Requests for Evidence (RFEs) & Legal Concerns in the DACA Process
Following federal court orders in 2021, DACA renewal remains available, but USCIS is not granting initial requests as of July 16, 2021. This situation is subject to change, which will be reflected on the USCIS website.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) faces an uncertain future, although it remains in effect to a limited extent for now. In the midst of this uncertainty, foreign nationals who have filed for protection under DACA sometimes question the wisdom of responding to a Request for Evidence related to their application. An RFE from USCIS is a request for more evidence to determine whether a foreign national is eligible for DACA. You should make sure to respond to an RFE if you receive it, since you may lose rights and benefits if you fail to respond.
Getting an RFE does not mean that USCIS plans to deny your application. It simply means that the agency does not have all of the papers that it needs to process the application. You should review the RFE and gather the missing documentation within the period provided by USCIS.
Risks of Responding to an RFE
There are very few risks of responding to an RFE. Foreign nationals often feel reluctant to provide further information to USCIS because they are concerned that USCIS will share the information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is the branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that enforces immigration laws and can start removal proceedings. However, USCIS previously stated that its policy is not to provide this type of information to ICE unless it is necessary to protect public safety or national security, or in other extreme circumstances.
It is unlikely that a response to an RFE will trigger removal proceedings if the initial DACA application did not.
If DACA eventually disappears, people who formerly were protected under this program will be in the same position as any other undocumented foreign national living in the U.S. Meanwhile, as long as DACA lasts, they will be in a far better position if ICE becomes aware of their presence than an undocumented foreign national without DACA protection.
Also, you should be aware that your initial DACA application already acknowledged that you do not have legal status in the U.S. Any additional information provided in response to an RFE should not trigger removal proceedings if the previous admission did not.
Risks of Not Responding to an RFE
Failing to respond to an RFE for your initial DACA application will result in the denial of your application. You probably will not be able to apply for DACA protection again, and you will lose the filing fee. Failing to respond to an RFE for a DACA renewal application will result in losing DACA protection at the end of your current DACA period.
Failing to respond to an RFE will result in a denial of DACA protection, and the individual will probably lose the ability to apply in the future.
If you decide to give up your DACA application, or if you fail to renew your DACA status, you will not have access to any future benefits that foreign nationals covered by DACA might gain. Some immigration experts believe that people who hold or formerly held DACA protection may eventually receive a pathway to a green card or citizenship. (This general concept is known as the DREAM Act.) Of course, there is no guarantee that the U.S. government ever will enact this type of law, but you will not want to miss out on a life-changing benefit because you failed to respond to an RFE.