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Virginia's AG Mark Herring, USCIS, and the Right to Legal Domicile

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Is Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring responsible for USCIS’ recognition this week about one of the rights of DREAMers?

Back in April, the newly sworn-in AG made headlines when he declared that Virginia DREAMers are eligible for in-state tuition — and paved the way to accessible opportunity when Republicans in the state House and Senate wouldn’t.  At the time, we said that Herring’s move was the latest evidence that elections matter: in 2013, Herring won his seat over Republican Mark Obenshain by less than 1,000 votes.  But he has created real change for Virginia’s immigrant and Latino students, especially considering that his predecessor was Ken Cuccinelli, of ‘Steve King is my favorite Congressman‘ fame.

Herring’s pronouncement that DACA-recognized DREAMers qualify for in-state tuition hinged on the interpretation that these students have legal domicile in Virginia.  This is a point that we saw again this week, when USCIS announced the process for DACA renewals and posted new FAQs about what DACA means.  Check this out (emphasis in the original):

Q5: If my case is deferred, am I in lawful status for the period of deferral?

The fact that you are not accruing unlawful presence does not change whether you are in lawful status while you remain in the United States. However, although deferred action does not confer a lawful immigration status, your period of stay is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security while your deferred action is in effect and, for admissibility purposes, you are considered to be lawfully present in the United States during that time. Individuals granted deferred action are not precluded by federal law from establishing domicile in the U.S.

Pretty cool.  USCIS should be commended for recognizing this right for DREAMers, and Mark Herring for paving the legal way.