In June 2017, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly—now White House chief of staff—officially cancelled the Department’s defense of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans & Lawful Permanent Residents program, known colloquially as DAPA. This means that the program, which was previously on hold pending further litigation, will be allowed to be overturned by the relevant court, instead of going into effect.
While this action partly keeps a presidential campaign promise, it also has the potential to cause considerable trouble for mixed families, as well as casting the survival of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in doubt.
Rights Granted Under DACA/DAPA
The most important factor to understand about DACA and DAPA is that they have always been, at their heart, exercises of prosecutorial discretion. In other words, these programs came into being due to the collective belief of immigration officials that the U.S. immigration system needed to prioritize which cases they handled first, and chose people who fit these criteria to place at the back of the proverbial queue—the term of art used is “not an enforcement priority” in terms of the need for immediate deportation.
If you applied and were approved for DAPA or DACA, it would have granted you the right to apply for work authorization, as the government assumes that parents at least try to contribute toward the solvency of their children and their families. A DAPA grant would last three years; a DACA grant may last two or three depending on when and where it was granted to you. During that time period, an undocumented person was not guaranteed that he or she would not be deported, but the individual could rest assured that he or she would likely not be bothered unless circumstances drastically changed.
As of this writing, the Department of Homeland Security officially rescinded the guidance allowing DAPA to move forward, which also means the litigation pending over its legality will become moot. The administration has illustrated its intent to continue enforcing DACA, but given the ever-changing policy initiatives coming out of the White House, this understandably has many DACA recipients uneasy. The president had promised to scrap both programs while on the campaign trail, and many see the retention of DACA as an impediment to the fulfillment of that promise.
If DACA is ever eliminated, this will place many in immediate danger of deportation, given that applicants are required to lack any other immigration status before applying for the program. While it is emphatically not recommended to hide from or evade immigration authorities, you may still be able to find a legal way to remain. Or if not, your wishes regarding your children and other family may be communicated via the right legal documents such as guardianship orders.
Enlist a Knowledgeable Attorney
While as of this writing DACA remains in effect, it is never a bad idea to have a plan in case of emergency. Having an attorney on your side who understands the programs and the potential risks can matter a great deal. The dedicated Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to try and help you and your family in what can be a very scary time. Call us today to set up a free consultation.
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