President Barack Obama is in Chicago today at a rally on the city's northwest side to highlight his executive order on immigration. The action could give as many as 5 million of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants permission to work and a three-year reprieve from being deported. He says he felt compelled to issue the order because Congress has been unable to come to an agreement on an overhaul of the immigration system.
Immigration Reform Executive Order Explained
What did the executive order do exactly?
For children (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals/DACA), President Obama’s executive order:
- Drops the 31-year old age restriction for child immigrants
- Changes the residency start date from 2007 to Jan. 1, 2010
- DACA approvals and renewals are effective for three years instead of two
For adults, President Obama’s executive order creates a similar program to DACA called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), who meet the criteria below, will be able to request three years of deferred action from deportation and work authorization upon completion of a background check and application approval. The program will be open to individuals who:
- Have a U.S. citizen or LPR child as of Nov. 20, 2014
- Have continuously lived in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 2010
- Are in the U.S. on Nov. 20, 2014 and at the time of applying
- Have no lawful immigration status on Nov. 20, 2014
- Are not an enforcement priority
- Are not otherwise undeserving of a favorable exercise of discretion
What is DACA again?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that was announced on June 15, 2012. The program is deferred action from immigration enforcement for eligible individuals who were children when they arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday and lived here continuously since Jan. 1, 2010, are currently in school, graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or were honorably discharged from the Armed Forces; have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
When will applications be accepted?
The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) will begin accepting applications for the adjusted DACA program around February 2015, which is 90 days after the President’s Nov. 20, 2014, announcement.
For the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, DAPA applications will be accepted approximately in May of 2015 or 180 days after the President’s Nov. 20, 2014, announcement.
The government suggests people interested in the program sign up at the USCIS website for updates to avoid being taken by a scam artist.
Any undocumented immigrants in Illinois who have questions on how to apply for administrative relief should visit the IL is Ready site.
What do you need?
People who want to sign up for the new immigration initiatives can collect the following for when the application process opens up. They will need documentation proving their:
- Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Continuous residence in the U.S. over the last five years or more
Is this a path to legal status?
No. This just means people who are accepted won't be deported for three years. The program will also issue work permits that are valid during that time. When the three years are up, if an immigrant hasn't applied for renewal, he or she is vulnerable to deportation again.
What will it cost?
The details are still being worked out, but taxes and fees will be assessed. According to the President:
“Individuals will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years at a time if they come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement. By registering and passing criminal and national security background checks, millions of undocumented immigrants will start paying their fair share of taxes and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time."