Childhood immigration is a complicated topic. Children who enter the country illegally with their parents are often unable to return to their country of origin due to safety concerns and language barriers, but because they did not enter the United States legally, they do not have the documentation needed to attend college, get a job, or otherwise prepare for their future. DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a temporary solution for those in this situation.
What is DACA?
Introduced in 2012, DACA is a program that temporarily allows children brought here illegally to live, work, and study in the United States without fearing removal or deportation. The goal of DACA is to provide equal opportunities to children who were brought to the United States. Through DACA, those who know the United States as home can build a life here while contributing to their communities and society as a whole.
DACA has fairly strict requirements. It’s important to ensure that you meet all of the program’s criteria before deciding whether or not this is an option for you. To qualify for DACA, applicants must:
- Have entered the United States prior to the age of 16
- Have lived in the United States since 2010
- Have graduated from high school, earned a GED, enrolled in school, or earned an honorable discharge from a branch of the military
- Not be a threat to national safety and security
- Not have any felony convictions or multiple misdemeanors on their record
Note that meeting all of these requirements does not guarantee that you will be immune from removal proceedings. USCIS ultimately decides whether or not a DACA application is granted, and even if you can check every box on the list, you could still be at risk of being removed from the United States.
Your Next Step After DACA
The short-term nature of DACA has put pressure on lawmakers to find a permanent solution; by definition, DACA was intended to be a temporary solution until lawmakers could agree on a more permanent solution for those granted reprieve under DACA. While legislators have been working on the DREAM Act—the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act—since 2001, the bill has not been passed. Until then, DACA immigrants are in a holding state. Advocates for DACA and the DREAM Act hope that legislators will be able to create a path to citizenship for immigrants brought here as children.
Legal Assistance With Your DACA Case
If you qualify for deferred action under DACA, it’s crucial to work with an experienced immigration attorney. DACA has hit the headlines many times in recent years, and advocates are unsure about the future of the program. Applying for relief through DACA is often recommended for immigrants facing deportation, but it is also an option for those who aren’t involved in removal proceedings. For those who are not at immediate risk of being deported, DACA is the only way to start building a life, attending school, and working legally; however, it also alerts the federal government that you are here illegally.
Because of the inherent risks of the DACA program, you must work with an immigration attorney with extensive experience in and knowledge of DACA cases. At Sandoval & James, we know the limitations of DACA and we can give personalized advice regarding your eligibility. If you qualify for deferred action through DACA, we’ll help you navigate the process. If DACA is not a viable option for you, we’ll assist you in exploring other options and finding a solution for your immigration concerns.
Wondering if DACA could help you stay in the United States and advance your education or career? The team at Sandoval & James is ready to help. Take the first step now and contact us at 512-831-4402.