Texas Immigrants Convicted of a Misdemeanor Should Consult an Attorney Prior to Applying for DACA
This is the next post in our series discussing what undocumented Texas residents need to know about recent immigration reform. Our last discussion analyzed whether one should apply for the DACA or DAPA if they are currently pursuing other forms of relief. In this article we will discuss whether one is eligible for DACA or DAPA when they have a criminal record.
Texas immigrants convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor are ineligible for DACA and DAPA
The DACA and DAPA require that a person not have a felony or “significant misdemeanor” on their record. “Significant” in general terms means that anyone who was sentenced to custody for more than 90 days should likely consult with an attorney prior to applying. The list of misdemeanors that will likely render a person ineligible may include domestic violence incidents, burglary, sexual abuse cases, unlawful possession of a firearm, drug related offenses, or DUI. If you have been convicted of any of the above offenses then you are not eligible for DACA relief and should not apply. This is true for DUI’s even if you did not spend 90 days in jail. For those who were charged for juvenile offenses, or who have had a conviction expunged from their record, USCIS will review such cases on an individual basis. If you fall into this category then it is important to speak to an immigration attorney prior to applying in order to assess your level of eligibility.
Texas immigrants who have been arrested, or charged but not convicted of a crime, remain eligible for relief but may need to provide documentation of the incident. In your application you will likely need a certified copy of the Court docket to prove what happened and verify that you were not convicted of the crime. For those who were charged with something “insignificant” (such as disorderly conduct, petty theft, prostitution, or vandalism) there will be a requirement of submitting Court documents proving that you were not sentenced to more than 90 days in jail and that the crime was not violent in nature. However, anyone who has three misdemeanor convictions on their record are automatically ineligible for DACA even if the crimes are “insignificant.”
Consult with an Austin immigration lawyer if you are unsure as to whether your DACA application will be approved
The largest hesitation for those with a minor criminal record in applying for DACA is the fear that USCIS will report their information to ICE. This fear is unfounded for the most part. Those who believe they have a chance at being accepted should try. USCIS has plainly stated that they will only release information to ICE due to issues of fraud or national security. While USCIS will always reserve their right to broaden their criteria in the wake of an unforeseen event, it is not their intention to use DACA applications as a way to find new immigrants to deport. With that said, if a person is clearly ineligible and has a violent or drug related conviction on their record it is useless to apply and would only be taking an unnecessary chance.
If you have a minor misdemeanor crime on your record then you may be eligible to apply for DACA but should have an attorney assist you with your application. Contact our Austin immigration lawyers today. We service all of Travis County, Texas.