Since the program was introduced in 2012, over half a million undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before turning sixteen were approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) and received an employment authorization valid for two years, which allowed them to get a glimpse of the life as a lawful resident.
Although many believe that reversing the program is politically unlikely, others are concerned that by disclosing their personal information, when applying for DACA, they put themselves at risk that if the application is denied or, in the unlikely event, the program is terminated, they may be placed in removal proceedings and eventually deported. That is why, it is very important to fully understand the risks and consequences of applying for DACA.
First, DACA does not confer any legal status on the applicant. Simply put, if granted, it is an implicit promise by the government not to take any action to deport the individual. This promise is not indefinite and is contingent on the person continuously meeting the criteria and successfully renewing DACA every two years, provided that the program still exists.
Second, DACA does not tolerate any criminal background. Having been convicted of certain offenses, notably including DWI/DUI and Domestic Violence, would not only make such person ineligible, but is likely to result in initiation of removal proceedings. Similarly severe consequences could result from convictions subsequent to the grant of DACA.
Finally, since DACA is not an immigration status, it does not allow a person to travel outside and re-enter the U.S. In order to travel, a person with DACA has to apply for an Advance Parole (permission to re-enter), which might be granted based on humanitarian reasons (such as, visiting a sick relative) or certain educational or employment purposes. However, such traveling might also be dangerous, because having an Advance Parole still does not guarantee a re-entry.
The immigration law is one of the most complex areas of law in the United States and even a seemingly simple issue could become very convoluted and complex. Always consult an experienced immigration attorney to determine whether there are any adverse factors before applying for any immigration benefits.
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