The DACA Path-to-Citizenship Loophole Resumes

By Robert Law on May 19, 2021

After yet another failed attempt by Congress to pass the Dream Act amnesty for certain illegal aliens who claim they entered the country as minors, President Obama in June 2012 bypassed Congress and implemented an executive amnesty program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). At the time, President Obama said, “Now, let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship.” As Jessica Vaughan wrote back in August 2012, “False on all three counts, as it turns out.”

Most critically, DACA does in fact open a path to citizenship because the program allows these illegal aliens to apply for “advance parole”. Advance parole is permission granted by the Department of Homeland Security to eligible aliens in the United States to be allowed back into the country after temporarily traveling abroad. As Andrew Arthur has explained, advance parole is “not expressly provided for in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), but has been included in the regulations under DHS's parole authority in section 212(d)(5) of the INA, and even then in the most general terms: ‘Advance authorization. When parole is authorized for an alien who will travel to the United States without a visa, the alien shall be issued an appropriate document authorizing travel.’"

In laymen’s terms, a DACA recipient can launder his or her unlawful presence by briefly visiting family in the home country (which we are often told they do not remember and whose language they do not speak) or traveling for “educational” purposes. For just the $575 application fee plus the cost of travel, an illegal alien can transform into a “parolee” upon return to the United States and obtain a green card (lawful permanent resident status) through one of the existing legal immigration categories, such as for marriage or employment.

Arthur succinctly recaps the tortured history of the Trump administration’s failed attempt to end DACA. The bottom line is that while Judge Hanen is still deliberating on the lawfulness of DACA, another court ordered U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to resume accepting initial DACA applications as well as advance parole requests. In a status report filed with the court, USCIS revealed that between November 14 (the date the court ordered resumption of the 2012 DACA policy) and December 31, the agency received 163 requests for advance parole, but that none were adjudicated — meaning they were neither approved nor denied.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, the advance parole approvals are arriving in droves now. In the May 14 piece, the Times reports that “several dozen” DACA recipients just received their advance parole in conjunction with a study abroad opportunity in Mexico through Cal State Long Beach that began on May 15. Buried toward the end of the article, the reader learns that it was actually 79 out of 80 DACA who received approvals (98.75 percent).

Separately, the article indicates that 130 DACA recipients with pending advance parole applications hope to “study abroad” later this summer through the California-Mexico Studies Center. Unfamiliar with the California-Mexico Studies Center, I headed over to its website, which says the program “offers DACA recipients a chance to study the relationship between Mexico and the U.S.” Now for the kicker: “It’s not for academic credit — some of the participants are still in college, but others have graduated already.” (Emphasis added.)

Incredibly, the California-Mexico Studies Center advertises its role in helping illegal aliens launder their immigration violations. “Beyond reconnecting with family, there’s a deeper reason that receiving advance parole is so significant: Returning to the U.S. through an established port of entry erases the black mark of unlawful entry that many DACA recipients live with.”

The DACA advance parole guidelines make clear what is an acceptable reason to request advance parole: (1) humanitarian; (2) educational; or (3) employment. Under the education prong — the only possibly applicable one to the California-Mexico Studies Center — USCIS provides as an example “semester abroad programs or academic research”. No reasonable person could interpret what the California-Mexico Studies Center offers as academic research, but will USCIS adjudicators apply the plain language of the policy and reject these (and similar) advance parole requests?

I’m 98.75 percent certain USCIS will approve these pending advance parole requests, setting the stage for even more illegal aliens to obtain a path to citizenship without ever suffering a consequence for their immigration law violations.