A possible new wrinkle has arisen in recent immigration reform developments. It seems that children of undocumented immigrants who have infractions on their record may be better off than children who have clean records. In the case of Yilbert Pena, a Dominican native, it is impossible for him to get a driver’s license or apply for many jobs because of his legal status. Many other immigrants who will be applying for legal permanent residence, due to a lack of records, will have difficulty proving how long they have been in the U.S.
A Possible Solution
During President Obama’s first term, he suspended deportations for DREAMers to allow them a fair chance to stay in the country. The President said that many children in this country “often have no idea that they're undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver's license or a college scholarship.” For individuals such as Pena, the DACA program gives them the opportunity to avoid deportation and remain in the only country they know as home. However, some of the requirements of DACA are causing problems for individuals who want to apply for it. It is difficult for minors to prove their residence in the U.S. since they do not pay bills, or have much identification or paperwork if they are undocumented and are under the care of their parents. Pena has been careful over the past few years to not leave footprints and thereby hopefully avoid deportation. This means he does not have receipts or bills to show how long he has lived here.
For the older individuals eligible for DACA, providing proof of residency is even harder. "For applicants who don't have current school transcripts and who have been told for years to hide their presence for their own safety, it can be challenging to prove they were here," says Dan Berger, a partner in the Northampton, Mass.-immigration law firm Curran & Berger. The Department of Homeland Security recommends submitting documents such as deeds, mortgages, tax receipts, dated bank transactions, pay stubs and utility bills. Each of the above documents usually are not kept by immigrants because they are afraid these could get them deported.
Why immigrants with infractions have an advantage
Because immigrants have such a difficult time proving residency, certain complications for those with infractions end up benefiting these individuals. If someone has a speeding ticket or smaller infraction on their record, they can submit this as evidence of their residency to the Department of Homeland Security. For immigrants in a similar situation to Pena’s, who have been out of school for quite some time and have no infractions, acquiring evidence of their residency has led to a very ironic situation. The DACA program only offers a temporary reprieve from deportations for immigrants, but requirements that create unattainable expectations for immigrants defeat the purpose of the programs.
If you have questions regarding DACA, deportation or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.