In January 2012, Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) and Curran & Berger LLP embarked on a program to offer in-depth legal consultations to undocumented students. We considered every possible legal remedy - looking for the proverbial "needle in the haystack."
We completed 121 consultations with undocumented students, representing a wide range of nationalities, ages, geographic locations and fields of study. We found six legal remedies that were by far the most common in our work. We also found that many undocumented students were often unaware of their options, or did not understand their own immigration history. Lastly, we found that the advice given to undocumented students, even when well-intentioned, was sometimes skewed—an asylum clinic was more likely to see a potential asylum case, while a business lawyer was more likely to see a business immigration option.
As a result, we decided to provide a self-assessment guide for those six remedies as well as information about how they work. We hope that this guide will help get information to DREAMers considering Deferred Action, and beyond that to other family members and friends, including younger siblings.
President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program highlights the need for such a guide. Organizations across the United States are preparing to help an estimated one million DREAMers evaluate the DACA option and apply early. DACA is a temporary, discretionary program that could be changed as quickly as it was created. DREAMers should take this opportunity to consider other longer-term options, and pursue them as appropriate. And for some, especially those with minor criminal records, a solid remedy from this list may be safer than trying to get DACA.
This guide is not intended as legal advice – do not make decisions about which category to apply for based just on this information. Rather, use this guide to spot categories that might work for you, now or in the future. And then explore them through the links provided and through competent, accredited legal service providers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Berger is a frequent speaker at colleges, universities, and nonprofits on immigration issues. As a law student, he won the 1995 American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) annual writing competition for an article on INS policies toward international adoptions. Mr. Berger continued researching and writing, including being a Senior Editor of the AILA Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook for over ten years, Editor-in-Chief of Immigration Options for Academics and Researchers (2005 and now the new edition 2011), and Editor of the International Adoption Sourcebook and the Diplomatic Visas Handbook. He currently is Vice Chair of the AILA Healthcare Committee and a member of the AILA Texas Service Center Liaison Committee and the Rome District Chapter Consular Liaison Group, having previously served in many liaison positions working with different branches of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Mr. Berger developed his interest in immigration in college, where he studied immigration history and taught English as a Second Language for adult refugees. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School, and a partner with Curran & Berger LLP in Northampton, Massachusetts.