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How to prepare for DACA interview?

Tammy writes, "I entered without inspection from the border with Mexico at age 4.  I filed for deferred action on Oct 17, 2012 and went for my biometrics appointment on November 20. I provided evidence like school records, medical records, bank statements, church letters, gym records. I do not have a criminal record, I have never been in trouble in any way. All the papers of course were 100% legit.  My whole packet was pretty extensive, maybe a good two inches thick. The only thing, was that I was in Mexico my 7th and 8th grades, but this was way before 2007 and I was still a minor. But I had to be honest about it when I had to list all my addresses since my arrival.  Other than that, maybe because I was advised to put "undetermined" for my income/expenses since I don't have a paying job. I help my mom with housekeeping but she is the one who gets paid cash. So it's really hard to put down a salary/income since I technically don't have one. I recently received a letter to attend an interview. I don't know why I am being interviewed... I also don't know what to expect? Do you know anything about DACA interviews?  Would you think my two years in Mexico is what caused for the agent to call me for an interview?  I am quite sure my parents are not keeping anything from me. I've never been deported or anything.  If they don't approve my case for whatever reason, would they be able to take me into custody and deport me at the spot? My family is also concerned about me being deported and what would happen to them.  Would they be deported also, more specifically, would ICE be able to knock on my door and take them?  Please help."

Why is DACA ordering DREAMers to interviews:  You might have been picked at random for an interview as part of a quality control program (I am a bit concerned, though, that it took so long for your application because, if you are telling the truth that yours is a straightforward case, these are approved in about 3 months and then without getting an RFE you have been asked to go to an interview).  Also, while you may think that your case is genuine and all your paperwork is authentic, maybe there is something in your application that makes the officer think that it is fraudulent, or something does not add up and looks suspicious.  A very remote possibility is that someone with your name and/or background is wanted for a crime and they just want to make sure that it is not you.

How can a DREAMer get ready for DACA interview?   So this is what you should do (particularly if your attorney is not coming with you, though, I would advise that you should get a lawyer because it will be worth it):

  1. Relax.  If you have done nothing wrong, there is nothing to fear.
  2. Review your DACA application package and be prepared to answer each and every question.  The officer can ask you anything related to the application.  I also want you to review your application for mistakes.  Sometimes we all can mess up dates and numbers.
  3. Bring originals of all the documents that you have submitted.
  4. Be on time.  Dress professionally and treat the officer respectfully.  Do what you are told.  Do not bring electronics (and definitely no weapons) to the Federal building.
  5. DO NOT lie.  I repeat, regardless of what anyone is telling you now, tell 100% of the truth, because nothing is worse than lying under oath to a Federal officer, particularly if you are undocumented.  You will get into more trouble if you are caught lying than for breaking the law.
  6. Make sure that you follow the instructions in the letter for the interview, so if they have asked for something, bring it along.
  7. You will have to clarify that your mother is the one who pays all the bills but if you did not indicate that you had any expenses, it is a good idea to type on a sheet of paper what your expenses are, for example, cell phone bill, share of your house rent/mortgage, meals, school, etc.

Inaccurate information about DREAMers:   Is there a possibility that your family has not told you the whole truth?  There have been instances of parents not sharing all the details, either because they did not think it was necessary to tell the kids, or that they did not know English and threw the letter in the trash, or did not fully realize the implications, for example, of simply declaring that their undocumented child was actually a US citizen.  There are stories of how the parents completely ignored deportation orders and even threw away the paperwork or changed names (it is not enough to deny your case but if you did not disclose this, that would be a problem).

Worst case scenario:   At this point you have no choice but to deal with the interview. The worst that can happen is a denial but if there was no fraud involved and no criminal record, USCIS will most likely leave you alone for the time being.   In any case, if your application is denied, as are hundreds of DACA cases denied, most likely you will get a letter in the mail and nothing else will happen.  Right now, the government is focusing on deporting only people with criminal backgrounds so if you and your family are clean, nothing is likely to happen to them.  Unless you or your family members are wanted for a crime, you will not be arrested and deported.

The point to note, though, is that an undocumented person can be arrested and deported at any time, legally speaking, but just being called for an interview does not increase that probability.  No one is aware of what to expect during a DACA interview but it is no different than any other immigration case interview at the USCIS offices.  So just to prepare, you will be in front of an officer on a desk in an office or cubicle, you will swear to tell the truth, and then all you have to do is just answer all the posed questions truthfully.  Remember that you have to assume that the USCIS knows everything about you because using all sorts of records they can find out things about you that you might not expect.  Most likely you will not be given a decision on the spot and will have to wait for a letter to arrive later.