Chicago Law Office of Christine Contreras

DACA Update and the Potential Path to Citizenship

DACA Recently Blocked by Federal Judge in Texas

We had some frustrating immigration news last month, as U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen from Texas declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal. The verdict was handed down in a lawsuit filed by Texas and eight other conservative states with intention to halt the DACA program.

Please note that DACA renewals and advance parole through DACA still continue as this is happening. If you are looking to file for either of the above right now, contact me for more details!

The verdict above should not be surprising considering the part of the country where it was issued, but it does come as a surprise to many Democrats. After all, many assume that a Biden presidency means a more immigration-friendly public policy.

As a response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement urging Republicans to “join us in respecting the will of the American people and the law, to ensure that Dreamers have a permanent path to citizenship.” There is proposed legislation in Congress that would grant permanent residency to DACA participants — the question now is whether any Republicans will be willing to follow the lead of the Democrats.

Reviewing Biden’s Potential Path to Citizenship for DACA Recipients

Citizenship for DACA recipients may be within grasp as President Biden is trying to give DACA recipients a clear and protected path to citizenship.

The New U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would give DACA recipients immediate access to obtain residency, pending some requirements. Which in turn means that three years after receiving and keeping their green card status, they can begin the United States citizenship process.

It marks a huge step forward after a few steps back. Between the pandemic and the previous administration’s “protection of American Jobs,” the process seemed longer and more arduous than ever before. But this is a pretty significant opportunity for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

Finally, as referenced above, immigration laws have changed the term “alien” to “noncitizen”, a major step in humanizing the immigrants in our Nation of Immigrants.

Something that has been popular for many years is the shift for DREAMers to be on a separate bill. There are two that are going through our legal process now. There is the Dream Act of 2021, and the Dream and Promise Act of 2021. Both would provide Conditional Permanent Residence (CPR). Once Dreamers have maintained CPR, they can gain Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) through:

  • Higher Education — By attaining a degree from a higher education institution, or completing two years in good standing in a Bachelor’s program or Higher
  • Military Service — Completing two years of military service with an honorable discharge, or no discharge
  • Work — Continuous work authorization for three years, and 75% of the time with authorization. Exceptions made for individuals in trade schools or higher education

These conditions have exemptions, which is why if you or your child are interested in pursuing these opportunities, it always helps to have legal counsel to facilitate. “Hardship Waivers” are available.

If you want to stay informed on the changes and distinctions of these acts as they pass through our legal system, be sure to check back in to our blog regularly. And don’t forget to join our newsletter for even more updates and analysis!