Discussion Points for Punto Legal- January 31, 2018

1. DACA.

Last night, President Trump gave us his immigration plan. He offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age. He wants to build a great wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And he wants to end what he calls "chain migration."

Under Trump's plan, DREAMers who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become a full citizens of the United States over a 12-year period. This benefit for 1.8 million DREAMers would require the immigration service to approve every undocumented person between the ages of 15 and 31.

Ending so-called chain migration means that U.S. citizens could no longer immigrate their parents or brothers or sisters. U.S. parents and permanent residents could no longer immigrate their adult children. The reason Trump gave for the end of chain migration is two primitive terror attacks in New York City by homegrown Islamic terrorists. Since the U.S. needs immigrants because its birth rate is not replacing its population, this is a dumb idea in my opinion.

Where did the idea of a clean DREAM Act go? You know, a law that would permit DREAMers to become permanent residents right away?

The DREAM Act is now in jeopardy because the President and many Republicans want too much in exchange for it. We will see if the U.S. Senate will manage a vote on a DREAM Act. It may be that we will see a short term extension of DACA so that lawmakers can buy yet more time.

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.