Protecting the Child from Deportation
Q: How can I ensure that my youth does not get deported?
A: There is no easy answer here. But it seems that it is important to: 1) maintain confidentiality of the youth’s immigration status, except as needed to get the youth’s immigration needs addressed, 2) communicate to the youth the importance of not being charged with a crime, and 3) get both SIJS status and then legal residency for the youth as soon as possible (or ensure that the youth pursues legal status through some other form of relief such as U-Visa, T-Visa, or VAWA).
Q: What are the paths to legal residency that one can consider?
A: SIJS status is the most common path, once services are terminated to at least one parent. However, there are also “U” visas for victims of serious crimes, “T” Visas for victims of human trafficking, and “VAWA self-petition” based on child abuse perpetrated by a U.S. citizen or lawful resident. These options, and others, should be discussed with a qualified immigration attorney.
Q: Should the child carry a copy of their immigration documents with them?
A: If a youth has documents showing their legal residency, the youth can carry a COPY of these documents. The originals should be kept in a safe place. Also, if the youth has applied for immigration status or is in immigration proceedings, they should ask their immigration attorney for a copies so they can show proof.
Q: What is the Dream Act, and how can it help my youth become a citizen?
A: The federal Dream Act never became law – it is of no help. California did pass laws that together are referred to as the “California Dream Act,” that makes certain noncitizens eligible for financial aid for college. 32
Q: What is DACA – and how can it help my youth become a citizen?
A: DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is federal immigration policy initiated in 2012 that guides prosecutorial discretion as to whether to initiate deportation proceedings. This allows certain individuals who entered the US as children to officially apply for the temporary deferral of deportation and receive authorization to work. It does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship. At the time of this writing (3/6/17) DACA is still official U.S. policy (see Memo from Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, entitled: Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, dated February 20, 2017). Also, regarding deportation, “prosecutorial discretion… shall be made on a case-by-case basis,” and the manner of federal implementation remains uncertain (also, this memo promises that the November 20, 2014 memorandum, which would have expanded DACA and created DAPA – Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents – will be addressed in the future). 33 At this time, the future of DACA is uncertain, and care should be taken before signing up, as President Trump and his administration have not decided what to do with DACA just yet. 34
32 See AB 130 (2011) and AB 131(2011). For more information see: http://www.e4fc.org/images/E4FC_CADAGuide.pdf.
33 See Memo from Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, entitled: Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest, dated February 20, 2017. For more information on DACA go to https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca, see also the November 20, 2014 Memo from DHS, available 2/21/17 here: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_deferred_action.pdf.
34 See President Trump’s comments regarding DACA during the February 16, 2017 White House press conference, where he indicated that he is still undecided, stating, “We’re gonna show great heart; DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me.”