Young Colorado immigrants face uncertain future, shadow living with DACA rollback
What this means
• If your DACA expires on or before March 5, 2018, you can get another two years, but only if you apply by Oct. 5, 2017.
• No new first-time applications will be permitted after Tuesday, Sept. 5.
• First-time applications submitted prior to Sept. 5 will be processed.
• Any pending renewal applications will be processed.
• For the next 30 days (until Oct. 5), you can continue to submit DACA renewals, but only for those people whose DACA expires prior to March 5, 2018. If your DACA expires after that, you cannot renew.
• Individual DACAs will remain valid until expiration. No renewals will be allowed. When your DACA expires, it’s done.
• Any requests for Advance Parole will not be granted. No pending requests for travel documents will be processed, as of Tuesday. Approved travel documents will remain in effect; however, consult an immigration attorney prior to travel.
• Individuals in removal proceedings prior to DACA may receive a Notice to Appear, resuming the court case.
Source: Amy Novak, Eagle County immigration attorney
EDWARDS — This week’s immigration controversy may be political, but it’s personal if you’re in those crosshairs, said immigration attorneys around the region.
President Donald Trump ordered that former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program be phased out over the next six months.
Under DACA, young immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday could apply for protection from deportation for two-year periods and be allowed to work legally during that time. Calling the Obama order an overreach, the Trump administration on Tuesday paused new applications immediately and said it would not process renewals for existing recipients whose benefits expire after March 5, 2018.
DACA impacts 800,000 people across the United States and 17,000 in Colorado, said Amy Novak, an Edwards-based immigration attorney.
Ted Hess, a Glenwood Springs immigration attorney, said that among his DACA clients is the valedictorian of a local high school who’s studying to be a medical researcher at the University of New Mexico. Another client is an astrophysicist with an Ivy League school.
Like the political situation in which they find themselves, the solution could also be political, Novak said.
“They have a strong voting bloc,” Novak said. “The Hispanic population is the fastest growing population in the U.S. If the Republicans want to keep control of Congress, they would do well to pursue a solution.”
About that congressional role; on Aug. 1, 2001, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), introduced their Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act. It would create a multi-phase process for qualifying alien minors in the United States. It would first grant conditional residency and eventually permanent residency. It has since been reintroduced several times but has failed to pass.
In the wake of that repeated failure, Obama ordered the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump’s order this week essentially gives Congress the next six months to come up with something.
If congress does nothing, then people impacted by DACA will have to live and work in the shadows, Hess said.
“Ironically, DACA supporters, including the president, have advocated for congress to pass a DREAM Act, which they have not been able to do for the last 16 years,” Hess said.
If people had options, they would not be in the DACA program, Novak said. If their DACA status expires, then these people have no more protection, Novak said.
Devoid of options
“The scary thing is that they have given their information to the government,” Novak said.
Hess said that if they don’t have a family member who can file a petition for them, they’re either going to live in the shadows or go back to wherever they came from, whether they remember it or not, Hess said.
“I ask them, ‘Has this been good for you? Has this made a difference in your life?’”
Without fail they enthusiastically say “yes,” Hess said.
“Many have no memory of the place they came from. In some cases, parents did not tell them for years. They get to high school and suddenly discover they’re illegal,” Hess said.
GOP versus DEMS
Rep. Scott Tipton represents Western Colorado in the U.S. House of Representatives. He said Obama circumvented the Constitution by unilaterally creating the DACA program.
“I believe Congress must act to develop a compassionate and commonsense solution for the children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents,” Tipton said in a statement. “These individuals have grown up in the United States and are now upstanding, valued members of our communities. They should not be punished for a decision made by their parents years ago.”
Boulder Democrat Rep. Jared Polis, represents Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, which includes eastern Eagle County.
“I am outraged that more than 17,000 Coloradans, who I consider my fellow Americans, got the news that their lives have dramatically altered by a callous and short-sighted decision of our president. By ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, President Trump has cast nearly 1 million aspiring Americans back into the shadows,” Polis said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.