Reasons why DACA can help immigrant crime victims

Summary of reasons why DACA can be beneficial for certain immigrant crime victims.

  • Many immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking who are eligible to apply for immigration relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)–and their derivatives–also qualify for the new deferred action program for childhood arrivals (DACA). The new deferred action program provides protection from deportation and work authorization for two years.
  • Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking who are in the process of preparing their applications for legal immigration status as VAWA self-petitioners, VAWA cancellation of removal applicants, U-visa crime victims, and T-visa victims who also entered the United States as children should consider applying now for deferred action as childhood arrivals under this new program. They must apply for deferred action BEFORE the VAWA, U-visa, or T-visa status is granted. Applications are being accepted as of August 15, 2012.
  • Currently, due to case processing delays, immigrant survivors applying under the VAWA self-petitioning program must wait up to or over 1 ½ years before they receive deferred action and work authorization, and U visa applicants are waiting up to or over one year to receive their U-visas and work authorization. For those immigrant survivors who qualify, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program provides immigrant survivors an avenue through which they can be protected from deportation and receive work authorization significantly sooner than through their VAWA and U-visa applications. Deferred action may provide evidence of lawful presence and documentation that in some states is sufficient to apply for a driver’s license and/or other state issued identification.
  • Significantly, for immigrant survivors initiating or involved in family court proceedings (e.g. protection orders, custody, child support), filing for deferred action prior to serving the perpetrator in the family court case will offer the victim protection should the perpetrator retaliate by reporting the victim to DHS enforcement officials. Since this deferred action program is temporary, immigrant survivors involved in family court proceedings as well as victims who have perpetrators threatening deportation if they cooperate with law enforcement officials, should not rely solely upon deferred action for protection. U-visa victims should obtain certification from law enforcement, prosecutors, or judicial officials as soon as possible after victimization and file for U-visa immigration relief. Immigrant victims of spouse abuse, child abuse, or elder abuse eligible for VAWA self-petitions should file their self-petitions prior to litigating the custody case in family court.