President Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Action is a welcome, albeit temporary, relief to our broken and cumbersome immigration system. The President acted within his legal authority, as presidents from both political parties have taken similar steps in past decades – particularly Presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr. Yesterday, President Obama announced his plan, which includes some of the following initiatives:
- Deferred Action for the parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children who fit the eligibility requirements (“DAP”).
- Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to remove the age cap and move the continuous presence date up to January 1, 2010. DACA will now be granted for 3 years (including those with pending renewal applications).
- Ensuring that job-creating entrepreneurs have legal means to enter and operate in the U.S.
- Allowing spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to apply for unlawful presence waivers from within the U.S. and ensuring appropriate standards for adjudicating those waivers.
These actions will keep the U.S. safer because removal enforcement will focus on people who are a danger to public safety and national security. Those who register will have to undergo biometrics. It will boost the U.S. economy with increased income tax revenue and opportunity for entrepreneurship and job creation. It will prevent the loss of loss of talent and job creation to other countries. It will keep families together, which prevents needless trauma which can lead to criminal behavior.
The applications for these forms of relief are also fee-based, so will not cost U.S. taxpayers anything. Those interested in applying should take care to avoid immigration scams and notarios or immigration “consultants”, especially those who are already taking payment to process applications as it is not yet possible to apply.
Information is available from USCIS’s Information on Executive Action page, which provides eligibility information. It is important to note when applying that the government will review the applications on a case-by-case basis and determine whether the applicant is an enforcement priority. This means that those who are felons, misdemeanants, very recent entrants to the U.S., or who have existing orders of deportation will be prioritized for removal and could be placed in removal proceedings if they apply. Reading the fine print of the enforcement priority memo, applicants should also take care if they have previously misrepresented themselves to an immigration officer or used fraudulent documents. Basically, unless you are squeaky clean, take care and seek legal advice before submitting an application.