Traveling for DACA Recipients
By: Margarita Baldwin*
The memorandum of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals prevents deportations of illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Many of them already obtained a 2-year work permit. However, will they be able to travel? Depending on what source they rely on, the answers vary, and it can be very confusing and frustrating.
Applicants hoped that DACA status would allow them to travel abroad and be able to safely re-enter to the US, since the majority of them have never left the country since they were brought here as children. The Memorandum on DACA describes its position on traveling in the instructions to the proposed application form for a travel documents and in the DACA FAQS.
Essentially the advance parole travel document is a promise given by USCIS that a person will be paroled into the United States. Although the guidelines have yet to be finalized, some restrictions are already imposed. Traveling abroad is allowed for “humanitarian, educational and employment” purposes. An example of “humanitarian” reason would be a death of a relative, a wedding, or visiting an ailing relative, etc.
It is up to USCIS’ discretion whether to grant an advance parole travel document based on the circumstances presented by the applicant. Also, humanitarian, educational and employment purposes are not the only justifiable reasons for a DACA recipient to travel abroad. Importantly, USCIS directs to apply for advance parole travel document only when I-821D application is approved.
The DACA initiative seems to be a great beginning for the future immigration reform, encouraging young immigrant to leave the shadow and fear of illegal presence. They finally can embrace a semblance to normal life. We should hope that USCIS will apply its most benign guidelines for advance parole, so the young immigrants will not only be able to work legally, but also to travel abroad.
*Margarita Baldwin is a legal assistant at BOILA PC.