities and admissions. You also have, if accepted into DACA, the opportunity to renew it regularly. Under certain, specific circumstances, you may be able to change your legal status in the future: for many, this is seen as the first step on the path to citizenship or legal permanent residency in the U.S. (getting a "green card").

Access to DACA is, like any other immigration-related legal process, stringent and tightly controlled. The application involves copious amounts of paperwork and proof of your presence in the United States. Missing any step, such as failing to provide an application component, forgetting to attach copies of vital records like transcripts, or not being able to prove eligibility, can mean your application is rejected.

Having an experienced immigration law attorney at your side throughout the DACA application process can make all the difference. What could easily be a stressful and anxiety-provoking time full of questions and uncertainty can instead be one of hope and confidence. If you are in the Greensboro area and want to learn more about applying for DACA or the option to move toward permanent status, contact Quinn Law Firm for your free initial consultation. Call today locally at 336-790-4178 or toll free 877-781-8091, or send an email.