Success Story: Border Patrol Error Almost Cost an Immigrant His Future

The DACA program offers immigrant youth a number of benefits: it can stop deportation and you can get a work permit. With a work permit, you can get a social security number and a better job – all without fear of being deported. But DACA also offers a lesser known benefit. Under the terms of the “Advance Parole” program (and the right personal circumstances), a DACA recipient can travel outside the United States for humanitarian, employment or educational reasons, and return to the U.S . Upon return, the immigrant is considered an “arriving alien” and is also considered to have entered the U.S. legally without triggering the Unlawful Presence (ULP) Bar. With a legal entry into the U.S., opportunities can surface.

Our client had previously been to a number of other offices and was routinely told that although he was married to a U.S citizen for many years, he could not get a green card without applying for an ULP waiver (also known as a 601A), a process that could take several years. After retaining this Office, we developed a multi-step strategy particular to his circumstances in which we were confident that there was a great chance for success.

After obtaining DACA status, we applied for Advance Parole so our Client could visit with a sick relative. The Parole was granted and our Client, his wife, and another family were off to Tijuana to visit family. But unexpected trouble lay ahead.

When he was returning to the U.S. in the vehicular lanes, our Client presented his Advance Parole document to the Border Patrol Officer. Rather than ordering our Client to Secondary Inspection, so he could get his documentation stamped, the Officer simply told our Client to enter the U.S., and no stamp was provided. Thus, although we had proof of permission to travel and return to the U.S, we had no stamps to show that he legally entered the U.S.

Undaunted, and armed with the logic, we applied for legal residency based upon the marriage to the U.S. citizen and the legal entry. During this process, the government required proof of the legal entry. We presented the “advance parole” authorization and our Client’s detailed statement as to how, when and where he entered the U.S. with the “advance parole.”

At the interview, and for reasons that are unclear, the Officer was skeptical of the our explanation of the manner of last entry. The Officer reasoned that if a person enters with “Advance Parole,” he is automatically sent to Secondary Inspection. And, the Officer reasoned, the fact that our Client was not sent to Secondary Inspection is evidence that he is not telling the truth, and really entered the U.S. illegally. I argued that reasoning is illogical – why would someone enter illegally if they had permission to enter legally. And why is it not likely that the Border Patrol simply made an error – an error that now has the potential to deny my client his green card.

At the end of the interview, the Officer said she would review the matter with the Supervisor. Before leaving, I quickly asked if the Officer would consider accepting additional documents. She said yes – but only if she gets them in the next 2 days.

Back to the Office we raced. I quickly prepared a detailed statement for the U.S. citizen spouse to sign, and detailed statements from the family that was travelling with our Client to sign. We also added photographs of the trip and hotel receipts. With the family’s help, all these documents were filed the next day with the Officer. And then the waiting began.

Three weeks later we received the happy news – the case was approved. A Border Patrol error almost cost my Client his future. Only strong and persistent advocacy changed a potential disaster into a bright future.