On August 6, 2012, Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez released a video, which purported to give advice to young immigrants interested in applying for Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In the video, Senator Durbin stated:
“Don’t hire a lawyer or pay a notario…Virtually everyone will be able to go through this process without a lawyer”
Subsequent to the video’s publication, several immigration attorneys, including Lory Rosenberg, told Senator Durbin and Congressman Gutierrez that their advice was not only bad but dangerous to applicants for DACA.
I have also provided a few examples of why Durbin and Gutierrez’s video was folly, such as the fact that a substantial amount of people eligible for DACA will also be eligible for better alternative forms of relief, such as but not limited to permanent residency through classification as a special immigrant juvenile, U nonimmigrant status for certain crime victims, or non-lpr cancellation of removal.
Also, the act of applying for DACA comes with the inherent risk of deportation. Do not forget that deportation is one of DHS’s main objectives and that DACA does not confer any lawful status unto its beneficiaries. As such, anyone applying for DACA is quite literally walking right into the jaws of the enemy with virtually no legal safeguards. In this scenario, most reasonable minds would agree it is important to have an attorney by one’s side.
Apparently, Senator Durbin and Congressman Gutierrez realized their error and erased the video from the internet. Unfortunately, this was not done to protect the interests of the dreamers but that of their own political images. Why? Neither politician has explained why the dangerous video was erased.
Representative Roybal-Allard made a similar error to that of Durbin and Gutierrez, when she tweeted:
Don’t be a victim: avoid lawyers/notarios charging fees to help w/ your application. Ask local non-profits or my office for help.”
Immigration attorney Matthew Kolken read this and immediately communicated to Roybal-Allard why her tweet was reckless and dangerous.
Instead of whitewashing her twitter feed, Roybal-Allard responded to Mr. Kolken by apologizing and clarifying, stating that “some DREAMers may require legal assistance but should be wary of unscrupulous individuals charging excessive fees.” It may not be the best response, but it was certainly an improvement over the overly broad statement of “virtually no-one needs an attorney.”
Durbin and Gutierrez know that they gave dangerous advice to dreamers in their August 6, 2012 video. Yet they have done nothing to correct the potential harm they have done.
If the two politicians genuinely had the interests of the dreamers at heart, they would have made another video explaining why their prior video was erased from the internet. In the new video, they would make it clear to the dreamers that they should at a minimum consult with an attorney prior to applying for DACA.
If they do not agree that every dreamer should at least consult with an attorney, they should factually rebut the valid claims made by immigration attorneys.
A couple of dollars never killed anyone. But deportation has.
Senator Durbin and Congressman Gutierrez: Do what is right for the dreamers, not your political careers. Thank you.