When President Donald Trump ended Tuesday an executive amnesty for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, immigration activists said it would rob beneficiaries of a chance to contribute to the only home they’ve ever known.
The wind down of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) also strips the program’s recipients — known as “Dreamers” — of a little-known method to obtain green cards.
The Department of Homeland Security angered many DACA recipients when, in response to Trump’s order, it announced it would stop issuing special travel permits known as advance parole. Dreamers with advance parole can take short trips outside the U.S. for humanitarian, educational or employment purposes, and then legally return to the country.
The program also has a lesser known function of allowing DACA recipients to circumvent the normal process of becoming a legal permanent resident, and, in some cases, a U.S. citizen.
Here’s how it works.
Green card applicants must prove they entered the country legally or have advance parole. Dreamers who overstayed their visas typically have an easier time because they can point to a record showing they had permission to visit to U.S.
DACA recipients who came to America by illegally crossing the border, on the other hand, must apply for advance parole. With that permission, they can travel overseas and then return to America, this time with evidence they have entered the country legally. In effect, advance parole becomes the basis on which a DACA recipient can adjust his immigration status and apply for a green card.
Without advance parole, Dreamers who crossed the border illegally would have to leave the country and apply for a green card from an American consulate overseas, a process that typically takes several years.
About 39,000 Dreamers have been approved for legal permanent resident status since the Obama administration implemented DACA in 2012, according to DHS data released last week by Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Grassley’s report did not give the precise number of DACA recipients who have used advance parole to obtain green cards. The Washington Post’s Glen Kessler estimated that about 6,000 Dreamers who received advance parole have gone on to become legal permanent residents, based on extrapolations of publicly available DHS figures from 2015.
Many DACA recipients are now upset with the Trump administration for stopping them from going outside the U.S. to visit relatives or connect with their ethnic heritage. Miriam Juan, a 21-year-old Dreamer living in California, recently used advance parole to visit her extended family in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“I essentially got to meet my home, meet my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and get to know my culture and my traditions,” Juan told the Los Angeles Times.
Juan had intended to set up a study abroad program at her college, Cal Poly Pomona, that would give other DACA recipients a chance to take similar trips using advance parole. The administration, she said, has now “robbed” her of that.
DHS says it will honor advance parole applications that have already been approved. Going gorward, Dreamers who have not yet applied will have to remain in America, the country they call home.
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