We attended an event hosted by the New York City Bar Association, Beyond the Headlines: Examining the Undoing of DACA and TPS and the Legal Response in New York on October 23, 2017. We wanted to share some of our takeaways to help immigrants and their families navigate the legal system in this time of change and uncertainty.
The Trump administration recently announced the discontinuance of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and has indicated plans to phase out Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which nationwide combine to provide 1.1 million immigrants the opportunity to work and live in this country without fear of deportation.
These programs grant legal protections to immigrants escaping natural disasters, escaping war-ravaged conditions, or those brought to the United States as children. The Bar Association held a forum to discuss the community and government response in New York, including affirmative litigation challenging the end of DACA, the potential impact on access to government benefits and a historical perspective on what these changes mean for U.S. immigration law and policy.
Here are our takeaways:
- New York stands with immigrants. Diane Lucas of the New York State Attorney General's office talked about the lawsuit filed by the state to protect DACA recipients. Joined by 16 other states, New York sued the Trump administration because ending DACA will cause huge harm to the state's economy and the health and well-being of New Yorkers and because it is clear that the repeal was motivated by President Trump's personal anti-Mexican bias.
- DREAMers take action. Amy Taylor of Make the Road New York, a community organization that builds immigrant and working class power through organizing, education and support services, spoke about a lawsuit filed by a DACA recipient against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), for withholding certain benefits of the DACA program. The case is currently in pending in the Federal Court in Brooklyn. Other lawsuits are similarly pending.
- There are other forms of immigration relief beyond DACA or TPS. Hasan Shafiqulla of the Legal Aid Society discussed other forms of relief available to DACA and TPS recipients, including the provisional waiver, cancellation of removal, Violence Against Women's Act (VAWA), U Visa, T Visa, SIJS and asylum. He said that for undocumented individuals, it is even more important to speak to an immigration attorney who can recommend appropriate immigration remedies.
- If you are on DACA, TPS or otherwise undocumented, speak to an immigration attorney.Do not talk to a notario. Notarios are not lawyers and are not trained to fully understand the complex U.S. immigration system. Some notarios will take your money and give you bad advice. If you cannot afford a private attorney, there are nonprofit organizations, such as Make the Road New York or the Legal Aid Society, that can help.
- You can make a difference! The panelists, which also included Alina Das of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the NYU School of Law and Sienna Fontaine of Make the Road New York, underscored the importance of advocating for DACA and TPS recipients. They said that this could start from contacting Congress about passing the DREAM Act or volunteering at organizations to help local efforts or donating to scholarship funds benefiting Dreamers.
The panelists also mentioned that in this new administration, the immigration system is getting tougher to navigate. Thus, it is even more important than ever to seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney.
If you are affected by this development and have additional questions, please contact us. We are here to help. You can also follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr for up-to-date immigration news.
Rasoulpour Torregoza is the law firm for immigrants, by immigrants. We are founded on the motto of LegalEase: we do away with the legal jargon and make law easy to understand, so you can focus on what’s important to you – going for your American Dream.
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