What we know about the Executive Action
By Noemí Ramírez
Attorney at Law
UPDATE: On February 16, 2015, a U.S. federal district court issued a temporary injunction preventing implementation of two immigration programs created through executive actions taken by President Obama. The injunction applies to the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As a result of this court order, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has put on hold its plans to accept DAPA applications or DACA applications based on the expanded eligibility criteria. The court's temporary injunction, issued February 16, does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request an initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA under the original guidelines. Please check back for updates.
In November 2014, President Obama announced his Executive Action on Immigration.
The President established three priorities:
a) Stop illegal immigration across the border with Mexico.
b) Deport criminals/delinquents, not families.
c) Allow parents of citizens or legal residents, who no longer have to fear deportation, as long as they register to pass a criminal background check and pay their taxes.
At this point, all that President Obama has offered is a temporary stay in the United States. This plan has the potential to benefit up to five million undocumented immigrants and you can be one of them. Furthermore, this executive action will expand the program Deferred Action established in 2012 for childhood arrivals (DACA). The Deferred Action will also be provided to parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents (DAPA). Parents must have been in the U.S. for at least five years, without a disqualifying criminal history, and have paid their taxes. Applicants that are approved by DACA and DAPA will receive a work permit valid for three years.
The U.S.C.I.S website to http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction#1 page briefly describes the changes:
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
Amplify the eligible population for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program
(DACA, for its acronym in English) for young people who came to this country before
16 years of age and have been physically present in the country as of January 1, 2010 or
before, and extend the period of DACA and employment authorization from two years to three years.
DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Responsibility)
Allow parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who have been physically present in the country as of January 1, 2010 or earlier, the ability to request deferred action and employment authorization for a period of three years, through a new program called Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents, provided the applicants pass the background checks required and comply with other criteria.
It is also important that the applicants are not a priority for immigration control from the United States, as provided in the Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Legal Document dated the 20th of November, 2014. In particular, the Department of Homeland Security has established new criteria for assessing the need for legal action against undocumented immigrants. Aligned with President Obama’s policies, these are established on three priorities:
1. Undocumented immigrants who are a threat to national security, border security and public safety.
2. Undocumented immigrants who have committed minor crimes and recent violations of immigration laws.
3. Undocumented who have other violations of immigration laws.
When it comes to any other undocumented immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security maintains the right to use legal action but limited resources allow it ample exercise of its prosecutorial discretion. In cases where there is an absence of criminal records it is probably for parents to submit an application through DAPA.
I-601A (Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver)
Expand the use of provisional unlawful presence waivers to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and children of U.S. citizens.
New details will be published by the Department of Homeland Security in the upcoming months. Continue visiting our site to stay informed of the latest legal developments.