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New Executive Actions: Changes in Immigration Protections for Undocumented Parents and Children

Deportations can be heart-wrenching experiences, especially when families are torn apart due to different immigration statuses. Undocumented immigrants that had or raised children in the United States, might have to leave these children behind if removal proceedings are brought against them. In late November 2014, President Obama unveiled an executive order providing protections for millions of undocumented immigrants, including immigrants who have minor children who are citizens of the United States. It should be noted, however, that the effects of this action are not immediate. In addition, if a case concerning immigration law is not properly assessed, then people facing deportation or removal proceedings could miss out on available protections that would have allowed them to remain in the United States.

The November 2014 Executive Action

President Obama’s November 2014 executive actions on immigration encompassed a wide range of matters, some of which included:

-Expanding the eligible population and period for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program

-Creating the Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program

-Expanding provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents

-Improving immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs

-Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents

While all are important, two of these actions can affect millions of undocumented immigrant families. The first is the update made to the DACA  program, which is focused on individuals who have no lawful immigration status, and who entered the United States before reaching the age of 16. The second is the creation of the DAPA program, which provides deferment protections to the parents of children who are either citizens or lawful permanent residents. Together, it is estimated that at least 4 million undocumented persons would gain protections from President Obama’s executive actions.

Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Naturally, the aims of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are to provide deferment protections for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children. In order to be considered for protection under the expanded DACA program, a person:

– must have entered the United States before reaching the age of 16;

– must have lived in the United States continuously since at least January 1, 2010;

– must meet all other DACA guidelines, which can be found here.

Deferred Action and Work authorization under this program have been expanded to 3 years as opposed to 2 years.

It is important to note that while this update was unveiled in late November of 2014, the actual expanded guidelines are not yet in effect.

Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents

The Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents program focuses on undocumented parents of children who are already U.S. citizens or lawful residents. In order to be considered for protection under the DAPA program, a person:

– must have lived in the United States continuously since at least January 1, 2010;

– must have had a child who is a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident on November 20, 2014; and

– must not be an enforcement priority for removal from the United States under the Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants memorandum (which policy focuses on the removal of certain criminal and those who are a threat to national safety and security).

As with DACA, Deferred Action and Work authorization under this program is valid for 3 years.

Similarly, as with the updates made to DACA, the implementation of the DAPA program is not immediate but scheduled to occur in 2015.

Contact an Immigration Law Attorney

Immigration law grows and changes over time. Guidelines and requirements are constantly changing and may affect eligibility.  Careful presentation of evidence is essential, as is the need for a skilled immigration law attorney. If you, or someone you love, are interested in becoming a lawful permanent resident, or are facing deportation or removal proceedings, then contact a dedicated, experienced attorney at The Law Office of Natalie D. Hall, PA for a case evaluation.


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