Deferred Action

DACA Dreamers are in Deferred Action Limbo

By Peek & Toland on January 12, 2017

The failure of President Obama’s deferred action directive that would have led to a radical immigration reform left DACA dreamers uncertain and despondent.

Meanwhile, the election of Donald Trump as president means a new immigration policy that will take a very different direction to that of Obama, according to commentators.

DACA is deferred action for childhood arrivals. On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security outlined how certain people who came to this country as children and meet certain guidelines could request consideration of deferred action for two years, subject to renewal. They were also made eligible for work authorization, stated U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

DACA dreamers are in limbo

While the 2012 DACA announcement raised the hopes of millions of undocumented immigrants, Obama’s proposals to widen his deportation relief program ran into difficulty in Congress while a number of states led by Texas, challenged his executive orders in the courts.

An article in The Atlantic stated the expansion of DACA and another program – Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) – stood to add another 5 million people to the American workforce.

Instead, the Supreme Court’s deadlock in Texas v. United States halted the program and left millions of undocumented immigrants in deportation limbo.

The Atlantic article highlighted the dilemma facing about 800,000-plus undocumented youth who can work in the United States under the original 2012 DACA program.

The program gave them protection from deportation – at least in the short term.

This group faces many uncertainties. Obama in his response to the Supreme Court ruling said the existing injunction was aimed at the expansion of DACA. It does not apply to the young people who benefitted from the 2012 program.

The future of deferred action depended on who became the next president and which judge was chosen to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

Donald Trump, the president-elect, has pledged to overturn the 2012 and 2014 executive actions on immigration, according to the International Business Times.

The DACA dreamers who hoped for a more stable future in the United States would be facing a very uncertain future if this was the case.

Obama renewed the program for another two years, but his successor may let it expire, according to The Atlantic article.

These are uncertain and frightening times for immigrants. If you or a family member is facing possible deportation from Texas and need help to fight the action, please call Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration, Immigration Reform

Death Hints at Terrible Conditions in Private Immigration Detention Centers

By Peek & Toland on January 6, 2017

We often hear reports about terrible conditions at private immigration detention centers. However, the sad story of the death of Jose Jaramillo after a collapse in a correctional center in New Mexico sheds new light on the issue.

Jaramillo was 60-years-old when he died this year. He collapsed at a correctional center a few years earlier but never fully recovered. A report in the Guardian alluded to a failure to give him medical care. An undiagnosed infection turned to sepsis and then to pneumococcal meningitis. Jaramillo’s health never recovered.

The Guardian noted 13 private immigration detention centers were due to be shut down following a critical audit that indicated they were much less safe than immigrant detention facilities run directly by the government.

private immigration detention centers under fire after death

Death raises fears over medical facilities in private immigration centers

Jaramillo was in the middle of a three-year sentence when he collapsed inside his cell at the Cibola County correctional center in May 2008, the Guardian reported.

Medical Care Under Fire in Private Immigration Detention Centers

Cibola County prison was highlighted as having the worst medical care of all of the private immigration facilities.  The Department of Justice said medical complaints were the most frequent grievance of inmates. Although Cibola was slated for closure, that decision was reversed this fall.

The Guardian report noted Jaramillo’s crime had been to illegally enter the United States to be with his wife and children. After his collapse, he never fully regained his cerebral functions. His poverty-stricken family battled to keep him in America. They sued the prison’s private contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), for medical negligence.

Jaramillo was a diabetic. The report stated he should have been given a routine pneumococcal vaccine soon after he was diagnosed with diabetes. The Guardian pointed to what appeared to be major lapses in the standard of medical care at the facility.

The next few years are likely to see major immigration reform in Texas and elsewhere. Immigration detention centers remain a controversial idea and many commentators believe more may be built and operated by private companies. We have previously noted the furor over children being housed in Texas immigration centers.

If you are facing deportation or being housed in a detention center, it’s vital to hire an Austin immigration attorney as soon as possible. Contact us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration, Immigration Reform

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Survey Finds Obama’s Immigration Actions Are Popular with Americans

By Peek & Toland on August 23, 2016

There has been much speculation about how popular President Obama’s immigration policy is with the general population. When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its verdict on the President’s flagship immigration actions, it was a disappointing blow to the administration.

But while the justices were split over the decision that could affect more than 4 million undocumented immigrants, there is evidence of support for the deferred action measures outlined by the president.

Obama's immigration policies are generally popular

The 4-4 ruling in June came seven months before the President’s term in office ends. It means immigration reform is practically dead in the water until a new president is elected and appoints a ninth Supreme Court judge.

The Supreme Court considered the case of United States. v. Texas, a lawsuit brought by 26 states against the contentious executive actions allowing certain undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.

The two deferred actions in question were Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). They would give deferred action status to some undocumented parents who lived in the US since 2010 who have children and some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. DACA was set up in 2012 but its expansion was discussed by the courts. The expansion would make an additional 270,000 people eligible for DACA.

You can read more about the programs here on our website.

Notwithstanding the opposition of states, the programs appear to be less contentious and popular with the general public.

Take the PRRI/RNS survey from a year ago that found 73 percent of Americans support DAPA. Although much has been made of the opposition of Republican-led states, 65 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats were supportive of DAPA.

Research Found the DREAM Act was Popular

Research also found that 66 percent of Americans backed the DREAM Act, a policy that would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children to obtain legal status by joining the military or attending a college. The DREAM Act has stalled in Congress.

Last year, a CNN poll also suggested the President’s flagship policy was popular. It found just a quarter of Americans thought Obama’s immigration policies went too far, while half of those who responded agreed with it. Another 22 percent said deferred action did not go far enough in reforming the immigration system.

However, the survey found a majority of the respondents – 56 percent – thought the President had gone too far in using executive action to override opposition.

We are concerned that the alternative to deferred action is families being broken apart by deportation. The fact that deferred action not been implemented has left the lives of millions of immigrants in limbo at a time when they could be making a valuable contribution to the economy of Texas.

If you or a loved one is facing possible deportation, we can help you. Call our experienced Texas cancellation of removal lawyers for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration

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How Supreme Court Stalemate over Obama’s Immigration Plan Affects Undocumented Immigrants in Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 8, 2016

President Obama’s flagship policy to allow almost 4 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States has ended in disappointment after the Supreme Court was deadlocked.

The court was split 4-4 on Obama’s executive actions on immigration, meaning the policy won’t proceed during the remainder of his presidency.

Supreme Court stalemate leaves immigrants in limbo

The one line ruling was greeted by CNN as “crushing blow to the White House.”

The President didn’t attempt to hide his disappointment over the ruling. He said.

“For more than two decades now our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be.”

The programs in question were DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

DAPA would confer deferred action status to certain classes of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2010 and have kids.

DACA is aimed at non-citizens who arrived in the United States as children but remain undocumented. You can read more about the programs here.

What Effect Does the Supreme Court Deadlock Have on Undocumented Immigrants in Texas?

According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas has 1.5 undocumented immigrants which is the second highest number after California.

The ruling won’t mean drastic consequences such as deportation but it will continue the period of limbo faced by undocumented immigrants ever since the immigration reforms were first outlined by Obama in 2012.

Millions of undocumented immigrants had their applications for deferred action ready, only to enter a holding pattern as the issue became a political football and then a matter for the courts.

June’s ruling in United States v Texas was not a final ruling. Instead, it continued the injunction that prevents the deferred action programs from being implemented. The lives of about 4 million undocumented immigrants won’t be changed, and they will remain undocumented for the rest of Obama’s term.

The failure of the Supreme Court to make a decision means the case will now go back to the lower courts for further proceedings. It could also return to the Supreme Court, and the 2016 general election could determine whether the policy can be resurrected. If Hillary Clinton wins the election and appoints a Supreme Court justice, the fifth vote needed to allow the DAPA and DACA programs to take effect, would likely be secured.

A report on NBC said the deadlock in the Supreme Court could prove beneficial to undocumented immigrants because the implementation of DACA and DAPA would have been “an adrenaline shot to the arms” of the opponents of immigration and help supporters of Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for President.

As Austin immigration attorneys who help undocumented immigrants, we can sympathize with those affected by this decision. However, the tie was not the worst possible outcome. If you are affected by DAPA or DACA, we can help you figure out the process. Contact us at (512) 474-4445.

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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.

Texas Judge Causes Outcry by Demanding Names of DACA Immigrants

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 , 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 . 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 »

Posted in Deferred Action

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.

Posted in Deferred Action

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