Discussion Points for Punto Legal- January 24, 2018

1. DACA.

The congressional fight begins in earnest about DACA and a DREAM Act. To end last weekend's shutdown, Democrats were promised a vote on a legislative fix for DACA by Feb 8th, when funding again runs out for the federal government.

The Senate will now try and come up with a solution for the undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children in exchange for upgrades in border security.

The key for Republican moderates and Democrats is to figure out a bill that not only gets 60 out of 100 votes in the Senate but proves so popular that it brings the White House on board, too. If President Trump backs a Senate deal, it will be a lot easier to move something through the House.

Keeping DACA in exchange for more border security is the basic outline of what a compromise should look like.

But, in the House, anti-immigrant Republicans want even more than border security. For example, we could end up with a situation where DREAMers have a path to citizenship, but cannot immigrate their parents.

As of September, there were 689,000 DACA recipients, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The vast majority of DACA recipients come from Mexico - more than 79%, or 548,000.

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.