Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) is a program that provides an opportunity for certain undocumented youth who entered the United States as children to obtain temporary permission to remain in the United States. Applicants whose DACA applications are approved are granted work authorization for a two-year period, which to date, can be renewed. In addition, applicants whose cases are deferred have the opportunity to apply for Advance Parole, which is permission to travel outside of the United States.
Not everyone whose DACA application has been approved will qualify for Advance Parole, however. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will only grant Advance Parole if the applicant’s travel abroad will be in furtherance of one of the following:
In addition to demonstrating to USCIS that the applicant’s reason for travelling is in furtherance of one of the above-named purposes, it is important to understand the possible risks of travelling abroad. The risks are especially significant if the applicant has ever been in removal proceedings, and/or has been deported in the past.
The opportunity to travel outside of the United States is momentous, especially for those who have been unable to see family members for many years. However, before travelling with advance parole, it is important to seek legal advice regarding the risks.
Manuel Ceballos, a valued paralegal at Joseph Law Firm, P.C., recently travelled to his hometown in Mexico with Advance Parole. Read about his experience in his blog below:
It had been over 15 years since I last visited my home town in Mexico. In 2011, my parents were deported, causing a difficult separation for my siblings and I. While in Mexico, my father suffered two strokes and became very ill. Talking to my mother over the phone and listening to the hardships she and my father face on a daily basis worried me and intensified my desire to visit them, but because I am not a legal permanent resident (LPR), I was not able to travel back to Mexico. However, due to current changes in immigration policy, I was able to apply for deferred action (DACA) and later apply for Advanced Parole to finally see my parents.
After spending a week with my parents in my home town, my partner and I traveled by bus to come back home to the U.S. We decided the easiest way to come back to the U.S. was through El Paso, Texas. After over 20 hours of travel from my home town to the border, we decided to purchase tickets to cross the border from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso on a Transborde bus (a small bus that takes you across the border for a small fee). As we were approaching the border, I became very nervous and the only thing that kept going through my mind was, “What if I don’t get allowed into the U.S.?” After waiting in traffic for about an hour on the busy bridge to reach the checkpoint, we were told to get off the Transborde at the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoint in El Paso and make our way across the border on foot. I immediately noticed how busy the border checkpoint was with long lines of tourists and workers making their way into the U.S.. As I entered the checkpoint, I entered the line for people crossing on the Transborde. The line seemed to move fast and after about 15 minutes I was waiting in front of a CBP officer. I was told to move forward by the CBP officer and I handed the officer my passport and my I-512L, Authorization for Parole. The officer seemed confused and did not recognize the document I had presented to him and told me he had to speak to his supervisor. After a few minutes, the officer came back and told me I needed to proceed to secondary inspection. I followed the officer who led me through several doors before finally entering a waiting room with several chairs with handcuffs. I was told to sit down and wait until my name was called.
As I was sitting in the waiting area, I was able to hear what other people who had gotten there before me were being asked. I tried to stay calm, but the overwhelming feelings and doubts of not being able to cross back into the United States continued to cross my mind. What if I am not allowed back to the US? Where will I go? How will I get home? How will I notify my family? I tried to call my partner, but was not able to reach him. I kept seeing more people being brought into secondary, children, women, men, and elderly people. After a while, I finally heard my name and an officer approached me. The officer spoke to me in Spanish, but I decided to respond in English. He asked me where I was going and why I had been in Mexico. After responding, the officer took my picture and my fingerprints. At this point, I was still very nervous and did not understand why the officer was taking my picture and fingerprints. The officer then took me to his desk and began asking me more questions. I was asked for my father’s information, my mother’s information, my address, my employment information, my social security number, and where I was born.
After about two hours of questioning and waiting for the officer to check with his supervisor, I was told I was free to go. The officer led me out the same doors I had walked through and told me I needed to have my luggage inspected. I walked out of the checkpoint to meet my partner, who had been waiting for me for over two hours with no knowledge of what was going on. I was so relieved to be back in the U.S.
Despite the nerve-wracking experience at the border checkpoint, I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to visit my parents and spend a few days with them. This experience was life changing and I realized how much I take for granted and am reminded of how fortunate I am to be in the U.S. Despite the daunting experience of going through secondary at the border checkpoint, I would go through it all over again a million times if it means I get to see my parents. I hope to spread the word of my experience to encourage other DACA recipients about the possibility of Advanced Parole so that they will also have the ability to travel back to their countries of origin; a possibility that I am sure they probably could have never imagined.
To speak with an experienced immigration attorney about your eligibility for either DACA or Advance Parole, please call Joseph Law Firm, P.C. at 303-297-9171.
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