SAN ANTONIO - A local immigration attorney who represents Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients said he’s being asked questions with answers that are difficult to accept.
Since many granted temporary protection under the program are now young professionals, Gerardo Menchaca said they’re asking, “I have a job. I make good money. I bought a house. Am I going to lose my job and not be able to pay for my house?”
“The answer is 'yes,'” he said.
He also said new careers could come to a halt.
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“So you’re a doctor and you passed your boards and you have a medical license. That’s fantastic,” Menchaca said he’s told some DACA recipients, but “no one’s going to hire you.”
Jobs may not be forthcoming to those with a work permit that is about to expire soon, he said, and he added that the same goes for the expiration dates on driver’s licenses.
Although Social Security cards are permanent, Menchaca said, they can’t be used to look for a job without a work permit.
Also no more new DACA applications are being accepted, he said.
The U.S Citizen and Immigration Services website states only pending applications will be considered on a case-by case basis.
But even if they’re granted, the program is set to expire in six months, unless Congress acts or President Donald Trump changes his mind.
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Menchaca said pending travel permits also will be denied.
He said those needing their two-year renewal if their work permits expire within that six-month delay have only 30 days to apply.
Menchaca said, “The people who applied for DACA applied because they had no other choice and now that the program has been canceled, even that choice is gone.”
In response to those asking why these young undocumented immigrants didn’t apply for citizenship or permanent residency under DACA, Menchaca said the program didn’t allow it.
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“You can’t go from having no permission to being in the United States, to being a U.S. citizen, just directly like that. The law doesn’t allow it,” he said.
Menchaca compared DACA to a life vest.
“It’s a life saver, but it doesn’t get you anywhere,” he said.
To become a U.S. citizen, Menchaca said immigrants must first become a permanent U.S. resident and "that requires a sponsor willing to assume financial responsibility for you while you’re in the U.S.”
Menchaca said many DACA recipients come from humble families with limited incomes unable to shoulder a lengthy and costly process.
He said he’s urging his clients to remain calm, become informed and contact Congress.
“President Trump’s cancellation of the DACA program gives Congress the right amount of pressure needed to move the legislation forward,” Menchaca said.
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