Will DACA Parents Be Forced to Leave Their U.S.-Citizen Children … – The Atlantic

Though often described as “kids,” a majority of DACA beneficiaries are in their 20s—and some of them have children of their own. A recent study conducted by Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego along with the Center for American Progress, National Immigration Law Center, and United We Dream found that 25.7 percent of DACA recipients have a child who is a U.S. citizen. “If extrapolated to the total population of DACA recipients, this suggests that at least 200,000 U.S. citizen children live in the U.S. currently who have a DACA recipient for a parent,” Wong told told The Daily Beast.

While DACA was always supposed to be temporary, the ultimate outcome was meant to be legal status for its recipients, not deportation. Lawyers and immigrant-rights groups are working to address that by helping DACA parents map out what few options they have, and prepare for the possibility of deportation, in anticipation of their permits expiring. The National Immigration Law Center hosted a call this month to discuss the impact of terminating the program on the children of beneficiaries. “Many young people with DACA are parents, the majority to U.S. citizen kids. These children should be entitled to the same rights and opportunities as any other child,” said Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of the center.

Trying to obtain legal status is out of the question for many DACA recipients. The process to becoming a lawful permanent resident requires individuals to have a qualifying petitioner and to have entered—and resided in—the country legally. The latter requirement bars a majority of DACA beneficiaries from obtaining legal status since they came into the U.S. illegally to begin with or they overstayed their visas.

Some DACA recipients might be eligible for cancellation of removal, which would shield them from deportation and provide them a green card. “What you have to prove is that you’ve been in the United States for 10 years, that you have a good moral character and your deportation would result in extreme, unusual, and exceptional hardship to a qualifying relative. It can be a child, parent, or spouse,” said Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez, an immigration lawyer in Dallas, Texas. Chances of qualifying are slim, however: Immigration judges are only permitted to grant 4,000 cancellations of removal per fiscal year. DACA parents are also having to consider power of attorney, the act of appointing someone to manage private affairs in their absence.


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