DACA Renewal Approval Despite Criminal Charges

DACA Renewal Approval Despite Criminal Charges


Mr. Garcia was a thirty-two-year-old computer programmer for a large company in Southern California and he loved his job. He had been with this job for a while and was recently offered a management position. Mr. Garcia could not contain his excitement that all his hard work had finally paid off. However, he was not a U.S. citizen nor a Lawful Permanent Resident and his DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) deferment was up for renewal. The United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) had never denied his renewal as this would be his fourth time applying for a renewal, it should have been easy yet there was a big problem this time. This time around when he would be applying for a DACA there would be the weight of a sexual assault of a minor charge on his record. Mr. Garcia was terrified of what could happen because of this charge and his future was not looking bright.


Every year and nine months, Mr. Garcia would return to the Tsang and Associates offices to reapply for DACA status. The firm has had a professional relationship with Mr. Garcia since he was 12 years old. In fact, twenty years earlier, the firm helped him apply for his first DACA application. This would be the fourth application the firm had helped him with.

Every year, the firm would ask Mr. Garcia if there had been any significant changes to his situation. This year there was an enormous change. Although embarrassed to admit it, earlier in the year Mr. Garcia was arrested. Worse yet, the charge was for the sexual assault of his niece. There is a question on the DACA renewal application asking: “Have you EVER been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor?’ This time Mr. Garcia would have to mark “Yes.” Since Tsang and Associates have had such a long, personal history with Mr. Garcia, the firm felt like they were a good judge of his character. The charge seemed out of line with his moral character and his explanation seemed reasonable.

As Mr. Garcia explained, his brother’s wife did not like him and she wanted to cause trouble for him. Knowing he held DACA status, the sister-in-law figured the best way to hurt him was to have her daughter claim sexual assault. The sister-in-law filed a report and the police took Mr. Garcia into custody. He remained in jail for four days and then the police released him without any charges. Eager to be free, Mr. Garcia did not ask for any paperwork exonerating him.

While Tsang and Associates might believe Mr. Garcia’s story based upon a long-standing relationship, the officers at USCIS reviewing his case would require documentation. The firm advised Mr. Garcia to go back to the court and get a certified letter exonerating him. Unfortunately, getting records from the juvenile court could take up to four months, and by that time his DACA status would have ended. Mr. Garcia could be deported while he waited for the court records. Fortunately, the firm received word the case had never been forwarded to the juvenile court so there would be no records to wait for and delay the process. While the news confirmed there was no validity to the charges, Mr. Garcia still needed paperwork to document the reason for his arrest and subsequent release. The firm requested records from the police department and had to wait an agonizing four weeks for a letter. While the letter was not effusive, it noted the District Attorney’s office’s refusal to press charges.


DACA cases can sometimes take six months and that would once again put Mr. Garcia in a precarious position. Fortunately, because of the expertise of Tsang and Associates and the firm’s ability to anticipate all USCIS concerns, Mr. Garcia received his DACA renewal quickly. Tsang and Associates is honored to have worked with DACA recipients like Mr. Garcia, whom initially applied when they were just children. We are proud of our long-standing relationships, personal service, and commitment to fulfilling the dreams of people who want to become lawful residents of this country.

*Name has been changed to protect client identity

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