Traveling with DACA

Cynthia Martinez, a paralegal with Guirguis Law, recently traveled to Mexico through Advanced Parole.  As many individuals with DACA frequently ask if they can travel outside of the United States, we requested that Cynthia write a blog entry about her experiences. 

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We have so many people asking whether they can leave the country if they have DACA and the answer is YES!! You do, however, have to get permission to do this through Advanced Parole.  Advanced Parole for DACA recipients is limited so make sure you read the qualifications and understand them or speak to an attorney before applying.

The biggest reason why people are hesitant to apply for Advanced Parole is because they are afraid that they will not be able to come back into the country. As a DACA recipient, I’ll admit this was also a concern of mine, but I’ve got good news for you!!  I went to Mexico and returned to the United States without a problem.

After I received my Advanced Parole approval, I took a plane to Mexico City.  It is REALLY IMPORTANT that you take BOTH copies of your Advanced Parole approval. You will not be asked for anything when you leave the country so make sure you keep the copies in a safe place where you won’t forget them. When I was in the airport on my way back to the U.S., I was asked me for my passport and travel documents. I handed them my passport and my advanced parole paperwork. They verified the authenticity gave me my plane ticket so I could board.

Once I finally made it stateside, I had to check in with Customs & Border Patrol (CPB). They asked me basic questions and took my fingerprints. Because I was traveling with a big group of DACA-mented youth, they took us to another room where they just asked us a couple more questions, including where our final destination was and the reason for our travel abroad. They then stamped my passport and I was on my way.

Unfortunately, we did have a couple of rogue CBP officers who made irrelevant, rude and unprofessional comments in an attempt to frighten us.  While there are some very nice and professional CBP officers, there are others that are not so kind.  If you show them you are not scared of them, they will stop.  In our case, a complaint was filed because that is unacceptable behavior!  If you encounter a similar situation, make sure you take down the officer’s name and report it.  I recommend keeping the name and number of your attorney close by when traveling if it will make you feel better about when dealing with immigration officers.

Other than the treatment by some CBP officers, my trip was a wonderful experience and I hope to travel again!  If you have any questions about my personal experience, I am more than happy to speak with you.

– Cynthia