Jose Romero-Flores, 33, is registered with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals case. DACA is not a legislative law. It was created through an executive action by President Barack Obama in June 2012.
According to the USCIS website, DACA does not provide citizenship, or a pathway to citizenship. Rather, it defers any deportation action for a period of about two years. Anyone registered as DACA must reapply on a regular basis to keep their status and remain in the country legally.
Those registered as DACA can obtain important documents, such as work permits, and driver’s licenses. The downside for those who applied for DACA is that they are now registered with USCIS, and, by extension, the Department of Homeland Security.
Sandra Melendez, an East Hampton attorney who frequently works on cases involving DACA, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation actions, said that, to become DACA eligible, one must graduate from high school, “and have no criminal record.” While the USCIS website says that a felony disqualifies an applicant from DACA, Melendez reports that, in her experience, even infractions, such as driving with ability impaired by alcohol, which is a violation, not a crime, can result in the loss of DACA status. That leads to ICE action. “It is easy. You are in the system,” she said.
ICE handles all cases inside the country involving detention and removal of aliens.
President Donald Trump announced a phaseout of DACA, but that action was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court, claiming a lack of due process. A temporary injunction was issued, stopping the Trump administration action.