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What Should I do to Protect my Immigration Status before Trump becomes President?

President-Elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office on January 20, 2017. Its a safe bet that he will get to work immediately on his agenda and campaign promises to undo as much of President Obama’s immigration executive actions as possible.

While Trump has made many promises regarding immigration, many will take an act of Congress to accomplish. These promises (the Wall, legal immigration reform, and others) will take time and will not happen immediately. Other promises will take another country agreeing to them to happen (making Cuba and other countries take back their deportees), therefore they may never happen and certainly won’t happen next January.

There are a few immigration actions that President Trump can, and probably will, take immediately after taking office. These are the actions that immigrants should be immediately aware of and on which they should take action as soon as possible to reduce the negative consequences against them and their families.

The immigration actions that President Trump can take immediately involve programs such as DACA and can immediately effect the Dreamers who have received or applied for DACA. Another thing that President Trump can immediately change is who gets prosecutorial discretion in removal proceedings and after. This will effect whether or not you can administratively close your removal case and avoid a deportation order.   This will effect whether or not U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decides to detain you and put you in removal proceedings to begin with. This will effect who gets released on bond pending immigration court and who has to stay in detention. This will effect who is granted an I-246 Stay of Removal and allowed to stay in the United States after receiving a deportation order. This will effect who is given an order of supervision rather than being detained and deported after receiving a deportation order. This will effect whether or not ICE agrees to a joint motion to reopen your immigration case because something has changed in your life.

Thats right, all of these types of decisions are directly affected by the President and his current policies on immigration enforcement. Right now, if you qualify for DACA, you can apply for it or apply to renew DACA. If your application is granted, you will receive a work permit and a promise that if you stay out of trouble, the government will not deport you. As soon as Trump takes office, he can immediately end the program and deny all pending DACA applications and revoke the ones already granted. No one is sure exactly what he will do and there is a bipartisan effort in Congress to protect everyone who already has DACA from having it revoked by President Trump. However, the bill may require that you already have DACA, or at least already applied for DACA at the time the law goes into effect in order to benefit from the protection.

For that reason, if you qualify for DACA, and have never applied, you should go see an experienced immigration attorney (like me: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html) immediately to discuss if you should apply now.   If you already have DACA and your work permit is set to expire in the next six months, you can apply to renew your DACA now. Since DACA may disappear come January, you may not be able to renew it then. If you already have DACA and want to know if you should renew now, or if you have other immigration options available, go see an experienced immigration attorney immediately.

Another change immigrants may see with President Trump is that ICE Attorneys may stop granting prosecutorial discretion to immigrants and stop administratively closing their removal cases. Right now, ICE attorneys grant PD (prosecutorial discretion) to many immigrants in removal proceedings and don’t seek an order of removal against them. They are doing this if you have a very minor criminal record, have not committed immigration fraud and don’t have other serious negative discretionary factors, and you last entered the U.S. before January 1, 2014. That could all go away in January. If you want to apply for PD or think you qualify for PD, you should go see an experienced immigration attorney immediately. The President can stop PD on January 20, 2017, and if you don’t already have PD, you may never be able to apply for it again.

Other changes that President Trump could make immediately will effect immigrants who have final orders of removal/deportation. If you have a final order of removal/deportation, you may be on an order of supervision, you may have been granted a stay of removal, or ICE may agree to a joint motion to reopen your deportation case. All of these decisions are based upon guidance given to ICE by the President. Under President Trump, ICE may decide not to give you an order of supervision, or may revoke your current order. If ICE does that, you can be detained and deported on your final order of removal. If you have an order of supervision or have a final order of removal and are not reporting to ICE, go see an experienced immigration attorney immediately to discuss your options.

President Trump may revoke previously-granted stays of removal or refuse to grant new stays of removal come January.   If you have a final order of removal and have not yet applied for a stay of removal, or if you were previously granted a stay of removal, go see an experienced immigration attorney immediately to discuss your options.

If you have an order of removal and things have changed in your case, like you married a U.S. citizen or you were granted DACA or something bad has happened to your children or spouse, you may be eligible to reopen your order of removal. The easiest way to reopen a removal case is by asking ICE to agree to a joint motion to reopen. President Trump could end all joint motions to reopen in January. If you have a final order of removal and have any changes in your life or in your case, go see an experienced immigration attorney immediately to discuss your options.

President Trump can make it much more difficult for immigrants in the United States with or without a final order of removal. If you have an immigrant and you want to find out the best way to protect your immigration status or avoid deportation under President Trump, call us today for a consultation on your immigration case.

If you need an immigration attorney anywhere in the United States, but certainly if you live in Orlando or Jacksonville, please call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon.  If you are not a citizen and concerned about your immigration options, call us today for a consultation.

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