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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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Trump Administration Requests US Supreme Court to End DACA

By Peek & Toland on February 11, 2019

The Trump administration recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate three lower federal court rulings, from courts in California, New York, and the District of Columbia, that blocked its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This step was highly unusual, as intermediate federal appeals courts had not yet ruled on the lower court decisions. This is the second time that the administration has sought certiorari in an attempt to bypass the lower federal courts. The administration, through Solicitor General Noel Francisco, argued that since the Obama administration had no authority to establish DACA in the first place, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the unilateral power to eliminate what it has characterized as a “discretionary” program.

Trump Administration Requests US Supreme Court to End DACA

Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling upholding the lower federal district court’s decision blocking termination of the DACA program. This could set the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court hearing the consolidated cases, since there now is an actual Court of Appeal ruling to consider, which sidesteps the Trump administration’s choice to directly seek intervention by the Supreme Court. However, many expect that the high Court will not formally decide whether to take up the matter until January 2019, which could push a ruling well into spring 2019.

Meanwhile, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas continues to consider the case of Texas v. Nielsen, which was brought by the state of Texas in order to challenge the lawfulness of the DACA program. Most recently, that court declined to issue a preliminary injunction halting DACA, due in large part to the orders by other federal courts in other jurisdictions across the U.S. that have kept the program intact. The judge in that case declined to upset the status quo, stating that to do so did not make sense and did not serve the best interests of the country.

When you or a loved one is facing an immigration law dilemma involving DACA or another issue, you need legal advice and counsel from experienced Texas immigration attorneys. At Peek & Toland, we are here to help you with your immigration case. We will devote all our efforts to representing your interests, answering your questions, and calming your concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact Peek & Toland and schedule a time to meet with us today. We can help protect your rights and get you the relief that you need.

Posted in Immigration Reform

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Trump Administration Requests US Supreme Court to End DACA

By Peek & Toland on January 3, 2019

Immediately prior to Election Day 2018, the Trump administration attempted to challenge the rulings of three federal district courts nationwide by asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling that would allow it to immediately end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The existing rulings, which blocked the administration from ending the program, came from federal courts in California, New York, and the District of Columbia.

In directly approaching the high Court, the administration took the relatively unusual step of bypassing the usual route of waiting for a decision by the intermediate appellate courts before seeking intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, insisting that it needed a final ruling on the issue. The Trump administration claimed that the DACA issue is sure to come before the Supreme Court eventually, and that if the program is not addressed now, it could be as long as a year before the high Court would hear the case. Furthermore, the administration claimed that leaving DACA in place forces them to continue to operate a program that they believe to be illegal under federal law.

 

Trump Administration Requests US Supreme Court to End DACA

Only a few days later, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision on DACA by agreeing that the Trump administration does not have the authority to immediately end the DACA program. The Court stated that although it might be possible for the administration to DACA as an exercise of the discretion belonging to the Executive, the administration did not do so, instead issuing an arbitrary and capricious rescission of DACA.

No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, 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 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 Immigration Reform

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White House Floats Immigration Cuts in Exchange for DACA Deal

By Peek & Toland on February 27, 2018

In the fall of 2017, the White House was reported to be finalizing a series of hardline immigration reforms as the price of supporting a DACA deal.

Details of potential cuts to immigration were disclosed in a report in Politico in September.

The proposal was reportedly being worked up by Stephen Miller, the Trump administration’s top immigration adviser.

Miller’s proposal was reported to entail cutting legal immigration by a half over the next decade. Lawmakers on both sides of the political device are skeptical.

The proposal would alienate House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who talked about DACA with President Donald Trump in August indicating they were close to a solution, Politico reported.

DACA deal is mooted by White House

White House floated DACA deal

They could also divide Republicans, many of whom are opposed to cutting legal immigration. Miller started talking with aides on Capitol Hill aides and White House in September about the proposals.

The administration said the proposals were not finalized and could be subject to change.

DACA Deal is Only Hope for Dreamers

Earlier in 2017, Trump indicated he would protect Dreamers. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined his decision to terminate DACA at a press conference at the Justice Department on September 5. He said the program, originally created by President Obama, is unconstitutional and an executive branch overreach.

The DACA program helped almost 790,000 recipients. Its goal was to permit young people who came to the United States as children to work and contribute to their communities without the fear of deportation.

Under DACA, undocumented immigrants under 30, who are known as “Dreamers” gain the temporary right to reside, work and seek education in the U.S., provided they pass background checks. They don’t receive citizenship or legal status.

Previous attempts to slash immigration have foundered in Congress. In the summer of 2017, Trump backed the RAISE Act, a bill that would see a move to a merit-based immigration system and cut legal immigration.

Republicans such as Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin declared the proposal dead on arrival in Congress, reported Politico.

If you or a family member has been impacted by an immigration reform, please contact our Austin family immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

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Missouri Governor Says DACA Recipients in the Military Should Get Path to Citizenship

By Peek & Toland on January 22, 2018

The DACA program has made headlines in recent weeks following the announcement it will be abolished. But not all politicians, even from Donald Trump’s Republican party are in favor of a wholesale scrapping of the program.

In Missouri, Gov. Eric Greitens said he wants to see Congress create a path to citizenship for anyone who joins the military, even immigrants who came to the United States unlawfully as children.

A report in the Kansas City Star last fall noted Greitens is a former Navy SEAL and a Republican. He made his comments the day after Trump revealed he would scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in early September.

Call for citizenship for DACA recipients in the military

Should DACA recipients in the military gain citizenship?

Congress was given six months to enact an alternative to DACA by Trump. The Obama-era program allowed so-called

“Dreamers” who entered the country illegally when they were young to avoid deportation and obtain work permits.

The move will affect impact about 800,000 people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Greitens said anyone willing to take a bullet for the United States should be given a path to citizenship. He urged Congress to take action, saying:

“I think that it’s really important for Congress to act. I think as they act we need to make sure we’re balancing our insistence on law and order with compassion. We need to make sure we’re making a distinction between violent felons who are in this country illegally and children who were brought here through no fault of their own, who have grown up here in America.”

Currently, it’s possible to secure citizenship through military service under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Program.

About 5,000 legal permanent residents a year are recruited to the military under the program and may be eligible for citizenship.

Recruits under the MAVNI program must have a recognized immigration status to join the services such as being a green card holder or the holder of a visa. The military does not accept undocumented immigrants.

To find out more about citizenship applications, call our experienced Austin criminal defense lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

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Trump Puts the Onus on Congress Over DACA

By Peek & Toland on January 18, 2018

The announcement last September that President Donald Trump will discontinue the DACA program was seen as a massive blow to so-called Dreamers who came to this county as children and know little else.

However, the ending of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on September 5 may not be the end of moves to legitimize these undocumented immigrants.

Trump gave Congress six months to pass legislation to safeguard the Dreamers and to allow them to continue to work in the United States. Trump was even reported to be working out a deal with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.

Given the recent failure of Congress to reach a consensus on a wide range of issues, the six-month window may well prove to be fruitless, according to commentators.

Trump clearly put the onus on Congress in the wake of the decision. His tweet the following day warned that if Congress would not legalize DACA he would revisit this issue.

There was some confusion about the meaning of the tweet. Politico reported an unwillingness on the behalf of officials to elaborate on the promise beyond an assurance from Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores that Trump would put more pressure on Congress.

Congress considers DACA

Trump Puts Onus on Congress over DACA

Many critics are skeptical that the President will do anything for the Dreamers. They noted his continued attacks on his predecessor Barack Obama on the issue and the re-emphasis on his commitment to the America First doctrine.

Congress remains the best hope for as many as 800,000 DACA recipients. Some of them will be eligible for deportation as early as next March.

Congress must act fast if it is to preserve the program’s protections before the DACA recipients begin losing their status in March.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he is hopeful that Congress will reach a solution in time. He said:

“It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”

Congress may also tackle the whole issue of immigration reform. It remains to be seen if it can act decisively given such a small window.

If you are impacted by the changes to DACA and need advice, please call our Austin family immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

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What The Ending of the DACA Program Means to Dreamers

By Peek & Toland on September 15, 2017

Immigrants brought to the United States as children endured a rollercoaster ride in recent months as the future of the DACA program was debated. Although President Trump gave a safeguard about the program four months earlier, he suddenly announced the program would be rescinded this month.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the decision to end DACA at a press conference at the Justice Department on September 5. He argued that the program, originally created by President Obama, is unconstitutional and was an executive branch overreach.

The Obama administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012, we noted on our website.

The DACA program includes almost 790,000 recipients. Its goal is to permit young people, most of them who lived the majority of their lives in the US, to work and contribute to their communities without fear of deportation.

Under the program, undocumented immigrants under 30, known as “Dreamers” gain the temporary right to live, work and seek education in the United States provided they pass background checks. They do not receive citizenship or legal status.

Four months ago, President Trump indicated the DACA program was safe. However, in August reports surfaced that he was considering scrapping it, noted CNN.

The Department of Homeland Security is providing a six-month window to consider pending requests, reported CBS. It will give Congress the chance to pass a legislative alternative to DACA. This means the program will end at different times for different recipients, expiring on a rolling basis.

Outlining the DACA pogram

THe DACA program is seen as part of the American Dream

For Dreamers, the decision comes as a bitter blow. People who have been in the United States for many years, often since they were young children, face losing the right to contribute to their communities and even the possibility of deportation to their birth nations.

However, there remains uncertainty about what will happen in Congress and the decision will impact different DACA recipients in various ways. The issue took a new twist this week when Trump was reported to be hashing out a DACA deal with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill that might save aspects of the program.

The main scenarios are as follows according to the CBS article.

  • Initial DACA requests and applications for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) received as of Sept. 5, the date of the announcement will be adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on a case-by-case basis.
  • USCIS will automatically reject all initial DACA requests and associated EADs received after Sept. 5.
  • USCIS will adjudicate requests for renewing DACA benefits and associated applications for EADs on an individual, case-by-case basis if received before Sept. 5.
  • Dreamers whose DACA status expires between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, will be eligible for adjudication of renewal requests, but only if documentation is received by Oct. 5, 2017.
  • Individuals whose DACA protection expires on March 6, 2018, or a following date who have not already submitted a renewal application, would be subject to deportation on March 6, 2018, or a later date.
  • USCIS will continue to process lost, stolen or destroyed EADs, to give Dreamers replacement documents for the remainder of the time that they’re valid.

USCIS will close all pending applications for Advance Parole associated with the DACA program. This is a permit allowing a non-citizen to reenter the United States after traveling abroad.

USCIS will honor the validity period of a previously approved Advance Parole. But if a person doesn’t have a previously approved parole application and travels outside the country, his or her departure would automatically terminate their deferred action under DACA.  Customs and Border Protection are unlikely to allow them to re-enter the U.S.

A wide range of legislators, non-profits and other agencies urged Trump not to end DACA, reported USA Today.

In a Facebook post , former president Barack Obama branded Trump’s choice to end the program “cruel,” “wrong” and contrary to common sense.

Trump’s initial stance to retain the DACA program met opposition from Republican states, spearheaded by Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with nine other state attorneys, issued an ultimatum to the Trump administration in July, threatening to take legal action. Paxton referred to the failure of the Obama administration to extend DACA after the former president’s executive orders were deadlocked at the U.S. Supreme Court. Paxton wrote:

“The courts blocked DAPA and Expanded DACA from going into effect, holding that the Executive Branch does not have the unilateral power to confer lawful presence and work authorization on unlawfully present aliens simply because the Executive chooses not to remove them.”

The action by Texas put additional pressure on the president to announce a new policy on DACA before a potential court challenge.

Government officials say from August and December, 201,678 people are set to have their DACA and associated EADs expire.  Of this group, 55,258 have requests for renewal pending with USCIS. Next year, more than 275,000 will see their DACA and EADs expire and more than 300,000 in 2019.

Although the government has reiterated its policy that anyone who is illegally in the United States could be deported, DHS officials made it clear criminals who are undocumented will still be the priority for removal.

These are difficult times for the so-called Dreamers in Texas and elsewhere. However, there is still an element of uncertainty about what will happen in Congress. If you need help with an issue related to the DACA program or another issue, please call our experienced Austin family immigration attorneys at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration Reform

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Should I renew my DACA application now that Trump is President?

By Peek & Toland on January 25, 2017

The election of a president who opposed his predecessor’s immigration proposals has led many people who qualified for DACA to ask if they should even bother to renew their DACA application under the Trump administration.

The answer is yes. While Donald Trump spoke about targeting dreamers during the election campaign, he hasn’t said much about it since he was elected.

While DACA is often discussed in relation to Obama’s unsuccessful attempts to extend the program, many people forget that 800,000 plus undocumented youths who came to the country as children were allowed to apply for DACA a few years earlier. They were made eligible for work authorization, stated U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

DACA is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Our Austin family immigration lawyers describe the program here.

Why you should renew your DACA application

There are many reasons to renew your DACA application

There are many good reasons for renewing your DACA application and not many for giving up.

Even if Trump were to rescind DACA, it usually takes time to abandon a major program of this nature. You could still benefit from having it until then. If you file an application and the program is terminated before the application is granted, you will get the fee back. You have nothing to lose if you file.

Typically, when a discretionary program like DACA or Temporary Protected Status is ended, the termination will not be immediate.

Bills to Protect Your DACA Application

There are also some moves to protect dreamers. In December, a bipartisan bill called the Bridge Act, was submitted to Congress.

It would grant the young people who were granted DACA status protection from deportation should Trump follow through with his pre-election pledge.

The new bill would put DACA recipients into a new status, “provisional protected presence.” They would be protected for at least three years from enactment.

If you don’t renew your DACA application you will be allowing Trump to inflict your worst case scenario on the basis of a pre-election threat. We have seen Trump backtracking on a raft of threatened immigration measures including the building of the wall between Mexico and the United States.

At Peek Toland & Castañeda PLLC, our Austin immigration attorneys can advise you of your rights if you are facing deportation and help you plot a course of action.

Call us today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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