September-October 2012

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BLOGOSPHERE POSTED BY Laura Lichter Do DREAMers Really Need a Lawyer? W high-school graduates or college students might be tempted to try to apply on their own without seeking advice from an attorney or legitimate nonprofit organization. Even though the requirements look simple, you don't e don't have all the details yet, but the basic re- quirements to qualify for deferred action seem, well, pretty straightforward—and motivated need a law degree to know that looks can be deceiving. So when do you really need a lawyer? And just as importantly, what can (and should) a lawyer do for you? The Simple Details In order to be considered for deferred action for child- hood arrivals or DACA, an individual must have arrived in the United States when they were under age 16.1 tion, they must have been physically present in the United States and under age 31 when the policy was announced on June 15, 2012, as well as show that they continuously resid- ed in the United States for at least five years before that date.2 In order to qualify, the applicant must be in school, have In addi- graduated high school, obtained a GED, or be an honor- ably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces.3 felony offense, a "significant misdemeanor offense," three or more non-significant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a Individuals who have been convicted of a NEED AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER? Find a qualified attorney near you using ailalawyer.com threat to national security or public safety may not qualify.4 Only youth who are at least 15 years old will be able to apply, unless they are currently facing deportation.5 Now, for the Not-So-Simple … Some of the red flags are obvious; some are not. If a DREAMer has ever had any contact with law en- forcement, even if it never resulted in a conviction, the case should still be screened by a lawyer. Why? A competent im- migration lawyer should be able to review your records and determine what' different from what you thought). For example, an incident you thought was resolved with- s really in there (hint: it's oſten a whole lot out any consequences may actually be a real problem. If the judge said you wouldn't have a record because you were a minor, or told you your record would be wiped clean if you kept out of trouble or completed public service hours, that incident still might be used to disqualify you, either as a conviction for immigration purposes or under public safety grounds. Just the suggestion—even without proof—of gang activity, or a history of certain traffic infractions might ad- versely affect your application. On the other hand, if you think a prior brush with the law means you can't qualify, remember that these requirements are evolving, so it' evaluate your case. Even if a conviction stands in the way, an immigration lawyer may be able to find a legal basis to reopen that case to obtain post-conviction relief. s best to have an immigration attorney Prior Contact or Filing: Anyone who has ever filed any- thing or had any contact with immigration authorities would be smart to have a lawyer review his or her immigra- tion file and history. Perhaps a prior application has gone missing—or gone south. Cases filed by a notario—even something filed on your behalf by a family member—may contain inaccurate or even fraudulent information that could knock you out of consideration. Sometimes, an out- of-date address means notices didn't reach you and your case was referred for a deportation hearing—one that you never knew about and never attended. 14 VOICE

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