DREAM ACT IS GOOD FOR IDAHO AND USA

Almost 800,000 young people - full of energy and creativity - have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since it began in 2012. However, in the wake of the President's rescission of DACA, every day that passes means that more Dreamers are losing their ability to work and protection from removal. Congress needs to step in - protecting Dreamers is a win for all of us.

Protecting these kids who have built their lives here and are a vibrant part of the fabric of our communities is not only the just and moral thing to do, it is a win economically. Dreamers contribute to our shared prosperity, at both the national level and the local level. According to data from the Center for American Progress, if Dreamers are given a path to legal status and eventual citizenship, we'll see a cumulative increase in national GDP over 10 years of $281 billion. A predicted "education bump" by Dreamers completing the educational requirements to qualify to remain in the U.S. could push this benefit as high as $728.4 billion over a decade. On a per capita basis, passing the Dream Act is calculated to raise the average incomes of all Americans as much as $273 annually.

As reported in the Idaho Statesman, Idaho had at least 3,132 DACA recipients as of March 2017, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A survey by the Center for American Progress, National Immigration Law Center and others estimated 2,700 of them were employed. CAR, a progressive think tank, believes losing those DACA workers could cost Idaho’s economy about $159.5 million annually.

We also rank number one in the percentages of undocumented immigrants who would qualify for DACA – more than 60% according to Pew Research.

The requirements to receive DACA are stringent: the Dream Act provides protection from deportation and permanent legal status only for Dreamers who undergo lengthy, rigorous national security and criminal background checks. Applicants would also have to pay an application fee, and demonstrate that they meet certain higher education, military service or employment requirements.

Luckily most of Idaho’s Congressional representatives agree with helping Dreamers find a legal pathway to stay. But, Congress must act soon and pass the Dream Act, a bipartisan bill to protect Dreamers before the holidays.

Below are the words of our representatives in September. Let’s hold them to their words and urge them to act NOW!

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo: “The appropriate treatment of children brought to the United States illegally at a young age is one of the key issues we must deal with in immigration reform legislation. However, the DACA program was created unconstitutionally without the public accountability and deliberation provided by an act of Congress. There is urgent need for Congress to enact rational, comprehensive immigration policy. To ensure widespread confidence and long-term sustainability, reforms must be done through a public process that includes the American people, Congress, and the Administration. Today’s announcement by the Administration returns the decision-making for immigration policy, including the DACA program, to the people’s representatives in Congress for action.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch: “President Obama’s creation of the DACA program was a unilateral attempt by the president to create a law directly contrary to existing law. Of course, a president can’t unilaterally create laws and the federal government is about to be sued by the States to halt the program. There’s no question that our immigration laws need to be addressed, including the issue of children being brought to the U.S. illegally, but those reforms must go through the appropriate legislative process.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson: “While I did not agree with the previous Administration’s overreach when developing the DACA program, I also believe we need to be realistic about how we treat these individuals that were unknowingly brought into this country. This issue, along with many others in our immigration system, needs to be addressed with a permanent legislative solution. I look forward to working with the my colleagues and the Administration to find a comprehensive solution for this situation, which should also include strong measures to secure our borders, an overhaul of our guest worker programs and address the issue of legal status for those who are working and living in our local communities.”

THE END OF DACA?

President Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as of September 5, 2017. Certain applications will be considered until March 5, 2018, and the last date to file for renewal will be October 5, 2017. There will likely be a six-month delay on enforcement by allowing those who’s DACA permits expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 to renew.

The Obama administration established DACA in 2012. DACA granted “deferred action” to undocumented (a.k.a. illegal) immigrants that fit strict criteria, also known as Dreamers.  In effect, this protected those who were granted DACA from being deported during the approved timeframe. Although DACA granted authorization to work, it did not grant “status” such as a green card or citizenship, much less a path to either one.

Because DACA was designed to protect children who were brought to the U.S. by adults making decisions for them, the main requirement was that the applicant must have come to the U.S. before he/she was 16. The child had to have been under 31 as of June 15, 2012, continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 to present time, physically present in U.S. on June 15, 2015 in unlawful status, and be in school, graduated from high school (or GED), or honorably discharged veteran, and have not been convicted of certain crimes or be a threat to the U.S.

President Trump stated that he expects Congress to enact legislation to provide protection for DACA recipients during the 6-month phase out. However, this is not definite and we advise all recipients to do the following:

  1. Get legal assistance. If you cannot afford a private attorney you can contact www.nwirp.org/daca for Washington or the University of Idaho Immigration Clinic in Idaho https://www.uidaho.edu/law/academics/practical-skills/clinics/immigration
  2. Do not advertise that you are a DACA recipient
  3. If you qualify for DACA but have not applied as of September 5, 2017, we do not advise filing now as no new applications will be accepted.

As there are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, it is imperative to understand what will and could happen to them. Current recipients will retain their deferred action and employment authorizations until expired or revoked, which is two years from issuance. The government will adjudicate DACA and related employment authorization renewals for those with expiring DACAs between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. But, they must be filed by October 5, 2017.

There is no law in place now to protect DACA recipients after their DACA expires. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s FAQ page indicates in the answer to Question 6 that current law does not grant legal status to DACA recipients and they are currently unlawfully present in the U.S. But, in the answer to question 14, it states when the DACA expires “the individual is no longer considered lawfully present in the United States.” This inconsistency could be just a mistake or it could mean that the government considers even recipients in valid DACA status to be here unlawfully.

The implication of this is that even being in valid DACA status may not protect you from deportation or stop the accrual of unlawful presence, which can affect future applications. Still, it’s unlikely that the Trump administration would suddenly place all or most DACA recipients into deportation proceedings when the program or status ends. The biggest risk is for those recipients who had a previous deportation order or who have been or will be arrested by the police, even for minor offense. This can cause a revocation of DACA status and subject the person to deportation. We highly recommend that DACA recipients not answer any questions and seek legal advice if they are detained by immigration authorities. You can simply and politely state, “I do not want to answer your questions and I would like to call a lawyer.”

If you are in Washington State or Idaho, please consider attending one of the free community forums listed in this link: https://www.nwirp.org/options-after-daca-community-forums/

There is a growing bipartisan support in the House and Senate for passing a law that grants Dreamers permanent resident status (green cards). There is growing public support for this as well. We will keep you posted as there are new developments.

FREE IMMIGRATION LAW CLINIC

If you have been a permanent resident (green card holder) for a minimum for three years (based on marriage) or five years, attorneys and experts can help you with your citizenship application. Additionally, if you have other immigration questions they can help!

Free legal consultations will be available at the workshop for other immigration issues.

Click the link below for more information and to sign up http://www.seattle.gov/iandraffairs/programs/new-citizen-campaign#clinics

PRESIDENT TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS ON IMMIGRATION

On March 6, President Trump issued the executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, effective March 16, 2017. This order revokes the previous executive order issued on January 27, 2017 under the same name, which has been the subject of numerous lawsuits. President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, stated the new order should promote the administration’s goals and end litigation regarding the January 27th order. Some claim the order is a just a watered-down Muslim ban and others praise the order. Either way, it did clarify a few points that caused much of the chaos in the roll out of the January 27th order.