Immigration and Post-Election Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The information below is informational and does not constitute legal advice. Each individual case is different, and advice may vary depending on the situation. If you are a current Berkeley student with questions about your immigration case, please contact the USP attorney for a consultation as soon as possible

WHAT DO WE KNOW?

The election of Donald Trump, coupled with the election of a Republican-leaning Congress, could give rise to dramatic and unprecedented changes in immigration law enforcement and policy. Despite many of President Obama’s immigration policies, particularly the record-breaking deportation rates, the Trump Administration is likely to institute major departures from current practice. A summary of what these changes looks like can be found here. Trump’s campaign promises, his post-campaign promise to immediately deport 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records, and his short list of government appointees suggest that immigration enforcement will be cruel and take a turn for the worse.

WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC CHANGES IN IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT WE CAN EXPECT UNDER A TRUMP PRESIDENCY?

A summary of what these changes looks like can be found here

Some of these policy recommendations, outlined here, could also become law, without specifically requiring an act of Congress.

WHAT IMMIGRATION PROGRAMS CAN PRESIDENT TRUMP REPEAL?

Any law that was not passed by Congress could be eliminated by a new President, through the issuance of new regulations (if the regulation went through a rule-making process) or if it is just a statement of policy, can be rescinded by the executive branch through a memo. This includes, but is not limited to, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals from specific countries, the parole-in-place program for spouses, children and parents of active or reserve U.S. military personnel, the I-601(A) provisional waiver program for people with unlawful presence, work permits for spouses of H1-B visa holders, and optional practical training for international students.

I CURRENTLY HAVE DACA. WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO WORK WITH MY DACA WORK PERMIT AFTER TRUMP BECOMES PRESIDENT?

It appears likely that Trump will quickly rescind DACA, and because DACA was created via executive action (not by Congress or through notice-and-comment rule-making), most legal experts agree that DACA can be rescinded by a new administration. If DACA is repealed, recipients of DACA will lose the ability to legally work in the United States. A Trump administration could require that DACA recipient return their work permits or be subject to further enforcement action.

Advocates continue to request that the new Trump Administration not repeal DACA or take any adverse enforcement actions against DACA recipients. It is not clear whether DACA recipients whose personal information has now been shared with the federal government will face enforcement actions beyond just a revocation of DACA, such as a “Notice to Appear” in removal proceedings. The UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program attorney will continue to assist and directly represent current Berkeley students against any and all adverse immigration enforcement actions.

I NEVER APPLIED FOR DACA BUT I AM ELIGIBLE. SHOULD I APPLY NOW?

Initial DACA applications are taking 6-8 months to process at this time. New applicants run the risk of losing $495, giving their information to a potentially hostile Trump administration, who may then deny the application, and issue a “Notice to Appear” in removal proceedings against everyone who is denied DACA. The original DACA program promised that even in the event of denial, unless the applicant was a priority for removal under the Johnson memo, information would not be shared with ICE but we do not yet know the new administration’s priorities.

People with serious criminal convictions or convictions that may render them ineligible for DACA, should not apply, and should speak to an attorney with regards to getting post-conviction relief.

While we strongly recommend against submitting initial applications at this time, if potential applicants fully know and understand the risks associated with initial DACA applications, the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program attorney will continue to assist current Berkeley students with these applications.

Application fees for Berkeley students are covered by the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program. Application fees for Oakland residents are covered by the East Bay Community Law Center, subject to some income restrictions. 

MY DACA IS EXPIRING IN THE NEXT 6 MONTHS? WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Since DACA continues to be in place, at this time, we are continuing to help applicants with DACA renewal to apply, so long as applicants fully understand that renewals may not be processed in time by the current political administration, and may be denied by a new political administration. DACA renewals are currently taking anywhere from 2 months to 4 months. There is a slight chance that applicants for DACA renewal who are denied renewal under a new, hostile Trump Administration may be subject to a “Notice to Appear” in removal proceedings. If you or your family have moved to a new address since your last renewal or if you have an undocumented family member who currently resides at one of the addresses you submitted on an initial application, you should talk to your attorney.

If you have been arrested since you last filed for DACA, consult with an attorney, to see whether applying would be too risky or whether you can get post-conviction relief. Again, no one knows precisely what could happen, however, our duty is to inform new and current clients of all risks associated with the DACA program, so students can make informed decisions.

Application fees for Berkeley students are covered by the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program. Application fees for Oakland residents are covered by the East Bay Community Law Center, subject to some income restrictions. 

I HAVE DACA/TPS AND I WAS PLANNING TO TRAVEL ABROAD IN 2017 WITH ADVANCE PAROLE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Since we have very little information about whether DACA or TPS will continue to exist and all signs point towards DACA being revoked by the Trump administration, at this time, the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program attorney strongly advises against making any plans to be abroad. Additionally, the White House leaks suggest that advance parole for DACA recipients will be eliminated, hence, students are strongly advised to not travel abroad.

In the context of advance parole, Students should fully understand that the Trump administration may revoke DACA, and advance parole, at any time. In the event that students are abroad when DACA is revoked, they may be denied permission to return to the United States.

Students should note the withdrawal without penalty deadline for their specific study abroad programs, and withdraw from their respective study abroad programs until we know more about whether DACA and/or advance parole continue to be benefits. Students should consult with their academic counselor to come up with alternative course plans for the rest of the academic year and/or talk with their lawyer.

CAN I CONTINUE TO WORK IF AND WHEN DACA OR TPS IS REVOKED?

If and when DACA or TPS status is revoked, Berkeley students can speak with the USP attorney about other legal options that may exist for them to continue working in the United States.

I AM CURRENTLY ABROAD ON ADVANCE PAROLE THROUGH DACA OR TPS. WHAT DO I DO?

Students with DACA, who are currently abroad on advance parole should come back, without exception, before CBP refuses to honor their travel documents, and not make plans to travel abroad.

I APPLIED FOR ADVANCE PAROLE ALREADY AND THE APPLICATION IS PENDING. WHAT DO I DO?

You may wish to call the USCIS Customer Service number on your receipt notice to expedite the application based on financial reasons (withdrawal deadline for the UCEAP program) or humanitarian reasons (emergent reasons such as an ill family member). You may also walk-in to a local USCIS field office to expedite your application. If you applied and no longer wish to go abroad but your advance parole is approved, you may be eligible for a fee refund from the USP program at Berkeley, and should consult with the USP attorney about your options moving forward.

I HAVE DACA AND I NEED TO TRAVEL ABROAD FOR EMERGENT REASONS NOW. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Students with DACA are advised to not leave the country or be outside the country after January 20, 2017.

That said, the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program attorney has put out additional guidance on emergency advance parole procedures, and we will continue to assist students who want to apply for advance parole for humanitarian reasons (to see a sick relative abroad), between now and January, with the local USCIS Field Office in San Francisco and San Jose.

WHAT BENEFITS CAN I GET WITH MY EXISTING IMMIGRATION STATUS?

If you currently have DACA or TPS status, and never got a social security number, now is the time to go to the local Social Security Administration to request one. If you do not have a California ID or driver’s license, you should make an appointment with the local DMV to obtain these benefits. Do note that AB-60 remains the law in California, so if your DACA gets revoked or even if you have no immigration status, you can still get a driver’s license in California.

WILL I LOSE MY FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE IF MY DACA IS REVOKED?

Instate-tuition benefits in California, such as AB-540, the California DREAM Act, and the California DREAM loan program, remain in place as these are state benefits. If you have specific questions about your eligibility with regards to these state-level higher education benefits, please contact the USP academic counselor, Liliana Iglesias.

CAN LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS FOLLOW AND ENFORCE IMMIGRATION LAWS?

California is leading the way to fight local law enforcement collaboration with federal immigration authorities, though there is always more work to be done. In 2013, the state enacted the TRUST Act (AB 4), which ended local police collaboration with ICE (or ICE holds), except for in cases of individuals with serious criminal convictions. This remains the law in California, so students and community members should continue to report crimes committed against them to UCPD, Berkeley police, and other local law enforcement. The TRUTH Act, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, brings transparency to local jail entanglements with ICE, and thus, further protects our community members from ICE custody. Campus officials across the UC system are currently investigating how to best protect undocumented students.

CAN I CONTINUE TO TRAVEL TO OTHER STATES IF I AM UNDOCUMENTED OR IF I LOSE DACA STATUS?

Traveling within 100 miles of the U.S. border (the “constitution-free” zone) is dangerous, and exposes people to detection, arrest, and detention by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operating various checkpoints along these routes. Undocumented immigrants have traveled to other states, including Hawaii and Alaska, in the past, with an unexpired passport from their consulate, or a government-issued identification document issued by the state of California, though they should fully understand and evaluate the risk of doing so to themselves under a new political Administration. When in doubt, consult with your attorney.

DO I QUALIFY FOR PUBLIC BENEFITS IN CALIFORNIA?

California has implemented some major benefit programs that are available to immigrants and people with non-immigrant status, such as a pending green card application, SIJS status, pending U or T visa. If you apply for and are denied a public benefit that you believe you may be eligible for per this handy chart, and live in Alameda County, please contact the East Bay Community Law Center’s Health and Welfare clinic at 510-548-4040.

DO I QUALIFY FOR OTHER IMMIGRATION BENEFITS?

The UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program attorney regularly screens all new clients for additional immigration benefits such as a family-based green card, U visa (victims of crimes in the U.S.), T visa (survivors of labor or sex trafficking), asylum (for people who fear persecution in their countries of origin) or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) (for children under 21 who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent), and fully represents clients in seeking these additional benefits. Many undocumented Berkeley students and graduates are already in line for a more permanent legal status due to our comprehensive legal services program. The USP attorney has also helped former international students at UC Berkeley gain a more stable, and permanent legal status.

If you’ve met with the attorney since August 2015, you have already received an immigration screening. If you’ve not met with the USP attorney for a general consultation or screening, but would like to do so, you can make an appointment online. General consultation screenings take place on campus on Tuesdays between 11am and 5pm in at the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

I AM A BERKELEY STUDENT. CAN MY FAMILY MEMBERS GET IMMIGRATION HELP?

Yes, the USP attorney has worked with undocumented partners, parents and siblings of Berkeley students since August 2015, and we will continue to provide these services, subject to capacity. We are also happy to do general consultations with immediate family members who are not in the Bay Area, and have both in-house multi-lingual capacity for document translation and interpretation capacity in all other languages via a telephonic service.

I AM UNDOCUMENTED OR I AM PART OF A MIXED STATUS FAMILY. HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF AND/OR MY FAMILY MEMBERS?

Berkeley students and their immediate family members, regardless of immigration status, continue to be eligible for immigration legal services through our program. In the event of adverse immigration enforcement action, such as an ICE raid, arrest, detention, or revocation of any immigration benefit or a “Notice to Appear” for removal proceedings, current Berkeley students can text or call their immigration attorney at 5102589313.

Below, we also lay out some basic ‘Know Your Rights’ information for all immigrants:

  • You have the right to remain silent and you can refuse to speak to an immigration officer
  • You should carry a know your rights card and show that to immigration
  • You should not open the door for unknown parties or law enforcement or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    • Most federal agents do not carry a warrant
    • If you are unclear as to who is at the door, ask for warrant and if they don’t have warrant, you do not have to let them in
    • Do not be duped into opening the door simply because the agent is looking for someone who does not reside at the address or if the agent asks you to come outside
  • You have a right to lawyer and you should ask to only speak to your lawyer
  • You should not sign anything given to you by an immigration officer, without speaking to an attorney
  • You should always carry any valid immigration documentation for US, if you have lawful status such as a student visa, or a green card
  • You should not carry foreign documentation unless that is your only form of identification:
    • If individual’s only form of ID is foreign documentation, individual needs to speak to attorney to weigh pros/cons of carrying sole form of ID vs. not carrying anything and this is case specific
  • As an immigrant, you should:
    • Create safety plan and keep immigration documents together
    • Report and document raids and arrests

ACLU: What to Do If You’re Stopped By Law Enforcement

NILC: Everyone Has Basic Rights No Matter Who is President

United We Dream: Know Your Rights; Protect Yourself Against Immigration Raids

Know Your Rights info: https://www.ilrc.org/red-cards

Safety Planning: http://michiganimmigrant.org/resources/library

CALIFORNIA JUST LEGALIZED RECREATIONAL USE OF MARIJUANA. HOW DOES THAT AFFECT ME?

On Nov. 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64 legalizing the use of recreational marijuana among people over the age of 21. It is important to understand that Prop. 64 does not change federal law and marijuana is still unlawful to possess under federal law, and can have severe immigration consequences. As such, undocumented and even lawful permanent resident students are strongly advised against obtaining a medical marijuana card or advertising their usage of controlled substances on social media. If you have an arrest, citation, infraction or conviction for any crime related to the use of a controlled substance such as marijuana, or are generally concerned about how an arrest or conviction can impact your immigration status, please contact the USP attorney, Prerna Lal.

HOW ELSE DOES THE UC BERKELEY UNDOCUMENTED STUDENT PROGRAM HELP UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS?

The program, established in 2012, in addition to providing holistic legal support and representation, provides current undocumented students at Berkeley with academic counseling, financial aid,lending library to offset the cost of books, emergency grants, food assistance, and free mental health services.

I AM AN ALLY. HOW CAN I HELP?

At this time, our resources are completely focused on serving existing and new Berkeley students who are in need of direct legal assistance and representation. That said, people can continue to help by donating to the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program, which holistically serves undocumented Berkeley students, and parents of Berkeley students. If there is enough interest, pro-bono coordinators at law firms in the Bay Area can reach out to Attorney Prerna Lal at plal@ebclc.org to arrange a workshop in the coming months for how existing attorneys can help take on immigration cases. Law students can help by getting legally trained to be observers with the National Lawyers Guild, giving “Know Your Rights” presentations to immigrant communities, and applying to the East Bay Community Law Center’s excellent immigration clinical program for the Summer and Fall 2017 semesters. Advocates nationwide should learn more about how to end local law enforcement collaboration with ICE, and push for sanctuary campuses and cities.

This FAQ was prepared specifically for the UC Berkeley student population by Prerna Lal, the current USP attorney. For all inquires, contact prernalal@berkeley.edu