Discussion Points for Punto Legal- February 7, 2018

1. DACA.

The Congress has less than a month to come up with a solution to the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As you know, President Trump has set the program to expire on March 5th.

To talk about DACA and the possibility of a DREAM Act today, we have to break things down between the Senate and House of Representatives. In the Senate, there is an unprecedented two-year budget deal. Sadly, it contains no DREAM Act or any immigration relief. But-this is the good news-- the Senate majority leader has promised Democrats that they would get a vote on a bipartisan DACA solution. Today he promised a vote again. The Senate is likely to begin that process next week. The Senate majority leader said plans to offer a shell bill that members can then amend their ideas on to. They'll need to find 60 votes, meaning at least some members from both parties, in order to pass the final product.

Now let's turn to the House of Representatives. It's not clear what will happen in the House. Speaker Ryan has so far refused to make a similar promise as the Senate majority leader. Over the past few weeks, Democrats have retreated from their threat to shut the government down unless they got a DREAM Act. But, earlier to today, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, spent six hours speaking on the House floor in support of a DREAM Act. She again threatened to shut the government down without a DREAM Act.

In short, DREAMers are in for a wild ride.

2. Salvadoran TPS.

On Jan. 8, 2018, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for El Salvador. There is a delayed effective date-or grace period--of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on Sept. 9, 2019. Although you cannot do so today, TPS holders who want TPS until September 2019 will have to re-register and pay for a new work authorization card.

The bigger question for TPS beneficiaries is: can they fix their papers in the U.S. if they have-now our in the future-a U.S. child who is over 21? We urge anyone with TPS to travel to El Salvador with an advance travel document and return to the U.S. If you do so, legal magic occurs. You are deemed to have been paroled into the U.S. "Parole" opens the door to you fixing your papers in the U.S. Now if you have already traveled and returned to the U.S., you do not have to do so again.

Now let me give you an example. Yancy is a 41-year-old woman from El Salvador. She came to the U.S. illegally in 1996. She has two U.S.-born kids who are 21 and 19. After 1996, she never left the U.S. She asks her 21-year-old to file an immigration petition for her. She then gets an advance travel document, travels, and returns to the U.S. When she returns, she can fix her papers in the U.S. Previously, she did not have the right to fix her papers in the U.S.

Many immigration attorneys believe that Yancy should not have to go to so much trouble. They think that the TPS law itself allows TPS holders to fix their papers in the U.S. Unfortunately, the immigration service does not. But, two U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal also believe you can become a permanent resident in the U.S. These are the 6th and 9th Circuits. If Yancy wanted to move to a state within these circuits, she could fix her papers through her 21-year-old child without having to travel in order to obtain "parole." These states in include Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, Arizona, and California.