Immigration attorney: Not all DACA recipients can get legal citizenship

Congress has six months to act to potentially make these DACA protections a law. If not, DACA recipients will begin losing their status March 5, 2018.

SAN ANTONIO - The program that protects the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation is over.

Tuesday, President Trump tweeted, "Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"

So now what happens?

Congress has six months to act to potentially make these DACA protections a law.

If not, DACA recipients will begin losing their status March 5, 2018.

So can these immigrants just go through the process to become legal?

Attorneys tell us it's not that easy.

Tuesday following the announcement, immigrant rights advocates and San Antonio leaders took over the steps of the federal courthouse denouncing the president's plan to end DACA.

"I am f****** pissed! I am outraged! I am mad! and I'm going to use those feelings to keep fighting for my people, for undocumented people, for our immigrant people and for all immigrants," Barbie Hurtado, Community Organizer for RAICES said.

The Mexican Consulate estimates 13,000 DACA recipients in San Antonio. Each receives a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

"These people aren't just sitting on their hands. They're not thinking, 'Life is good, I've got DACA! I'm not gonna move on to get anything better!' They're being people of action and trying to get it done. If they could get it done and if the law allowed it, it would have been done," Lance Curtright, Immigration Attorney with DMCA said.

Curtright said the qualifications to become legal are strict and not every immigrant has a pathway towards citizenship.

If a DACA recipient has family ties, for example, they have a better, quicker chance at legal status.

"Maybe a spouse or another close relative who is legal and who can petition for them to come to the United States," Curtright said.

Others likely have visa petitions in line and continue waiting.

"The lines have become so long that they've basically become ineffective," Curtright said. "So when people say, 'Leave the country and go get in line like everyone else', they're basically saying, 'Leave and don't come back'...The reason why that is is because Congress only allots so many green cards a year. Once they've alloted that amount, there's no more left for everyone else."

Anyone who's status expires by March 5 has one month to apply for a new two-year permit, and those applications will be processed."

If Congress doesn't pass a law, Curtright said these cases will be fought in court.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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