***Updated on January 19, 2018***
On January 9, 2018, a federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place. This is a nationwide preliminary injunction halting the repeal of DACA. This means that individuals can continue to apply for DACA. USCIS has issued an update stating they have resumed accepting requests to renew DACA applications: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-response-january-2018-preliminary-injunction.
The judge held that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim and that the rescission of DACA was based on a flawed legal premise. The Justice Department announced on January 16 that it would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the judge’s ruling and allow the Trump administration to end DACA.
While Immigration Equality celebrates the ruling and what it stands for, the injunction offers only a temporary solution. We still need legislative action for a permanent solution for Dreamers. Immigration Equality Action Fund will continue to lobby Congress to demand that they pass the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide DACA recipients and other similarly situated young people a pathway to citizenship. To sign up for alerts or to take action in support of our lobbying efforts, click here. We need a clean DREAM Act now!
Many of you have contacted Immigration Equality to ask “what do I do now?” Below, you will find our frequently asked DACA questions. In addition, we know that some of you may be eligible for other immigration benefits.
I currently have DACA and it will expire in the next 6 months. Can I renew my DACA?
Yes. The government says it has resumed DACA renewals. You can apply if your DACA is expiring within the next 6 months (180 days).
My DACA expired or was terminated. Can I file a renewal now?
Yes. If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request.
If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or your DACA was previously terminated at any time, you cannot request DACA as a renewal but you can file a new initial DACA request. However, be sure to list the date of expiration or termination of your prior DACA. Also, if your DACA was terminated, and you are seeking to renew or apply again at this time, be sure to speak with an immigration attorney or accredited BIA representative before applying.
Can I apply for DACA for the first time ever now?
No. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. The injunction does not require that first-time requests be accepted.
Can I apply for advance parole?
No. USCIS will not accept or approve advance parole requests from DACA recipients.
I want to apply but I’m afraid about what will happen in the future. What if the Trump administration is successful in overturning the judge’s ruling?
The Trump administration is preparing to appeal the injunction. The Justice Department announced on January 16 that it would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the judge’s ruling and allow the Trump administration to end DACA.
Because DACA may end in the near future, we encourage applicants who are eligible to renew right away. We always recommend that an applicant speak with an attorney first before applying but even more so for those individuals with complicated immigration histories.
I want to apply and I am otherwise eligible I but have a criminal history that might affect my claim. Should I apply?
We recommend you speak with an immigration attorney or accredited BIA representative regarding your case and your criminal history. Your legal representative should advise you on the potential consequences your criminal history may have on your eligibility for DACA. We strongly discourage anyone with a criminal history from applying for DACA unless you speak to a legal representative first.
I provided the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with my address when I applied for DACA. How likely is it that ICE agents are going to come to my home?
While the President has indicated that individuals who had DACA will not be a priority for deportation, he has in fact deported DACA recipients and his general emphasis on deportations should be taken seriously. For as long as you live at an address known by the immigration agents, you may be at risk.
What do I do if immigration agents or officers come to my home?
If Immigration agents come to your home and ask you if they can enter it, tell them “no.” Make sure your family, friends, loved ones, and anyone else living with you or visiting you also know not to open the door for ICE.
No one can enter your home without permission unless they have a search warrant or an arrest warrant signed by a judge.
If an officer informs you that they have a warrant, ask them to slip it under your door. Read it carefully. Immigration officers often have papers that look very official but are not judicial warrants. Please also note that immigration agents frequently come to a person’s home very early in the morning and claim to be the police. If someone says that they are a police officer, ask to see their badge. Look closely at the badge for the word “police,” as many immigration officers also have badges. If the officers cannot show you a police badge, they may be immigration officers. Regardless of which agency the officers work for, no one can enter your home without permission unless they have a search warrant or an arrest warrant signed by a judge.
How do I stay safe in public?
Being able to prove your identity is important for a lot of reasons in the United States. If possible, avoid carrying a passport or other papers that indicate that you are not in an immigration status. Some states and cities issue local IDs without reference to a person’s immigration status. Even a library card is better than no ID.
If someone approaches you claiming to be an immigration agent, respectfully ask to see their badge. Read it carefully. If they are an ICE agent and you do not have permission to be in the U.S., you always have the right to remain silent. You can also ask to speak to your lawyer before answering any questions.
You always have the right to remain silent. It is better to remain silent than to be dishonest with immigration agents.
If you are searched by immigration agents, note that they are generally not allowed to look in your wallet or to read your papers. A search of a person is generally restricted to looking for weapons or of possession of something illegal. You do not have to consent to any other kind of search.
Do not sign any document you do not understand. Ask to speak with a lawyer and for a hearing in immigration court before signing away any of your rights.
What do I do if immigration agents stop me in my car?
If you have a valid driver’s license, you may show that to an immigration officer. If you do not, you should ask if you are under arrest. If you are not, ask if you are free to go. Remember, you can always remain silent. You can also ask to speak to an attorney before you answer any questions. If officers ask if they can search your car or look in your trunk, you have the right to say “no.” Note, however, that if the police have “probable cause” to believe that you are involved in criminal activity, they may search your car anyway.
Is it safe for me to travel domestically?
For those who are not in an immigration status, or who have applications pending, even domestic travel is risky.
If you are undocumented, or if you are waiting on a pending immigration application, you should avoid domestic air, train, or bus travel.
Please note that almost all domestic airports are also international airports. Therefore, immigration agents are very likely to be present at almost every airport. Similarly, there are many roads and highways near the borders of the U.S. where immigration agents set up checkpoints. And, finally, certain train and bus lines are regularly boarded and searched by ICE agents. Long distance travel, or travel near the border, is strongly discouraged.
Are U.S. territories such as the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico considered domestic or international travel?
While all U.S. territories are indisputably part of the United States, ICE has begun to police them as though they were foreign jurisdictions. Immigration Equality is currently contesting whether ICE should treat U.S. territories as though they are foreign jurisdictions. Several Immigration Equality clients have been detained by ICE while they were visiting U.S. territories. For example, in March, an asylum-seeker we represent was detained after visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even though he has a valid state ID and a valid work authorization document, ICE detained him anyway. While we are confident that we will win this issue in court, you should avoid travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories if unless you can show that you are a citizen, a permanent resident, or a valid, current visa holder.