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The Dream of Family Reunification

Apr 8, 2014
Ilissa Mira

Last month I joined 500 immigrant youth organizers as they convened for the United We Dream congress.  As organizers shared their stories, I was struck by how deportations have broken so many of their families.  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a victory, allowing many young people to live and work in the United States without fear of removal, but for many who are still separated from loved ones abroad, the dream is now to see their families reunited and protected from the threat of deportation.

While we work toward immigration reform, CLINIC affiliates continue to help DACA recipients find other opportunities to reunite or remain with their families.  One DACA benefit, advance parole, presents this opportunity for those who qualify.  Advance parole gives someone advance permission to re-enter the United States after temporary travel abroad.  

Janet Tisinger at Church World Service in Lancaster, PA recently helped a DACA client obtain advance parole to visit her mother, who is suffering from cancer, in Peru.    News of the advance parole approval was an emotional moment for Janet and her client, who can now hug her mother again after 14 years apart.

For others, advance parole may lead to lawful permanent resident status and eventual citizenship.  Some DACA recipients who are the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may become eligible for adjustment of status after travelling and returning to the United States on advance parole.  

Manuel Rivera at Catholic Charities Santa Rosa is helping a DACA recipient apply for advance parole to visit his ill grandmother in Mexico.  He has not seen her for 15 years and is the only person in his family who would be able to visit her.  Although he is married to a U.S. citizen, he is not currently eligible to adjust status in the United States.  Returning on advance parole might make him eligible, allowing him to become a permanent resident without the uncertainty and expense of consular processing.  He wouldn’t have to worry about being kept outside the country and separated from his wife.

I appreciate working with  the immigrant advocates and legal service providers who help make it possible for dreamers – young immigrants and the parents who dreamt of better lives for them – to keep their families intact.  I look forward to the day when our immigration laws truly reflect the value of keeping families together. 

For more on Ilissa’s work and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, explore CLINIC’s public/affiliate-only DACA resources:

*Ilissa Mira is staff attorney for CLINIC’s Training and Legal Support section