Big News: Obama Announces Immigration Reform!

Big News: Obama Announces Immigration Reform!

On November 20, 2014, President Obama made the announcement we've been waiting for! He announced that he is taking executive action to help keep families together. The two new programs that I'm especially excited about are as follows:
  1. DACA Expansion - remember that in June of 2012, the Obama administration created a new program called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) which benefited undocumented immigrants who entered when they were children (before the age of 16), who were less than 31 years of age, who had been physically present in the US since June 15, 2007, who graduated or are in school in the US, and who have no serious criminal history.
The administration is now expanding the DACA program to include people who have physical presence from January 1, 2010 (not just since 2007), and more significantly, is removing the upper age limit (so it is no longer necessary to be have been less than 31). Who benefits? Imagine Wanda is 45 and entered the US at age 9 as a child - her parents brought her across the border when they were working in seasonal agricultural work, and they never returned. Wanda has been living her whole life in the US. She went to middle and high school here, she is currently working under the table as a maid for a local wealthy family (she has never been able to apply for a better job, due to her immigration status). She has never had a drivers license so she commutes by public transportation. She was not eligible for DACA because of her age, but now, under this expansion, she will be eligible to apply for documentation for the first time in her life!
  1. DAPA - Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. This is a brand new and very exciting program! It will allow parents of US citizens and green card holding children to apply for similar "deferred action" as long as they have been physically present in the US since January 1, 2010, and as long as they are not a deportation priority (no crimes, significant misdemeanors or significant immigration violations).
Who benefits? Imagine Wanda above didn't qualify for DACA (e.g. because she entered when she was 19 years old, instead of 9 - like so many people do). But imagine that she had given birth to a US citizen child while here. This provision would allow Wanda to apply for protection from deportation, work authorization, drivers license, social security card, and the documentation that she has been without all these years.
  1. There are more pieces to Obama's announcement as well. The administration issued a new memo on enforcement priorities, and made good changes to the I-601A program and to the visa application process.
How are we responding? These changes are exciting and new. We will be hosting two seminars in my office, the first on Friday December 12th, and the second on Friday December 19th. These seminars will be for immigrants who are interested in preparing for these legal changes, and I will present on the laws and discuss immigration options. There will be a small fee associated with attendance, and space is limited, so call our office quickly if you are interested! In the meantime, if you know anyone who is interested in learning more about these changes, feel free to have them contact our office. Thank you, and have a great day! Sincerely, Otis C. Landerholm, Esq.
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