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How DACA Can Help Undocumented Texas Immigrants

Immigrant childThis is the next post in our series discussing what undocumented Texas immigrants need to know about recent changes in immigration. Our last post provided an overview of topics that we will be discussing in more detail throughout our series. In this post we will be explaining what DACA is, who is eligible to apply, and when applications will be received under the new expanded DACA program..

Texas immigrants must understand that the DACA provides deferred action- not a path to citizenship

In 2012, President Obama announced an immigration plan called DACA. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is meant to protect adults who were brought into the United States illegally as children by giving them temporary protection from deportation. Under DACA a person would be granted a two year work permit, could be granted a driver’s license, and would have permission to live in the U.S.. The 2012 criteria only applied to those persons who were brought to the US prior to their 16th birthday AND were under the age of 31 as of June 15th, 2012. In November 2014, President Obama announced that he would be expanding this program to include more people than the original proposal. Under the expanded program, DACA would eliminate the requirement mandating that only persons born after June 16th, 1981 be eligible. He also extended protection to people who have lived in the US continuously since 2010 and announced that three year work permits would be granted rather than the previously included two year period. However, in February 2015, a Federal Judge issued an injunction temporarily halting the application of those who would have been eligible under the expanded program. At the time of this posting, only DACA applicants eligible under the 2012 criteria are being accepted and renewed.

DACA was proposed for a variety of reasons. One, adult immigrants who were brought to the US as children do not know another home. These are community members who have built families, paid taxes, and participated in the local economy. When they crossed the border they were young and did not make a conscious decision to break the law. The Obama administration does not seek to punish those who simply spent their lives being productive community members in the only home they have ever known. The administration also wants to provide a way for persons who wish to work to do so legally. One of the DACA requirements is for applicants to have finished high school, received their GED, or currently be in school while applying. DACA is meant to take the focus off of immigrants who have an established presence in the US and places the focus on deporting violent criminals or those who are a safety risk to the public. Given the large number of people who come to Texas, from Mexico, the benefits of this act are obvious.

DACA eligibility may be able to save Texas residents detained by ICE with a bond hearing

It may not be too late for a Texas resident to request DACA relief even if they have been detained by ICE. It is important to contact an attorney immediately whenever one has been detained by ICE. A person cannot apply for DACA while in custody, however, all immigrants can request a bond hearing and bond is granted in part based on whether or not a person is likely to win eligibility. Being eligible for DACA will make a difference as to whether or not bond will be granted. During a bond hearing an immigration attorney will argue that the detainee has deep roots in the community, is not a flight risk, , and is eligible for DACA or will be once the injunction is lifted. Once released then  it may take a year or more for an immigration hearing to be set. Your attorney will then gather all necessary documents and prepare to file the necessary application as soon as possible.

Our Austin immigration lawyer assists people throughout Travis County, Texas with the process. This assistance includes applications for relief. Contact our office today.

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