It has been nearly 30 years since the Reagan Administration made its move on immigration reform, and accordingly, President Obama is creating a pro-immigrant legacy that could well surpass that of President Reagan. What follows is a summary of the top ten administrative remedies to the various problems areas within the immigration field, and most importantly, these points streamline and add more fairness to the implementation of US immigration laws. While there is an understandable sense of euphoria within the immigrant community, this plan does not assist over one half of the the undocumented population in the US–specifically, it would not help those individuals who are not DACA-eligible, and who do not have children in the US. As such, community-based organizations, activists and the immigrant community will continue to organize for comprehensive immigration reform. For a summary of the DHS’s actions, see http://www.dhs.gov/immigration-action http://www.dhs.gov/accionmigratoria
- DAPA: Parents who have lived continuously in the US since January 1, 2010 and who have US citizen and / or Legal Permanent Resident children as of November 20, 2014 will be eligible for a work authorization card and protection from deportation. See http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_deferred_action.pdf
- DACA expansion: Children who entered the US who were under 16, who entered before January 1, 2010 regardless of their current age (there is no longer an upper age “cap” to apply), will be eligible for a work authorization card and protection from deportation. See http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_deferred_action.pdf
- Immigration Court: Reduction of the nearly one half million of backlogged cases via a more aggressive use of Prosecutorial Discretion http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/court_backlog/
- Elimination of Secured Communities Program: The DHS will end the Secure Communities Program and replace it with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) that will implement the DHS’s new top enforcement programs. Importantly, ICE officers will also be monitored as to their effectiveness and pay increases will be linked to performance as it relates to the new Obama Administration Directives. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_pay_reform_ice_officers.pdf
- Expansion of the Provisional Waiver (I-601(a)) Program, which will include spouses of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) and significantly, will relax the “extreme hardship” standard to the documented spouse. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_i601a_waiver.pdf
- Advance Parole standards will be better defined and expanded. This point is extremely important and overlooked, as those immigrants who travel on advanced parole might be eligible to receive their Legal Permanent Residency here in the US (without the need of any waiver) through a US citizen spouse. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_arrabally.pdf
- Investors, entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers will have more opportunities to work and to contribute to the US economy.
- US Citizenship Expansion and Increased Accessibility: Understanding the importance of US citizenship, the Obama Administration will increase accessibility of fee waivers, and they will implement a more aggressive outreach strategy to encourage more Legal Permanent Residents to apply for their US citizenship. http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/14_1120_memo_naturalization.pdf
- Review and “clean up” of the Permanent (LPR) Family-Based and Employment-based Visa Backlog: As with some of the above-mentioned points, the Obama Administration will clarify what this “clean up” will entail, but the good news is that those who are waiting for their priority dates to become current may not have to wait as long in the near future.
- Overall streamlining and increased use of technology in the above-mentioned areas: It is important to note that the largest programs, namely DAPA and DACA are self-funded and cannot be “cut” by the Republican-lead Congress.
It is is extremely important that activists, community-based organizations, and the immigrant community remain vigilant during the implementation of these (and related) administrative actions. Finally, Attorney Meredith Brown will be offering free, weekly informational presentations throughout the Southern California area on the Obama Administration’s Immigration Plan (in Spanish and in English) every Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Please call 818-541-9999 to reserve your seat and to confirm the location!