Messing Law Offices Arizona immigration lawyers
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Immigration Law
Tel: (520) 512-5432
Email: inquiry@messinglawoffices.com
Fax: (866) 641-2090
By John Messing

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Immigration Factoids ™
  In many states, document preparers can legally prepare immigration documents only if they work under the supervision of a lawyer. Other states have certification programs for non-lawyers which allow them to work independently. To be safe, only entrust immigration cases to qualified professionals. Unsupervised document preparers may themselves lack sufficient knowledge to prepare immigration documents competently.

Deferred Action (DACA)

To find out if you or a family member qualifies for DACA, visit our DACalculator™ (new)

Using executive powers to stop removal (deportation) of young persons who are illegally present in the U.S., but who are assimilated through education or military service, on June 15, 2012, then Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum providing for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) who are in removal, subject to removal, or identified as undocumented, provided they meet the following criteria:

  1. came to the United States before the age of sixteen (15 and below);
  2. except for brief departures for humanitarian reasons, have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and were physically present in the United States June 15, 2012;
  3. are currently in school (including qualified programs for GED), graduated from high school or obtained a GED, or were honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces;
  4. were not convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor (including DUI), multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
  5. were not over the age of thirty-one on June 15, 2012.
  6. Were out of status on June 15, 2012, either by virtue of overstaying a visa, illegal entry, or termination of status by operation of law.

Eligible individuals, regardless of being under the age of 15, who are already in removal proceedings that have not culminated in a final order of removal (deportation) are to be given deferred action for a period of two years, which is renewable indefinitely. The ICE Office of Public Advocate is the entity to whom persons who believe they qualify can direct inquiries.

Qualified persons whose cases resulted in final orders of removal (deportation) of any age or who were never placed in removal and are at least 15 years old can apply to USCIS for a two year deferred action determination, subject to renewal.

USCIS began accepting applications on August 15, 2012. Three official forms must be submitted, one for deferred action (form I-821d), another for work authorization (form I-765), and a third worksheet to establish economic need for employment (form I-765ws). Documents to establish physical presence, schooling or military record, identity, and age are required to be submitted. Applications must be accompanied by the required $465 fee, which is non-refundable. No fee waiver is possible but some rare cases of fee exemption may be granted. A criminal record will disqualify persons under certain circumstances. No appeal is possible. Refilings of denied applications are discouraged. A motion to reopen will be entertained in egregiously wrongly decided cases.

If an application is successful, advance parole to travel outside the country may be possible. A form I-131 is used to request it, but it cannot be submitted before the I-821d is approved, without jeopardizing the entire process.

One potentially troublesome area in administering the policy involves prior trouble with the law. Traditional immigration rules applicable to other criminal cases will not necessary apply to determinations made for deferred action. Thus, a single prior DUI conviction, which ordinarily has little relevance in other immigration proceedings, will disqualify an applicant who is otherwise eligible under DACA. Prior juvenile delinquency dispositions will generally not be taken into account. The same is true of expunged crimes. On the other hand, a misdemeanor conviction for illegal possession of marijuana will not necessarily preclude DACA.

No amnesty, path to permanent residency, citizenship, or other immigration benefit is authorized. No benefit is conferred on family members by virtue of DACA.

Arizona has taken the position that it will not issue driver's licenses to persons granted DACA benefits on the theory that the DACA documents do not confer lawful presence upon them, but in ARIZONA DREAM ACT COALITION V. JANICE BREWER , 13-16248 (2014), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled this policy unconstitutional as a violation of equal protection of the laws. Also, at least one community college in Arizona has stated that it will give in-state tuition benefits to DACA recipients because the DACA EAD is a document recognized for that purpose under both state and federal law. A lawsuit against the State is expected to contest the driver's license policy.

An ideal DACA candidate has no criminal record, is about to or just graduated high school, never worked unlawfully, and is under 18.5 years of age.

Young people who were ever the subject of a police investigation, used a false social security card, falsely claimed to be a citizen, or left the country during the five year qualifying period are strongly advised to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer before filing papers for deferred action, as the process may not be appropriate for them. Although USCIS has stated it will not consider prior use of false social security cards in the DACA process, successful DACA applicants have reported inquiries from social security about the use of false numbers previously when they apply for social security cards after employment authorization has issued.

Being enrolled in certain GED programs will qualify as being currently enrolled in school and thus can support an application for DACA benefits but in Arizona, one must have a state issued ID to enroll for a GED under state programs, which is unavailable generally to undocumented persons, so consultation with knowledgeable individuals is recommended.

As of January 18, 2013, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) clarified that an "individual who has received deferred action is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect." This announcement was intended to put to rest the argument by some anti-immigrant state authorities that DACA credentials could not be used to obtain a driver license or in-state tuition at the post-secondary level, as John Messing stated in the television interview.

Based upon this announcement a number of states reversed policy and began issuing driver licenses to DACA recipients. According to the National Immigration Law Center, Arizona and Nebraska as of February 15, 2013 were primarily the only states that still denied driver licenses to DACA grantees.

In-state tuition often is available to DACA recipients who otherwise qualify, but in Arizona, the Board of Regents still does not recognize DACA as a basis for in-state tuition, though the Maricopa Community Colleges do, and other community colleges such as Pima Community College are considering granting in-state tuition to DACA recipients.

If you want experienced legal advice about the new policy and eligibility under it, contact Messing Law Offices for professional Arizona immigration attorney assistance. Please call (520) 512-5400 for further information about DACA.

Failed Prior Dreamer Legislation in Congress


With the re-election of President Obama in 2012, Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) has again become a hot political topic. Some initiatives in Congress to provide legislation for dreamers have been proposed, but they generally have taken a back seat to CIR. The last serious attempt to legislate dream act relief was in 2010, and the DACA program through the executive branch follows failed immigration reform legislation for DREAMERs. The DREAM (Development Relief and Education of Alien Minors) Act was a proposed bill that failed to pass Congress in December, 2010. It was defeated on a procedural vote of 55-41 in the Senate on December 18, 2010. Sixty votes were needed to move the bill forward towards final approval.

The DREAM Act was proposal to allow undocumented young people who have been raised and schooled in the U.S. to obtain permanent residency and a path to citizenship. Perhaps the most eloquent example of the purpose and need for the legislation was the 2005 underwater robotic championship won by a group undocumented Phoenix high school students who competed against and defeated a prestigious MIT team in a typically American tale of a spunky challenger who seizes an opportunity and achieves a seemingly unobtainable goal.

The House on December 8, 2010 by a vote of 216 to 198 passed a version of the law as an amendment to H.R. 5281. The provisions were set forth independently as legislation in H.R. 6497. (It was also known as the Removal Clarification Act of 2010.) On the night of December 16, Senate Majority Leader Reid filed cloture on H.R. 5281, setting up a critical procedural vote in the Senate. The purpose of the vote was to force the end of a filibuster in the Senate against DREAM. Three Republicans crossed the aisle to join 50 Democrats and 2 Independents, but it was not enough. 5 Democrats actually voted against DREAM: Baucus (MT); Hagan (NC); Nelson (NE); Pryor (AR); and Tester (MT). Newly elected Joe Manchin (WV) failed to appear for the vote, which was equivalent to a "no" note. The five Democratic votes were decisive in defeating DREAM.

Prior to the June 15, 2012 announcement, the Obama Administration reaffirmed a policy of prosecutorial discretion in July 2011. In two memos, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Morton announced a directive to refrain from pursuing noncitizens with close family, educational, military, or other ties in the U.S. and instead spend the agency’s limited resources on persons who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security. Morton issued a second memo that applied an exercise of discretion to cases involving victims, witnesses to crimes, and plaintiffs in good faith civil rights lawsuits. The memo instructs “[a]bsent special circumstances or aggravating factors, it is against ICE policy to initiate removal proceedings against an individual known to be the immediate victim or witness to a crime.”

Dissatisfaction with the pace of implenting these directives led to protests by intended DREAM beneficiaries, and unrest. The June 15, 2012 memorandum addressed implementation as regards DREAMERs directly.

Alternatives to DACA


Some alternatives to DACA should be considered in addition to the relief that it offers. Such advice is routinely given during our initial consultation, which can take place in person in the office, or where this is not practical via the Internet using Skype or telephone.

First, a determination should be made whether an undocumented person in the country really did enter illegally (as believed) or was actually waved through by mistake at a border checkpoint by an immigration inspector. If there is documentary proof of a faulty inspection procedure, then the person may actually have a valid claim to have entered the United States legally and be able to benefit from other provisions of existing law to obtain permanent residency through non-Dream adjustment of status procedures.

Second, if a person was the beneficiary of a petition for adjustment of status that was filed prior to April 30, 2001 and it was prima facie approvable by the immigration authorities (even if it never was approved), then, upon payment of a fine of one thousand dollars in addition processing fees, the filing date of that earlier petition may be used for a new, independent petition under section 245(i) of the INA, which may yield permanent residency apart from the provisions of the Dream Act and notwithstanding an illegal entry to the United States initially.

Third, if the person has been present for a long time and not run afoul of the law, it may be possible to obtain a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion, apart from DREAM.

Fourth, if a person requires a waiver and is concerned about travelling back to the country of origin to seek one, the provisional waiver program may offer relief

Some of the features of the new DACA policy are more stringent than traditional classical forms of immigration relief, which may be superior as a way to obtain employment authorization and status.

If you have questions about deferred action as opposed to other forms of available relief, such as amnesty under section 245(i), or prosecutorial discretion, please contact Messing Law Offices.


At Messing Law Offices, we provide high quality legal services and expertise to families, working men and women, and businesses. If you have a concern in the areas of family based immigration, business based immigration, employment based immigration, or naturalization and you are seeking the help of an experienced immigration lawyer, call Messing Law Offices for professional Arizona immigration attorney assistance.

John Messing has been reappointed the Liaison from the American Bar Association (SciTech Section) to United States Citizenship & Immigration Services 2010-2012. Read the October 2011 Report on the USCIS proposed Transform E-filing System by John Messing, Tucson immigration lawyer.

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Copyright JHM 2007-13

Corporate Intl Magazine Legal Award Winner of the 2014 Corporate Intl Magazine Legal Award for ‘Immigration Law Firm of the Year in Arizona’. American Immigration Lawyers 2014 Member

Here are some representative client testimonials:

SaMa - Feb 9, 2011
"Smart ,honnest, compassionate, great understanding of the immigration laws. john messing is the best lawyer you can get."

Leah - Sep 1, 2010
An exceptional immigration attorney Mr. Messing helped me sponsor my husband to come to the U.S. from France. Even though I was missing some of the income qualifications he found every possible solution to get us through the process successfully. I am very impressed with how smooth he made this process for us and quick w were approved by USCIS! We will be using him again in the future to apply for citizenship. I highly recommend Law Offices."

These and more testimonials can be viewed here

Messing Law Offices, P.L.C., based in Tucson, Arizona, provides immigration and naturalization attorney services to Eloy, Florence, Nogales, Sierra Vista, Tucson and Yuma as well as Coconino County, Gila County, Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County. Immigration services also offered in San Diego and Southern California.

tel.: 520-512-5432
. Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), American Bar Association (ABA).


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