In the first-half of 2016, all states except Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas were in session, and over 130 immigrated-related bills and resolutions were introduced by state lawmakers across the country.
This resource outlines the kinds of identification cards used by undocumented immigrants and their benefits to the community.
On November 23, 2015 CLINIC submitted comments to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding its proposed guidance interpreting the term “extreme hardship” as it is applied to certain waiver of inadmissibility applications. CLINIC’s comprehensive comments and suggestions focused on several key areas previously discussed in our summary of the draft guidance and below.
- CLINIC commends USCIS on the proposed change that would allow an applicant to establish extreme hardship to the qualifying relative based upon a single scenario
- CLINIC supports efforts to emphasize the important, established principle that hardship should be considered in the aggregate
- CLINIC supports the reclassification of the five extreme hardship factors and requests that USCIS consider keeping education a stand-alone factor
- CLINIC strongly urges USCIS to create a presumption of extreme hardship
Overall, CLINIC applauds the proposed guidance that, when implemented, is expected to improve consistency in adjudications and broaden the use of this critical program for families facing hardship and separation. Comments to the draft guidance are due today, November 23, 2015.
Need to submit comments to EOIR about the proposed BIA Recognition and Arreditation rule changes? Check out our tips first!
- All submission should reference, RIN 1125-AA72; EOIR Docket Number 176
- Important Note: All comments are considered part of the public record
- There are special instructions for submitting sensitive information such as personal and confidential business data
- Two Ways to Submit Comments:
- Electronic Federal Docket Management System www.regulations.gov
- Written Comments to:
Jean King, General Counsel,
Office of the General Counsel
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Department of Justice
5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 2600
Falls Church, Virginia 22041
Calling USCIS’s National Customer Service Center (NCSC) can be time consuming. Here are some tips on making your communications with the NCSC more productive.
Tip #1 - Check the USCIS online case status system and processing time reports before you call. Most calls to the NCSC are about delays in case processing. Before you call USCIS, use the USCIS Case Status Online tool to check that status of your case. All you need is the USCIS Receipt Number for the case. If you sign-up for an account, you may choose to receive updated case status information via email.
Tip #2 – Check the USCIS processing times reports to see if your case is beyond processing time. USCIS publishes information about the processing times for its Service Centers and field offices. The processing time reports can be found on the USCIS website.
Tip #3 – Consider submitting your case inquiry online. USCIS offers an online, e-request system for submitting queries about cases that are beyond processing time. The system also permits you to report when USCIS correspondence has sent, including receipt notices and cards, but has not been received. The online form requires several data points, including the type of case (form type), the address of the petitioner/applicant/beneficiary, date of birth, etc. Responses to online queries are sent by email and typically received in seven to ten working days.
Tip #4 – If you decide to call USCIS, be advised of the following pointers for making a Service Request Management Tool (SRMT):
- Make sure the caller is a representative with a G-28 on file or paralegal
- Have key biographical data and case information ready
- Prepare to be on hold for a long time or consider the call-back option
- Be prepared to take notes, including the name and Agent ID of the Officer you speak with, the Service Request Confirmation Number, date/time/duration of the call, outcome and next steps
Download a sample sheet you can use.
Tip #5 – Hopefully, your first call to USCIS will lead to case resolution. If not, you may need to follow-up by contacting the NCSC. When following up, be sure to reference the Service Request Confirmation Number, USCIS receipt number, date of filing and communications, etc.
On September 30, 2015, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR), a stop-gap measure which continues funding the government at current levels and keeps the government open until December 11, 2015. The continuing resolution reauthorized the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program as well as three other immigration-related programs, the Conrad 30 Program, the EB-5 Program, and the E-Verify Program for the same period of time as the resolution. The continuing resolution passed easily by large majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program, created in 1990, allows non-ministers or other lay religious workers to come to the United States as lawful permanent residents. Currently there is a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would make the program permanent with no changes. On September 28th Representative Mike Honda introduced a companion bill to the Senate bill in the House of Representatives.
Finding a more permanent extension for the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program remains an ongoing issue for CLINIC Advocacy. CLINIC is working with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other advocates to find a more permanent extension.
Please share individual success stories relating to the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program with CLINIC so that case examples may be shared with Congressional members. We are interested in hearing from actual visa recipients as well as from parish and diocese staff who have benefitted from the program. Please see our draft letter template as a guide to your letter writing. Feel free to send letters of support and contact CLINIC’s Advocacy team via email entitled “Religious Worker Visa Impact Example” at: email@example.com.
On July 9, 2015, CLINIC submitted a second round of comments concerning revisions to Form I-912 (initial comments were submitted in May). On August 6, 2015, USCIS met with advocates to discuss further. At that time, USCIS indicated that it had received sufficient feedback on the proposed revision and no further comments were to be collected. Although Form I-912 indicates that it expired May 31, 2015, the May 10, 2013 version or other previous versions may be used until a new version is issued.
On July 22, 2015. USCIS published a proposed rule that would expand the current provisional waiver program in two significant ways: (1) allowing other immigrant visa applicants and (2) allowing Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) parents and spouses to be “qualifying relatives”. At the present time, only U.S. citizen parents and spouses qualify. (For more information, read our article.)
In preparing its comments to the proposed rule, CLINIC collected feedback from affiliates representing all regions of the United States. CLINIC submitted comments on September 18, 2015. CLINIC will continue to monitor the progress of this initiative and is now preparing for the release of policy memoranda that would define the extreme hardship standard.
On September 17, 2015 the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announced a new proposed rule governing recognition and accreditation (R&A). It also issued two final rules, each addressing various aspects of legal representation. The proposed rule is titled Recognition of Organizations and Accreditation of Non-Attorney Representatives. The two final rules are titled List of Pro Bono Legal Service Providers for Individuals in Immigration Proceedings and Separate Representation for Custody and Bond Proceedings.
On September 21, CLINIC staff hosted a webinar in which it presented each proposed change and explained the implications for nonprofit organizations. CLINIC is soliciting comments for each of the key areas of proposed change and is working actively with its network of affiliates and other national organizations to provide formal written comments to EOIR by the November 30th deadline. CLINIC chairs the BIA R&A liaison group, a forum to discuss comments on the proposed rules. Please submit comments here.
On Monday, September 28, USCIS announced the extension of a comment request period for proposed revisions to Form N-400. USCIS is requesting comments on its proposed updates to Form N-400, Form N-400 Instructions, Public-facing guidance, and USCIS's proposed online N-400 form. Comments are due by November 12, 2015. (80 FR 58292, 9/28/15).
On October 7, 2015, USCIS circulated draft guidance interpreting the term “extreme hardship” and explaining how it should be applied to waiver applications. The proposed policy guidance is in draft form only and has not yet gone into effect.
The guidance would set forth, in greater detail and specificity, how adjudicators should weigh various hardship factors in a waiver application. For example, applicants would only have to establish extreme hardship to the qualifying relative if that family member were to relocate with the applicant or remain in the United States separated from the applicant, depending on which is more reasonably foreseeable. Currently, the waiver applicant has to establish extreme hardship under both scenarios.
In addition, the guidance lists five special circumstances that strongly suggest the existence of extreme hardship. One of the listed special circumstances is when the State Department has issued a travel warning with respect to a country or a region of a country.
Comments on the draft guidance are due on November 23, 2015. CLINIC will be preparing model comments and circulating them to affiliates. Please see the link below from USCIS to access the text of the draft guidance and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any specific questions or comments.
DACA 3-Year Recall
In connection with the State of Texas v. U.S. litigation, USCIS recalled over 2,600 grants of Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) and work authorization in May 2015. USCIS increased its recall efforts dramatically following a Court Order issued on July 7, 2015. CLINIC’s response to the recall was comprehensive and collaborative, utilizing resources and the expertise of six departments: Advocacy, Capacity Building, Communications, Legalization, Operations and Training and Legal Support (T&LS). CLINIC efforts included creating a special webpage with recall resource materials; conducting a comprehensive webinar; establishing a special email address for affiliate queries; developing public outreach flyers in English and Spanish; sending over 8 email blasts to affiliates with updated recall information; coordinating with affiliates in impacted communities; providing individual case support; and engaging in direct public outreach through social media and other communications outlets.
CLINIC opposed the recall and any resulting terminations. Acknowledging the inevitability of the recall due to the Court Order, CLINIC focused its advocacy efforts on providing DHS and USCIS officials with constructive feedback on the implementation of the recall, providing information and support to affiliates, and outreach to the community. Over the course of three months, CLINIC worked closely with officials at DHS and USCIS to offer tangible feedback on the implementation of the recall with solid case examples that supported requests for recall process change and refinement. CLINIC took a lead role in each of the sixteen stakeholder calls held during the recall process.
Further, as co-chair of the Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation (CIRI) Advocacy Working Group, CLINIC’s Advocacy team led coordination efforts and communications to help inform, enhance and align advocacy efforts among CIRI. CLINIC worked closely with affiliates to support, advise, and assist them and their clients to understand and take necessary actions as well as to responsibly spread the word in the community.
CLINIC and its affiliates’ efforts throughout the summer helped result in 99.2 percent compliance with the recall. Of the 22 terminations of status issued, 12 were reinstated. As of today, all 3-year DACA grants and work authorization cards that were subject to the recall have been accounted for.
On June 17, 2015, DHS issued a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) relating to the new immigration enforcement priorities memo issued by the Obama Administration on November 20, 2014. Since the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) was established on January 5, 2015, CLINIC’s Advocacy team and its partners have advocated for consistent implementation of these new enforcement priorities. In April, CLINIC joined over 100 immigrant advocates in sending a letter to DHS Secretary Johnson summarizing concerns based on lessons learned from the 2011 prosecutorial discretion initiative, providing examples of inconsistent application of the priorities, and offering recommendations.
Following the release of the FAQ, CLINIC provided a detailed analysis of the guidance and held a webinar for affiliates. While the FAQs clarify several key terms in the memo, notable issues remain unclear.
Please continue to share individual cases where ICE has failed to exercise prosecutorial discretion with CLINIC’s Advocacy team. If you have a case example of inconsistent application of prosecutorial discretion, please contact CLINIC’s Advocacy team with an email entitled “Prosecutorial Discretion Example” at: email@example.com.
Despite efforts by immigrant advocates to end family detention, the government’s practice of detaining immigrant mothers and their children continues. CLINIC has been especially active in the national fight to eliminate large scale family detention centers built in response to the increase of Central American families seeking refuge at the U.S./Mexico border during the summer of 2014. In late March 2015, CLINIC partnered to form the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Representation and Advocacy Project with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), American Immigration Council (AIC), and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Service (RAICES). As part of the CARA Project, CLINIC has two contract lawyers on the ground at the South Texas Family Residential Facility (“Dilley”) located in Dilley, Texas. CLINIC, through the CARA Project, has been providing legal services and running a pro bono project for detained families within Dilley. CLINIC and CARA also train lawyers and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representatives, and lead advocacy and litigation efforts to challenge unlawful asylum, detention, and deportation policies.
Such advocacy activities have included submitting complaints to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) regarding inadequate medical care for detained mothers and children and access to counsel issues, and meeting with Jeh Johnson, DHS Secretary in a private meeting to discuss family detention concerns. CLINIC continues to advocate for an end to the inhumane practice of family detention with government stakeholders, participating in monthly White House Access to Legal Counsel meetings, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) NGO Working Group meetings, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Asylum Working Group meetings, and DHS CRCL meetings.
On the ground, CLINIC staff members have had an extremely meaningful impact, serving approximately 5,000 women in preparation for their credible and reasonable fear interviews, in partnership with our CARA Pro Bono Project partners. Various CLINIC staff members have also travelled to Dilley to work in assisting the CARA Pro Bono Project.
Coupling the work of CLINIC and the CARA Pro Bono Project have been litigation efforts to end family detention by national advocates. In February 2015 advocates filed a motion to enforce the Flores Settlement on behalf of detained mothers and children in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California. In April 2015, the U.S. District court issued at tentative ruling that family detention policies violate Flores. In July 2015, the U.S. District Court issued a court order requiring children no longer be detained long-term within the detention facilities.
In August 2015, the government argued that family detention was still necessary and the U.S. District Court responded that children must be released from family detention facilities and that the government must comply with the order by October 23, 2015. Currently, the government continues to imprison mothers and children, and the detained population has increased in Dilley since the issuance of the order from the U.S. District Court.
The family detention landscape continues to change. Moving forward, CLINIC will continue to work for an end to family detention and see that immigrant women and children receive meaningful access to justice. Part of this work on the ground will largely be through our partnership in the CARA Project. For more information about CLINIC’s family detention project, please visit our website. Consider volunteering your time or making a donation to support vulnerable mothers and children through the CARA Project.
CLINIC would like to announce that it has signed on to two letters addressing the problem of criminal prosecutions of migrants at the southern border. The first letter, sent July 10, 2015, to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, outlines the ways in which prosecuting asylum seekers violates Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and Protocol. It was signed onto by 17 faith-based, human rights, immigrant rights, and refugee protection organizations. The second letter, sent July 28, 2015, to Attorney General Lynch, addresses the broader policy and due process concerns that arise from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) criminal prosecution of migrants and asylum seekers for illegal entry and re-entry. It was signed onto by an astounding 171 organizations.
At the heart of both letters are grave moral and legal concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers under a program called Streamline. Started in 2005, Streamline allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to quickly refer undocumented immigrants to DOJ for criminal prosecution. CBP claims that Streamline operates as a deterrent to unauthorized migration. However, a recent report from the DHS Office of the Inspector General questions the ability of CBP to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. In addition, asylum seekers are being referred to Streamline before their asylum claims are being determined. This is in violation of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and Protocol which does not allow for criminal prosecutions of asylum seekers before their claim is fairly decided. CLINIC’s BIA Pro Bono Project has represented successful applicants for refugee protection who had completed lengthy federal prison terms before their applications were heard.
CLINIC joins with co-signers of both letters to ask Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Lynch to end the policy of referring asylum seekers for prosecution and more broadly, to reduce their use of prosecutions of migrants for illegal entry and re-entry.
July 28, 2015, Letter: “Prosecutions for Illegal Entry (8 U.S.C. § 1325) and Illegal Re-entry (8 U.S.C. § 1326)”
March 17, 2015
President Barack Obama The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We, the undersigned organizations, thank you for your leadership in protecting undocumented migrants from the fear of imminent deportation through your Executive Actions. You are building a robust immigration legacy with your November 20, 2014 executive actions on immigration. We fully support those actions, both as lawful exercises of your authority and as long overdue reforms that will keep families together, businesses robust, and our economy thriving. Your administration’s massive expansion of family detention and its treatment of vulnerable refugee children and mothers from Central America, however, threatens to severely blemish that legacy. Federal courts, Members of Congress, and the national media are united in calling for you to adjust this policy and align it with our national values and reputation as a protector of basic human rights.
As more and more of these families are given the opportunity to tell the story of what drove them to the United States, it has become clear that mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America, seeking only safety, are instead being held in detention. According to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), approximately 70 percent of the women and children in family detention are able to demonstrate a credible fear of returning to their country of origin. The vast majority of families represented by the American Immigration Lawyers Association – American Immigration Council Artesia Pro Bono Project who have had final hearings have been granted asylum or related humanitarian relief by an immigration judge.
These detainees include:
- Sofia, who fled from her home after a gang murdered her brother, shot her husband and then kidnapped and raped her 14-year-old stepdaughter.
- Kira, who fled when a gang targeted her family over their involvement in a nonviolence movement at their church. When Kira’s husband went into hiding, the gang subjected her to repeated sexual assaults and threatened to cut her unborn baby from her womb.
- Marisol who crossed the United States border in June 2014 after a gang in Honduras murdered the father of her 3-year-old twins and then turned its attention to her.
Not only are these stories appalling, heartbreaking, and too common in the Northern Triangle, they have also drawn the attention of the federal courts. As you know, a D.C. District Court recently granted a preliminary injunction putting an immediate halt to the administration’s policy of locking up asylum-seeking mothers and children as a way to deter others from coming to the United States.1 The American Civil Liberties Union filed the case on behalf of mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the U.S. for safety and demonstrated a credible fear of return to their home countries. In rejecting the U.S. government's argument that detention of these women and children was necessary to prevent a mass influx that would threaten national security, the court held that it was illegal to detain families based on deterrence. It made clear that the government cannot continue to lock up families without an individualized determination that they pose a danger or flight risk that requires their detention. This ruling is consistent with the United States’ obligations under international refugee law and its long-standing global leadership in protecting the persecuted.
In addition to the recent injunction, in a separate case, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the University of Texas Civil Rights Clinic and others, filed a motion to enforce the Flores Settlement Agreement, which establishes a general policy of release and minimum standards of treatment for all children in immigration custody.2 The Plaintiffs argued that DHS is violating the Agreement by implementing a no-release policy in family detention, by holding these children in secure lock-down facilities that are not licensed to take care of dependent children, and by subjecting these children to unduly harsh conditions in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) short term detention facilities near the border. We are extremely disappointed that in the Flores litigation, DHS continues to rely on discredited deterrence arguments to support the incarceration of children and their mothers at family detention camps in this case. On February 27, a week after the D.C. district court's injunction, DHS sought to water down the Flores Agreement by arguing that family detention is necessary to deter: "Thus, DHS strongly believes that the appropriate use of family detention is a key element of the U.S. Government's efforts to deter aliens from Central America from making the dangerous journey across Mexico and into the United States."3
This issue of family detention has not escaped the notice of the United States Congress. On February 25, 2015, Senator Blumenthal published an Op Ed in The Hill calling on the administration to end family detention and begin processing these families in a manner consistent with American values. He promised to introduce legislation to limit the detention of families with children who are seeking asylum in the United States. On that same day, Senator Patrick Leahy spoke on the Senate floor opposing the new funding for family detention: “Incarcerating women and children fleeing violence runs contrary to our long history as a nation that offers refuge to those most in need.” In the House, Reps. Deutch and Foster also circulated a Dear Colleague letter on February 13th, stating that “Detaining women and young children fleeing extreme violence is not only inhumane, but the financial costs are staggering.”
These new developments come amidst greater public scrutiny of the abuses faced by migrant children and their mothers in detention. On February 4, 2015, the cover of the Sunday New York Times Magazine – “The Shame of America’s Family Detention Camps” – chronicled the suffering of children and mothers in the now-closed Artesia, New Mexico detention facility. The detainees reported sleeping eight to a room and having little exercise or stimulation for the children. Many of the detainees were under the age of 6, and many refused to eat. Attorneys witnessed one 7-year-old who just lay in his mother’s arms while she bottle-fed him. Another was threatened with possible force-feeding of her child if she could not get her to eat. Visitors also witnessed children with fevers, coughs, chickenpox and children lying limp and listless.
We also note the allegations of sexual abuse at the family detention facilities. In January 2015, a man employed at the family detention facility in Berks County, Pennsylvania was criminally charged with seven counts of institutional sexual assault, involving a 19-year-old Central American woman detained there.
The Department of Homeland Security has tacitly recognized that the detention of families is unwise policy, yet it continues to enforce it. In his November 20, 2014 memorandum, “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson explains that “field office directors should not expend detention resources on aliens who are known to be suffering from serious physical or mental illness, who are disabled, elderly, pregnant, or nursing, who demonstrate that they are primary caretakers of children or an infirm person, or whose detention is otherwise not in the public interest.” Many of the mothers and children in detention have physical or mental illnesses, many are survivors of torture and trauma, many are nursing, and some children have evidence of disabilities. Despite these facts, DHS has continued to detain these mothers and children and has not considered these exigent circumstances when making a detention bed allocation. The memo does not contain an exception for family detention and there is no reason why the overall DHS detention policies should not apply to children and families in custody.
We ask that you instruct DHS that these families are not exceptions to the policy that the detention of asylum seekers, children, nursing mothers and other vulnerable populations is not in the public interest. Specifically, we ask that DHS comply with the Flores Settlement Agreement with respect to all children in its custody including children in family units. Furthermore, we ask that you reconsider subjecting these families to special non-judicial forms of removal (such as “expedited removal” and “reinstatement of removal”) that shortcut due process. We ask that you give every family the chance to tell their story to a judge before being deported back to danger, perhaps back to the very abusers and traffickers they fled. Lastly, we urge DHS to use funds appropriated by Congress for alternatives to detention wisely, including creating a robust alternative to detention for families through the recently released Request for Proposals for family case management services. Alternatives to detention must be generously utilized, reduce the overall use of family detention and be responsive to the holistic needs of these traumatized and vulnerable mothers and children.
With all of the new information we have about the reality of the dangers these families face and the nature of our nation’s legal obligations to them as asylum seekers, the district court injunction offers your administration an opportunity to reverse course on family detention.4 We ask that you decline to challenge the injunction and immediately instruct DHS to stop implementing its “no-bond” policy. DHS must make truly individualized custody determinations, always ensuring that detention is used only as a last resort when no other conditions can reasonably ensure compliance with hearing notices or public safety.
Mr. President, these mothers and children in detention are fleeing unspeakable violence. Detention profoundly impacts the emotional and physical well-being of children. It inflicts indescribable pain on mothers to watch their children suffer in detention. Most of these mothers have valid asylum claims and relatives or sponsors in the United States willing to take them in and support them during the pendency of their removal proceedings. They do not have to be – and should not be – in detention. For all the reasons above, international norms disfavor the use of immigration detention for children, particularly when they are asylum-seekers. The international community has called on all states - including the U.S. - to end the immigration detention of children. Until recently, the United States was a global model in its exceptional use of detention for families, and it can be again if you act to end this practice. We look forward to the administration’s implementation of new policies favoring individualized determinations, release, the use of alternatives to detention and an end to family detention. Please contact Katharina Obser at the Women’s Refugee Commission at 202.750.8597 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like additional information. Thank you for your consideration.
America's Voice Education Fund (AVEF) American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) American Immigration Council (AIC)
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) ASISTA Immigration Assistance (ASISTA)
Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) Center for Community Change (CCC)
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) Columban Center for Advocacy & Outreach (CCAO) Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Detention Watch Network (DWN)
The Episcopal Church Farmworker Justice First Focus
Franciscan Action Network (FAN)
Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
Korean Resource Center (KRC)
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
National Employment Law Project (NELP) National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) National Immigrant Project – NLG (NIP-NLG) National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) National Latin Network
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby (NETWORK) Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (PC-USA)
Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Save the Children
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Sisters of Mercy of the Americas (Sisters of Mercy) South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) Tahirih Justice Center (Tahirih)
The Advocates for Human Rights
United Methodist Church, Gen. Board of Church & Society (UMC-GBCS) United We Dream (UWD)
We Belong Together
Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC)
Regional and Local Organizations African Services Committee (ASC) Asian Law Alliance (ALA) CARECEN LA
Casa San Jose, Pittsburgh, PA (CSJ)
Church Women United – New York State (CWU-NYS) Community to Community Development (C2C) Equality New Mexico (EQNM)
Families for Freedom (FFF)
Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project Florida Coastal Immigrant & Human Rights Clinic
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) Genessee Valley Citizens for Peace (GVCP)
Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice (GRCIJ) Immigrant Law Clinic, University of Massachusetts School of Law Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI)
Justice Ministry Team, Downtown United Presbyterian Church (DUPC Justice Ministry) Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC)
Korean Resource Center (KRC)
Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights of SF Bay Area Movimiento de Accion Inspirando Servicio San Jose (MAIZ) New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees (NJAID) Northgate Free Methodist Church (Northgate FMC) Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)
OneAmerica of Washington State Pangea Legal Services
Pax Christi Florida
Peace & Justice Committee Sisters of St. Joseph of West Hartford, CT (SSJ-West Hartford) Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR)
Reformed Church of Highland Park (NJ) (RCHP)
Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education & Legal Services (RAICES) Refugio Del Rio Grande (REFUGIO)
Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA) Services, Immigrant Rights, & Education Network (SIREN) Sin Huellas, Houston
Sisters of St. Joseph (Baden, PA) Sisters of St. Joseph (Rochester) Sisters of St. Joseph (Springfield) Sisters of St. Joseph (St. Augustine) Soujourners
South Texas Civil Rights Project (STCRP) Stop the Checkpoints
Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) Wayne Action for Racial Equality (WARE)
Secretary Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security
Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security Sarah Saldaña, Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Mr. António Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
Mr. Juan Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur for Torture and Cruel and Degrading Punishment
Mr. Francois Crepeau the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
1 R.I.L.R., et al. v. Johnson, et al., Case No. 15-0011, Opinion, ECF No. 33 (D.D.C. Feb. 20, 2015)
2 Pl.’s Notice of Mot. And Mot. To Enforce, Flores v. Holder, Case No. CV 85-4544 (February 2, 2015)
4 See also Center for Gender & Refugee Studies & National University of Lanús, eds., Childhood and Migration in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices and Challenges (2015), available at http://cgrs.uchastings.edu/Childhood-Migration-HumanRights (analyzing violence-based drivers of migration and international protection needs of Central American children and families, and exploring harms of family detention).
By Jen Riddle
Since October 2013, nearly 63,000 children have entered the United States along the Southern border. This is twice the number that came last year. CLINIC affiliates across the country have been working around the clock to provide critical legal representation to these children, as well as legal orientation presentations to their custodians. You may be encountering a host of questions from friends, family members, and others in your community related to the kids that you are serving. Who exactly are these children? Why are they leaving their countries to come to the United States alone? How long will they be staying here and what impact will they have on local communities? To assist you in answering these questions, dispelling widespread misinformation, and educating your policymakers and community members, we encourage you to consult and refer others to the following resources:
Learn more about why children are fleeing their homes, what they experience when they arrive in the United States, what the Catholic Church is doing, and how you can help.
This resource answers your questions about when and how unaccompanied children may come to live in your community and what impact they might have on local schools, healthcare services, and public safety.
This advocacy guide offers ten suggestions on how to show support for newly arrived children from Central America.
As they are developed, new educational and advocacy materials will be posted to CLINIC’s Toolkit for Working with Unaccompanied Children under Advocacy Resources. If there are particular resources that you would like to see, please reach out to State and Local Advocacy Attorney Jen Riddle at (301) 565-4807 or email@example.com.
As a response to the humanitarian crisis of children arriving at our Southern border, Congress considered legislation that would strip the protections created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. These changes would allow the United States to return Central American children to their home countries without meaningful screening to determine whether they are victims of trafficking or fear persecution. CLINIC facilitated a briefing on these issues for Senate and Congressional staffers on July 18, 2014.
Later, CLINIC’s Director of Advocacy, Allison Posner, sat down with experts from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- Micheal Hill, Associate Director, Government Relations and Kristyn Peck, Association Director of Children’s Services, Migration and Refugee Services -- to learn more about:
- The TVPRA and why it was passed in 2008;
- Due process protections for children under current legislation
- Children’s experiences upon arrival in the U.S.;
- The challenges child victims of trauma face in expressing their need for protection;
- The critical legal and due process protections created by the TVPRA, why they are still necessary, and the USCCB’s position on proposed changes to the law;
- The dire situations children would encounter if summarily returned to Central America.
Click on any of the bullets above to hear an excerpt from the interviews.
On February 14, 2014, CLINIC submitted comments to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the agency’s proposed changes to Form I-821D, the form used to request Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The proposed changes to the form establish procedures for individuals to demonstrate continued eligibility for deferred action – extending the two years of deferral originally granted to them.
CLINIC is pleased that renewal applicants will not, for the most part, have to submit copious amounts of additional supporting evidence in support of their requests. Nevertheless, we encourage USCIS to make several changes to the proposed form and instructions to help both initial and renewal applicants better understand the application process. Among our chief concerns is that the proposed 120 day window for submitting renewal requests is unreasonably short and could result in renewal applicants losing work authorization and accumulating unlawful presence.
Please see CLINIC’s other recommendations, below.
February 14, 2014
Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security
Re: Agency Information Collection Activities: Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Form I-821D; Revision of a Currently Approved Collection
Dear Ms. Dawkins,
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) submits the following comments in response to USCIS’s December 18, 2013 notice regarding proposed changes to Form I-821D (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the accompanying instructions.
CLINIC supports a national network of community-based legal immigration service programs. The network includes over 240 immigration programs operating out of 397 offices in 46 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. CLINIC’s network employs roughly 1,400 staff, including attorneys and accredited representatives who, in turn, serve over 300,000 low income immigrants each year. CLINIC and its member agencies provide free and low-cost representation to thousands of applicants for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
CLINIC commends USCIS for developing a renewal process that allows initial DACA recipients who meet the guidelines to continue to benefit from deferred action. We are especially pleased with USCIS’s decision to limit the circumstances in which renewal applicants need to submit additional supporting evidence. Nevertheless, we encourage USCIS to make several changes to the proposed form and instructions to help both initial and renewal applicants better understand the application process. Among our chief concerns is that the proposed 120 day window for submitting renewal requests is unreasonably short and could result in renewal applicants losing work authorization and accumulating unlawful presence. We urge USCIS to extend the renewal period to 180 days before expiration of status and to automatically extend deferred action and work authorization for renewal requestors whose applications are pending adjudication.
Overall Structure of Proposed Form I-821D
Form I-821D contains questions for both initial and renewal applicants that are intermingled with each other throughout the form. Applicants are likely to have difficulty determining which questions are for initial applicants, renewal applicants, or both. Certain questions are labeled as “For Initial Requests” or “For Renewal Requests,” but many questions do not have any kind of label. For example, the “Removal Proceedings Information,” “Processing Information,” and “Criminal, National Security, and Public Safety Information” sections do not have any labels.
Recommendation: To make it easier for initial and renewal applicants to successfully complete the form, sets of questions for initial applicants only and renewal applicants only should be clustered together. Specifically, the form should start with Part 1, Questions 1-4, which ask for the type of applicant (initial or renewal), the full name of the applicant, and U.S. mailing address. The next set of questions should be for initial applicants only, followed by another set of questions for renewal applicants only. The last set of questions would include those for both initial and renewal applicants. This format would resemble USCIS Forms I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant) and I-131 (Application for Travel Document), which cluster questions for different types of applicants or immigration benefits together. We also suggest that USCIS employ the one column format utilized in these forms, with shaded and captioned bands separating each section of the form, making it easier for the applicant to read and determine which sections to complete.
In the alternative, if USCIS adopts the current form structure, it should clearly and consistently identify which sections or questions are meant for initial applicants, renewal applicants, or both.
Page 1, Part 1, Questions 1 and 2.a., Initial or Renewal Applicant
In questions 1 and 2.a., the form asks whether the applicant is an initial or renewal applicant. Individuals who applied for DACA, received a denial, and seek to re-apply are likely to be confused about how best to answer this question.
Recommendation: Question 1 should be amended as follows (new language in bold italics):
Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – Initial Request (includes applicants who are re-applying after an earlier application was denied)
Page 1, Instructions
Given the complexity of the DACA request process for both initial applicants and renewal applicants, we appreciate USCIS making a clear reference to read the accompanying instructions for information on completing the form. Many current DACA recipients are anticipating the renewal request process and plan to submit requests as soon as possible. While the instructions include a note specifying that USCIS may reject a renewal request filed more than 120 days prior to the expiration of a current period of deferred action, this information is absent from the form itself. While we urge USCIS to extend this period to 180 days, the application form itself should reference the renewal application period ultimately determined by the agency. Renewal applicants, especially those who are pro se, would benefit from a more prominent instruction.
Recommendation: The preliminary instruction on page 1 of Form I-821D should be amended as follows:
START HERE. Type or print in black ink. Read the instructions for information on how to complete this form. Renewal requests may be submitted up to 180 days prior to the expiration of your current period of deferred action.
Page 2, Part 1, Question 20.c., Current Status and Pending Requests
Renewal applicants must explain whether they have any pending immigration-related requests or have received any immigration status. Renewal applicants should not be asked to provide this information because it is unnecessary and confusing. Many applicants, especially those proceeding pro se, are likely to lack an understanding of the terms “immigration status” or “immigration-related requests.” Requiring this information may delay the timely completion of the application, particularly in group processing workshops, where individuals rarely have complete information on their entire immigration history. Information regarding pending requests is irrelevant to determining a requestor’s eligibility for DACA, as the guidelines require only that an applicant was without lawful status as of June 15, 2012 and at the time of the DACA request.
Recommendation: USCIS should remove question 20.c. from the application form. If this section is retained, USCIS should provide examples of immigration benefits commonly obtained by DACA recipients in parenthesis or in a drop down menu on the electronic version of the form.
Page 3, Part 1, Education and Military Service Information (For Renewal Requests Only)
The complicated structure of this section is likely to cause confusion, particularly for pro-se applicants. Applicants who indicate that they were “currently enrolled in school” at the time their initial DACA request was approved (Item 25.d.) are directed to read through Items 26 – 28, a series of multi-part statements and repetitive answer options regarding educational history and current educational status. The answer options provided are highly specific, yet some terms within this section are not defined. For example, Question 25.d. refers to being enrolled in “school,” broadly. Since it does not clarify the term, applicants may be confused as to whether it refers to any school that is considered qualified education for DACA (elementary, middle school, high school; but also GED, literacy, and career training programs). The instructions do not state where to proceed if the applicant does not mark 25.d.
An applicant reviewing Items 26 – 28 must select one item that describes her specific educational status at the time she was initially approved for DACA and her current educational status. We appreciate that USCIS has expanded the qualifying education options for renewals beyond those described in the Frequently Asked Questions (dated January 18. 2013), however, the limited options provided unfairly impose different standards on renewal requestors based on how they initially met the education requirement. Renewal requestors who were previously enrolled in 1) elementary, middle school, or high school or 2) an education, literacy, or career training program must demonstrate that they have since graduated or made substantial, measurable progress toward graduating or completing that program. In contrast, those who were enrolled in a program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma or passing the GED exam (or other state equivalent) must pass the exam or receive a high school diploma. No rationale has been provided for these distinctions.
Further, these different standards are likely to be confusing to applicants who may have difficulty interpreting the form and identifying which standard applies to them. Item 29 instructs an applicant who does not find his circumstance described in the options available to indicate that he has not met the educational guideline, even if he is presently enrolled in a school or program that would otherwise meet the educational requirement.
Requestors who have completed an education, literacy, or career-training program must be employed in the field of their training, or be enrolled in post-secondary education, job training, or an employment program in order to renew deferred action. This requirement presents a difficult challenge to DACA recipients who have made substantial progress in their qualifying education, literacy, or career training program, but who, like many individuals in this job market, struggle to find work or are forced to accept employment outside their field of training and cannot afford further education. Applicants who make good faith attempts to find employment should not be penalized after completing qualifying education, literacy, or career training programs.
Recommendation: Below is one suggested format for simplifying the structure and content of the current Education and Military Service Information section. DACA recipients who, at the time of their renewal request, are enrolled in any school or program that would satisfy the initial educational requirement should be able to demonstrate continuing eligibility, regardless of the type of program they were enrolled in previously. Proposed format:
If you selected Item Number 25 – 25.c., move on to Part 2. Processing Information.
If you selected Item Number 25.d., respond to Items 26 – 27.
26. At the time I was last approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, I was enrolled in:
1) U.S. elementary school, middle school, high school, or secondary school.
2) An education program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma or passing a GED exam.
3) An education, literacy, or career training program designed to lead to placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment.
27. Indicate how you currently meet the educational guideline:
1) I have graduated from high school/obtained a high school diploma.
2) I have passed the GED or equivalent state exam.
3) I am currently enrolled in a U.S. elementary school, middle school, high school, or secondary school and have made substantial progress toward graduating.
4) I am currently enrolled in a new/different education program that assists students in either obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent under state law or in passing a GED exam or equivalent state exam.
5) I am currently enrolled in a new/different education, literacy, or career training program designed to lead to placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment.
6) I have completed an education, literacy, or career-training program.
Item 29 should be revised to indicate that an applicant whose circumstance is not reflected in Items 26 or 27 should explain his continuing eligibility in Part 9. Additional Information. Language suggesting that the applicant does not meet the educational guideline should be removed. USCIS should consider the completion of an education, literacy, or career-training program as equivalent to a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate and sufficient for renewal.
Page 3, Part 1,“At the time I filed my Form I-821D that USCIS approved for my initial period of Deferred Action as a Childhood Arrival:”
Some applicants may have met the education requirement in multiple ways; for example, they may have graduated from high school in the U.S., but marked “currently enrolled in college” on their initial request. In other cases, applicants were approved after responding to a Request for Evidence (RFE). During the period they responded to the RFE, their educational status changed. For example, an applicant may have been enrolled in high school at the time she submitted her initial application and later issued an RFE for information unrelated to the education guideline. In the meantime, she graduated from high school and so she included a copy of her diploma in her response to the RFE. Both of these scenarios may cause confusion for renewal applicants and raise the concern that renewal requests may be denied due to inadvertent inconsistencies.
Recommendation: Provide guidance to USCIS adjudicators clarifying that renewal requests should not be denied solely because of an inconsistent response to this question, where the initial DACA application, including any supplemental evidence submitted, indicates that the applicant satisfied the educational requirements for approval. Additionally, rather than ask applicants how they satisfied the education guideline in their initial request, Question 26 could be amended to ask how applicants demonstrated their eligibility on their last approved application.
Page 4, Part 2, Questions 1-6, Processing Information
Form I-821D requests processing information, including ethnicity, race, height, weight, etc. These questions may deter potential requestors who fear revealing their identity to the government and are worried about how their personal information might be used. Similarly, Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) requests this type of information. On page 5 of the N-400, USCIS clearly indicates that this information is required for background checks and the section is entitled “Information for Criminal Records Check.” While the instructions to Form I-821D inform applicants that providing this information will reduce the time they spend at ASC appointments, Form I-821D itself does not clearly indicate why this information is being requested or how it is being used.
Recommendation: Form I-821D and/or instructions should contain an explanation of how information about applicants’ race, ethnicity, and physical characteristics will be used and the rationale for requesting such information. The I-821D form and/or instructions should also indicate that USCIS will not make DACA determinations based on applicants’ gender, race, or physical characteristics. Greater transparency will help applicants better understand the process.
Page 5, Part 4, Questions 4 – 5, Travel Information
Questions related to whether a renewal requestor has a passport and/or a border crossing card are not relevant to determining whether the requestor is eligible for DACA renewal. DACA recipients are not required to obtain a passport, and in some cases, it may be complicated and/or time consuming to obtain a passport. Including questions about applicants’ passport numbers and expiration dates would be unnecessarily burdensome for certain applicants.
Recommendation: Questions 4 – 5 of the Travel Information section should be removed.
Page 5, Part 5, Criminal, National Security, and Public Safety Information
In the Criminal, National Security, and Public Safety section, the form asks whether applicants have EVER engaged in various criminal activities. Renewal applicants are not given instructions as to whether they must report on incidents occurring before or after receiving DACA. It is burdensome for renewal applicants to provide information and records that they already provided at the time of the initial application. It is also unnecessary for USCIS adjudicators to assess information that was already reviewed and evaluated during the initial application process.
Recommendation: The form should indicate that renewal applicants need only provide information and records related to charges or convictions that occurred since they were granted DACA. Specifically, the form should include the following sentence:
For Renewal Applicants: With regard to criminal/national security and public safety questions, you need only report on incidents and provide records related to incidents that occurred since your initial DACA application was approved. You do not need to report on or re-submit records that you already reported on or provided to USCIS.
Page 5, Part 5, Question 1, Juvenile Convictions
An applicant is required to indicate whether he or she has EVER been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in the United States, even if the incident was disposed of in juvenile court. The form further requires that a requester provide documents, including all arrest records, charging documents, dispositions, and sentencing records. The form only allows a person to withhold the records if the disclosure is prohibited under state law.
Though juvenile records are public in some states, many states do not permit the disclosure of juvenile records to parties outside the juvenile justice system without first obtaining a court order. To ensure uniform treatment of all DACA requests, USCIS should not require applicants to reveal whether they were charged with or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor if that incident was handled in juvenile court. Removing this requirement will prevent the unavoidably inconsistent and unfair treatment of applicants who are subject to divergent state laws.
Recommendation: The form should be amended to read (new language in bold italics):
Have you EVER been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in the United States? Do not include minor traffic violations unless they were alcohol- or-drug-related. Do not include incidents handled in juvenile court.
Page 5, Part 5, Questions 1 and 2, Arrest Record
Applicants must provide an arrest record for any felonies or misdemeanors in the U.S. or any crimes elsewhere. It is unclear whether documents such as police reports are covered by “arrest records.” This uncertainty may deter some individuals from requesting DACA. The form and instructions should limit evidence of criminal convictions required for DACA cases to the record of conviction. This would afford more predictability and accuracy in determining DACA eligibility and assure that the adjudicator is only considering relevant evidence.
Recommendation: The form should be amended to read (new language in bold italics):
If you answered “Yes,” you must include a certified court disposition, charging document, verdict or judgment of conviction, or sentencing record for each incident, unless the records involved incidents handled in juvenile court or disclosure is prohibited under state law.
Form I-821D Instructions
Page 1, When Should I Use Form I-821D?
Renewal applicants are instructed to file the Form I-765 Worksheet (I-765WS) along with their I-821D renewal applications. In other words, renewal applicants are being asked to re-establish economic necessity.
Recommendation: Given that these applicants have previously demonstrated economic necessity, they should not be required to demonstrate economic necessity at the time of renewal. Any references to completing Form I-765WS in the instructions should be removed.
Page 1, When Should I Use Form I-821D?
Applicants who initially received DACA from ICE are instructed to complete the entire form and provide documentation showing that they satisfied the guidelines at the time of their initial filing. This policy is objectionable because individuals who were approved for DACA by ICE were granted DACA under the same policies and guidelines as those approved by USCIS. For this reason, it is neither reasonable nor justified to establish separate evidentiary requirements for a subset of DACA grantees. All DACA renewal applicants should be evaluated using consistent standards.
Moreover, imposing this requirement is particularly burdensome for ICE grantees, because they were detained during the application process and are less likely to have copies of their initial applications. Such a policy places an undue burden on applicants to retrieve documents from ICE – a process that may be complicated and time consuming and may delay applicants’ ability to apply for renewal.
Recommendation: The renewal process should not distinguish between those granted DACA by ICE and those granted by USCIS.
Page 2, Who May File Form I-821D?
The text in this section indicates that USCIS intends to limit the renewal application period to the 120 days preceding the expiration of the current period of deferred action. As detailed below, we are concerned that a 120 day time frame to adjudicate renewal applications is insufficient without providing additional protections for applicants. The current average processing time for I-821Ds is 6 months, and many DACA requests have been pending for much longer than that.
Employed DACA recipients whose work authorization expires while their renewal request is being adjudicated will face termination or suspension. This will harm DACA recipients, their families, and employers and undermine the very objective of DACA to provide protection and stability to these young deferred action grantees. For these reasons, the proposed renewal adjudication procedure is inadequate to protect DACA grantees from the risk of accumulating unlawful presence and lacking a valid EAD.
Recommendation: The renewal application period should be extended to 180 days to provide a more realistic timeframe for USCIS to adjudicate submissions in a timely fashion. Further, to protect DACA applicants who may experience renewal adjudication delays, or may not be able to file renewal applications several months in advance of their current status expiration, USCIS should automatically extend deferred action and employment authorization upon receipt of a renewal application.
The Form I-797C Notice of Action receipt should serve as notice of a 6 month temporary extension. This policy would be consistent with USCIS policies relating to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and Conditional Residents. Specifically, when TPS re-registrants will not receive new EADs until after the expiration of their current EADs, USCIS has granted automatic 6 month extensions to prevent gaps in employment authorization. In addition, conditional residents with Forms I-751 to remove conditions on residence pending have their status automatically extended for a year and may present their expired Form I-551 and Form I-707 as evidence of their status in the United States.
Current USCIS guidelines provide that requestors who turn eighteen while their applications are pending will not accrue unlawful presence. This policy should be extended to protect all renewal applicants from accruing unlawful presence while their requests are pending, regardless of the requestor’s age. Further, DACA applicants face many challenges to completing requests within the filing window. We urge USCIS to allow those unable to file within the 180 day period to also apply as renewal requestors.
Page 9, What evidence should I submit to demonstrate my criminal history?
Applicants are required to submit original official statements from arresting agencies or courts confirming that no charges were filed for any felony or misdemeanor arrests in the U.S. or a crime in any other country. Applicants are also required to submit an original statement from the court indicating that no record exists of arrests or convictions that have been vacated, set aside, sealed, expunged, or otherwise removed from their criminal record. These requirements are overly burdensome for applicants. Many are likely to have difficulty obtaining statements of no record or no charges from courts or arresting agencies.
Recommendation: Applicants should not be required to submit statements from arresting agencies or courts confirming that no charges were filed or that no records exist. However, if USCIS adopts this requirement, applicants should be given the opportunity to explain why the documents cannot be provided and their efforts to obtain the documents. Most importantly, applicants’ inability to obtain these documents should not negatively impact the adjudication of their cases. The instructions should be amended to read (new language in bold italics):
12.c. If you have ever had any arrest or conviction vacated, set aside, sealed, expunged, or otherwise removed from your record, submit:
(1) An original or court certified copy of the court order vacating, setting aside, sealing, expunging, or otherwise removing the arrest or conviction; or
(2) An original statement from the court that no record exists of your arrest or conviction.
If you are unable to provide such documentation or it is not available, you may provide an explanation, including a description of your efforts to obtain such evidence, in Part 9. Additional Information.
Page 10, Evidence for Renewal Requests
Renewal applicants are given limited instructions on evidence needed for renewal requests. USCIS should offer greater clarification on the evidence needed for renewal purposes.
Recommendation: The instructions should be amended as follows (new language in bold italics):
Evidence for Renewal Requests
1. If I have never been in removal proceedings and have not been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime since receiving DACA, what evidence do I need to submit with my renewal application?
If you have not been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in the U.S. or any crime outside the U.S. since you received DACA and have never been in removal proceedings, then you are not required to provide any supporting evidence.
2. If you were arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in the U.S. or arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime in another country AFTER being granted DACA, what evidence should you provide?
You must include a certified court disposition, charging document, verdict or judgment of conviction, sentencing record, etc., for each incident, unless the records involved incidents handled in juvenile court. You do not need to re-submit evidence of any arrests, charges, or convictions for felonies or misdemeanors in the U.S. or crimes in other countries that you already submitted to USCIS prior to your DACA grant.
3. What documents should you submit if you have been in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings since receiving DACA?
You must submit a copy of any document issued by the immigration judge or final decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), if available. If you have not been in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings, this question does not apply to you. You do not need to re-submit evidence related to exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings that you already submitted to USCIS prior to your DACA grant.
Page 11, What is the filing fee?
A request for renewal of deferred action has the same filing fee as the initial request -- $465 for the Employment Authorization Document and the biometrics fee. Since the renewal application requires much less documentation than an initial application, and adjudicators will spend less time reviewing each renewal application, the fee for the renewal request should be less than for the initial.
Recommendation: We recommend only charging renewal applicants the $85 biometric services fee. In other contexts, such as permanent residence, USCIS charges a lower fee for renewal than for an initial application. The total cost of adjusting to lawful permanent resident status is $1070, while the total cost of renewing a green card is only $450. In the alternative, we recommend that USCIS expand the criteria for fee exemption eligibility to include low-income individuals. Applicants whose household income is below 150% of the federal poverty line should be eligible for a fee exemption. Currently, approximately one third of DACA-eligible youth live in families with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL), and two-thirds live in families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Page 13, Checklist
The checklists in the instructions include lists of questions for initial and renewal requests and for initial requests only. These checklists are likely to be confusing for applicants. It is difficult to decipher which checklist questions apply to initial or renewal applicants.
Recommendation: The instructions should include one checklist for initial applicants only and one checklist for renewal applicants only. Specifically, the checklists should be amended as follows (new language in bold italics):
For Initial Requests Only
Did you submit Form I-765 along with the filing and biometric services fees ($465) required for the application for employment authorization and did you also submit a completed Form I-765WS?
Did you answer all of the questions, except for those marked “For Renewal Requests Only”?
Did you provide an original, handwritten signature and date your request?
Did you submit evidence to show that you came to the United States while under 16 years of age and established residence at that time?
Did you submit evidence to prove identity, date of initial entry, and continuous residence from June 15, 2007 (or earlier) up to the present time?
Did you submit evidence that you are currently in school, have a GED certificate, have graduated or received a certificate of completion from high school, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or U.S. Coast Guard?
Did you provide evidence showing that you were in an unlawful status as of June 15, 2012, or if you were previously in lawful status, that your lawful status expired prior to June 15, 2012?
If you were issued a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal, did you include a copy of that final order (if available)?
If your exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings were terminated by an immigration judge, did you include a copy of the immigration judge’s termination order (if available)?
If you have ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in the United States or any crime in any country other than the United States, did you submit an original official or court certified document that shows your charges and final disposition for each incident?
For Renewal Requests Only
Did you submit Form I-765 along with the biometric services fee ($85) required for the application for renewal of the employment authorization?
Did you answer all of the questions, except for those marked “For Initial Requests Only”?
Did you provide an original, handwritten signature and date your request?
If, since you were granted DACA, you were issued a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal, did you include a copy of that final order (if available)?
If, since you were granted DACA, your exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings were terminated by an immigration judge, did you include a copy of the immigration judge’s termination order (if available)?
If, since you were granted DACA, you have ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in the United States or any crime in any country other than the United States, did you submit an original official or court certified document that shows your charges and final disposition for each incident?
We thank you for your consideration of these comments and look forward to continuing to work with the agency regarding this important program. Please do not hesitate to contact CLINIC’s Director of Advocacy, Allison Posner, at 301-565-4831 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Jeanne M. Atkinson, ESQ.
 Batalova, Jeanne, Randy Capps and Sandy Hooker. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the One-Year Mark. Migration Policy Institute. August 2013, available at http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/CIRbrief-DACAatOneYear.pdf.
With the support of the Four Freedoms Fund, and in conjunction with other immigrant right organizations, CLINIC is tracking trends in immigration enforcement abuse in order to form a litigation strategy. To support this goal, CLINIC is asking affiliates to share information about cases that may be in need of litigation before state, local, and federal court systems.
CLINIC will be tracking several different types of abuses against immigrants in the context of immigration enforcement by federal or local authorities. The cases might include issues such as:
- Depriving a person of the opportunity to contact a lawyer after an arrest
- Racial or ethnic profiling during a traffic stop leading to an encounter with ICE
- A traffic stop by police without any legal basis, in which the police turn over the driver or passengers to ICE
- Physical or psychological abuse during an encounter with ICE or local authorities enforcing immigration laws
- Failure to provide an interpreter to a person who speaks little English
- ICE exceeding the scope of a warrant in searching a home or workplace (e.g., improper questioning or search of occupants or workers)
If your organization has a case involving immigration enforcement abuse, please fill out the form below. CLINIC will compile the information about cases it receives. If the case meets CLINIC’s litigation criteria, CLINIC may ask for more information and share information about the case with partnering organizations and law firms. Please note that CLINIC is compiling this data for informational purposes. Submission of this form does not guarantee that CLINIC will attempt to match or litigate your case.
If you would like to submit information for consideration by CLINIC, please complete this form.
For more information, please contact Bradley Jenkins, Advocacy Attorney at email@example.com or 301-556-4820.
 The following groups are involved in this Four Freedoms Fund initiative: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, the American Immigration Council (AIC), the Detention Watch Network (DWN), the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG).