UPDATE 6/23/2016: President Obama’s immigration programs, DAPA and expanded DACA, remain blocked after the Supreme Court’s split decision. The Supreme Court fails families but the fight is not over.
Deferred Action for Parents of US citizen or permanent resident children (DAPA): Deferred action is a protection against deportation; it does not grant lawful status (which only a change in law approved by Congress can accomplish) and is valid for only three years. People who receive deferred action and show an economic need can apply for temporary work permits. This action could benefit as many as 4.1 million immigrants and their families.
- Certain undocumented immigrant parents will be able to apply for “deferred action.”
- This action covers parents of sons or daughters born before November 20, 2014 who are US citizens or permanent residents if those parents arrived in the US before January 1, 2010.
- These parents would need to pass background checks, and must not fall within one of the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement priorities (as described below).
- Valid for three years
- The application will cost $465 (the cost of a work permit and the same cost as DACA; no fee waiver will be available).
The deferred action application process will begin within 180 days of the announcement, that is, by late May 2015.
Applications are not being accepted yet—there is not even a form for applications yet. “DO NOT pay a “notario” or anyone who claims to be able to help you apply “now”, hold a place in line for you, or guarantee that you will be approved.”
Expansion of DACA: The White House is also expanding the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Currently this program only covered youths who arrive in the US before June 15, 2007. The expansion:
- moves that cutoff date to January 1, 2010.
- removes the upper age limit, which currently limits DACA eligibility to only those youths who were born after June 15, 1981.
- Finally, DACA coverage would last three years, not two.
These changes will take effect within 90 days, that is, by late February 2015. This action could benefit as many as 300,000 immigrant youth.
Waivers for certain green card applicants: The Administration is making changes to allow more people to get waivers of the three- and ten-year bars that prevent many immigrants who are eligible for green cards from traveling abroad to process their applications.
- These changes will build on the “provisional waiver” program created in 2013 [and limited to the spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Under the new guidance, the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and the adult children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may apply for a “provisional waiver” as well.]
Priority Enforcement Program (PEP): Replacing “Secure Communities” and other enforcement changes
The Administration is ending its controversial “Secure Communities” program, an information-sharing system that ensnares local police in immigration enforcement and has resulted in roughly 180,000 deportations of individuals with no or only minor criminal histories. DHS plans to replace “Secure Communities” with another program, the “Priority Enforcement Program,” which will involve ICE asking local police to notify ICE when it releases someone who falls within its enforcement priorities. The Justice Department will also announce change to immigration courts to prioritize and handle cases more quickly.
- People who are involved in terrorist activity or who pose a national security risk
- People caught immediately at the border
- People convicted of gang crimes, felonies, or “aggravated felonies”
- People convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors or of at least one “serious misdemeanor (domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, certain firearm and drug offenses, DUIs, certain other offenses)
- People caught after entering the US illegally who came after January 1, 2014
- People who “significantly abused” the visa system”
- People ordered removed on or after January 1, 2014
Naturalization: The Administration announced that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would:
- begin accepting credit card payment of naturalization fees
- undertake a study of whether USCIS can waive part of the filing fee for applicants, currently wholly excluded from the program, whose income is more than 150% of the current federal poverty guidelines but less than 200% of same
- and launch a campaign to promote citizenship in the 10 states (California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, and Arizona) that are home to 75% of the overall lawful permanent resident population.
Do not fall victim to notarios or other fraud: Seek help only from trusted lawyers or non-profit organizations authorized to work on immigration by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals. DO NOT pay a “notario” or anyone who claims to be able to help you apply, hold a place in line for you, or guarantee that you will be approved.
Prepare your documents: Applying for deferred action or DACA will require proof of your identity, your time in the United States, and other facts. Keep your identity documents and other important records in a safe place.
Keep up to date with good information: Sign up for updates on the Illinois is Ready website,www.ilisready.org, to learn about more details about when and how to apply, where you can go for information sessions, how to get reliable help when you are able to apply, and much more. You can also sign up for text updates by texting READY to +16305244106 or +16305037254, or texting LISTO to +16305244106 for Spanish updates.
Keep pushing for permanent reform: The President’s actions are only good while he is in office and only cover a portion of the undocumented in our country. We need to keep pushing Congress to pass a permanent solution for our immigration system that would include a path for undocumented immigrants to get legal status and citizenship. To get involved, sign up for updates at ICIRR,www.icirr.org.