Undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children were given an opportunity to apply for protection from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented under the Obama Administration in 2012. Under this program, DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, were allowed to work legally and go to school as long they registered with immigration officials and met other conditions. It has generally been understood that DACA recipients would not be subject to deportation if they consistently met their requirements.
Recent news of a California resident who is reportedly the first DACA recipient to be deported since the change in government may have other DACA recipients worried that the safety afforded by the program may soon become a liability because registration make it easier for them to be found by immigration officials. However, while the news of DACA recipients being deported may be surprising, nothing has changed in the law to specifically allow for the deportation.
Deportation was always possible under the DACA program, but a DACA recipient was eligible for deportation if he posed a threat to national security or public safety. This means that for the most part, as long as the DACA recipient did not get into major trouble with the law, the chance of deportation was low. This also means that currently immigration officials may exercise more discretion to deport more DACA recipients based on a more relaxed definition of who poses a threat. However, there has been no public announcement of a shift in policy to increase the deportation of DACA recipients.
If you are a DACA recipient and your status is not expired, you can take some steps to ensure that you are not immediately deported if immigration officials pick you up on another matter. The most important thing is to make sure you carry your DACA documentation with you at all times. This will not protect you in every case, and you may still get detained for a period of time. However, immediate deportation will be less likely if you can show you have current DACA status.
Another key step is to know your rights. Police cannot stop you to question you about your immigration status without probable cause or a warrant. You also have the right to remain silent if you are arrested, and you should exercise that right. Do not give the police details that could hurt you later. Finally, if you are picked up and detained, do not sign any paperwork presented by immigration officials without your attorney.
The feeling of security that DACA may have given some may be decreasing, and eligible dreamers who had not yet filed applications for DACA status may be more reluctant to do so now. There are benefits to applying for and updating DACA status, however, before applying, it may be best to talk to an immigration attorney and decide if it is the best move for you.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney
If you have an immigration related issue, or have received a removal order for your deportation, you should contact us for legal assistance. Contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP today.