Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dealing with Delayed DACA Renewals

When the process for extending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced in early June it was met with a significant amount of excitement and anxiety.  One of several looming questions was with regards to how the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service would handle the increased caseload of I-821D and I-765 applications.  The guidelines provided by USCIS stated that, "if you submit your request more than 150 days (5 months) before your current period expires, USCIS may reject it and return it to you with instructions to resubmit it closer to the expiration date."  This requirement left many who initially filed and waited more than six months for adjudication of their DACA with some concerns.

It is recommended by USCIS that your DACA be filed between 120-150 days prior to the expiration of your current employment authorization.  Do not delay in filing it!  You should file it closer to the 150-day mark.  Recently, I have come across a handful of DACA renewals that remain pending close to a couple of weeks from the expiration of their current authorization.  Panic has set in as these individuals, understandably, do not want lose a job, face the risk of being out of work or unable to continue with college.  Therefore, I have compiled some tips (do's and dont's) that you should consider using if you only have 30 days or less remaining on your work authorization and your renewal has been pending more than 90-120 days. Remember that this is all a work in progress and these tips could be helpful on a case-by-case basis.  They are also subject to change if USCIS makes any tweaks to their procedures.

Do: Be vigilant! This is your livelihood at stake and do not let your ability to maintain a job lapse.

Do: Read over the DACA Frequently Asked Questions.  Yes, there are 81 of them.  But, there are some important tips and nuggets of knowledge within.  Question/Answer #49 provides some information regarding short-term extensions for delayed applications:

Q49:  When should I file my renewal request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)?

A49: 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. If you have filed your renewal request at least 120 days before your deferred action expires and USCIS is delayed in processing your renewal request, USCIS may provide you with DACA and employment authorization for up to an additional 120 days.

Please Note:  USCIS will not provide any such short-term deferred action and employment authorization when USCIS is delayed in reaching a final decision on your renewal request because, for example: 1) of factors within your control (such as failure to file the renewal request within the suggested timeframe or filing an incomplete renewal request); 2) USCIS has not been able to complete your background check; and/or 3) your renewal submission contained evidence that you may not satisfy the DACA renewal guidelines and USCIS must send you a request for additional information or explanation.

Do Not: Use InfoPass at the local USCIS office to try and request that your application be expedited.  Our experience with the local USCIS information officers is that they do not know much, if anything, regarding the DACA process.  Obviously, this could vary from one office to another, but I recommend calling the National Customer Service Center hotline instead (1-800-375-5283).  Even if you take time to do an InfoPass it will have the same impact as making a phone call.  The local office cannot extend your work authorization or produce a new card for you.

Do: Call the National Customer Service Center hotline and make a request for a temporary DACA.  I have not seen a 120-day temporary renewal, but it seems that this request has helped in expediting the process in some cases.

Do: Consider the outside assistance of a congressional representative, if your representative's office is known to be DACA friendly.  You can find your representative's office location through the locator here.

Do: Consider the outside assistance of the USCIS Ombudsman's office.  I have not personally utilized the assistance of this office for immigration problems, since the Tucson congressional offices are extremely helpful with immigration-related problems, but that is an option to consider.

Do: If you have an attorney working on your application, make sure to remain in contact and have the attorney assist with trying to get the application expedited, if needed. 

Good luck and feel free to contact me if you feel there are other tips or information that you think should be distributed to the DACAmented masses.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


WHAT PART OF "ILLEGAL" DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND???  There is always one schmuck that needs to recycle that bumper sticker quote in the comments section of an immigration article.  And it has to be in CAPS!!  And it has to have multiple question marks and perhaps a couple exclamation points.  If it’s not in CAPS and does not have the multiple punctuations, then the point is not made.  So, let me be that schmuck today and pose that question to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, the Arizona State Militia, Russell Pearce, gubernatorial candidate Frank Riggs and congressional candidate/newest member of the Village People, Adam Kwasman:  WHAT PART OF "ILLEGAL" DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND??!?!?

This lesson is for all those law-abiding folks that came to protest that fictional bus carrying unaccompanied migrant youths (aka UAC’s) to Oracle, Arizona on Tuesday.  The minors are being held by the U.S. government pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).  The TVPRA instructs our government to transfer the custody of unaccompanied minors to the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Once in the custody of HHS, the minors are processed for possible removal from the United States which includes evaluation of whether the minor can remain in the U.S. in some form of lawful status.  It is the LAW that was originally signed by President George W. Bush in 2008.

If law-abiding U.S. citizens don’t like the TVPRA or its unintended consequences, lobby to get it amended.  Feel free to peacefully assemble and protest, but don’t block the bus from going to its intended destination (a la the protesters in Murrieta, California).  According to an article by Stephen Lemons in the Phoenix New Times, Oracle resident Robert Skiba was originally tipped off to this busload of migrant youths and Mr. Skiba told Mr. Lemons:

"We're going to engage in peaceful assembly and if these buses with
these people from Central America come in, we're going to stop it.
we're going to turn them around and send them back, just like they
did in Murrieta, California."

Sheriff Babeu even posted on his Facebook page that the “children should be returned to their home country - not to Oracle, Arizona paid for by American taxpayers.”  But, that’s not how it works in the good ‘ol United States, if there is a law we are supposed to follow it.  Right Mr. Sheriff?  Mr. Law Enforcer?

So, if you are following closely, you will realize that the minors that turned themselves into the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are not breaking the law.  In fact, they may not even be “illegal”.  But, what about the protesters?  Would their attempts to stop the bus and send it back be breaking the law?  It turns out that if you read the Arizona Revised Statute, not only would these protesters be breaking the law, there are several possible statutes that they could have been violating including:

            13-2402. Obstructing governmental operations, which is a class 1 misdemeanor;

13-2908. Criminal nuisance, which is a class 3 misdemeanor.

Perhaps there are other laws that they could have violated in the process, but those are just a few examples.  So, the irony of this situation is that the minors on the bus would not be the law breakers, the bus blockers would have been!  Would Sheriff Babeu, who allegedly conspired in the planning of this protest and who always preaches the rule of law, have arrested the bus blockers?  

There is no doubt our immigration laws are currently a mess and are in dire need for reform.  If you asked Mr. Kwasman, Mr. Pearce and others if they support the comprehensive immigration reform bill that’s before congress they would undoubtedly respond “no”.  They will tell you that we need to enforce the laws on our books right now! That if we enforce our laws and seal our border with a triple border fence, drones and man-eating alligators in a moat, we might solve our immigration problems.  But, the irony of all this is that the moment they realize they don't like one of our current immigration-related laws (the TVPRA) they scream for reform and encourage illegal activity against immigrants.


Friday, January 31, 2014

A Courageous and Resilient Pledge

Matthew Lammers became a naturalized U.S. citizen over thirty years ago in 1983, but it wasn't until January 31, 2014, when he actually participated in a naturalization ceremony that he can actually remember and tell his children about.  From my observation, Matt loved every moment of the experience.  Back in 1983 he was a one-year-old baby who was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States after being adopted by a family in Kansas. Today, Matt is married and was at the ceremony supporting his wife who was sworn-in as a naturalized U.S. citizen.  From what I have read about Matt, he feels uncomfortable being referred to as a "hero" so I will respect his wishes here.  Instead, I will refer to him as courageous and resilient.

I first noticed Matt at today's ceremony when the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service officer was asking if anyone in the audience would lead in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Most candidates for naturalization are typically nervous or shy and today was no exception.  None of the candidates volunteered to do so.  On the other hand, Matt seemed thrilled with the opportunity.  He explained to the officer that he was a retired Staff Sergeant from the U.S. army and had served in two tours in Iraq.  After listening to him I couldn't think of a better candidate to lead in the recitation of the Pledge. 

Here is Matt leading the 46 naturalization applicants along with their families and friends in the Pledge of Allegiance:

Being curious about Matt I looked up his story online and found that there had been numerous articles written about him.  I learned that he was injured in Iraq on June 10, 2007 when a Humvee he was in drove over an explosively formed projectile (EFP). Matt became a triple amputee, losing both his legs and his left arm as a result of that blast.  I learned that he kept a positive outlook and attitude in spite of these injuries. I also found out that he received two Purple Hearts for his service.  Matt is the epitome of courage and resilience.

At naturalization ceremonies there is always time set aside after the oath is administered for newly naturalized citizens and their loved ones to speak openly about their road to becoming a U.S. citizen.  At this ceremony only two individuals spoke out.  One of them was Matt.

The other individual was sitting immediately behind Matt and was a man who fled Iraq and sought refuge in the United States after being shot multiple times by the military.  Watching this man speak and Matt intently listening was a treat.  

As the ceremony came to a close, the presiding judge made a point to thank Matt for his service on behalf of the United States.  Every naturalization ceremony is special in its own right, but today's ceremony was made even more so by Matt's presence. 

I feel extremely fortunate that I attended this ceremony and had the opportunity to meet a hero courageous and resilient human being that we should all admire.