DACA Recipients Fight for Right to Travel Outside the U.S.
Last week, students from Southern California flew to Washington, D.C. to bring attention to a little-known provision in immigration law called "advance parole." Advance parole allows non-citizens to leave the U.S. and re-enter legally. Until fall of 2017, DACA recipients could get permission to travel out of the country, but the White House has stopped granting permission over the last two years.
As a result, advocates and DACA recipients are fighting to bring back advance parole to allow students and children to travel freely and without fear of being stopped at the U.S. border. Dario Guerrero-Meneses was a Harvard student and California resident who took his sick mother to Mexico to get treatment. While attempting to get back in the country, Dario learned that he wasn't a citizen. It was only through his lawyer and pressure from Harvard that he was allowed to re-enter the U.S.
Stories like Darios aren't uncommon—but many students are trapped in the U.S., fearing the risk that they'll end up locked out forever. In response, Professor Armando Vazquez-Ramos of Cal State Long Beach formed a delegation to plead the cause of these students and their families with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Congress representatives from Long Beach are already on board.
Vazquez-Ramos hopes that the new crop of representatives will be receptive to their case. He is financing much of the trip himself.
The Psychological & Cultural Case for Overseas Travel (& Why Advance Parole Matters)
DACA recipients aren't just looking for freedom to travel for medical emergencies. Vazquez-Ramos also organizes trips with DACA recipients to take them on tours of Mexico City. For them, reconnecting with long-lost family members or experiencing their parents' culture. "This is a deep hole in their identity," the professor says.
There's a legal benefit to advance parole, even for those who aren't planning on traveling soon. Getting approval for international travel means DACA recipients will have entered the country legally on their return. This entrance allows them to apply for permanent legal status in the U.S. and wait out the process as a U.S. resident. Of the 160 students Vazquez-Ramos has taken to Mexico City with advance parole, about 40 have become permanent legal residents.
If you're a DACA recipient looking for a pathway to permanent legal status, speak with our New Jersey immigration lawyers as soon as possible. Call (800) 909-8129 to learn your legal options.