Interviewer: Are there any risks in applying for deferred action?
Jeanne Morales: I know there are some people that think that, “Well, if they don’t know about me now why would I want to tell them.” Ten years ago that might have been a good strategy, but with NSA listening to everybody’s phone calls and Google reporting your internet searches to the government…
I had a client that became a client because they were involved in a traffic accident. They weren’t disobeying the law. They were keeping their nose clean. They were staying out of trouble but they didn’t have status. Well here they come and somebody blows the red light and hits them, and they weren’t injured. When law enforcement shows up and starts asking questions they were identified as an alien. They sought our services because they were now out in the open.
I guess my point is that with the electronic age and the government snooping that is going on it’s going to become more difficult for someone to just lay low and stay in the shadows. It’s going to become nearly impossible. I think the benefits far outweigh any risk. Unless somebody truly has one of the disqualifying criminal issues, then, we would recommend against doing it.
The US Should Move Forward in the Passage of the DREAM Act for Individuals with DACA Status
Interviewer: If and when the Dream Act passes or a couple of these other similar laws, is DACA still necessary? Will this thing hold up?
Jeanne Morales: If the Dream Act were to pass it would basically take DACA and give it the force of law and probably lead to full status as a green card holder. There’s never just one bill, there’s different bills in congress, in the house, in the senate and things like that. I haven’t looked at the most recent version of it. If it passed, it would supplant DACA and make DACA out of date because of the Dream Act was there.
Just going back to the concept that immigration, the problems that the United States has with immigration, whether its border enforcement or what do we do with people that are here out of status is huge. I know there’s a lot of debate on TV and radio and news outlets and it’s a huge, huge problem.
Of all the different sub-problems of immigration it does ring to me at least that this population of people is something we all, the citizens and our legislators, should be able to get together on and move forward on this one topic, because is not their fault.
Individuals Qualifying for DACA Status Are Not Criminals and Shouldn’t Be Treated Like Criminals
In criminal law, most laws, most crimes, in order to commit the crime there has to be what’s called a mens rea; a mental element. “I broke into this house with the intention of committing a felony therein,” or “I knowingly ran the red light.” So in criminal ordinances there is a mental component, a mens rea. That’s the Latin term for it.
The criminal law in this country has always indicated that minors, especially young minors, there’s some debate about whether you can prosecute as an adult a 16 year old or 17 year old, but certainly babies, 5 and 6 year olds, don’t have the mental capacity to create a necessary mental state to commit a crime. Have there been cases where a 5 year old did something that inadvertently hurt someone else? Sure. He’s playing in the car and he puts it in reverse and it runs over and breaks the leg of a teenager that’s walking by. An adult would be held liable for that. A 5 year old is not, because they don’t have the mental capacity to decide in their mind, “I’m going to commit this crime.”
Affording Individuals DACA Relief Benefits All People Including US Citizens
As citizens on our legislature, we should be able to get together and say look, “I have this huge problem of immigration.” This group of people, we can’t blame them for their presence here. I have had clients who not only have no memory of their own country, but English is the only language they speak. As a tax payer if I have to pay for this person’s education because I’m a home owner and my property taxes are used to support the school system, why would I want to take that resource that I have bought and paid for and ship it to a foreign country, and let them get the benefit of it?
I do believe that this is something that’s really, really important. I think the more people that apply for DACA and get approved will help direct the attention of Congress that they need to do something about this. For people who are against anybody who’s illegal, “Oh we’d sent them all back and do this and do that,” I would go back to the argument that your tax dollars have been used to educate these people. They aren’t doing anything wrong if they’re qualified for DACA, have an education, and we can make them into productive members of society or we can ship them to another country and let them get the benefit of our tax dollars.