DACA ‘Dreamers’ must return their 3-Year work permit by July 21

Immigrant Advocate Anthony Ng of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA gives testimony on his life as a DACA recipient.  Contributed photo.

Immigrant Advocate Anthony Ng of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA gives testimony on his life as a DACA recipient. Contributed photo.

By Cecile Caguingin Ochoa

Los Angeles – Immigration officials may soon start visiting some of the homes of young immigrants awarded three-year work permits with deferred deportation ( under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA) program, but immigrant rights advocates said the recipients should not be alarmed.

According to a leading advocate group in Los Angeles, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, (AA Justice LA) the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of Homeland Security has issued notices to DACA recipients that their permission to work for three years have been rescinded to two years as a result of Judge Andrew Hanen’s order in Texas v. U.S. case on February 16, 2015.

USCIS is contacting some DACA recipients who mistakenly received
3-year work permits (Employment Authorization Documents, or EAD cards), to tell them they have to return these 3-year cards to USCIS by July 21, 2015 or risk losing their DACA status. USCIS will issue them new 2-year cards.

This past June, the DACA program reached its third anniversary. The program allows eligible undocumented immigrants who entered the country at a young age to apply for temporary protection from deportations and two-year work permits or EADs.

Statistics obtained from AA Justice LA showed to date, over 665,000 immigrant youth have received their DACA. Over the past year, over 355,000 immigrant youth have applied to renew their DACA.

Hanen’s February 2015 order required USCIS to no longer issue 3-year EADs. In an interview with Inquirer.net, Michelle Saucedo, Legal Advocate of AA Justice LA said “we have received calls regarding this order, since some people have received a USCIS notice asking for the 3-year document back. We are simply explaining to clients that if they receive the notice, they should comply with its instructions and return the 3-year documents.

They will be receiving the 2-year updated documents in the near future, as stated by the USCIS notices, said Saucedo. She continued: “it is important to note that it is only about 2,500 people who received these 3-year work permits erroneously, and are expected to return the documents to USCIS. What USCIS is doing is changing the erroneously issued 3-year DACA and work permits to 2-year periods, thus people will still retain the benefits they were granted”.

NBC News quoted Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, that the home visits by Citizenship and Immigration Services are part of the Department of Homeland Security, “extreme measures,” but urged holders of the documents to comply.

The visits were to occur in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston, said Christopher Bentley, the immigration agency’s spokesman and only for those affected who had not returned their three-year DAA permit to work.

The City and County of San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (CEIA) likewise issued a press statement that individuals should not be alarmed if contacted by USCIS. The return of the 3-year EAD must be completed on or before July 21, 2015.

USCIS has issued affected recipients new 2-year EAD cards. Affected DACA recipients should have received one or more letters from USCIS about returning the 3-year EAD card, so individuals concerned about their situation should call or visit USCIS immediately. Please note this action is being conducted by USCIS and does not involve Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),” explained the immigrant affairs advocate.

The three-year permits were issued after President Barack Obama expanded the DACA program in an executive action. But then a Texas judge in February blocked the president’s action. The Obama administration says some three-year work permits, those issued after Feb. 16, were issued by mistake after the judge issued a temporary injunction.

AA-Advancing Justice advised that if DACA recipients received a letter or call from USCIS regarding their 3-year EAD, it is important that they take the notice seriously because they may suffer adverse consequences. Those who haven’t complied are being threatened with revocation of their DACA status. Some of the holders have failed to respond to letters and phone calls.

They can contact Asians Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (213-241-8885 and 213-241-8886) for assistance on this issue and if they have questions or concerns.
They can also call the USCIS National Customer Service Center: 1-800-375-5283.

Advancing Justice – LA’s own immigrant rights policy advocate, Anthony Ng, received his approval for DACA in late 2012 and is now due to renew his employment authorization document (EAD). “It allowed me to come out of the shadows, have access to resources, and [be] empowered to fight for myself, my family, and my community,” Ng said. Born in the Philippines, he has not only used his DACA to legally work, but continues to encourage other undocumented youth to apply for DACA and get involved with the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

“I know that it is a painful process to acknowledge your immigration status due to the stigma that comes along with it. But our parents and family sacrificed so much for a better life for us – it is our duty to ourselves and our families to ensure that their sacrifices are not in vain,” Ng said.

For those up north, the CEIA said DACA recipients can visit USCIS at 444 Washington Street, San Francisco CA to present the 3-year EAD card. No appointment is necessary. USCIS walk-up window hours are Monday- Friday 9am- 3pm.

CEIA further advised DACA recipients to make a copy of their current EAD card, both the front and back, and the 3-year EAD approval notice. “Keep these for your records”.

AA Advancing Justice, LA states “the success of DACA is clear. It has allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth to live without fear of deportation and pursue their interests . However, there has been much confusion regarding the hold placed by Judge Hanen in the Texas v. U.S. case and how this affects DACA”.

Nationally, more than 642,000 applications have been submitted, and 96 percent have been approved. Within the Asian American community, while South Korea and the Philippines are among the top ten countries of origin for DACA applications, many Asian American as well as Pacific Islander DACA-eligible youth have not applied. (Inquirer.net)
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