One of the lines that President Obama used in his November 20th speech is that the country should be focused on “deporting felons, not families.”
To help meet this goal, he directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus their enforcement efforts – detention and deportation – on three types of immigrants.
Although this framework is helpful, remember that every case is different and DHS has broad discretion in determining who they determine is a priority. So, even if you don’t think you fit into a category below, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be automatically safe from deportation.
If you believe you qualify for DACA or DAPA and you are a priority as defined below, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney before filing any immigration paperwork. We would be happy to look over your court paperwork and analyze your eligibility.
PRIORITY 1: THREATS TO NATIONAL SECURITY, BORDER SECURITY, AND PUBLIC SAFETY (HIGHEST LEVEL)
- Engaged in or suspected of terrorism or spying, or pose a danger to national security;
- Apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States;
- Convicted of an offense involving a street gang; or
- Convicted of an offense classified as a felony or aggravated felony
PRIORITY 2: OTHER CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AND IMMIGRATION VIOLATIONS
- Convicted of three or more misdemeanor offenses, other than minor traffic offenses;
- Convicted of a significant misdemeanor:
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Abuse or Exploitation
- Unlawful Possession or Use of a Firearm
- Drug Distribution or Trafficking
- Driving Under the Influence
- Any crime when sentenced to 90 days or more of incarceration
- Apprehended anywhere in the United States after unlawfully entering or re-entering the United States and who cannot demonstrate that they have been in the United States since January 1, 2014; or
- Significant abuse of a visa or visa waiver programs
PRIORITY 3: FINAL ORDERS OF REMOVAL
- Has a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014
While it is nice to have such a defined list of priorities, there is ample room for interpretation and discretion.
For example, sometimes a domestic violence victim gets convicted because she was trying to protect herself or her children. Will this type of conviction disqualify her from DAPA? Does it make her a true enforcement priority? I hope not, but we will have to see how much DHS is willing to evaluate each individual situation.