A recent report by Jeff Gammage of The Inquirer reveals that 71% of Pennsylvania residents believe the government should offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. Residents of Pennsylvania also support a path to citzenship for immigrants who hold Temporary Protected Status. This isn’t entirely a surprise. Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro was one of 23 Attorneys General and Attorneys General-elect who have opposed many of the Trump administration’s efforts to end immigration. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has also supported DACA recipients. Earlier this year they ruled recipients are eligible for admission to the state Bar. Despite the Trump Administration’s attempts to shut down DACA, court battles have meant that those who currently have or previously had DACA status may apply to renew it. At least, for now. A preliminary injunction against the termination of DACA is what makes this possible. If legal challenges to DACA go Trump’s way this window will close. So far, federal district courts in California, New York, and Washington, D.C., have ruled against the decision to end DACA protection. The federal district court in Maryland ruled in favor of ending DACA, but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision. The next step would be for the matter to go before the Supreme Court, if they agree to hear the case. Actions taken by the Supreme Court say they will not hear the case before their next Term in October. This creates a small window of opportunity for those who wish to take advantage of the injunction. If the Supreme Court declines to hear the case or if it rules against the termination of DACA then the current state of affairs will stand. If it rules against DACA you could lose your opportunity.
If you’ve never had DACA you cannot currently apply.
To be eligible for renewal you need to have lived continuously in the U.S. from the time you submitted the initial request until the present. You must have a mostly clean criminal record with no felony convictions or major misdemeanors. Three or more minor misdemeanors will also prevent your eligibility. And unless you had advance parole, you can’t have departed the U.S. at any time after August 15, 2012.
The National Immigration Law center also reports roadblocks for individuals whose DACA expired before September 5, 2016. Among other things, those who fall into this category must submit evidence showing you meet every DACA eligibility guideline.
In some cases, attempting to renew your DACA application represents a risk for you, more than a benefit. And USCIS isn’t necessarily eager to approve applications just because they’re being forced to accept them. To give yourself the best chance of success, it is wise to pursue DACA, and any other immigration application, with a skilled immigration attorney at your side.
In the meantime, take comfort in knowing most people in the great state of Pennsylvania want you here.