A gut-wrenching article in the Houston Chronicle on Monday reminded us of a common problem immigrants find while litigating a case in Immigration Court and at the BIA. Briefly, the article is about a young man who is eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but was already in Immigration Court proceedings. Aside from the fact that his attorney should not have told him that his case “was a slam-dunk” (because no immigration attorney should ever tell their client that any case is a slam dunk) the result reminds us of what individuals often face in Immigration Court. The young man was ordered deported. And the Immigration Judge has no power to either stop the proceedings or to give the immigrant a break. Only the Department of Homeland Security, which is the “prosecutor” in these proceedings, can do anything about it. So even though the Administration has said that young people who qualify for DACA shouldn’t be deported, one of its agencies (DHS) continues to prosecute them, and another agency (the DOJ) is required to comply. Go figure.
For its part, the BIA has begun to tell people about DACA. In an unpublished decision on October 22, 2012, the BIA included a footnote the follow:
We note that on June 15, 2012, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that certain young people, who are low law enforcement priorities, will be eligible to receive deferred action. The respondent may be eligible to seek deferred action. Information regarding DHS’ Deferred Action Process for Young People Who are Low Enforcement Priorities may be obtained at the following DHS websites: USCIS at www.uscis.gov, and ICE at www.ice.gov. Individuals can also call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024.
The Board cannot grant anyone deferred action, because, again, it’s up to the DHS. But at least the Board is telling people about it. The unpublished decision is below.