Newark, NJ- In a national address on November 20th, President Obama outlined a series of actions he will take in order to give an estimated 5 million immigrants the opportunity to avoid deportation and work lawfully in the U.S. The President’s plan includes prioritizing deportations, immigration opportunities for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents along with an expansion of his signature policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
In the address President Obama said his executive actions will center on “felons not families, criminals not children” allowing immigrants to be a “net plus for the economy and society.” He added that immigrants “contribute to American success.”
Using his executive powers, the President said he would defer some removals by directing immigration authorities to focus their deportation efforts on immigrants who pose a threat to our communities or national security, and immigrants who crossed the border recently. Immigrants who crossed the border unlawfully from January 2014 on are a priority for removal and are not eligible for deportation relief under the President’s actions.
Under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, outlined by the USCIS, parents of legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens will be allowed to remain in the U.S. and granted work authorization if they have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and can pass a criminal background check. They must also pay fees, back taxes and be able to prove they are parents of a legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen. This could offer 4.1 million undocumented immigrants relief from deportation, according to the reports.
Another change will allow sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and spouses and children of legal permanent residents to apply for a waiver of unlawful presence when a visa is available. In some cases this will minimize the time an immigrant must spend away for the U.S. while they work on obtaining legal status. This policy also gives further clarification of the “extreme hardship” standards immigrants must meet to qualify for this waiver.
One of the most anticipated changes is an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy which gives young undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children legal status and work authorization. Initially, this status was limited to immigrants who were under the age of 16 when they arrived and their entry was prior to 2007. Unlike many had hoped, DACA will not be expanded to include parents of eligible recipients, but the entry date has been pushed forward to include immigrants who entered the U.S. prior to 2010. According to ABC, this could extend deportation relief to 250,000 young undocumented immigrants.
The plan will also make changes to high-tech visas by offering these skilled immigrants an easier path to enter and stay in the U.S. It also offers them “portability,” making it easier for immigrants with high-tech skills to change employers.
Prior to the President’s address, the White House released a memorandum emphasizing the fact that any special status offered to undocumented immigrants under the President’s actions will have stringent requirements. The memorandum also made it clear that no DACA, DAPA or waiver applications will accepted until 2015. This will give immigrants the time they need to speak with an immigration attorney, gather the documents they need and raise the funds for their application and other applicable fees.
Immigrants should know that these actions don’t offer a pathway to citizenship or legal permanent residency, but it will ease the burdens many immigrant families face. These actions are only temporary and can be changed if Congress chooses to pass immigration reform legislation.
In a previous article, I discussed the dangers of unqualified immigration “experts” preying on undocumented immigrants once this announcement was made. This is a point the White House emphasized in their memorandum.
Each one of these policies would create more opportunities for immigrants to come out of the shadows and legally work in the U.S. Immigrants in New Jersey who think they may qualify for any of the programs the President introduced should contact my office. We can discuss your case and I will help you determine if qualify for deportation relief and work authorization.