Deferred Action

Texas Judge Causes Outcry by Demanding Names of DACA Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on July 14, 2016

Federal judge Andrew Hanen has provoked an outcry by demanding detailed personal information that identifies young immigrants caught in a bureaucratic bungle. Now the immigrants are fighting the move.

The Texas judge has ordered the Department of Justice to provide the names of more than 100,000 immigrants who received three-year renewals of deferrals of deportation as well as work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012.  They should have been given two-year renewals, reported ABC news.

Judge Andrew Hanen

Federal judge Andrew Hanen

It’s not the first time Hanen has courted controversy. He was the judge who blocked President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action. The issue recently came before the U.S. Supreme Court which heard evidence in April. Texas and 25 other states are opposing Obama’s orders.

Hanen has ordered the DOJ to provide the names of all of the immigrants who were given DACA benefits from November 20, 2014, to March 3, 2015. Although the lists would be sealed, the judge ordered the government department to separate out states and send sealed copies to each one. He wants the lists to include:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • A comprehensive list of contact information
  • The immigrant’s identifying “A” file numbers.

Four Immigrants Challenge Personal Information Release by Judge

The Department of Justice was told to provide the immigrants’ names by June 10. However, four immigrants launched a legal challenge just days earlier.

They sought a decision that would have prevented personal details from falling into the hands of states that are seeking to block Obama’s executive actions. The petition asked the New Orleans-based federal fifth circuit appeals court to make a ruling before June 10.

Many undocumented immigrants are understandably sensitive about providing personal information because they fear it could be used against them.

Angelica Villalobos, one of the four immigrants to launch the appeal, told the media Judge Hanen’s order could lead to immigrants thinking twice before submitting personal information.

It has also been condemned by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who told reporters that the judge’s ruling lacks legal justification and would involve providing the personal details of thousands of teenagers and young immigrants.

If you applied for deferred action, you are likely to be facing considerable uncertainty and upheaval as the issue is fought in the courts. The prospect of the states that are hostile to the program gaining your personal details may be an added worry. Read more about the deferred action programs here on our website.

If you are eligible for deferred action or have another concern about an immigration matter, please call our experienced Texas deferred action attorneys for help at (512) 474-4445.

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Deferred Action Program Would Allow Woman to Visit Her Daughter in Austin

By Peek & Toland on June 1, 2016

There has been a lot of publicity in recent weeks about President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program after a Supreme Court hearing in April.

But very little of the material we have read about the legal arguments relates to how it would affect real people. An article in My Statesman highlights how the impasse over the executive orders is affecting the relationship between a woman from Austin and her mother.

DAPA is Deferred Action for Parents of Americans

Maria Reza is a student at The University of Texas at Austin. She received temporary legal status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the other initiative that was considered by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Texas in April, with a decision likely in June, according to the Huffington Post. You can read more about DACA, here on our Austin immigration attorneys’ website.

My Statesman reported that Reza’s mother lives in Houston. She qualifies for the DAPA program because her younger children were born in the United States. However, her life is dogged by uncertainty ahead of the Supreme Court ruling.

Reza told My Statesman that her mother avoids making a drive of more than 160 miles between Houston and Austin because she’s afraid of being pulled over for a traffic infraction and facing possible deportation if officials find out she is an undocumented immigrant.

Reza said her mother had initially been hopeful about the orders but after more than a year-and-a-half of uncertainty as DAPA became a political battleground, she has started to lose hope.

Deferred Action Would Allow Fort Worth Woman to Start a Business

My Statesman also highlighted the case of Sheridan Aguirre, whose mother started working at a Wendy’s restaurant in Fort Worth in Texas a decade ago to support her family. She earned $8 then. She only earns $11 an hour now.

Her life would be transformed if she was granted legal status through deferred action. It would allow Aguirre’s mother to obtain a work permit, giving her the chance to “fulfill her dream of starting her own business.”

DAPA promises to provide employment eligibility and to give relief from deportation to immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents on the condition they have not committed offenses. Under the program, they would receive rigorous background checks and must have well-established ties to the United States.

A recent article in Fox News Latino stated Texas, the state that has led the charge against DAPA, would be one of the biggest beneficiaries. The Migration Policy Institute estimates the state’s GDP would increase by more than $38 million a year and DAPA would create an extra 4,800 jobs a year in Texas for the next decade.

The stories of families who would be split apart if their parents are not allowed to stay in the USA highlights the importance of the case that’s currently before the Supreme Court.

Peek & Toland, PLLC, help people who are facing these painful situations on a regular basis. Our Austin-based immigration attorneys can advise you on the next steps and provide peace of mind. For your convenience, we have set out the latest details of Obama’s immigration reforms here, to help you keep up to date. Call us at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation.

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Why Driver’s License Costs in Texas Are Pivotal in the Immigration Supreme Court Case

By Peek & Toland on May 17, 2016

The cost of driver’s licenses in Texas may appear to be a dull, secondary issue in the pivotal Supreme Court immigration case of United States v. Texas, but it’s likely to be a crucial factor in the case.

Oral arguments were presented last month in a hearing that is one of the most significant immigration cases to come before the nation’s highest court this century and could provide relief to as many as 4 million undocumented immigrants. More than half of the country’s states are opposed to two initiatives that are central to President Obama’s immigration policy, known as DAPA and DACA.

The cost of driver's licenses are key to Texas's case against Obama's immigration policy

The cost of drivers’ licenses is pivotal in U.S v. Texas

  • DAPA is Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. It’s an immigration policy that would give deferred action status to certain classes of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2010 and have children.
  • DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It’s an initiative aimed at non-citizens who arrived in the United States as children and is explained here in more depth by Peek & Toland, PLLC. Under DACA some people who came to this country when they were young and meet certain guidelines “may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal,” states U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

As the lead plaintiff in this case, Texas must show that the action would hurt it in some way. That’s where driver’s licenses come in.

Texas is arguing it would take a major financial hit when it processes driver’s licenses for immigrants who have an illegal status because their deportation would be deferred under the president’s executive action. The state expects an upsurge in driver’s license applications after granting work authorization to previously undocumented immigrants.

The office of Texas’s attorney general has claimed Obama’s initiative would cause an upsurge in applications for driver’s licenses, making them more costly to issue. Texas must show it suffered a significant degree of “injury” to sue, but there is considerable skepticism about the driver’s license argument amid speculation it is merely a smokescreen to clothe a naked political agenda against immigration.

The state’s arguments were recently undermined by a Reuters article that quoted Bill Beardall, of the University of Texas Law School. Beardall, who is also the executive director of the Equal Justice Center, said the state’s claims are “tenuous.”

Texas claims the additional driver’s licenses would cost $103 million. However, that figure is nearly three times what Texas currently budgets every year for all driver’s licenses to 27 million people, Reuters reported.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, states:

“Texas is engaging in legal obfuscation they hope others won’t notice. First, having work authorization wouldn’t make those with DAPA or DACA eligible for licenses. It’s having received deferred action that allows immigrants to apply for and become tested, licensed, and insured drivers.”

It remains to be seen if the judges will issue a decision based on the case’s merits. A decision is likely in June and there is speculation that the Supreme Court will be split. Many of last months’ arguments concerned whether the states have standing to sue over the executive orders in the first place which is why the seemingly obscure arguments about driving licenses in Texas could prove to be so important. To find out more about the immigration reforms,

If you are affected by DAPA or DACA, it’s natural that you will be experiencing a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Our Austin immigration attorneys can help you understand the process and to find out about more about the process of securing legal status in the U.S. Contact us at (512) 474-4445.


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Immigration Reform Creates Changes for DACA

By Peek & Toland on December 11, 2014

One of the biggest immigration changes proposed by the White House in recent months is a change to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  DACA is one of the main ways in which undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. as children can defer deportation in order to work or go to school while staying with their families and communities in the United States.

In November, the President issued an executive order making several changes to immigration policies and procedures.  Included in the order were changes to DACA. Read the rest »

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Understanding Guidelines for Deferred Action in Immigration Cases

By Peek & Toland on February 20, 2014

On June 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that certain people may request a deferral of an immigration removal action for up to two years, if they came to the U.S. as children (under the age 16) and meet other requirements. Known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA, this process gives many people who came to the U.S. as children the chance to continue working while they await a pathway to permanent residency in the United States.

A person may seek consideration of deferred action for childhood arrival if the person: Read the rest »

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Initial Report in from USCIS

By Peek & Toland on November 19, 2012

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Department released a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival report as of November 15, 2012.  So far, USCIS has only approved 53,273 applications out of the 308,935 total applications received for an approval rate of 17.24%. The report indicates that USCIS has accepted 298,834 of the 308,935 total applications, only turning away 3.3% of applications initially.

The report indicates the top five national origins for applicants are Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Peru. The top five states from which applications were received include California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois.

To review the full report, click here.

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Mitt Romney says he will not deport immigrants who are granted Deferred Action

By Peek & Toland on October 2, 2012

Today Governor Mitt Romney announced that he will not deport young immigrants who are granted Deferred Action. On June 15, 2012 President Barack Obama announced a new immigrant enforcement policy known as Deferred Action, which allows certain young immigrants who meet specific criteria to stay in the U.S. for a two year period. Up until today, Governor Mitt Romney has been very vague as to whether he will honor President Obama’s Deferred Action plan for young immigrants. Mitt Romney’s announcement today provides reassurance to those Deferred Action eligible immigrants that if Mitt Romney is elected President, he will honor young immigrant’s Deferred Action status.

Governor Romney also announced that under his administration he planned to have his full immigration reform plan implemented before the two year protected period lapsed for current Deferred Action young immigrants. However, Governor Romney has not addressed what his immigration reform plan actually entails or what will occur if Congress fails to adopt it. For now, it should provide some young immigrants reassurance that Governor Romney has announced he will honor Deferred Action to those granted it if he is elected president.

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Governor Perry Needs to Read His Own State’s Policies – Deferred Action applicants are eligible for Texas Drivers Licenses

By Peek & Toland on August 22, 2012

A Message from Jeff Peek, Immigration Attorney and Partner at Peek & Toland:

“If Governor Perry spent more time reading his own State’s policies on license issuance, and less time on political grandstanding, he would understand that Texas already allows people with work authorizations and social security numbers to get Driver’s Licenses, which means so too will Deferred Action applicants.  That is unless he moves to change this policy which is already in place.  Texas also issues Driver’s Licenses to people in Temporary Protected Status (a status very similar to Deferred Action) and other classes of immigrants in removal proceedings and out on bond.

So don’t worry Deferred Action applicants, a Texas Driver’s license will be waiting for you once you have your work authorization permit.  Please ignore our Governor.”

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is here! You can now apply for Deferred Action!

By Peek & Toland on August 15, 2012

Yesterday, August 14, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the final application process for those individuals who may be eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We have reviewed the application forms and instructions for applying for DACA. Below is a list of the requirements needed to apply for DACA.

Basic Requirements for DACA

An individual may be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals if he or she:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Under the age of 31 years old and at least 15 years of age.

The DACA application and instructions state that anyone under the age of 31 year old may apply for DACA. Additionally, an applicant must be at least 15 years old at the time of filing, unless the individual is in removal, then he or she may apply for DACA at any age.

Continuously Resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.

The DACA application instructions state that an applicant must report all absences from the U.S. since June 15, 2007. A brief absence from the U.S. after June 15, 2007 may not disqualify an applicant for DACA depending on the length, reason, and if the absence was “brief, casual, and innocent before June 15, 2012.” The DACA application instructions also include examples possible reasons for travel, including attending a wedding or funeral. From this language, it is apparent that absences due to removal orders or voluntary departure orders or for illegal purposes (i.e., trafficking drugs, trafficking immigrants, etc.) will not be accepted as “brief, casual and innocent” absences from the U.S.

Additionally, the DACA application and instructions do not require proof of absences before June 15, 2007 and do not ask an applicant to list absences prior to June 15, 2007. Thus, it appears that any absence outside of the U.S. and reentry before June 15, 2007 will not disqualify an applicant for DACA.

Presence on June 15, 2012.

The DACA application also indicates that an applicant must show that he or she is one of the following:

  • The applicant entered into the U.S. without inspection and was present in U.S. on June 15, 2012, or
  • The applicant had status that expired before June 15, 2012 and was present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.

High School Diploma, GED or Certificate of Completion

To apply for DACA, an applicant must be either:

  • Attending high school,
  • Graduated from high school and have a diploma or certificate of completion,
  • Have obtained a GED.

An applicant must have obtained his or her GED, high school diploma or certificate of completion, or be current attending high school to apply. Those applicants who are preparing for the GED or who are in the process of taking the GED may not apply for DACA until they have completed their GED.

Significant Misdemeanors

A juvenile offense is a crime committed by a person under the age of 16 years in Texas. Based on a reading of the DACA application instructions, it appears juvenile offenses will not disqualify an applicant from the DACA application process because juvenile offenses in Texas do not result in convictions. However, if an applicant is convicted of a juvenile offense, the applicant will be required to submit documentation of the dispositions to apply for DACA.

Documents Needed to Prove Identity

The DACA application instructions include a list of documents to submit. The instructions state that an applicant may submit “any of the following”, meaning an applicant is not required to submit all the documents included on the list. Thus, an applicant is not required to submit a passport to apply for DACA.

Other important factors to note:

Deadline to File:

There is no deadline to file. We currently believe the application process is an open registration, meaning once an individual turns 15 years old, he or she can apply for DACA.

For Those in Advanced Parole:

Do NOT submit advanced parole until your deferred action application has been approved.


If you are looking for more information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, please see our website section on DACA. We will include up to date information on the DACA process as we receive it. If you are looking to meet with an attorney to discuss whether you are eligible for DACA, please call our office at 512-474-4445 or click here.

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Deferred Action Event at Mission Christiana Maranatha Church in Manchaca, Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 13, 2012

This past Saturday Peek & Toland hosted our last free Deferred Action event at Mission Christiana Maranatha Church in Manchaca, Texas. The event was a huge success with over seventy-five people attending! We were so excited to spread information about Deferred Action and answer questions we received. As you can see from the photos, there were people of all ages in attendance including young people, children and parents.

We would like to thank the Pastor Alberto Duran and his wife, Nardy Duran for allowing us to host the Free Information Event at their church. We would also like to thank Martin, the Audio-Video and IT specialist, at Mission Christiana Maranatha Church for creating a great video of the presentation and helping with all the technology involved. Thank you so much!

Jeff Speaking to the Crowd about Deferred Action

The Peek & Toland Banner Hanging on the Wall at the Event

Jeff pointing out the Requirements for Deferred Action

Jeff answering questions from the attendants of the Free Deferred Action Event

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