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NC immigration lawyerSince 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is commonly known as DACA, has allowed immigrants who came to the United States as children to remain in the country. However, these immigrants were dealt a major blow recently when a judge in Texas ruled that the DACA program is illegal. Immigrants will need to be sure to understand what this ruling means for them and whether they have options for avoiding deportation.

Effects of the Ruling

The DACA program was put in place by President Barack Obama in 2012, and it applied to immigrants who entered the United States before reaching the age of 16, have lived in the U.S. since 2007, and do not have a lawful immigration status. Those who met the requirements of the program could receive a deferral of any deportation actions for two years, and they would have authorization to work during this time. A person could also apply for renewals and receive additional two-year extensions to their deferral period.

On July 16, 2021, a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling stating that the DACA program is illegal, and a permanent injunction was put in place prohibiting the government from continuing the program. This injunction applies to any new DACA applications, and deferral cannot be granted for any applications received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after the date of the ruling. The federal government has stated that it intends to appeal this ruling. New DACA applications may be submitted, but deferrals or employment authorization cannot be granted to those who had not previously received DACA protections.


NC immigration lawyerIf you have come to the U.S. as an immigrant, you may be unsure as to whether you should take the additional steps necessary to become a U.S. citizen. Perhaps you still strongly identify with your native country, or you have heard that the naturalization process can be difficult. Or, perhaps you feel that your status as a lawful permanent resident is sufficient. However, there are many important benefits that are only available to immigrants after they attain citizenship. You may want to seriously consider these benefits and whether they can make a meaningful difference for you and your family.

Rights and Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

When you become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you secure many different rights and benefits. Some of the most notable include:

  • Voting rights - U.S. citizenship is required in order to vote in any federal elections, including elections for President and U.S. Senators and Representatives. Many state and local elections also require voters to be U.S. citizens. Gaining citizenship allows you to exercise your voting rights and have a say in important issues that affect you and your community.
  • Elimination of travel restrictions - Lawful permanent residents can delay their eligibility for citizenship or lose their legal immigrant status altogether if they spend too much time traveling or living outside of the U.S. After becoming a citizen, these restrictions no longer apply, meaning you are free to visit family outside of the U.S. without incurring unexpected consequences. As a U.S. citizen, you are also eligible for a U.S. passport, which can help you travel internationally with fewer restrictions.
  • Protection from deportation - Even lawful permanent residents can be at risk of removal if their Green Card expires or they are convicted of a serious criminal offense. While citizens are of course still subject to state and federal criminal laws, they cannot be deported in connection with a crime.
  • Family visa benefits - Compared to lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens generally have a higher priority when petitioning for a family visa. After becoming a citizen, you can more easily arrange for the immigration of your spouse, children, parents, and even your siblings and their families.

While becoming a naturalized citizen can be challenging, it may be well worth it. An immigration attorney can help you understand your eligibility to apply and guide you through the process.


NC immigration lawyerA criminal conviction in the U.S. can have serious consequences for the status of a lawful permanent resident, temporary visa holder, or undocumented immigrant. In many cases, it is grounds for removal or deportation. Immigrants are often unsure of their rights if they are arrested on criminal charges, and as a result, they fail to exercise them. If you are aware of your rights, you may be able to achieve a better outcome in your case.

Are Immigrants Protected by the U.S. Constitution?

Many of the rights afforded to criminal defendants in the U.S. are described in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These rights apply not just to U.S. citizens, but anyone who is charged with a crime for which the U.S. has jurisdiction, including both lawful and undocumented immigrants.

For example, immigrants, like citizens, are protected from unreasonable search and seizure of their property and person by the Fourth Amendment, as well as from self-incrimination by the Fifth Amendment. This means you are not required to consent to a search by an officer without a warrant, and if the officer proceeds, any resulting evidence may be inadmissible in a criminal case. You are also not required to answer an officer’s questions, aside from identifying yourself, and in many cases, the officer will notify you of your right to remain silent upon your arrest.

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