Andres Mejer: What can you do to date. If you have DACA? Incredibly important. You can’t just sit back and wait. You can’t just rely on DACA and say Hey I’m good. I don’t need to worry because I have DACA. While DACA may not protect you. There are.
Andres Mejer: I’ve defended many clients that were charged with domestic violence a DUI or even something more innocuous like certain shoplifting charges and the government tried to rescind their DACA . Even if they won the case. They’re saying well just the arrest alone in the exercise of our discretion means you’re not a good moral person and you’re not entitled to DACA. So. Six arrests no convictions and trial attorneys tell me well good people don’t get arrested. Maybe good people get discriminated against maybe people get judged differently because of the color of your skin and they don’t get the benefit of the doubt they get arrested but then it goes through the proper channels and they realize they can’t prove their case. So charges get dismissed. That is an equally plausible scenario depending where one lives. So what can you do if you have DACA. Because there’s plenty ways that you can lose DACA , family based petition. Maybe you’ve now married a U.S. citizen. You’ve been here you now. You’re now in your late 20s early 30s. You went to college. You met the love of your dreams.
Andres Mejer: You got married. And hopefully he or she is a U.S. citizen that can help you adjust. Now if you entered the U.S. legally either initially or with advanced parole under Obama when you were allowed to do it. Your spouse being a U.S. citizen is an immediate relative with legal entry in approximately a year and every day it’s taken longer than you can get your residency in the US. If you did not enter the US legally or you did not take advantage.of the advance parole and you’ve only entered illegally, you may need a waiver. It all depends what do I mean by that. Well let me give you an example. Let me let’s say that when I was 16 DACA was announced when I applied and received DACA. I was still a minor. I’ve maintained my DACA all throughout. That means as an adult 18. In this case I never accumulated unlawful presence because DACA does not is not lawful status but it’s also not unlawful status. If you know my meaning it’s complicated. The bottom line is I did not accrue a period here without permission without the government knowing where I am and without having applied and received something. So I have not received a lawful presence as an adult so if my wife applies for me because she is a U.S. citizen I could leave the U.S. had a bit of a consular visit in my country and come back as a Green Card holder without needing a waiver. If I if I was here for more than one year and you know as an adult without permission then she would need to apply for a waiver for me so family based petitions it could be parent it could be spouse it could be children over 21 children over 21 are a problem because they don’t qualify for a waiver and likely I will not be applying under DACA if I have a child over 21 because unless I gave birth at. When I was born. It’s a little hard to do. U-visa victim of violent crime. Now there are six requirements. I’m not going to go over all of them. The most important is that you were a victim of a qualified crime. Number one and number two you reported it to the police. If you didn’t report it it doesn’t count because the whole point of a U visa is to take criminals off the streets. It’s a tool for law enforcement because most immigrants are afraid to talk to the police if they know of a U visa and a U visa will protect them in case. In case they find themselves in ICE custody. You helped investigate a criminal or put a criminal behind bars. You would get a benefit for you and for your whole family.
Andres Mejer: Through a U visa, Now asylum, that’s another option.
Andres Mejer: It is invalid for a it for everybody because frankly those that have DACA they’ve clearly been here for more than a year. If you’re still a minor. Well you can apply for asylum because the clock hasn’t started for you until you turn 18. But generally speaking you have to file within a year of entering the U.S. If you don’t do that you don’t qualify for asylum proper. There might be something else you qualify in the family of asylum type scenarios. It goes from one extreme asylum which once it’s granted you get refugee status for a year and after that you can apply for your Green Card. That’s the best case scenario worst case scenario is you get an order of deportation but because you proved that you’re going to fight the you’re going likely to be tortured by your government if you go back you don’t have to go back. But you don’t get work authorization or any other benefit. And in the middle is withholding of removal where you didn’t file timely or you were convicted of a serious crime that prevents you from filing asylum asylum. So. You don’t get refugee status you get an order of removal but you get to stay here with work authorization. So there’s a variety of different options depending on the scenario. Most people that have DACA had obviously been in more than a year. Most of them are now adults. So if they hadn’t filed asylum they likely wouldn’t qualify for asylum proper unless changed circumstances think Syria Iraq Venezuela.
Andres Mejer: So they came here there wasn’t a problem. Now there is a problem. And now they are afraid to go back for whatever reason and accordingly they would be entitled to asylum. Cancellation and removal is another option. So think of parents with children with severe medical conditions could be cancer. Could be blind could be some deformity balance issues vertigo chemo. I mean there’s a lot of unfortunately.
Andres Mejer: There’s a lot of medical conditions in which kids and adults can suffer from. Another option is a learning disability. Think of how autistic they’re in the spectrum in some fashion. So parents undocumented have been here more than 10 years are not disqualified because of crimes have children that actually could be children could be spouse or could be parents who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents but most often this scenario is applied to children for the simple fact if I get deported my child will likely come with me but my child is an American citizen has access to care of doctors psychologists medicine and treatment and has an opportunity to get better even if they suffer from autism. There’s a quality of life that they can have here that they probably wouldn’t have in other countries if I get deported. My child comes with me an American citizen because I’m his or her guardian I will get a green card.
Andres Mejer: Now they only give three thousand eight hundred dollars a year. It takes years to get and it is a trial. It is by no means a simple process or a cheap process but it is an option for some. The point of this is if you have DACA do not wait to find out do not wait for Congress to do what they’re supposed to do. They haven’t done it in the past 19 years. Maybe they’ll get their act together and do something this year. But. It is hard to believe that this president will do anything that favors the immigrant community. You know his whole thing is I’m anti-immigrant. I will protect you. Your world is coming on fire because the immigrants are taking your jobs there. They’re raping your daughters and they’re killing your sons and they’re bringing drugs in. That’s what Trump says that immigrants are awful. You and I know that’s not the case. I’m an immigrant. My family is our immigrant. We lived twice in Chile twice in Israel twice in the US, came to the U.S. not speaking English as a child moved to Israel as an adult not speaking Hebrew. You know I’ve seen. I’ve lived the immigrant experience multiple times. I know that kind of drive that that gives you.
Andres Mejer: I know what it leads to come back from what is to live in poverty and have nothing. I know that as most immigrants have experienced it you know move picking up and moving to another country is not simple. It’s not easy and you don’t. Do it lightly. You do it for a reason and it’s for it to have a better future for you and for you or for your kids for your family. Not to come here and commit crime.
Andres Mejer: That’s ridiculous and Trump should know better. You should just ask his wife. She didn’t have an easy path here either.
Andres Mejer: Bottom line. Apply for something. Don’t wait. Meet with an immigration attorney evaluate your options. If you’re in a long term relationship with with someone who’s a U.S. citizen a Green Card holder. I’ve heard many times well you know what I didn’t want to ask her because I don’t want that to be the reason we get married 100 percent. I always tell my clients do not make life decisions based on immigration consequences.
Andres Mejer: Live your life and will help you normalize your immigration status but don’t get married or divorced because of immigration. Only do it because it’s the right thing to do because it’s what you feel. So thank you for joining us. My name is Andrés Mejer and immigration attorney speaker and author.