Details on Deferred Action Programs Announced by President Obama

On November 20, 2014 President Obama announced several executive action remedies for many immigration problems facing the United States and our broken immigration system. According to the White House, the “Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will help secure the border, hold nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.”

The biggest impact will affect approximately over 4,000,000 undocumented immigrants, through deferred action programs. Deferred action is authorized through the Immigration and Nationality Act and various regulations.

First, the President announced the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – otherwise known as DACA  — deportation relief for those who meet the regular criteria as established in 2012 but with the following changes:

  1. Born prior to June 15 1981 (age 31) – can NOW apply if entered the US before the age of 16. (Previously limited to those age 30 on June 15, 2012).

2. Must show continuous US residence since January 1, 2010 (previously was June 15th 2007)

These persons must still prove they entered the US prior to the age of 16 and that they are currently enrolled in an education program or have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. These person can have no significant misdemeanor convictions including any DUIs and NO felonies.

This DACA-plus program has now been extended for 3 years instead of 2 years.  Once in DACA, a person will not be deported and can obtain a work authorization card and travel permit. If one has a pending DACA application as of November 24, 2014, USCIS should issue the status and card for 3 years.

The Effective Date of DACA-Plus: February 20, 2014 according to USCIS

Secondly the President announced a new deferred action program called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability or DAPA. This program applies to any undocumented person living in the US who on November 20, 2014:

Is a parent (biological or adopted) of a US citizen or LPR child of any age

  1. Continuously resided in the US since January 1, 2010
  2. The child was born on or before November 20, 2014 (future children do NOT count)
  3. Applicant is not an “enforcement priority”

A new memo was also announced on the specifics of new enforcement priorities, providing a hierarchy of three enforcement priorities, based on the gravity of criminal or immigration violations. A significant misdemeanor is listed under “priority 2” for those who should be deported and includes those convicted of a DUI. Therefore, it appears that applicants with DUI convictions will be ineligible for DAPA. Those who had a prior deportation, including those who had prior voluntary departure and did not leave, are considered “Priority 3” for deportability, and again may be ineligible for DAPA.

 The effective date of DAPA: May 20, 2014 according to USCIS

Anyone who believes they may be eligible for these programs should begin collecting valid identity, such as a matricula consular cards or passports, proof of physical presence in the United States for the past five years, and proof of relationship to US citizen or LPR children.

For questions or for legal advice on how these new programs may assist illegal or undocumented persons living in Colorado and the United States in general, please call Denver lawyer Catherine Brown at 303-322-2117.