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A Great Victory: DACA Restored

Attorneys Anthony Benitez and Katie Rosenberger recently discussed deferred action for childhood arrivals—DACA—including what it is, how it works, and its recent reinstatement. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of their conversation.

Anthony Benitez
Hello, everyone! This is Attorney Anthony Benitez with the Marc Lopez Law Firm, and today I have the pleasure of having my friend and immigration attorney Katie Rosenberger with us. Hello, Katie! How are you doing today?

Katie Rosenberger
Hi, there! I’m doing well. Thank you, Attorney Benitez, for having me.

Anthony Benitez
Oh, no problem. So Katie, can you please introduce yourself to everyone out there?

Katie Rosenberger
Yes, absolutely. My name’s Katie Rosenberger. I practice immigration and family law at my firm Villarrubia and Rosenberger. We have a firm of two attorneys and a very awesome and dedicated staff.

Anthony Benitez
So Katie, this weekend, I was at the soccer fields with my kids, and I was going through my Instagram, checking my Facebook, and all I kept reading about was that a judge ordered the reinstatement of DACA. Is that correct?

Katie Rosenberger
Yes, absolutely. Very exciting news. We thought after the decision by the Supreme Court over the summer that we had this great victory, but there’ve been some hurdles along the way. It sounds like this announcement by the judge seals the deal, and now DACA has been reinstated.

Anthony Benitez
Why is this a big deal?

Katie Rosenberger
So there were a lot of young people—dreamers—who would have been eligible, but the Trump administration abruptly ended the program in September of 2017. So young people who’ve gotten older and are now eligible or for whatever reason were unable to apply before lost that opportunity, and are now able to take advantage of that. It’s a huge win.

Anthony Benitez
And we’re getting a new president starting in January. What does this mean under Biden?

Katie Rosenberger
Obviously we have hopes that immigration landscapes will change under the Biden administration, but even now, young people who are now eligible can apply. It extends work authorizations, the ability to work lawfully and get a driver’s license—probably to get scholarships and attend school for those who didn’t qualify before. Maybe they renewed and were only able to get one year of work authorization, now they’ll be able to get two years.

Anthony Benitez
Some people may not know what DACA is. What is it exactly?

Katie Rosenberger
DACA stands for deferred action for childhood arrivals. It applies to a group of young people who entered the country prior to June 15 of 2007, who are under the age of 16 when they apply, and were in school, have attended school, graduated. 

There’s also the ability to apply if you’ve been in military service, and that enables the applicants to receive—most importantly—protection from deportation, as well as the ability to have a work permit or work authorization, to have a driver’s license and some stability. And this program has really helped grow the economy and help provide stability for families.

Anthony Benitez
Katie, if somebody out there that has questions about renewing their DACA, how can they get a hold of you?

Katie Rosenberger
We’re currently taking consultations via phone, video, and in-person and we have some distance options in our new office space. Our phone number is 463-207-9900, and we’ve just recently moved to 6349 South E Street, just South of 465. We’ve got lots of space. We can accommodate everyone. So feel free to give us a call and contact us for a virtual or in-person consultation.

Anthony Benitez
One question I have for you, Katie. I do criminal law. You guys do immigration. A lot of my clients ask me, Is my criminal case going to affect my DACA? How can a criminal conviction affect somebody who otherwise qualifies?

Katie Rosenberger
So I have to give the typical lawyer answer and say it depends, but it’s absolutely something that you should consult about. If you’re pulled over, stopped by the police, arrested, get into some sort of issue and now have criminal charges—you should absolutely be consulting with an immigration attorney if you have DACA or are considering applying. 

If you are considering applying now under the initial request and you do have some criminal history, it’s really important to get a hold of those records and consult with an immigration attorney. Sometimes a great criminal attorney like you would be able to work on finding a plea or dismissing charges altogether, so that it won’t impact DACA because there are certain crimes that could disqualify you.

Anthony Benitez
One of the big things that I see is DUIs, and you can’t plead guilty to a DUI—if you do, you don’t qualify for DACA. I know you’ve reminded me of that many times, and sometimes negotiating it down to maybe a reckless driving or public intox will work for those clients.

Katie Rosenberger
So that’s a really good reminder to those young people who have DACA or are considering applying to be very mindful of driving intoxicated. Make sure you take Uber and take precautions so that’s not an issue.

Anthony Benitez
Anything else you want to tell us about DACA, about the case, about the judge? 

Katie Rosenberger
So it was a very strongly-worded opinion. We were kind of impressed by how firm the judge was in her orders. She actually required the Department of Homeland Security to post guidelines by December 7. 

Those were posted at the end of the day on Monday, and they indicate that initial DACA applications are available, that renewals will be for two years—they had been limited to one year—but those who got work permits for one year will now have an automatic extension, and there has been a return to Obama-era advanced parole or travel permits. 

So there were a lot of people who wanted to be able to travel outside the country, visit family or people who were ill, and they’re now going to be able to do that, because the requirements are a little bit more flexible, like they were under the Obama administration. This is a huge opportunity for those who need to travel or are looking to regularize their status to become permanent residents.

Anthony Benitez
Well, sounds like great news. Thank you, Katie, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me. I appreciate it.

Katie Rosenberger
It was a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.