POWERFUL INFORMATIONAL RESOURCES FOR OVERCOMING ALL THE OBSTACLES STANDING BETWEEN US AND EARNING OUR RIGHTFUL PLACE IN AMERICA
WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW
- The highest shares of the 11.4-million Undocumented reside in California (28%), Texas (13%), New York (8%) and Florida (6%). Together the top four states account for about 55% of all the Undocumented.
- Of the more than 11 million, just over half are from Mexico — combined with the 1.7 million from Central America and the percentage rises to two-thirds of the total; 12% are from Asia.
- One-quarter to one-third of us enter the country legally and overstay our visas.
- The Migration Policy Institute estimates that about 1.49 million unauthorized young people are eligible to apply for the expanded DACA program because they meet both age and education criteria.
- Approximately 5 million qualify for deferred action after the President’s 2014 executive order, with 4 million of those coming from DAPA.
- Over 727,000 applications for DACA have been accepted from 2012 through late 2014.
- With the announcement of DAPA in November 2014, DACA was expanded to qualify an additional 300,000.
- About 60% of those eligible for DACA have not applied.
- There are 6.3 million children who live in a household with a DAPA-eligible parent and 5.5 million of these children are U.S. citizens.
- California has the highest number of DAPA-eligible parents — over 1.1 million.
History of DACA
DACA was created by President Barack Obama through executive order in 2012 as a stop gap measure to protect Dreamers until Congress took action. DACA offers deferred action from deportation for 700,000 young people, as well many other benefits. Over the last 20 years, 11 versions of the Dream Act have come before Congress and all have failed to pass. The Dream Act of 2017 died in the Senate and left the issue unsettled under the Trump administration, which in the same year tried to rescind DACA, a move immediately fought in the courts and saved only by an injunction until it could reach the Supreme Court. In 2020 the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump decision. However, Trump’s administration refused to process new applicants and made renewals more frequent. Under a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting both initial/new and renewal requests for deferred action under DACA. Terms of DACA will be the same as before it was rescinded on September 5, 2017.
In 2018, a lawsuit brought against the federal government by nine Republican-led states asserted that Obama’s action overstepped his authority and that DACA was unlawful. In a March 2021 hearing, lawyers involved in the case discussed President Biden’s memorandum to DHS to fortify and strengthen DACA. The court could rule on this lawsuit anytime in the near future. Action in March also included the House of Representatives passing the American Dream and Promise Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for all DACA recipients and Dreamers who have not enrolled, promising permanent legal status in exchange for higher education, work or military service. This legislation now faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
There are two versions of the Dream Act currently before Congress: the Dream Act of 2021 (S.264) and a version that is incorporated into a larger bill known as the Dream and Promise Act of 021 (H.R.6).
Both bills would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers. H.R. 6 would also provide a path to citizenship for beneficiaries of two humanitarian programs: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
Note: All DACA info found here emanates form President Obama’s 2012 Executive Order and will be updated with President Biden’s directives and new legislation working its way through Congress.
The News Can Be a Lifeline
Debating the big questions on immigration: What rights do immigrants have — and is the president free to bar them?
Originally published by SALON
Big changes are afoot on immigration policy as the right continues to deploy its familiar talking points, feeding into the Trump punitive juggernaut. Unfortunately, the current public discourse – whether around the Muslim ban or the expulsion of criminal aliens – remains mostly free of historical, legal and philosophical nuance.
Originally published by Slate.com
On Sunday, Feb. 26, the sermon at the Spanish-language Mass in Waterloo, Iowa, was about fear. Like many Catholic churches, the tan-brick, gothic Queen of Peace serves as a community center for Hispanic immigrants in this Cedar River town of 68,000. Waterloo has a claim to be Iowa’s most diverse big city.
The DREAM Act of 2017
The bipartisan Dream Act would allow a select group of immigrant students who grew up in the United States to contribute more fully to the country they love. These young people, known as Dreamers, have lived in America since they were children and built their lives here. They grew up pledging allegiance to the American flag and singing the Star Spangled Banner. They are American in every way except for their immigration status. Under current law they live in fear of deportation and cannot fully realize their potential or utilize their talents in service to the communities, cities, and nation they call home.
The Dream Act would allow these young people to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship if they:
- Are longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children;
- Graduate from high school or obtain a GED;
- Pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least 3 years, or serve in the military;
- Pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee;
- Demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and
- Have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.
We have already invested in these young people by educating them in our schools and they are now a vital part of our workforce, contributing to our economic growth and our society as teachers, engineers, nurses, and small business owners. Unfortunately, even though many would like to serve, almost all are restricted from earning the designation of United States Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine. It’s past time we remedy that unnecessary prohibition. It makes no sense to squander these young people’s talents – and penalize our own nation – by deporting them to countries they barely remember.
We can allow a generation of young immigrants with great potential and ambition to contribute more fully to our society, economy, and national security, or we can lose their talents to foreign competitors. The Dream Act would offer a path to earned citizenship and a brighter future for these young people and our nation.
DACA: QUALIFICATIONS & BENEFITS
WE’RE ELIGIBLE IF WE:
- Came to the United States before reaching our 16th birthday.
- Meet all other requirements regardless of our age under expanded DACA (original age cap was under the age of 31).
- Have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010.
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or our lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012.
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. armed services.
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
- Relief from deportation and the ability to stay in the United States with our families U.S. EAD (Employment Authorization Document) or work permit, which allows us to apply for a Social Security card
- Renewal under expanded DACA lengthened from two to three years
- Ability to apply simultaneously for DACA and advance parole to travel internationally
DAPA: QUALIFICATIONS AND BENEFITS
DAPA was blocked in the courts and eventually made its way to the Supreme Court where a split decision left the injunction in place, failing to offer deferred action to millions whose children are U.S. citizens. In June 2017, the Department of Homeland Security rescinded DAPA and left the four-million immigrant parents, who would have qualified, in danger of deportation.
WE’RE ELIGIBLE IF WE:
- Have a child who was a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident as of November 20, 2014.
- Have lived continuously in the United States since January 1, 2010, until the present.
- Were physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014.
- Have no lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014.
- Aren’t an enforcement priority according to the new enforcement policy.
- Present no other factors that make a grant of deferred action inappropriate.
- Are able to pass a background check.
- Relief from deportation and the ability to stay in the United States with our families U.S. EAD (Employment Authorization Document) or work permit, which allows us to apply for a Social Security card
*Sources: Migration Policy Institute, USCIS, USC Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, National Immigration Law Center, L.A. Times,CitizenPath.com, Clearpath.com, etc.
How To Obtain Travel Documents
From a Dreamer, an Immigration Form Provider, an Immigration Resource Center and the U.S. Government
Requirements of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
For the official government travel document, filing instructions, fee and other needed information, visit www.uscis.gov/i-131.
To ensure your Form I-131 is accepted for processing:
- Fill out the form completely and accurately
- Sign the form.
- Pay the correct filing fee.
- Read our Lockbox Filing Tips.
- To receive an e-Notification when your Form I-131 has been accepted, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the front of your application.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: You cannot apply for advance parole while your request for deferred action is still pending. If you leave the United States while your request for consideration of deferred action is pending, your deferred action request will be denied.
Once USCIS approves your request for consideration of deferred action, you may file Form I-131 to request advance parole to travel outside of the United States. If you travel outside the United States without first receiving advance parole, USCIS will automatically terminate your deferred action. You must submit Form I-131 with specific documentation depending on the agency that deferred action in your case. If USCIS deferred action in your case, submit a copy of your Form I-797, Notice of Action. If U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deferred action in your case, submit a copy of the ICE order, notice, or letter. USCIS will only grant advance parole if your travel abroad will be for educational, employment, or humanitarian purposes. You must indicate the purpose on the Form I-131 as described below:
- Educational purposes, such as semester abroad programs or academic research;
- Employment purposes, such as overseas assignments, interviews, conferences, training, or meetings with clients; or
- Humanitarian purposes, such as travel to obtain medical treatment, attend funeral services for a family member, or visit an ailing relative.
Travel for vacation is not a valid purpose.
You may not file Form I-131 online. Please check the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-131 for information on where to mail your application.
For additional information about travel outside the United States and filing for advance parole, read Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Travel Documents
Regarding all queries, go to www.uscis.gov for more information about USCIS and its programs, including forms, filing instructions and fees. Applicants with additional questions can call USCIS Customer Service at (800) 375-5283 or use the InfoPass system on the website to make an appointment at their local USCIS office.
Immigration Forms Provider
Traveling with DACA
If you are granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), you are generally free to travel within the United States. However, it is always wise to be aware (and even avoid) if traveling in states that do not support DACA. When traveling, you should always carry the following identification:
- A copy of your I-821D approval notice (DACA)
- Your Employment Authorization Card (work permit)
- A state ID/driver’s license (if available) or passport
In general, you should avoid traveling abroad with DACA. If you must travel outside the U.S., you will first need to obtain permission in the form of an Advance Parole document. Here’s how:
Understand the Guidelines for Traveling Abroad with DACA
After you have been granted DACA, you may apply for Advance Parole for one of the following purposes:
- Educational: such as semester abroad programs or academic research
- Employment: such as overseas assignments, interviews, conferences, training, or meetings with clients
- Humanitarian: such as travel to obtain medical treatment, attend funeral services for a family member, or visit an ailing relative
It is also important to understand that Advance Parole will only be provided for the dates requested. So plan for travel delays. Your Advance Parole document must still be valid when you re-enter.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney
You should always consult with an experienced immigration attorney before traveling abroad with DACA. Depending on your situation, there could be serious risks associated with traveling abroad. You can get help finding an attorney here.
Prepare and File Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
After a short consultation with your attorney, you may even be able to request Advance Parole on your own. Prepare and file an Application for Advance Parole (Form I-131). Be sure to include a letter that reinforces your request. For example, if you are traveling for work purposes, have your employer write a letter stating why it is necessary for you to make the trip.
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Travel for DACA Applicants (Advance Parole)
- DACA applicants may not travel outside the United States until after their DACA request has been approved.
- DACA applicants or recipients who travel outside the U.S. without being granted approval for travel will lose their DACA status.
- You will be inspected at the border when you return, and there is always a possibility that you could be denied entry, even if the government granted you permission to travel.
How can I travel after I receive DACA?
- DACA recipients can apply for permission to travel called Advance Parole
- Advance Parole is an application to USCIS to allow an immigrant to travel outside the United States and return lawfully.
- Ability to travel abroad and return
- Opportunities to study or work abroad and visit elderly or sick relatives
- Risky! Some DACA recipients could get stuck outside the U.S.
- Approved reasons for travel are limited
- Time for travel is limited
- Costs $575 to apply
Who can apply?
USCIS will only approve travel (advance parole) for DACA recipients who demonstrate that their need for travel is for humanitarian, education, or employment purposes.*
For example: travel to obtain medical treatment, attend funeral services for a family member, or visit a sick or elderly relative.
For example: semester abroad programs or academic research
For example: overseas assignments, interviews, conferences, training, or meetings for work
If you have received DACA and wish to travel for one of these purposes, contact an immigration lawyer for more advice!
*Immigrants with other status may be eligible for advance parole outside these restricted purposes. They would use the same forms and follow generally the same process, but would not have to prove that their travel is for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes.
©2015 Immigrant Legal Resource Center
How to Travel Safely with Advance Parole:
- Consult with an immigration attorney before leaving the country!
- DO NOT miss the deadline for returning listed in your Advance Parole approval notice.
- Leave extra time for your return to accommodate any unexpected travel delays.
- Bring your Advance Parole approval notice and DACA approval notice with you.
- Leave copies of your approval notices with a close relative or representative in the U.S.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts with you.
©2015 Immigrant Legal Resource Center
DACA Applications And Renewals
New DACA applications and renewals are still being processed under the current administration. All submissions should be done very carefully and thoroughly. Official government website links appear below:
Confirmation of DACA Applications Still Being Available
How To Be Considered for DACA
How To Request Deferred Action under DACA
How To Renew DACA Status
How To Apply for Employment Authorization
Frequently Asked Questions about DACA
Filing Tips for DACA
DACA Guidelines from USCIS
USCIS strongly encourages you to submit your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal request between 150 days and 120 days before the expiration date located on your current Form I-797 DACA approval notice and Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Filing during this window will minimize the possibility that your current period of DACA will expire before you receive a decision on your renewal request.
USCIS’ current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. You may submit an inquiry about the status of your renewal request after it has been pending more than 105 days. To submit an inquiry, please call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283.
Renewing DACA on Schedule is Critical.
Using this calculator will help us file for DACA renewal applications in a timely fashion. To calculate when would be the best time to file your DACA renewal application, use this tool:
What Do We Need to Know if the DACA Program Ends?
I. Work Permits
Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), also known as work permits, are generally valid until they expire or the government demands they be returned. Unless the government demands that you return your work permit, the following points should apply.
- If the DACA program ends but you are allowed to keep your work permit, you have the right to work legally until your work permit’s expiration date.
- Even if the DACA program ends, you have no obligation to inform your employer that DACA has ended. Your employer does not have the right to ask you whether you are a DACA recipient or how you got your work permit.
- Your employer does not have the right to fire you, put you on leave, or change your work status until after your work permit has expired. If your expiration date is nearing, your employer may ask you for an updated work permit but cannot take any action against you until after it is expired.
- For more information about your rights as an employee see this advisory by the National Immigration Law Center: https://www.nilc.org/issues/daca/daca-and-workplace-rights/.
II. Social Security Numbers (SSNs)
Your SSN is a valid SSN number for life, even once your work permit and DACA approval expire.
- If you have not done so already, apply for a SSN while your DACA and work permit are still valid.
- You can and should continue to use the SSN you got under DACA as your SSN even after your work permit expires. You can use your SSN for education, banking, housing and other purposes.
- Your SSN contains a condition on it that requires a valid work permit to use it for employment purposes.
III. Driver’s Licenses and Other Identification Cards
Eligibility for these depends on the state in which you live. If you have not already done so, apply for a driver’s license or state identification card if your DACA is still valid. This makes you eligible for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card.
IV. Travel on Advance Parole
DACA recipients should be cautious about travel abroad under advance parole.
- If you are outside the country with advance parole, make sure to return right away while your advance parole and EAD are valid. If the DACA program ends, it is not clear that people with advance parole based on DACA will be able to return. The safest route is to return as soon as possible, before an announcement ending DACA.
- If you have been granted advance parole under DACA but have not yet left the United States, or are interested in applying for advance parole, speak with an attorney to determine potential risks before doing anything.
V. Other Immigration Options
Many DACA recipients may be eligible for another immigration option to get a work permit or even a green card.
- Talk to an immigration services provider to understand your legal options toward eligibility for another immigration benefit.
- Avoid fraudulent service providers: confirm their credentials, ask for a written contract and a receipt for any payments, and if you have doubts, get a second opinion.
Any criminal arrest, charge, or conviction can put you at risk with immigration authorities.
- Avoid contact with law enforcement that may result in a criminal arrest. If you end up being arrested, make sure to consult an expert immigration attorney.
- If you have a criminal conviction, find out if it can be changed to lessen the impact on a future immigration case.
VII. Know Your Rights
Everyone – both documented and undocumented persons — have rights in this country. At all times, carry a red card to exercise your right to remain silent in case you are stopped or questioned by ICE (https://www.ilrc.org/red-cards).
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At UnitedWeStay, our mission has expanded over the years to become the ONLY dedicated immigrant advocacy, news and storytelling organization that keeps the public informed about immigration issues on a daily basis. UWS believes that immigrants are the embodiment of the American Dream and we are dedicated to making this country live up to its own ideals.
We at UnitedWeStay hope you will join us in debunking the hateful, untrue myths about immigrants. It is only through our collective efforts that we change the narrative of the immigration story, that we humanize and respect those who give up everything and risk their lives for the hope of a shot at the American Dream. If you are a graphic artist or illustrator and would like UWS to feature your work on immigration, please reach out to us under Take Action/Contact Us.
Dreamer Tells Her DACA Travel Story
Traveling abroad with DACA: Iliana’s experience, advice, and timeline!
Iliana was born in Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. in 1995 with her parents and brother on Tourist Visas (which expired a few years after). She grew up in Turlock, CA. Iliana and her brother navigated the educational system being undocumented until the signing of DACA in 2012. She attended Turlock High School and graduated from CSU-Fresno in 2009 with a degree in Mathematics. She is currently a 4th year doctoral student at Claremont Graduate University pursuing a M.A. in Economics and Ph.D. in Education. She has been an advocate for immigrant rights, providing information and assistance to undocumented students interested in pursuing higher education.
Iliana recently traveled to Mexico with advance parole under educational purposes. She is part of a research team evaluating a privately provided, affordable comprehensive schooling model for poor families in Mexico City. She applied for advance parole to be in Mexico from July 12-26 and was approved to be there until August 19, 2015.
- Submitted Advance Parole application: May 18, 2015
- USCIS received my application: May 19, 2015
- AP approved: July 5, 2015
- Traveled to Mexico: July 11, 2015
- Returned to US: July 29, 2015
Advice from Iliana:
Did you seek legal counsel for your AP application? Why or why not?
I did not seek legal counsel for my AP application because the application was easy enough for me to do on my own. I did however, request advice from a friend who previously applied.
What is one piece of advice you have for DACA recipients who are thinking of applying for Advance Parole?
Make sure you have all your paperwork up to date (DACA, passport, driver’s license, IDs, etc.). My Mexican passport (issued in the US) was expired when I traveled so I had a difficult time leaving the country (the irony!). I thought I only needed the AP document to travel, but you have to have a valid passport to travel outside the country, otherwise they will not let you out (again, the irony!). I was lucky that they let me travel with my expired passport. I missed my original flight and ended up waiting in the airport most of the day due to other airline issues.
I renewed my Mexican passport in Mexico, but it was a very complicated process. My aunt helped me get copies of my birth certificate and an appointment at La Oficina de Relaciones Exteriores in Pachuca ahead of time. However, once there, they wouldn’t accept my Mexican passport (filed in the US) because it was not filed in Mexico. They wanted a Mexican ID, which I obviously didn’t have. I explained that I hadn’t been in Mexico for 20 years and that I was undocumented, therefore couldn’t apply for a US passport. They then asked for the last passport I filed in Mexico, which I had, but it was obviously expired and cancelled so they did not accept that one either. After six hours of going back and forth and waiting in several lines they finally accepted my Mexican passport (the one issued in the US) and was given my new passport that same day. I also applied for the IFE card (Mexican electorate ID card) for future needs. That process only took about 30 minutes, but it takes about 3 weeks for the card to arrive. I explained I would be out of the country and arranged for my aunt to pick up the card and mail it to me. I panicked for a split second from the thought of having to apply for a Mexican ID and not being able to return to the US in time. Luckily everything worked out, but I highly recommend having all documents up to date before leaving.
What was one of the highlights from your trip abroad?
I had a wonderful time in Mexico and got the opportunity to travel to several states. I spent the first week in Mexico City and nearby towns. I visited most of the major tourist points including El Angel de la Independencia, La Catedral, El Templo Mayor, Bellas Artes, Chapultepec, Museo De Antropologia, La Basilica de Guadalupe, Museo de Frida (Casa Azul) and Xochimilco. The next week I went to my home state, Hidalgo (about 1.5 hours away from Mexico City on car), where I saw family I hadn’t seen in 20 years! I stayed with family in Pachuca, celebrated my great-grandmother’s 101st birthday in Omitlan and visited some beautiful pinturesque towns including Real Del Monte and Huasca. We also visited Teotihuacan (about 30 mins away from Pachuca on car) and did a mini road trip to Veracruz (about 5 hours away from Pachuca on car). I had one of the best meals of my life at Mariscos Toño Bayon in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, a small, family-owned restaurant in the middle of a neighborhood, outside of the main stripâ€¦ seriously, a must try! The last week consisted of visiting several states on bus. The first stop was Puebla (about 2 hours from Mexico City on bus), which had beautiful architecture, talavera and delicious food (I recommend the Chiles en Nogada and the mole).
I stayed at the Quinta Real Hotel, a lovely and elegant hotel, walking distance to the main plaza. The next stop was Oaxaca (the city is about 4 hours away from Puebla), land of warm water beaches, beautiful architecture, textiles, embroidery, jewelry, moles, mezcal and so much more. The Guelaguetza was going on that week so there were festivals all over the place, but limited hotel availability (plan early if you go this time of year). I stayed at Casa Carlota, a charming B&B style hotel, a few blocks away from the main plaza, which I highly recommend! The next stop was Puerto Escondido (about 5 hours away from Oaxaca City on bus), which looked like paradise. I stayed at Aldea del Bazar, another wonderful hotel, walking distance to a semi-private beach. This day consisted of total relaxation at the Club de Playa, Coco’s. The last stop was to Huatulco (about 2 hours away from Puerto Escondido on bus), which comprises nine bays and 36 beaches. I stayed at Hotel Fandango located in Punta Santa Cruz, with great views of the Bay and a stroll down to a private beach. The last day was spent going on boat ride along the nearby bays and beaches, where I snorkeled for the first time, so much fun! That same day I headed to the airport to return to the US.
The return was hassle-free. I flew out of Huatulco, there they asked for my passport and documentation to enter the US. I showed the attendant the AP document and explained what it was. The flight attendant had never heard of DACA or AP, but they let me through with no issues. In Mexico City (the layover) they asked for the same documents (passport and AP document) to board the plane, no questions were asked. Once in the US (at LAX), I waited in the Visitors line for about 45 minutes. The attendant asked for my AP document and was completely familiar with it. They took my picture and fingerprints (standard procedure for everyone) and sent me to a separate waiting room to wait for the AP document to be stamped. I probably waited about 20 minutes before they handed me my copy of the stamped AP document, no questions asked.
I hope my experience sheds light on the AP process. I am happy to answer questions about the process and/or my trip. Good luck to everyone!