After one and a half years, President Obama finally decided that “enough is enough” and pulled the trigger on enacting immigration reforms. While the measures taken by President Obama fall short of the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that unanimously passed the Senate in June, 2013, they are certainly expansive in nature, and provide some relief to the millions of undocumented Americans living in this country. The president does not have authority to provide a pathway to citizenship without the cooperation of the Senate and the House of Representatives. We are very happy with these changes, and applaud President Obama for taking this action.
Below is a summary of the proposed executive actions:
1. Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)
The centerpiece of this executive action is a policy called Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA). Under DAPA, an undocumented individual living in the U.S. on November 20, 2014, and is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident will qualify for deferred action if they:
– Have lived in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 (need to provide documentation establishing physical presence);
– Are the parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014 (need to show birth certificates); and
– Are not an enforcement priority for removal from the U.S. (to be clarified at a later date)
If a person if granted (DAP), they will receive an employment authorization card (EAD), valid for 3 years. With the EAD, the individual can apply for a social security card, and apply for a driver’s license in most states.
2. Expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
Under this policy change, individuals born prior to June 15, 1981 will be eligible to apply to apply for DACA, and those of who have lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 will also be eligible provided that they meet the all of the other guidelines including:
– Have come to the U.S. under the age of 16
– Currently are in school, have graduated from high school, or have obtained a G.E.D.
– Have not been convicted of a felony offense or a significant misdemeanor offense
The granting a DACA and employment authorization will now be valid for 3 years. Those who have pending applications for an extension of their DACA will now receive a new EAD for 3 years.