President Takes Immigration Actions
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama announced November 20 that he would take a series of administration actions to defer deportation of up to 4.5 million undocumented immigrants and provide them with work authorization. The announcement was quickly and roundly criticized by Republican leaders in Congress.
The president’s announcement included the following initiatives:
· Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to young people who came to this country before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.
· Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been present in the country since January 1, 2010, to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, provided they pass required background checks.
· Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
· Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and non-immigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs.
· Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents and providing an option for naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee.
No Help for Ag, H-2A or H-2B
No special provisions for agriculture workers were included in the announcement, although some were being considered just hours before the announcement was made. The H-2A and the H-2B guest worker programs will be unaffected, for better or worse, by the president’s administrative actions.
Deferred Action Not Automatic
Status under the administrative actions will not be granted automatically. Undocumented immigrants must step forward and apply for status through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Although it is estimated that 4.5 million may be eligible for deferred action under the administrative actions, how many may actually step forward and apply is a big question. Undocumented immigrants are mistrustful of the government and may be fearful that coming into the open and applying for deferred action may subject them to deportation or other enforcement action at a later time.
The deferred deportation action, if granted, is good for three years, when it must then be renewed. Also, since there is much controversy over the president’s action, some fear that it could be overturned when the president leaves office in two years, or sooner if overturned by court action.
Employer Impacts Not Clear
The impact on employers is uncertain at this time. Employer I-9 audits by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of DHS have been continuing and there is no indication at his point from DHS that they will stop. It is unclear what will happen if an I-9 audit reveals some employees who are undocumented, but have applied for or are eligible for deferred status under the president’s administrative actions, for example.
Hopefully, more information will be coming from USCIS, ICE and DHGS in the coming weeks to clarify some of these questions.
For More Information
For more information on the president’s administrative actions on immigration, go the USCIS website by clicking here.