Some immigrants are celebrating the reelection of President Barack Obama as the continuation of the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a popular Obama initiative that provides work permits for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and who meet several other specific requirements.
According to the United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as many as 1.7 million immigrants qualify for the Deferred Action program. However, many individuals waited for the outcome of the election to apply for deferred action due to the program’s uncertain future, often on the advice of their attorneys.
Concerns on Romney’s immigration position
Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s stance on deferred action was questionable. Although Romney indicated that he would not deport immigrants who had applied for deferred action, he did initially say that he would eliminate the program in favor of his own immigration policy shortly after his election.
Shortly after this declaration, however, Romney switched his position and claimed that he would maintain the deferred action immigration plan. He maintained that within two years–the length of the special visas authorized by the deferred action plan–he would put a full immigration reform plan into place. For many immigrants and immigration advocacy groups, Romney’s changing views on the bill were problematic.
The future of Deferred Action under Obama
With Obama serving through 2016, immigration experts believe that the deferred action program is safe for the foreseeable future. However, advocacy groups like Presente.org note that Obama needs to pursue aggressive immigration reform outside of the deferred action program, including the long-stalled Dream Act. The Dream Act would function in a manner similar to the deferred action program, but would provide a path to citizenship instead of temporary work authorization. The plan has stalled due to Congressional opposition.
In the meantime, deferred action will remain popular with immigrants who meet the program’s various requirements. Undocumented immigrants submitted 308,935 applications for deferred action through the USCIS as of November of 2012. Of those applications, 53,273 applications were processed and approved. The USCIS website offers an overview of the application process and program requirements.
Have further questions about your options for visa applications, Deferred Action or the Dream Act? Contact our offices to learn more from an experienced Denver immigration attorney.