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Obama Issues Executive Order to Address Immigration Crisis

Not only has Congress failed to pass any immigration reform, but last August the U.S. House of Representatives even voted to roll back Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Deferred Action has allowed several hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country under the age of 16 and who meet certain criteria to remain in the country and avoid deportation. Through DACA they have been able to obtain social security numbers, drivers’ licenses and are now counted as additional contributors within our Social Security system.

While the House bill is unlikely to get through the Senate, the dismal situation in Congress has led President Obama to take action on his own regarding immigration. On November 20, 2014, the President issued a series of Executive Orders (some call them Administrative Actions or Executive Actions) addressing the crisis of a broken immigration system which continues to separate families who are being deported for living and working in the U.S. without legal status.

What Did the President Do?

The first action President Obama took was to expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to enable individuals who were born before June 15, 1981 to petition for deferred action. The requirement of continuous residence in the U.S. has also been shortened from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010, boosting DACA eligibility for thousands of more recent arrivals to the U.S.

The President also issued an executive order to allow parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents born on or before the date of the announcement to request deferred action and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (work permit). Now known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability), as with DACA, these individuals must have been living in the U.S. on November 20th and be able to demonstrate continuous presence in the country since January 1, 2010. Additionally, a petitioner for deferred action under this order may not be considered a threat to national security or public safety under Homeland Security’s removal enforcement priorities.

The third major step taken by the President was to expand the Provisional Waiver program, which allows people seeking a waiver of inadmissibility to stay in the country while working toward lawful permanent resident status. This program, which was previously open to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, will now include children of citizens as well as spouses or children of lawful permanent residents. The petitioner must have been in the United States for at least 180 days, and the granting of a waiver is conditional on whether a visa is available or not.

How Can you be Ready?

These executive actions are slated to go into effect in February for children and May for parents, but there are steps you can take now so you will be ready to petition as soon as applications become available. Be prepared to show proof of identity, proof of the necessary family relationship, and proof of continuous presence in the U.S. for the required time period. Documents such as pay stubs, apartment leases, driver’s licenses, and school records can all provide the necessary proof of continuous presence in the United States. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, and school records can all be valuable documents to prove a family relationship. In the absence of any documentation, genetic testing may be a way to establish kinship that will satisfy the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Be Prepared. Get Help Today with Your Immigration Status.

There are currently more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, and about 400,000 people get deported every year. Deferred Action and other programs covered in the Executive Orders will be limited in the amount of people they can serve, and often times applications are turned down because they are incomplete or not filled out correctly. If applying for Deferred Action or a Provisional Waiver under the new Executive Orders, or for any other protection and benefits under U.S. immigration law, contact an experienced immigration attorney who can help you through the process and make sure you do everything correctly for the best chance of success. In San Antonio and San Angelo, contact The Lozano Law Firm for immediate assistance.

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