Obama Announce Executive Action On Immigration – What It Is And What Its Not

After months of anticipation both by immigration activists and political opponents of the President, Barack Obama went on television last night to announce the issuance of a new executive order addressing some of the country’s most pressing immigration issues. As many different people are seeking to characterize the new policy in different ways, it is important to understand what his order will do and what it will not do.

First, it will create a new program for approximately 4 million people through which the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can temporarily live and work in the country for at least three years so long as they have resided in this country for at least 5 years and can show that their child was born before the date of Obama’s announcement.

Second, it will expand the current DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. Currently, in order to qualify for the program, applicants must have come to the country before June 15, 2012. Now the program will take applications from all of those who came here before January 1, 2010. The new system will also have no age cap. Previously, the eligible children had to come to this country after the year 1981. These changes will open DACA up to approximately 270,000 new DREAMERs. Under the old policy temporary DACA permits last two years although they are renewable for an extra 2 years. Now the temporary permits will have duration of three years.

The new policy will not provide a path to citizenship to any of the people receiving this temporary relief from deportation.  Nor will the parents of DREAMERs receive any chance for deferral.  The action does not affect the legality of any temporary undocumented farm workers’ status.

Because the policy is part of an executive order and not contained in a law passed by Congress, it is subject to being overruled either by subsequent legislation or by the next President who could annul the moves with his or her own executive action.

His announcement also addressed some less controversial elements. It targets more funds for border security and reprioritizes available law enforcement and immigration authorities to focus on criminals and felons. It also opens up some additional avenues by which foreign workers in certain STEM fields can receive temporary work permits to work for IT companies who cannot find specially qualified employees in this country in the given fields.

At this juncture it is too early to apply for deferral under the new programs. Sign-up dates will occur on specific dates after the first of the next year.

The Shulman Law Group endeavors to ensure its clients be kept abreast of all significant developments relating to the process of immigration to the United States. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice.  In the course of Mr. Shulman’s involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.