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Federal judge: Seattle man's DACA status can't be cut off for now

Among the many requirements to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is lack of a criminal history. That not only means being free of felony or serious misdemeanor convictions, but it also means showing that you do not otherwise pose a threat to public safety or national security. In other words, it's not enough to show you've never been convicted of a crime. You won't qualify for DACA if the government has good reason to suspect you of one, or of planning one.

What if immigration authorities suspect you of criminal activity but they're demonstrably wrong? That is the apparent subject of an immigration case currently before a federal court in Washington.

Daniel R., 25, was taken into custody last year when his father was being arrested. Agents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decided that Daniel had a gang tattoo and admitted having gang ties. In reality, the tattoo is merely the name of Daniel's hometown in Mexico, and Daniel insists he has never had any gang ties.

Nevertheless, the USCIS revoked Daniel's DACA status and initiated deportation proceedings. Then, in response to a higher court ruling, the agency reinstated his DACA status but immediately threatened to revoke it again.

At one immigration court hearing, a government lawyer even admitted that the USCIS has no additional evidence that Daniel has been involved with gangs, or that he is a public safety risk. Although the immigration judge ruled that Daniel did not have gang ties, he nevertheless ordered him deported. The reason? Despite his DACA status, the judge held that Daniel is an illegal immigrant.

Now, Daniel comes before a federal judge. He is seeking a ruling that his DACA status cannot be revoked for the alleged gang activity and an order requiring the USCIS to stop falsely claiming he has gang ties.

"The government continues to make this assertion that it itself has disavowed," Daniel's attorney points out, calling the assertion a "stark, vicious lie."

Daniel desperately needs his DACA protections. Without the program, he would not be able to keep his job, which he needs in order to support his 4-year-old, U.S. citizen son.

Unfortunately, the USCIS has put several procedural hurdles in Daniel's way. However, the judge has already ruled that his DACA status cannot be revoked before his preliminary ruling. He is awaiting additional information from both sides.

Some immigrants are finding the immigration status they rely on is not as secure as they had hoped. If you fear your immigration status is at risk, contact an immigration attorney. All information you share with an immigration attorney is completely confidential.

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