I am an immigration attorney in DC - What do you need to know about DACA? Ask me anything about the DACA.
Hi Reddit! I am Natalia Segermeister, a DC immigration lawyer at The Visa Firm. As an attorney who advises on U.S. immigration law and deportation issues, I am disappointed with Trump’s decision to end DACA, an executive order issued by former President Obama. For more information, please read my blog posts here.
Here are my proof and my website if you would like more information.
Disclaimer: This post is not for legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship. This post is not about retaining clients but is about providing information regarding the DACA and immigration law.
Thank you for all of your questions. It is now noon and I must eat and get to some legal work. I will probably check in some time this evening to answer a few more questions. I hope this has been of use to the Reddit community.
*Edited the "Dreamer's Act" line because this was not something that was typed by me and is not correct. I apologize for not catching this sooner. Credit to MinuteMinutiae for bringing it to my attention.
I had to come back between appointments to answer this because I had friends texting me. I apologize for not answering sooner, but I was sorting through "new" when I responding to questions earlier today. I believe that executive orders interpreting how to execute the laws of the United States are lawful acts and constitutional. However, whether a particular executive order oversteps the bounds of the Constitution is for the Supreme Court to decide not me. That is precisely why we have the judiciary. Unfortunately, no decision ever came from the Supreme Court to put this argument to rest. I never called it a Dreamer's Act; DACA is an executive order.
I'm hoping the reason it's taking so long for a response on this one is because they're coming up with a well thought out and reasonable explanation. However, I am not holding my breath.
Nope the delay is purely time constraints. I do have clients to see today.
I just noticed that it says this up at the top. Not written by me so I am making the correction. Thank you for commenting.
The DACA is supposed to end in 6 months if Congress can't find a more permenant solution. Any thoughts on alternatives? Do you think congress can even come up with a new solution? Or will this be another mess like the healthcare act?
I am not confident that Congress will get their act together, but I'm cautiously optimistic. My alternative would be something along the lines of 245(i) where we allow a path to permanent residency for Dreamers. I don't know how likely that is to happen. I never underestimate the power of Congress to bungle things, so it could be like healthcare.
Do you think if we allowed a path to citizenship it would embolden those who had previously thought about illegally immigrating to go ahead and do it?
Not likely. I only say that because it depends on what you mean by "path to citizenship." An individual cannot become a citizen of the U.S. simply by applying. He or she must have five years of lawful permanent resident status, AKA LPR status or Green Card (or 3 years if LPR status was obtained through a U.S. citizen spouse); be at least 18 years old; as well as continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years, have been physically present for at least 30 months out of the last five years; and possess good moral character. If you entered illegally, you still need to become a permanent resident. In order to become a permanent resident you must have someone petition for you. You can have a family member or an employer petition for you after you have entered illegally, but whether or not you meet the criteria for adjustment (applying for a Green Card inside of the U.S.) depends on who applied for you or whether you are eligible for a waiver of unlawful presence. So if you create a path to citizenship where you still need a petitioner, must meet certain criteria for presence, and pay a fine (or apply for a waiver) for your unlawful presence the barrier of entry still remains high.
I looked up the flowchart for citizenship when all this came up earlier this week. One of the steps in the flowchart is literally "Are you a person of good moral character? (Yes-continue) (NO-STOP You are not eligible for citizenship)".
lolwut. Who tf would answer "no" to that? Someone who should answer "no" would be the person to lie anyway!
For naturalization purposes, good moral character is basically asking if during the 5 year period immediately preceding your application whether you violated any laws? If the answer is yes, then that person is ineligible to naturalize until they accrue five years of good moral character.
What happens to those who came from a country that don't exist anymore?
It becomes the burden of the U.S. government to prove alienage and determine a country to which that person is able to be returned.
You may wish to include a disclaimer like this to avoid running afoul of practice rules and to avoid misleading people.
Thanks so much. Good looking out.
If a DACA recipient's work authorization expires after next march with no renewal and they get married to a US citizen afterwards (assuming legit marriage) can they still adjust their status while in the US?
That depends on how they entered the U.S. If you are a Dreamer who overstayed a visa then you were admitted meaning that you can adjust in the U.S. when you are petitioned by your spouse. If you are a Dreamer and while you had DACA you applied for Advance Parole and now have a lawful admission, then again, yes you can apply to adjust. However, if you entered without inspection at the border and do not have a lawful entry, then your spouse can petition for you, then you must apply for a waiver of unlawful presence, and leave the U.S. for your immigrant visa interview. This is assuming you are otherwise admissible to the U.S.
What will happen to DACA recipients who are in the military or law enforcement?
That is still up in the air at this point. There are some DACA recipients who were to report to basic training that are now precluded from doing so. I think the decision to rescind was shortsighted and did not take these individuals into consideration.
what will these changes really mean?
It means thousands of young people who came out of the shadows to apply for DACA will now live in fear and legal limbo.
are they now criminals? and were they before?
Well unlawful presence is an immigration violation, meaning it is a civil offense not a criminal offense. That is why there is no right to a government provided attorney during immigration removal proceedings. These Dreamers are just back to where they were before, but in fear because they have exposed themselves by applying for work authorization.
My 24 year old girlfriend is under the DACA program. She came here when she was 4 and she did not come in with a visa, they brought her in illegally. The question now is, if we get married, how hard will it be for her to get a green card or what would be the next steps in order to legalize her?
If someone was brought to the U.S. without inspection, a U.S. citizen spouse may petition for them. After approval of the petition that person must request a waiver by demonstrating that the U.S. citizen spouse will suffer extreme hardship if the intending immigrant is not permitted to return after their immigrant visa interview or if the U.S. citizen goes to live with the intending immigrant to the country of origin. Once the extreme hardship waiver is granted, the intending immigrant applies for an immigrant visa and goes to their interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. The intending immigrant leaves the U.S. with the waiver approval in hand so that he or she does not trigger the 3-year or 10-year bar. After the interview and approval, the intending immigrant reenters and receives his or her Green Card in the mail.
Will recipients of DACA be asked to leave the country immediately?
In order to be removed, one must be placed in removal proceedings or be apprehended by ICE and asked if they want to return voluntarily. The Trump administration may certainly ask, but whether DACA recipients will comply is a different issue. They have a right to go before an Immigration Judge.
Arizona resident here. I haven't done much research but it really sounds like border states could be affected heavily by this decision. Does this mean that immigrants once protected by the DACA will now have to leave their jobs?
Not necessarily. The work authorizations that remain valid (to date) allow the recipient to continue working legally. However, some employers may be motivated to fail to give promotions or raises to those who will soon lose work authorization.
Since we shouldn't punish children for the sins of their parents, wouldn't it make more sense to deport the parents that broke the law?
They are still permitted to go before an Immigration Judge and present relief.
Are there any legal avenues available for those previously protected by DACA other than citizenship? Or is citizenship the only way to fully protect yourself as it currently stands?
I have found that my DACA clients fall into certain categories of relief. Some can be petitioned by family members, others are in danger if they return and are now presenting claims for asylum, and others are eligible for Cancellation of Removal for Certain Nonpermanent Residents. However, that last one can only be solicited while in removal proceedings.
Could be mistaken but doesn't Asylum need to be applied for within a year of arrival? Is there a way around that if a year has already passed?
Yes, there are exceptions to the asylum one-year deadline. If there were changed conditions in the country of origin that now makes the country unsafe for that individual; if there were changes in the applicant's personal circumstances that now place him or her in danger; if the applicant possessed a legal disability (under 18 years old); or if the applicant had status and did not apply for that reason.
I should add that this is not an exhaustive list. Someone who fears returning to their country of origin, or country to which they may be returned, should consult with an attorney.
I read that if people applied for renewal before the Tuesday, even if they weren't due for renewal yet, that they would still be evaluated. Is that the case? If so, why if there has been no ruling as of yet?
If a DACA recipient applied for renewal that will expire between now and March 5, 2018, their applications will be adjudicated. However, these DACA recipients must move fast because the deadline is October 5, 2017. USCIS is still sticking to its processing times so decisions on renewals is not made immediately.
I'm sorry I didn't clarify. I meant those that are due to expire after March.
Those whose work authorizations will expire after March 5, 2018 are out of luck, unfortunately. They will only have work authorization until their validity period expires.
I'm an attorney in Texas. I interned at two different immigration clinics in law school, primarily assisting with VAWA and asylum cases. I'd like to offer limited scope representation to help people affected by DACA. Do you have any advice for me? The immigration clinics I contacted want more of a time commitment than I can provide at this time.
Have you reached out to AILA? That would be my first stop especially in Texas.
What will happen to people who were eligible for daca but did not apply for it?
No new initial applications will be accepted.
Is there something the average person can do to help people who are now in fear of losing their jobs/ homes/ children's education/ etc?
Call your congressman, call your senators, and generally just be an advocate. And don't forget to vote for those that stand with Dreamers, not just those who pay lip service to the cause.
The problem was kicked further down the road from one president to another with years of possible action avoided by congress. I don't see how ignoring the problem counts as "standing with them".
How is rescinding DACA and crossing our fingers that Congress will do something any better? Comprehensive immigration reform has been a hot button issues for decades now, rescinding DACA was a political decision motivated by the desire to win some political points. The better way would have been to keep DACA and work towards a solution.
Why would I vote for people who stand against the US and it's rules and laws?
What rules and laws exactly? You want to punish people for the sins of their parents. If there is an avenue to allow undocumented young people, who are here through no fault of their own, to come out from the shadows and contribute to society in a lawful meaningful way, why wouldn't I vote for that person?
Is this a lesser form of the Dakar rally?
I would say having work authorization and providing for your family is more thrilling.
Do you live in a gated community?
Nope, I live in NE DC. I have to rep my neighborhood.
What did you eat for breakfast?
Egg over easy with buttered toast...and coffee. Always coffee.
Asking the important questions :)
I was out of avocados.
I have a job offer from a Fortune 500 company for when I graduate this December. I believe I qualify under category EB-3 of the i-140 as I will have my Bachelor's. I came here on a tourist visa and overstayed it. It seems this form is for people living outside the US. Could this work for someone already living in the US who needs adjustment of status? Do they provide a work permit in the interim while the application is pending? Thanks in advance!
In order to adjust status (become a lawful permanent resident inside the U.S.) an applicant needs to have lawful status at the time of adjustment. If you do not have lawful status at the time you are eligible to adjust you will have to do consular processing, but discuss this with an attorney to see if there are waiver possibilities for you. There is no work permit with an I-140.
If no alternative is devised, what does the timeline for deportation look like?
There is no timeline for deportation. Those that were previously in removal proceedings and whose cases were administratively closed due to DACA will have to have their cases reopened if removal is to occur. That is up to DHS to do. Now, if their cases are reopened, they are permitted to submit relief to an Immigration Judge. If they were never in removal proceedings, then no one is currently looking for them. If ICE does detain a DACA recipient then he or she has the opportunity to go before an Immigration Judge. Deportation does not happen overnight unless someone has a prior removal order.
Can you explain what the possible outcomes are after seeing a judge?
An Immigration Judge may order someone removed or may grant him or her relief (asylum, withholding, cancellation, adjustment, etc.) based upon what applications are before the Court. If someone receives an unfavorable decision he or she is permitted to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
What I don't get is if I was born in a house, in the US, and my parents didn't get any documentation at that time, how can the US government prove that I am not a US citizen? Does one have a legal obligation to prove that they were born on US soil?
If you are born in the U.S. and your birth is not registered, you may provide secondary evidence to prove your citizenship. You can demonstrate that your parents are citizens and therefore you are also or you can provide secondary evidence that may prove you were born on U.S. soil. You are not permitted to claim U.S. citizenship when you are not. It is the burden of the individual seeking a particular benefit to prove that they meet eligibility, including all the rights and privileges that come along with being a U.S. citizen.
Why are criminal aliens getting priority over many American citizens? Wasn't this unconstitutional to put into effect in the first place?
DACA recipients are required to go through security checks. They are not criminals. And what priority are you referring to? The constitutionality of DACA was never decided, but Article II Section Three of the Constitution has been previously interpreted by the Supreme Court as the source of the executive branch’s power to grant deferred action. Deferred action has been granted in the past by previous Presidents. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush allowed family members of those granted amnesty in 1986 to avoid removal and remain in the U.S.
Why do you support criminal activity?
Unlawful presence is a civil offense, not a criminal offense. That is precisely why those in removal proceedings do not have the right to be represented by government-appointed counsel.
Do you believe that President Obama's unilateral executive action which changed immigration law were constitutional acts?
If a law orders a president to do something, can the president not do it? Or is he required to take care to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress?
What Article II power did President Obama use to change standing law without congressional action?
You refer to the "Dreamer's Act" but that's actually only a bill, it was never passed, presented, or signed; why do you refer to it as the Dreamer's Act? Isn't that misleading?
Edit: Thanks for the gold anonymous Redditor!
Edit 2: It is a shame that Natalia Segermeister has failed or refused to respond to my questions despite it being pretty early on in this AMA and being the most upvoted post the whole time. Perhaps she will later today.
To everyone who is calling this set of questions hostile: Asking critical questions, even if leading, is not a hostile act. I oppose expanding POTUS power, I oppose misleading propaganda, I oppose misinformation. President Trump extended DACA, he did not end it.
DACA and the "Dreamer's Act" are not law. It is misinformation to say they are.
Edit 3: She came back around and responded, in part, to my questions. In fairness, here is her responses.
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