Family Separation update
Since April 6, 2018, the federal government has been separating children (some less than a year old) from their parents when they crossed into the United States after fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries. This change in policy stems from an Attorney General memorandum that now requires federal prosecutors to charge all immigrants who entered unlawfully with a federal misdemeanor. This policy means that young children are separated from their parents when the parent is prosecuted for illegal entry, 8 USC § 1325.
The (now) unaccompanied children are transferred to the care and custody of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). ORR, in its own words, "promptly places an unaccompanied child in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interests of the child, taking into consideration danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight. ORR takes into consideration the unique nature of each child’s situation and incorporates child welfare principles when making placement, clinical, case management, and release decisions that are in the best interest of the child."
While the children are not prosecuted for illegal entry, they, like their parents, are placed in removal proceedings. These cases are not consolidated. They are separate. The child--whether two, seven, or fifteen years old--is required to meet the same burden and demonstrate eligibility for relief before the immigration court. MIRC provides caring, compassionate, and critical representation to every unaccompanied child in Michigan before and during their removal proceedings to ensure that the child understands his/her rights in age- and culturally-appropriate context and then seek appropriate relief based on his/her unique circumstances. As you might imagine, this work is challenging and heartbreaking. There are a lot of tears. We do not charge children (or any of our clients) for our services. Therefore, it is critical that we have sufficient funding to continue these efforts.
Over the past few weeks, we have been overwhelmed by community support for our work. Thank you!! We have also received dozens of questions every day for how you can get involved. Here are a few options:
- Obviously, fundraising. MIRC provides free legal representation to all of our clients--children and adults in removal proceedings, naturalization, relief for survivors of domestic violence, farmworkers, and more. You can donate online or by mail.
- In addition to fundraising, public awareness about changes to immigration law and enforcement is very important. If you want to hear more about the work that we do, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We update on these platforms most frequently. We also recommend you to subscribe to our almost-weekly newsletter with immigration-related stories in Michigan.
- We are also working closely with the Michigan League for Public Policy on the Protecting Immigrant Families-Michigan Campaign (PIF-MI). In the coming weeks, the Department of Homeland Security will be proposing a regulation that will essentially require many immigrants (and U.S. citizen) families, including children, to choose between accessing essential public benefits and qualifying for tax credits (like EITC) or keeping their family together. This campaign will require comments to be generated by the public. To sign up, please click here.
- If you are an attorney (and ideally, speak Spanish or Arabic), please e-mail our co-managing attorney Ruby Robinson to learn about pro bono opportunities.
- Our offices in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo are always looking for volunteers/law clerks, but these opportunities are really geared primarily for Spanish-speakers as the majority of our clients speak Spanish. Volunteers/law clerks must be prepared to dedicate at least one full day per week at our office, if not more. Send your resume to email@example.com
- As mentioned above, both Bethany Christian Services and Samaritas, are the federal foster care placement sites in Michigan. Opportunities for you to support these organizations range from becoming a foster parent to donating money or items (like books, clothing, diapers, toys, and more).
Federal courts have now issued decisions that functionally require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue renewing DACA applications. As stated in our last update, no new DACA applications will be accepted at this time. The decisions in these cases (one in New York and the other in California) affect the entire country. So, anyone, in any state, is eligible to renew. The Supreme Court denied the government's appeal. This means that the government will need to appeal to the Ninth Circuit and that process will take time. In another case from the District of Columbia, a judge ordered the government to start accepting new, first-time DACA applications again, but that order can still be appealed and the earliest it could go into effect would be July 23, 2018.
On February 14, 2018, USCIS issued an important update on its website, with updated processing information. Of particular importance is the following:
- No new DACA applications will be accepted at this time
- If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request.
- If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or your DACA was previously terminated at any time, you cannot request DACA as a renewal (because renewal requests typically must be submitted within one year of the expiration date of your last period of deferred action approved under DACA), but may nonetheless file a new initial DACA request.
Based on the guidance from USCIS here, we encourage anyone who presently has DACA with an expiration date within the next 150 days to file for renewal as soon as possible.
There are risks to applying for a renewal, including losing the filing fee if the court’s order is reversed and, in general, the same risks of sharing information with the government in an application for a temporary program that have always existed with DACA. This means that if a DACA recipient has committed conduct that would make him/her ineligible for an initial approval of DACA, s/he will continue to be ineligible to renew and filing could lead to a negative consequences.
Other renewal information:
- Previous guidance on renewals stated that USCIS encouraged DACA recipients to submit their renewal packages 120 to 150 days before expiration. This is the time frame we expect to be followed. Some other advocates have encouraged renewals of up to a year in advance. There is a risk in renewing so far in advance.
- There are no fee waivers. The renewals cost $495 and can be paid with a check or money order payable to the Department of Homeland Security.
- USCIS has posted Form I-821D, Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on its website. You can download it here: https://www.uscis.gov/system/files_force/files/form/i-821d.pdf
- Filing instructions, addresses, and more information is available here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-821d
If you live in Michigan and you need advice about this situation, help preparing a renewal application, or help with the filing fee, please call MIRC at (734) 239-6863
Let's Do More
To kick off our #LetsDoMore campaign, here's a look at our work and how it has changed since November.
Know Your Rights with Immigration Enforcement
Learn how to lead a family preparedness and KYR workshop:
- Watch MIRC's “Train the Trainer” Video
- Powerpoint slides for “Know Your Rights” presentation (in English and Spanish)
Share with immigrant communities:
- MIRC Know Your Rights & Family Preparedness 5 minute videos - English and Spanish
- Preparing Your Family Guide - English, Spanish, Arabic, and Bangla trifold
- Available in PDF, or if you would like to order printed copies go to www.tinyurl.com/orderguides
- Arabic version coming soon
How can I find information on someone who has been detained in Michigan?
- online detainee locator. Search requires full name, date of birth, and country of birth OR A# and country of birth.
- Vinelink. With the exception of a handful of county correctional facilities, almost all jurisdictions in Michigan can be searched using this simple-to-use website. This website is often updated sooner than the ICE online detainee locator. Search can be performed by name only.