The fate of those currently under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) is still uncertain. By its very nature, the DACA program was only a band aid approach to the issue of hundreds of thousands of children brought to the country illegally.
The recent DACA ruling from the United States Supreme Court extends the program but does not solve the issue. As of now, if you are in the United States under the DACA program, you remain at risk of being deported from the country.
We’re going to cover the specifics of the high court ruling and why this is only temporary. We hope to instruct the options available to you are if you are under the DACA program, particularly the pathway to, or at the very least more a permanent residency.
What Is The DACA Program and The High Court Ruling?
As a quick refresher, the DACA program grants temporary relief to minors who were brought to the United States illegally as children. The program was enacted in an unorthodox manner, through an executive order by former President Barak Obama which, according to the current ruling, was illegal.
The from the Supreme Court said the DACA program was illegal also because of the way it was established. The court ultimately ruled in favor of keeping the DACA program, however, due to administrative errors made on the part of the Trump Administration to end the program.
Options for Transitioning from DACA to Citizenship (or Residency)
Despite the uncertainty created by the DACA program, there are still legal channels that you can utilize to seek citizenship or residency if you are in the program. In the state of Texas, there are over 100,000 people brought illegally into the country as children who fall into this category.
Three of the most common methods used to obtain either permanent residency or citizenship include family, marriage, and a grant of asylum.
Family-based Green Card
If you have any relatives who are United States citizens either by birth or naturalization, they can sponsor you for a permanent residency card (U.S. Green Card). Your relatives need to meet certain financial requirements showing that they can support you while you are here.
For those who are on the U.S. Green Card long enough, they can then apply for citizenship. It is important that you speak with an attorney for the specifics of applying for permanent residency as the process can be complex.
Marriage to A .S. Citizen
It’s essential to note that the marriage must be authentic and undertaken in good faith. The burden will be on you and your spouse to prove that you were married for traditional reasons and not to game the immigration system. This can be done by providing evidence of legitimate marriage and relationship including:
- Family photos
- Joint finances
- Joint assets such as a home, car, etc.
- Receipts and evidence from trips taken together
If returning to your home country would put you in immediate danger, you may qualify for asylum in the United States. You must be in fear of persecution by reason of your race, nationality, religion, or political opinions.
It is important to note that you must file for asylum either within one year after your arrival or within one year of your 18th birthday.
Safest to Prepare as if the Program Will Ultimately Terminate
The ruling, which was ultimately about President Donald Trump’s attempt to end the program, and not on the legality of the program itself, provides for its continuation. This means that, for now, those who are in the United States under the program will continue to receive protection from deportation.
However, the court did note in the dissenting opinion that the original program was illegally established. This opinion leaves open the possibility that President Trump can attempt other ways to end the program through legal channels.
Thus, unless those under the DACA program seek out legal methods to stay in the United States, there will continue to be an air of uncertainty surrounding their status and long term ability to reside in the United States.