Immigration Law Issues and Topics


Common Paths to Lawful Status and Defenses Against Deportation


DACA: What Defenders Need To Know : In its June 18, 2020, decision, the US Supreme Court blocked the Trump Administrations effort to end the DACA Program. Originally put in place in 2012, and expanded in 2014, The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program permits qualifying people (many of whom are now adults) who were brought here as children to apply for work permits and remain lawfully in the US. The Court ruled that while the President has authority to terminate DACA, the “arbitrary and capricious” manner in which they went about it violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The Trump Administration has indicated that it will again attempt to terminate DACA. However, this too will likely be tied up in lengthy court battles. Here are key points defenders need to know for representing clients who have, or may be eligible for, DACA:

  • Identify clients who have be granted DACA. Key requirements are: 1. Came to the United States before your sixteenth birthday; Lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007; Present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 every day since August 15, 2012. Any felony conviction or 3 “significant” misdemeanor convictions will disqualify. A full list of DACA eligibility requirements can be found here.
  • Direct them to the resources below to get assistance on renewing their work permit.
  • When you submit immigration consultation (using our online intake process) to WDA’s Immigration Project, we will help identify clients who did not previously apply for DACA but who may now be eligible to do so and provide you resources to share with your client.
  • Criminal convictions, even low-level misdemeanors, can render people ineligible to be granted DACA status. It is imperative that you consult with WDA’s Immigration Project (via our online consultation process) to ensure resolutions to criminal charges do not result in DACA ineligibility or termination.


  • OneAmerica: Summary of the decision and what it means for those who have DACA, and those who may now be eligible to apply, along with information on upcoming dates for DACA clinics where people can access free legal advice.
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center: One-pager summaries in English and Spanish about the decision and what it means.
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: Information on upcoming free DACA legal clinics.


Crime-Related Bars To Being Granted Asylum: Under new Trump Administration regulations, a vastly expanded list of criminal activity and/or convictions will now bar people from being granted Asylum in the US. Disqualifying convictions now include offenses such as: multiple DUIs, misdemeanor DV assault, any felony, DV harassment, and controlled-substance or paraphernalia possession.  Conduct-based bars include things such as “reason to believe” a person is involved in a criminal street gang. See summary of disqualifying conduct and offenses here. WDA’s Immigration Project staff will continue to assist defenders to determine resolutions to criminal charges that avoid triggering these onerous new bars for clients who are, or may, be seeking asylum.  As always, defenders can access Padilla-related immigration resources to assist in representing noncitizen clients here.

NOTE:  On November 19, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a temporary restraining order blocking this new rule, pending further proceedings on whether the rule is lawful.


For Immigration Lawyers: 


Canadian Immigration Law & Crimes Issues

Please note that WDA cannot provide case-specific advice for Canadian law matters. If you have a client who is concerned about the consequences of a U.S. conviction for travel to Canada, it is best to contact a Canadian immigration lawyer (a non-exhaustive list of Canadian lawyers is included in the above advisory).


Immigration 101

This free training video by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) was recorded at the Seattle Central Library on September 21st, 2018. It was intended for social service providers who work with the immigrant community, but is a useful tool for anyone interested in learning more about basic immigration issues. Here are the slides from the event as a downloadable PDF for anyone interested in using them to follow along with the video: Immigration Law 101 Training Slides (NWIRP)