How can the president stop deportation of illegal immigrants?

Many of you have written to ask how President Obama could approve DAPYP and why can no one stop him from doing so?  Basically, through the memo of June 15, 2012, the president directed Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, and ICE to not deport any undocumented alien who meets some criteria and instead allow them to work for a period of two years.

The way to understand this is that only the US Congress has the power to make laws.  The president, as the executive branch, has to enforce the laws, something that is part of the presidential oath.  The twist is that the president has the executive power under which he can decide how to do that.  Which means that he can allocate resources according to his best judgment.  So as many of you know, earlier in his administration, he decided not to enforce Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because he thinks it is unconstitutional as it discriminates against gays.  In this case, the president's argument is that he does not think it is wise to use valuable taxpayer funded resources to send people who came as kids to this country.  Those resources are better spent to round up criminals.

The fact still remains that the law has not changed.  Your stay in this country is still illegal and not just another president, but even Obama, can at any time decide to repeal the decision if it is national interest.  And that is why until the DREAM Act is passed, this Band-Aid solution does little.

How can DREAMERs defeat Mitt Romney?

As I argued previously, if Mitt Romney becomes president and/or Republicans control Congress, not only is the future of DREAM Act over, even the Obama DAPYP program will be repealed.  In fact, there is a clear possibility, Romney may not be satisfied with self-deportation alone and may ramp up enforcement of immigration laws leading to even stronger crackdown on illegal immigrants.  While the recent Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration laws was some relief for illegal immigrants, the "show your papers" provision will continue to make their life impossible as these laws are implemented nationwide.

So what can the DREAMers do?  It is illegal for anyone other than citizens and permanent residents to donate to campaigns, but there are other ways in which you can help defeat Republicans:
  1. Educate whoever you can about the dangers of Republican takeover of Congress and White House.
  2. Help register eligible voters and then provide whatever assistance they need in order to vote.  If it is not possible to vote on election day, it is so much easier to take advantage of absentee ballots.
Update:  Romney announces that Obama DREAMer work permits will be honored by him but no word on whether the DACA program will be renewed. 

Impact of Supreme Court decision on deferred action candidates

I wanted to assess the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on the recent initiative by Obama Administration to allow certain illegal immigrants to apply for work permits if they came as children.  The part of the Arizona statutes which made it a crime to fail to register as an illegal immigrant, to work or to try to find work, and allowed Arizona cops to arrest undocumented immigrants without a warrant if they thought that the subject had committed a crime for which she or he could be deported have all been struck down.

What has not gone away is the law that if you are now stopped by law enforcement for any violation of law whatsoever (e.g. something as small as not using your turn signal while making a turn) and if the cop suspects that you maybe in the United States illegally, you can be detained and the USCIS will be notified.  At that time, the USCIS will advise the local police what to do next.

If you take advantage of the Obama deferral, you will not be deported (as long as your offense is such that it does not violate the requirements laid out) but will still need to deal with the consequences of whatever law you violated.  So you may have to pay a ticket but not deal with deportation headaches.  Similar laws that exist or are about to be approved in states like Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah are now totally legal.  In addition, I expect that many more states will implement "show me your papers" laws.

As an immigrant with a shaky immigration status, it is absolutely important that you NEVER do absolutely anything that may require you to interact with a police or law enforcement officer.  That violation may complicate your immigration situation, and depending on what it is, it may also make it impossible that your work permit may not be renewed after two years.

What will happen to Obama DREAM relief if Mitt Romney wins?

The GOP has never even tried to hide its hatred for illegal immigrants and Mitt Romney is no different.  In the past he has consistently opposed any relief to undocumented immigrants, but right now he is fishing for Latino votes, and like everything else, he is willing to say anything.

Thankfully, he clarified something honestly.  As I had initially argued that if Republicans control either the White House or Congress or both, Obama Deferral Program for Young People is pretty much dead.  This can now be confirmed.  Today Romney declared, "Some people have asked if I will let stand the president's executive action. The answer is that I will build my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure."  In simple words, this is one of those Obama executive orders that he will repeal on the very first day of his office.  Remember that as Barack Obama learned after becoming president, it is not easy to pass legislation even when you control Congress.  Using something called filibuster, just one senator can destroy any legislation.  Assuming that not only Romney wins the 2012 presidential election, but also the GOP controls both houses of Congress, there is simply not enough support among the Republicans to grant any benefit to undocumented immigrants.  Actually, some of the Tea Party members are so strongly opposed to any reform, that I expect things to get even uglier.
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So should I apply for a work permit under the Obama Plan?  This is a tricky question.  If the process moves forward as planned, and you apply on the very first day the USCIS starts accepting applications, considering the backlog at the agency and the reluctance in Congress to approve funding for government agencies, expect delays lasting months if not years before you get a EAD and social security number in order to work legally.  And if Romney repeals the Obama memo, you have now provided all the information that the ICE needs about you to start deportation proceedings.

One option is to wait till the November 2012 elections and not apply till then.  If Obama is reelected you can apply, but if Romney wins, it might not be worth the risk for a few months of work authorization.

Update:  Romney announces that Obama DREAMer work permits will be honored by him but no word on whether the DACA program will be renewed. 

Can I apply for deferred action for young people if I have not lived continuously for 5 years?

Your application for a work permit under the Deferred Action Process for Young People will go very smoothly if you have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007.  Every time you are dealing with bureaucrats it is best to have clear cut situations, but if you are one of those with unusual situations that you did leave US and then returned and continued with your education or life, there are exceptions available.

While it is hard to believe that many undocumented immigrants had the liberty to leave the country and reenter, it is possible to do so by abusing a tourist visa.  The USCIS is saying that if these visits were brief (no details are available on what that means and this is where prosecutorial discretion comes in to play but I would assume that a few days or weeks for the right reasons will quality) and innocent (again no information on what that means but my best guess is that you left the country to tend to a sick family member or to attend a funeral or to complete some essential paperwork or something along those lines) and were undertaken for humanitarian purposes, exceptions will be granted.

Once again, at this time, USCIS has not qualified what it means by humanitarian purpose, but we can conclude that it means that you did not take a beach vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico or went to attend a family wedding.  My advice will be consult with a lawyer what to do if you did leave the US.

How to demonstrate an economic necessity for employment?

In all the discussion related to Deferred Action Program for Young People you must have noticed that in addition to meeting all the eligibility requirements for a work permit and deferral from deportation, you also need to demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.”  So what does this term mean?  As you might have guessed by now, USCIS and attorneys use different language that can sometimes be confusing.

As complicated as this jargon sounds, in reality it is very simple.  The reason it is complicated is that work permits or EAD (employment authorization documents) are issued to many other immigrants and non-immigrants and many of them have to demonstrate a strong reason that they need to work. You fall into that category and you fulfill this requirement by completing a worksheet that asks for income, expenses, and assets.

Assuming that you have no debt and live with your parents with zero expenses, you may still want to work to help your family or save for college or start a family.  If you have expenses, obviously the answer is more straightforward.  So think carefully about this and respond accordingly to this important question when you apply for a work permit.  I have provided tips on completing Form I-765WS that you will be required to in order to get your Form I-765 approved.  I have also provided a sample Form I 765WS to fill your application.

Do I need an attorney to file an application for work permit?

In order to apply for the deferred action work permit, it is not generally necessary to seek help of an immigration lawyer.  If you think that you can understand English well, have a clear cut case with all eligibility requirements met, and have some experience doing legal paperwork, you can do the paperwork yourself.  The USCIS does not require using attorneys.  Actually, after checking out the three forms that you have to fill, I am confident that you can do the paperwork yourself and I have provided tips on completing Form I-821D, Form I-765, and Form I-765WS that you can use to get everything right.

On the other hand, if your case is not clear cut (particularly if you used a fake social security number to work or got into trouble with the law), you have never done any complex paperwork like this before, and would rather let a professional do it right, it makes sense to sacrifice buying the latest gadgets and spend the money instead on professional legal help.  With best legal help, you can rest assured that your case will proceed smoothly and you will get the EAD in a timely fashion.

There is yet another reason for you to consider an expert attorney, particularly if your case is complex: whatever paper trail you start right now will come to haunt you the rest of your life.  Every detail that you provide and every single document you submit will enter an alien file (identified with an A#) and will be part of your future applications for gaining lawful status (depending on what Congress does), green card, and naturalization.  That is why a small mistake can completely mess up your plans for immigration to the United States.

How to find legal help?  Chances are that some crook will try to make a fast buck by offering this help for a low price, but if you are going to spend the money, it is best to work with a real law firm, one that has experience in immigration and work permits.  Remember that there are many types of immigration experts and not all of them specialize in work related visas.  For instance, an attorney who specializes in spousal green cards or naturalization may not be the right person to work with.  The best choice will be someone who helps non-immigrants get H class of visas that require filing for employment authorization.

How to stay away from scammers?  Needless to say that you should not work with anyone who does not have a law office and is operating legally in the state in which you live.  If someone cannot demonstrate to you that they are not a qualified lawyer, run fast.  No one else is authorized to help you, though, if you are doing the paperwork yourself, you can ask a friend for help.  In that case, your friend may give you wrong advice but have no legal responsibility either.  My rule is that if someone is trying to promise too much and looks suspicious, don't fall into the trap.

What happens to DAPYP if Republicans win 2012 elections?

It is no secret that the GOP is strongly opposed to illegal immigration.  The Republican Partly has not only killed any chance of passing the DREAM Act, Mitt Romney has vowed to veto it if it passes.  So here are a few scenarios that might play out:
  1. President Barack Obama is reelected:  You will be able to work legally till 2016 and the outcome from thereafter will depend on whether Republicans or Democrats control the White House.
  2. President Barack Obama is reelected and Democrats control both the House and the Senate with filibuster proof majority:  Assuming that they will keep their promise about the DREAM Act, it will pass.  It is too early to predict what its provisions will be, but expect an eventual path to citizenship.
  3. President Barack Obama is reelected but Republicans control either one or both houses of Congress:  Expect no action on DREAM Act but Deferred Action Program may continue unless the president is sued or some other legal complication arises.
  4. Republicans win the White House regardless of who controls Congress:  Since President Mitt Romney is anti-Hispanic (even though illegal Hispanic workers maintained his yard in Massachusetts), not only will he veto the DREAM Act (assuming that a Democrat controlled Congress passes it), he might even rescind this Obama order.  In other words, you will lose your right to work legally .  In addition to that there are other risks related to getting this benefit.  It appears that some GOP members like Marco Rubio seem to be in favor of some immigration relief to children who were brought to America, but I think that they are just looking for Latino votes.  In reality, they know very well that they simply do not have support within their own party to grant any relief to undocumented immigrants.
Update:  Romney announces that Obama DREAMer work permits will be honored by him but no word on whether the DACA program will be renewed. 

Are there any risks of getting a work permit under Obama plan?

There is always a risk when you have done something unlawful.  Considering that this plan recognizes that the action of your entering the United States illegally or staying beyond your lawful status was illegal and still grants a benefit means that as long as you meet all the eligibility requirements laid out by Janet Napolitano, you can be assured that no harm will come to you.  Here are a few other things to consider:
  1. You must meet all the requirements completely and clearly.  You must provide all the documentation and be able to prove their authenticity.  In your interaction with the USCIS, as long as you are completely honest and truthful, everything will go smoothly.
  2. If you do not meet some of the requirements -- for example, you have not completed your high school -- expect no harm other than wasted time and money because your application will simply be rejected.  That is why it is very important to make sure that you meet all eligibility requirements for Obama DREAM Act.  I doubt if you will see any more action than that because in another decision President Obama ordered that only undocumented immigrants who have committed grave crimes will be deported, but again, this policy has not been implemented perfectly, and you may still be subject to prosecution/deportation.  Again, it is best to consult with an attorney if you have doubts about your eligibility.
  3. If you do not meet a requirement related to your criminal history or if you can be considered as a threat to national security, things can get very nasty.  Since you have now provided all the information about you, chances are that law enforcement will act swiftly and mercilessly.  Expect immediate arrest and even deportation.  That is why if you have a criminal record, you must consult with a good attorney before applying for deferred action.  Do not forget that each case is subject to prosecutorial discretion so individual officers will review each case on its merits using the guidelines provided in the Department of Homeland Security memo and can recommend whatever action that they think is best.  There is NO APPEAL.

What is meant by prosecutorial discretion?

In all the conversations related to Deferred Action Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities (DAPYP or pronounced as DayPip), you might be reading everywhere this term and wondering what it means.  So here is the simple explanation:
  1. Regardless of whether you call yourself undocumented or illegal or DREAMer, the reality is that you have broken US law.  That is why, by default, you can be prosecuted for this crime.  By submitting your application to the USCIS, you are submitting yourself to leniency by a prosecutor.  In other words, it is entirely up to the prosecutor to defer action on your deportation and grant you a work permit to find legal employment.
  2. Why this complicated process?  Only US Congress has the authority to approve an amnesty.  What President Barack Obama did was to direct federal prosecutors to defer action on prosecution in the hope that Congress will eventually pass the DREAM Act.  Thus, in the eyes of the law, you can be prosecuted for this crime at any time and even deported, and this is a distinct possibility if another president does not extend this benefit or DREAM Act is not passed.  Right now, however, the shortcut that the president has found to grant this benefit is that he is directing the prosecutors that as long as an applicant meets the all the eligibility requirements, she or he should be legally allowed to work for a period of two years at a time.  In summary, it still means that the prosecutors or the decision makers in each case will exercise their discretion to approve each case.
  3. It is also good to know that while your past crime is not being forgiven in any way and it will always be on your record (unless Congress specifically condones it), your unlawful status could come to haunt you your whole life in the United States.  Actually, by taking advantage of the Obama plan, you are admitting wrongdoing and providing documentary evidence of it to the authorities.  Do not be surprised that this application can be used against you at any time.

Welcome DREAMERS to your American DREAM

Our mission behind this website is to provide simple information and step -by-step instructions on how to file for the paperwork for taking advantage of the regulations passed by Obama Administration to allow children who came illegally to the United States.  We want to simplify the process and make the legal mumbo-jumbo go away by talking like real humans.  So please feel free to peruse the information and write to us if we can be of any help.

While the initial focus was on the so-called USCIS Childhood Arrivals program under the name Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) I am also adding latest information on DREAM and Achieve Acts.