DACA: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS THE LATEST INFORMATION WITH REGARDS TO DACA?

The Trump Administration, pressured by 9 attorney generals from various states, has decided to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave temporary work permits and protection from deportation to almost 800,000 people. An official DHS memorandum rescinding DACA is here and an FAQ developed by USCIS is here.

I CURRENTLY HAVE DACA. CAN I FILE FOR RENEWAL?

People with DACA permits that expire on or before March 5, 2018, can file for renewals until October 5, 2017. No new renewals will be accepted after this time so it is imperative to act now. USCIS will not accept renewals at this time for applicants whose DACA expires after March 5, 2018. After March 5, 2018, recipients of DACA will lose the ability to legally work in the United States and start accruing unlawful presence as of the date that their work permits expire.

WHAT IS THE CAMPUS DOING IN RESPONSE TO THIS NEWS?

The Undocumented Student Program statement is here. UC Berkeley has released a statement in support of our students as well. The Dean of Berkeley Law School also sent out a supportive email on the morning of the announcement. Now, more than ever, we remain steadfast in our commitment to undocumented students and their families.

Berkeley students who need urgent assistance with their renewals can use our online appointment system to book an email with the immigration attorney and/or paralegal.

WILL YOU PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR IMMIGRATION APPLICATION FEES?

The Undocumented Student Program has provided fee assistance to undocumented students since its inception in 2012. We will continue to do so while funding lasts. Other community partners, such as the Mission Asset Fund, the Mexican Consulate, and various non-profits have also stepped up efforts to provided full financial scholarships for DACA applications fees ensure that those who can renew their DACAs can do so. A great guide for all workshops and fee-assistance programs is available here.

CAN I CONTINUE TO ATTEND UNIVERSITY EVEN IF I LOSE DACA?

Yes. Undocumented students, with or without DACA, are welcome on our campus and should continue to pursue higher education.

I CURRENTLY HAVE DACA. WHEN DO I LOSE THE ABILITY TO WORK LEGALLY AND PROTECTIONS AFFORDED TO ME BY DACA?

Current work permits that cannot be renewed because of the March 5, 2018 cut-off for filing a renewal will remain valid until their expiration date. The work permits are not being canceled or rescinded as of March 5, 2018. For example, if your work permit expires December 10, 2018, you cannot renew it, but it will remain valid until December 10, 2018. Once your work permit expires, you will no longer be able to renew your work authorization under the DACA program and continue to work lawfully.

MY DACA EXPIRED IN THE LAST YEAR AND I DID NOT FILE FOR A RENEWAL. CAN I FILE A RENEWAL NOW?

No, unfortunately, USCIS has informed us that they will only accept renewal applications from those persons whose DACAs are expiring from September 5, 2017 to March 5, 2018. If your DACA expires before or after these dates, you are not eligible to file for a renewal at this time.

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

No initial DACA applications are being accepted at this time. They will be rejected by USCIS.

I WANT TO RENEW MY DACA BUT CANNOT AFFORD THE FEES?

If you are a current Berkeley student, application fees will be covered by the Undocumented Student program. We are working with community partners to raise additional emergency funds to be able to provide the $495 renewal for other members in our community. If you can make a donation to help with this effort, please donate here and indicate that this is for “DACA.” 

MY DACA EXPIRES AFTER MARCH 5, 2018. CAN I FILE A RENEWAL NOW?

Unfortunately, DACA work permits that expire after March 5, 2018 are not eligible to file for a renewal.  

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

No new advance parole applications frpm DACA holders will be processed by USCIS at this time. Pending advance parole applications will be administratively closed and the fees refunded. Please speak to your study abroad advisor and academic counselor to make alternative plans.

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

USCIS is not processing advance parole applications from DACA holders at this time. Pending applications will be administratively closed and the fees returned to the applicant. Please speak to your study abroad advisor and academic counselor to make alternative plans.

I AM CURRENTLY ABROAD ON ADVANCE PAROLE. WHAT DO I DO?

Advance parole documents that have been issued continue to be valid up until the expiry date listed on them. CBP continues to have the discretion to deny entry into the U.S. as stated on the advance parole document. We suggest that people on DACA who are abroad right now work with an attorney and/or academic advisor to come back as soon as they can.

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

USCIS is not processing advance parole applications at this time. Pending applications will be administratively closed and the fees returned to the applicant.

CAN I CONTINUE TO WORK IF AND WHEN DACA EXPIRES?

When your current DACA work permit expires, you will be out of status, and start accruing unlawful presence. It is critical that you speak with your immigration attorney about other legal options that may exist for you to continue working and legally residing in the United States.

See more guidance with regards to DACA and your rights in the workplace here.

I TRUSTED THE GOVERNMENT WITH MY INFORMATION WHEN I APPLIED FOR DACA. CAN THEY USE IT TO DEPORT ME?

Generally, USCIS has stated that information provided in DACA requests will not be proactively provided to other law enforcement entities (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor poses a risk to national security or public safety, or meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria.

The vast majority of DACA recipients, unless they have a final order of removal, cannot be simply picked up by ICE and deported. They are entitled to proper notice and court proceedings conducted before an immigration judge, and these proceedings can take many years to adjudicate.

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.

WHAT BENEFITS CAN I GET WITH MY EXISTING IMMIGRATION STATUS?

If you currently have DACA, and never got a social security number, now is the time to go to the local Social Security Administration to request one. You will continue to need and use this social security number for many other things besides employment such as housing applications, graduate school applications, filing taxes, and applying for credit/loans and so on.

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.

MY DACA WORK PERMIT WAS LOST. CAN I APPLY FOR A REPLACEMENT?

If an individual’s still-valid work permit is lost, stolen, or destroyed, they may request a replacement work permit. The replacement work permit will have the same validity period as the lost/destroyed/stolen work permit.

WILL I LOSE MY FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE IF MY DACA EXPIRES?

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 or your ability to repay the DREAM Loan, please contact the USP academic counselor, Liliana Iglesias and USP Director, Meng So.

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.

WHERE CAN I GET MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT?

The USP program has a licensed psychologist, Diana Peña, and post-doctoral fellow, German Cardenas, who regularly provide free counseling services to undocumented students at Berkeley.

  • To make an appointment with Dr. Peña, call and leave a message at (510) 642-9494. She will try to return the call within 24-48 hours.
  • To make an appointment with Dr. Cardenas, call and leave a message at (510) 643-7590.    
  • If you’re in crisis or your have urgent needs, help is available at the Tang Center on a drop-in basis : Monday – Friday, 10am-5pm (3rd floor, no appointment needed).
  • For urgent mental Health or medical problems that cannot wait until the Tang Center is open:
    • Call the After Hours Counseling Line at 855-817-5667
    • Find a local emergency room. The closest to campus is Alta Bates Hospital, 2450 Ashby Ave., just east of Telegraph Ave.
    • Crisis Text Line: Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 emotional support for those in crisis via text messaging. TEXT “START” TO 741-741
  • For more information about mental health support beyond Berkeley, see the Mental Health Toolkit and a printable guide here.

IF I CAN NO LONGER WORK, DO I QUALIFY FOR ANY KIND OF PUBLIC BENEFITS?

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.

Children, regardless of immigration status, up to the age of 19 are eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal in California.

This handy chart tells you about your public benefits as a U visa or T visa applicant. Generally, not just recipients but even applicants for a U visa are eligible for CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, Food Stamps, IHSS, General Assistance, and Refugee Social Services (RSS).

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 or contact the USP attorney for an internal referral.

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 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. Please note that if the matter is not imminent, the earlier appointments will be in mid-October.

I AM PART OF THE MEDIA. WHO CAN I SPEAK TO AT UC BERKELEY ABOUT THIS?

At this time, our program resources are completely focused on serving our Berkeley students who are in need of direct legal assistance and representation. Our team needs to hold space for them. As such, all media requests should go to Janet Gilmore at 510-642-5685 and her email is jangilmore@berkeley.edu. Thank you for understanding.

I AM AN ALLY. WHAT CAN I DO TO 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. People should be cognizant of the fact that DACA recipients, their families and their legal service providers are the most impacted people at this time.

Consider volunteering at a clinic in an underserved area. Our training materials for DACA renewals are here. A sample DACA renewal packet is here.

People can also help by donating to the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program, which holistically serves undocumented Berkeley students, and family members of Berkeley students. People should also look into donating to their local non-profits grappling with filing DACA renewals and individuals who need fee assistance at this time.

We urge our lawmakers to finally pass the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth and allies are critical to that goal.

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 Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 semesters.

Advocates nationwide should learn more about how to end local law enforcement collaboration with ICE, and push for sanctuary campuses and cities.