BerksBarrister_Fall2021 - 14

w w w . B E R K SB A R .o r g
DACA: The Dreamers' Nightmare
Continued from page 13
Rainy Leonor with her daughter,
Layla, and husband, Michael.
Rainy immigrated to the U.S. in
2002 as a six-year-old from the
Dominican Republic. She filed
her first DACA application in
2013. Eight years later, she must
still comply with the renewal
requirements, despite being married
to a U.S. citizen. Contrary to
popular belief, marriage does not
automatically confer citizenship.
Some readers may recognize Rainy.
She worked on staff at the Berks
County Bar Association from 2014
until 2018.
about having to travel, or having to access a copier, or having to
fund the fee payment. He made no protest of a privacy violation
or of otherwise being victimized. Instead, he allowed only a
glimpse of his resignation in his remark that " this is what I must
do to stay here with my family. "
Following our meeting, I packaged all the documents,
together with my own paperwork verifying my attorney status,
and sent it to the address if using UPS or FedEx (a different
address must be used for the USPS). Finally, this unsettling
business would soon be done, so I believed. But, alas, Cerberus
had multiple heads.
A receipt confirmation from the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) misspelled Miguel's last name. A
call to Daniel got me instructions on who to contact to request a
correction. I made that request after an hour and twenty-minute
wait on the phone. The representative I spoke with was most
accommodating, but not authorized to make the correction
herself. She assured me the matter would be forwarded to
another department for processing. I would receive confirmation
of the correction in the mail in approximately two weeks.
Sure enough, two weeks later I received an envelope from
USCIS, the contents of which having nothing to do with the
name correction. Instead, the government had scheduled a
biometrics appointment for Miguel. Biometrics? Another call
to Daniel enlightened my understanding that biometrics meant
fingerprints: our government needed physical proof of Miguel's
existence and/or that Miguel was still the Miguel from two
years ago and not now someone else. And that proof can only be
obtained in the government offices in Center City Philadelphia.
Missing a day of work and incurring the expenses of traveling
to Philadelphia for the day are just collateral damage for this
region's DACA applicants.
Perhaps what we need to do is contextualize this scenario
within the privileges of our own U.S. citizenship in order to
fully appreciate the offense. We don't wait for anything. We
demand timely judicial decisions; no-wait approval for gun
ownership; prompt direct-deposit of our IRS tax refunds; and
overnight election results. But our collective response to DACA
applicants is for them to shut up and wait. The cynic in me
blames the entrenched bureaucracy for refusing to yield to its
own dissolution. Or perhaps it's due more to our lawmakers'
inability to agree on even the calendar date. Whatever the cause,
the dysfunction is now boldly evident in two arenas.
14 | Berks Barrister
The first arena is judicial and involves the case of State of
Texas, et al., v. United States of America, et al., 2021 WL 3025857
(S.D. Texas July 16, 2021), a suit brought by nine Republican-led
states challenging DACA on constitutional grounds. On July
16, 2021, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Houston drew
fire for his ruling in the case: DACA's origin is unlawful because
its enactment failed to properly adhere to the prescriptions of
the Administrative Procedure Act. While many will decry the
judge's decision to invalidate DACA on such technical grounds,
many more should applaud him for calling out our legislature
for failing to move forward with DACA's intent. His rebuke
recognized that even his rulings did " not resolve the issue of the
hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and others who have
relied upon this program for almost a decade. That reliance has
not diminished and may, in fact, have increased over time. " The
case now moves to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals; DACA
applicants move nowhere.
A second one is the United States Senate chamber awaiting
approval of the American Dream and Promise Act, yet another
conditional approval for permanent residency for DACA
applicants passed by the House on March 18, 2021. Assuming
it makes its way through the Senate successfully, the Act will
still fail to confer permanent citizenship, it will still require the
same onerous documentation and biometrics, and, yes, it will still
impose an application fee of $495.
Of course, these ongoing legal proceedings are far more
complex than I am presenting here, but who cares. Debates
over the legality of DACA and alien rights only obfuscate the
promise that was made. A promise made to children upon which
they built their dreams. Dreams, like those of Fantine, that life is
As I finish this article, Miguel still waits for his DACA
renewal, a process that can take up to five and half months to
complete. Of more concern is the expiration of his work permit,
without which he cannot work. The madness, however, is that
his DACA renewal simply tolls the next two-year time period.
Miguel will not be one step closer to U.S. citizenship. Is it not
time for our elected representatives to turn from their Quixotic
campaign for windmills and fight this very real nightmare named
Despite multiple frustrations, I feel a sense of satisfaction in
helping Miguel, as we strive to keep his dream alive. So if you
liked this article, email me. If you want to make a difference,
email your member of Congress.
Pam DeMartino joined the Berks County
Bar Association upon her arrival in
Berks County in 1991. After 16 years of
practicing law, she opted for a career in
teaching which spanned kindergarten,
elementary school, high school, and
finally law school. She currently serves
as the IV-D attorney for the Berks County
Domestic Relations Office. As an aspiring
writer, Pam enjoys contributing to legal publications while
she toils with the writing of her young adult novel. You
may contact her at


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