Immigration and firm news

Expanded DACA Information Now on USCIS Website

USCIS has updated its website with more information on expanded DACA, or as we refer to it, DACA II.  The requirements of DACA II are mentioned in an earlier blog post, Expanded DACA II Starts February 18, 2015.  USCIS has also issued revised FAQs that cover this new program as well as the relevant form(s).   It is particularly important to pay attention to the FAQs dealing with crimes, national security, and threats to public safety, as well as the FAQs toward the end in the “miscellaneous” section.  For any issues that you may have in these areas, among the others mentioned in our prior blog post above, it is recommended that you seek legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney.

Will DACA II proceed on schedule starting February 18, 2015?

Keep in mind that there are two potential developments that could impact the start or implementation of DACA II (as well as DACA I and future DAPA):

Federal funding of DHS: The GOP is on a mission to prevent the President’s Executive Action Programs (such as DACA and DAPA) from being implemented by withholding funding from the US Department of Homeland Security  (DHS) that is due to expire on February 27, 2015.  DHS includes USCIS, the agency that will carry out and decide DACA and DAPA applications.  Ironically, USCIS benefits adjudications are self-funded through the filing fees you will pay with these applications.  And, ironically, the GOP doesn’t want to also fund the rest of DHS’s urgent missions such as TSA, combatting terrorism and more, if there is no agreement on funding that leads to a government shutdown.  And Congressional shenanigans don’t match the mood of Americans when polled on the subject, where a majority of Americans, both a majority of Democrats and Republicans, do not want to contest Executive Action but want Congress to take up immigration reform legislation.

Court Challenge: The second possible disrupter to DACA and DAPA is a court case in Texas filed by 20 states against the federal government asking for a preliminary injunction to prevent implementation of the Executive Action programs.  That case could get decided shortly with the injunction issuing, in which case the feds plan to appeal.

Stay tuned for developments on both of these issues.  Meanwhile, in yet another irony, DHS Chief, Jeh Johnson, is asking would-be DACA II applicants to step forward and apply, despite this program resulting only in “deferred action” and not a visa, a green card, citizenship, amnesty or legalization.  Similarly, many immigrant rights groups hope more people will apply so that it is harder to take away by Congress or the next President.  However, if you want to apply, please know and understand what you are dealing with here, and if you are not sure, please consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who can also determine whether you may have some options that are better than deferred action.  Stepping “out of the shadows” and obtaining work permission can be very liberating, but it also has its potential for risks.  Be sure to get quality advice.  See this PSA about who can help.  And don’t forget, USCIS will not accept applications prior to February 18, 2015!