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Deferred Action

DACA and Traveling Abroad: A Pathway to Citizenship?

By Peek & Toland on February 3, 2021

When it comes to immigration issues, and DACA especially, the questions concerning permits and permissions usually surround wanting to stay within the U.S., but what if you are here through the DACA program and want to temporarily leave the U.S.? Can you do so legally and return to the U.S.? There are many reasons someone might need or want to temporarily leave the United States, so let’s take a look at what that means for Dreamers.

You need more than DACA to leave

As mentioned, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program that allows people who came to the United States as children to legally live within the U.S. borders without being a full U.S. citizen. If you’re wanting to venture outside of the U.S., you will need more than your DACA status to do so and safely and legally return here. Attempting to leave the U.S. and return with DACA alone can result in your DACA status being revoked indefinitely. While the short answer is that DACA does not grant access to leave and return to the U.S., there are other options that will allow this.

Advance Parole

Advance Parole is a process in U.S. immigration law that allows immigrants to leave the U.S. and then re-enter lawfully. This process was readily open and widely used during the Obama administration. Now that President Biden is in office and has announced applications for Advance Parole will be processed, it’s the perfect opportunity to look at who can travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter through this program and how.

Not all Fun and Games

The Advance Parole permit is quite appealing, and for reasons far greater and more desirable than an extended vacation in the Caribbean. This program can literally be life-changing for qualifying Dreamers, as re-entry into the United States under Advance Parole is considered a lawful entry into the U.S. What’s the significance there? A lawful entry into the U.S. from an approved trip abroad means eligibility to apply for a Green Card, thus creating a clear path to citizenship for Dreamers. Wow, right? Wow, indeed, but why aren’t Dreamers lining up en masse to apply for Advance Parole? Unfortunately, Advance Parole is more limited and has tighter allowances for Dreamers than it is for other immigrants.

Strictly Business

When it comes to telling U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) why you, as a Dreamer, need Advance Parole to leave and re-enter the U.S., your circumstances need to be exceptional and serious, as USCIS does not grant Advanced Parole with DACA for vacations and fun. While you might feel you desperately and urgently need a vacation in Cancun, the generally accepted situations USCIS counts as exceptional are more along the lines of urgent emergencies, important events like somebody’s wedding, a funeral, visiting a sick relative, giving blood, or otherwise helping somebody wind up their affairs or legal matters outside the country. Permissible reasons for travel can also be for business, training, and study abroad programs. Because of the very tight restrictions and scrutiny on Dreamers, it’s very important to have capable counsel advise you on your Advance Parole application.

Why is it important?

Of course, needing to travel out of the country to help a family in need or attend training or an important event is important; but, as I mentioned earlier, the act of legally re-entering the U.S. creates pathways for secured legal status in the U.S. in a few ways: having a passport stamped, being inspected legally for the first time, is a new legal entry which will now open the door for citizenship, which also allows for citizenship for a future spouse. Also, if you were somebody who came in illegally, that could be the difference between being able to get residency here in the United States or having to apply through another process that’s much longer and much more expensive. If you or your family aren’t eligible for those options, there are others.

Parole in Place

Another option for a pathway to citizenship is through a unique program for qualifying undocumented family members of U.S. military personnel, both active and veteran. Parole in Place allows non-citizen family members who are in the U.S. unlawfully to apply for a green card, without having to leave the country. While parole in place is usually for spouses of people in the military, this program is also for children of persons in the military, and even parents of those who are in the military. Qualifying candidates must show in their application the relation they have with this person in the military and that they’re either active or honorably discharged from the military. Once granted, Parole in Place treats you as though you have left and re-entered the U.S., inspected lawfully and legally, though you don’t actually have to leave—hence the in place.

While you may want to leave, may be able to leave, or maybe treated as though you’ve left, there are a few options for changing your status that is very much worth reviewing with one of our qualified and passionate immigration attorneys who have helped many families reunite and get residency through these processes.

Continue to tune into Immigration Wednesdays and keep up with us on social media as we expand the conversation on immigration processes in the coming weeks. We’re very excited about all the updates and changes from this new administration, and we hope we can help you secure your life here through some of these programs.

Posted in Citizenship, Deferred Action, Immigration

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Trump Administration Begins to Remove DACA Recipients

By Peek & Toland on May 25, 2020

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been in an uncertain status since Trump took office in 2017. The program, which the previous administration had enacted via executive order in 2012, provided limited protections from deportations for individuals with no legal immigration status who had arrived in the U.S. at an early age.

Trump Administration Begins to Remove DACA Recipients

Upon taking office, the Trump Administration immediately announced its intent to end the program, giving Congress six months to pass legislation to authorize the program. Legislative efforts failed, which resulted in litigation over the authority of the Trump Administration to end the program without an accurate, rational, and legally sound reason for doing so. The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments in the case, with the high Court’s opinion likely to issue this summer.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), every DACA recipient whose deportation proceedings previously were subject to administrative closure now will see their cases reopened. These cases involve individuals with no criminal or only minor criminal records, which was a prerequisite for achieving DACA status. Advocates have reported the reopening of cases in Arizona, Missouri, and Nevada, with ICE confirming that this trend will continue nationwide.

Some DACA recipients have already received notice of impending deportation proceedings. Some of these cases are nearly a decade old. For instance, a 33-year-old Arizona resident received notice of the reopening of her deportation proceedings. She has lived in the U.S. since she was six years old. Now she fears that she will be deported to Mexico and forced to leave her husband and two young children behind.

Although the federal government claimed in oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court last fall that DACA recipients or the so-called “Dreamers” would not be deported, the actions of ICE to reopen the administrative-closed deportation proceedings suggests otherwise.

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal immigration matters of countless individuals and businesses. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. Our goal is to get the best outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

Posted in Deferred Action

DACA Recipients Await U.S. Supreme Court Showdown

By Peek & Toland on November 5, 2019

Deferral Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program established by the Obama Administration. DACA was designed to protect some immigrants whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children without authorization. DACA recipients enjoy limited protection from deportation and renewable two-year work permits. The Trump Administration has been seeking to abolish the program for the past two years amidst high-profile federal court litigation. As a result, the federal government is still accepting renewal applications for DACA, but it is not accepting any more initial applications for the program.

The U.S. Supreme Court now is set to hear arguments in November 2019 to determine whether the Trump Administration has the authority to terminate the program. Many anticipate the Supreme Court decision to issue in June 2020, in the heat of the upcoming presidential race. Either way the high Court rules, the political fallout could be severe. To date, Congress has failed in its efforts to find a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients.

DACA Recipients Await U.S. Supreme Court Showdown

DACA has been a beneficial and successful program. Most recipients report that DACA has permitted them to get jobs that pay better, more closely fit their training and education, and provide health insurance and benefits. Not surprisingly, most DACA recipients fear the adverse consequences of deportation. Most of them expect that they would fear for their safety and that of their family if deported to their native countries. They also reported concerns about getting adequate food and health care if deported.

The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your situation. We intend to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration Reform

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Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Government Bid to End DACA

By Peek & Toland on September 26, 2019

The Washington Examiner is reporting that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the dispute over the federal government’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA. This program currently protects DACA recipients against deportation for almost 800,000 immigrants with no legal immigration status whose families brought them to the U.S. as children.

The Trump administration first announced that it would terminate the program in November 2017 and gave Congress a deadline of March 2018 in which to pass a law authorizing the program to continue. DACA recipients swiftly challenged the move in court, and a federal judge in California blocked the Trump administration’s termination of DACA. The nationwide injunction also required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue accepting and processing renewal applications for DACA recipients.

Last year, the Trump administration took the unusual move of bypassing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court directly take up the case. At that time, the high Court declined to do so. Although the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in the case in May 2018, the Trump administration again circumvented a forthcoming ruling by directly appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a second time. Shortly after that, the Ninth Circuit upheld the decision of the federal district court to block termination of the DACA program.

Meanwhile, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that the DHS decision to terminate the program was arbitrary and capricious. Thus far, federal district court judges in New York and Washington DC also have ruled in the same manner on the issue.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Government Bid to End DACA

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on DACA, along with two other similar cases in which appellate courts have not yet issued rulings. Arguments in the cases will occur before the high Court in its upcoming session, which begins in October 2019. Absent the parties settling, the Supreme Court is likely to issue its decision next summer. No matter which side the Court takes, the outcome is sure to have a direct impact on the 2020 presidential election.

At the end of June 2019, however, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.

At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you through your immigration problems. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout the immigration process. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering documentation to support your goals. Allow us to handle your immigration case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

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Thousands of Dreamers Graduate from Texas High Schools with No Protections in Place

By Peek & Toland on July 23, 2019

According to a recent Dallas News story, about 17,000 recipients under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are graduating from high school this year. About 98,000 DACA recipients are graduating from high school nationwide, with the number of graduating seniors in Texas second only to those in California. While many are looking forward to attending college and building their futures, all are doing so with uncertainty in the back of their minds. Congress has yet to enact any legislation that would create a path to citizenship for the so-called “Dreamers,” which makes it their future lives in the U.S. far from clear.

Some economists believe that immigrants are critical to the American economy and workforce, including in the state of Texas. Therefore, DACA could be an essential program in maintaining the economic health of the state and the country. Immigrants also are playing a part in filling jobs in industries with current labor shortages, which are primarily in the service industry, such as hotel workers.

Thousands of Dreamers Graduate from Texas High Schools with No Protections in Place

The article credits the Texas Dream Act, passed by the Texas legislature in 2001, as key in helping Dreamers who have graduated from high school to attend college. Under the Texas Dream Act, Dreamers who graduate from a Texas high school can attend in-state colleges and pay only in-state tuition. Additionally, with the work authorization currently available for DACA recipients, these individuals can legally work in the U.S., as well.

Thus far, attempts in the Texas legislature to repeal the Texas Dream Act and by the Trump administration to end DACA have failed. As the federal court litigation concerning DACA continues, these individuals continue to educate themselves, work, grow, and learn, despite the overwhelming uncertainty as to their futures. At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you obtain through your immigration problems. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout the immigration process. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering documentation to support your goals. Allow us to handle your immigration case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

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What is a Criminal Diversion Program?

By Peek & Toland on March 15, 2019

A criminal diversion program is an option that is available to some individuals in adult and juvenile criminal cases. The purpose of these programs is to help individuals, who often have no prior criminal record, to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record. These programs seek to establish sentencing alternatives, sanctioning alternatives for revocations, and reduce recidivism among offenders.

Pre-trial diversion programs, which also are referred to as deferred prosecution and pre-trial intervention programs in some jurisdictions, are voluntary programs that halt criminal prosecutions from proceeding to a conviction. If participants successfully complete the conditions of their diversion programs, the state will dismiss their criminal charges.

What is a Criminal Diversion Program?

Not everyone qualifies for diversion programs. Different jurisdictions in Texas have established different guidelines for participant eligibility. For example, some programs might require that participants have no previous arrests, be either employed or enrolled in school, and refrain from further criminal activity during the program. Individuals also may have to avoid using illegal drugs and report on a monthly basis to a probation officer. It is also common to require that individuals take responsibility for their actions by admitting guilt to the offense with which they are charged.

Diversion programs may contain various conditions and requirements that are tailored to an individual’s specific needs. The individuals may have to undergo monitoring by the probation officer, complete community service hours, attend counseling, and complete substance abuse assessments and education courses, if applicable. Individuals also may be responsible for certain costs, such as a monthly monitoring or program fee. If the offense involved financial losses to an individual or business, then the individuals may be required to pay restitution.

The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your criminal matter.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Deferred Action

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DACA Students Remain in Limbo

By Peek & Toland on February 15, 2019

According to a recent EdSource article, the takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrats is renewing hopes of a Congressional fix for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has provided temporary protection from deportation and work authorization for about 700,000 young adults who came to the U.S. as children.

During the recent mid-term elections, many DACA recipients joined efforts to encourage others to vote for representatives who they believe will support a solution for the DACA program. This was particularly the case in the state of California, which has the highest population of individuals receiving benefits under DACA.

While the DACA program has been overshadowed by the Central American migrant caravans in recent months, DACA recipients remain in a sort of limbo, as courts nationwide consider their plight and the Trump administration continues to make attempts to end the program. USCIS is still accepting renewal applications for those already in the program, but it is not currently accepting new applications. Those DACA recipients face an uncertain future, as they wonder whether they will be able to legally remain in the U.S. or be unceremoniously deported to native countries in which they have not lived since they were small children. In many cases, DACA recipients have no memories of living in their native countries or the ability to speak the language.

DACA Students Remain in Limbo

The Trump administration previously tied any relief for DACA recipients to funding for a border wall, which has now resulted in a government shutdown. Most recently, the administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the DACA litigation, citing a need for immediate resolution. The federal government sought this relief even prior to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in one of the cases challenging the termination of DACA. The President suggested in a recent interview that he was no longer interested in discussing a DACA fix until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issues. It could be well into 2019 before the high Court rules on the DACA cases, if it chooses to consider the cases at all.

The Peek & Toland immigration lawyers are here to assist you with all your immigration needs. Trust us to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration case.

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Texas AG and Other States File Federal DACA Lawsuit

By Peek & Toland on July 29, 2018

Even as various federal lawsuits attempt to block the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program wage on, the Texas Attorney General, along with six other states, has filed yet another lawsuit. The difference is that the Texas-led suit has the opposite goal than the pending lawsuits; these states are seeking to force the Trump administration to end DACA as an illegal exercise of executive branch authority. In the suit, these states argue that the executive branch cannot “unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization.”  

Aside from Texas, the other states joining the suit include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia. The suit is an indication of the growing frustration of Republican states over the Trump administration’s failure to end DACA as promised. In the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, these states claim that the court has the power to rescind all existing DACA permits as unlawful and block the federal government from continuing the program in the future.

Texas AG and Other States File Federal DACA Lawsuit

The suit sets up a strange situation between the parties, who both want the same thing: to end DACA. Since Trump’s efforts to end the program have stalled in pending federal lawsuits in Washington, San Francisco, and Brooklyn, the Texas suit aims to set up conflicting rulings on the DACA issue. This situation is likely to prod appellate courts, and even the U.S. Supreme Court, into hearing the suit and issuing a ruling on the issue.

Whether you are a DACA recipient or you are facing another type of immigration issue, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases on a daily basis, including those related to the DACA program, and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to successfully resolve your immigration law case.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration

DACA Initial Applications Likely to be Accepted Again Starting in July

By Peek & Toland on April 25, 2018

The word daca on an american flag immigration concept 3D illustration

Federal Judge ruling on Tuesday clears the way for U.S. Immigration authorities at USCIS to begin processing DACA initial applications again. Since September of 2017, the Trump administration announced changes to DACA to “wind it down” and that it would no longer be accepting new initial applications. This ruling yesterday indicates the government will be required to continue to process all DACA applications until the pending lawsuits over its legality and the legality of the Trump administration’s efforts to end the DACA program is finally decided by the Federal courts.

This is amazing news for young people who are eligible for DACA but had never had the chance to apply or missed out on applying.

Call Peek & Toland now at 512-474-4445 or email us at [email protected] to discuss if you are eligible and make plans to be ready come July 2018 when initial DACA applications will likely be accepted again under this ruling

Posted in Deferred Action

Homeland Security Secretary Floats Citizenship for People Shielded from Deportation

By Peek & Toland on January 5, 2018

The Trump administration announced the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a level of amnesty to some undocumented immigrants, last year. In the following months, the question of what should happen to those temporarily shielded from deportation has been discussed.

This month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen floated the idea of citizenship for people who were temporarily shielded from deportation.

The Homeland Security Secretary’s comments came as the future of so-called “Dreamers” was discussed.

Nielsen said the Trump administration would consider immigration legislation that might include a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people.

However, Nielsen stressed no decision has been made on the issue of Dreamers and a border wall remains a priority. The so-called ‘wait and see’ policy as reported in VOANews represents little change in the official stance.

Help for people shielded from deportation

The White House is considering options for people shielded for deportation

 Almost 790,000 young people, many who came to America as children, gained the right to work, live and seek education under DACA. It gave them breathing space from deportation proceedings.

President Donald Trump has called for Congress to address the issue after his executive order ended DACA.

However, discussions in Congress were complicated by issues like the wall and wider immigration reforms.

In an interview, Nielsen said Congress is considering three options which include citizenship or permanent legal status for people who were shielded from deportation.

She said details on how these people would qualify for citizenship, including how many years they should wait and other pertinent requirements, would have to be addressed.

Nielsen said the president is open to different scenarios including citizenship but the White House had not made any decisions. Nielson indicated any protections for Dreamers should be limited to those who benefitted from the program that is being phased out rather than new recipients.

In September, Trump stated he would not consider citizenship for DACA recipients. Trump gave Congress until March to deliver a legislative fix.

Options being considered by Congress include permanent residency, defined as residency for a certain time period such as three or four years, subject to renewal, as well as citizenship, Nielsen said.

“It will be interesting to see where (Congress) can get comfortable with what they mean by what is a permanent fix but the idea would be that you move away from a temporary status.”

However, the Homeland Security Secretary maintained she is hopeful the White House and Congress can reach a deal including a border wall and immigration enforcement measures.

The wall between the United States and Mexico remains a contentious issue for Democrats and some Republicans in Congress. Nielsen said building a wall was “first and foremost.”

The administration has also targeted so-called “loopholes” on issues including the handling of asylum claims and local police co-operating with immigration authorities.

Nielsen and other senior officials in the Trump administration will discuss a potential deal with members of Congress this week. Trump met with senators working on a legislative fix over Dreamers on Jan. 4.

Trump had earlier attacked Democrats for doing nothing to protect DACA recipients. Nielsen said the president is also set to request $1.6 billion for the border barrier, as well as a similar amount to build or replace 74 miles of barriers in California and Texas. Barriers currently cover about a third of the border, just over 650 miles.

If you are impacted by immigration changes at this difficult time, please contact our Austin immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Citizenship, Deferred Action, Immigration

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