On November 20, 2014, President Obama unveiled his new plan to fix the U.S. immigration through his executive authority. The plan includes:
- Strengthening border security to deter unlawful entries into the United States by land, sea and air;
- Revising removal priorities by focusing enforcement resources on person who pose a threat to national security or public safety, e.g., gang members and recidivists, or who have recently entered the United States illegally or disobeyed an order for removal;
- Ending the Secure Communities Program and replacing it with the Priority Enforcement Program, which is intended to implement Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new enforcement priorities;
- Expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program to include undocumented persons who entered the United States before the age of 16, regardless of the date of birth, provided the entry occurred on or before January 1, 2010, and lengthening the initial work permit and deferred action validity period to three years instead of two;
- Extending Deferred Action on a case-by-case basis to undocumented persons who (a) have resided in the United States for at least five years, (b) are not considered a removal priority by DHS, and (c) have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents;
- Expanding the provisional waiver program “to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, as well as the adult children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents,” and clarifying the extreme hardship standard which must be met to obtain a provisional waiver;
- Revising parole rules to include entrepreneurs whose entry into the United States would create a significant economic benefit and expanding parole-in-place and deferred action for family members of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residents who seek to enlist in the military;
- Promoting access to U.S. citizenship through increased public awareness and by allowing payment of the USCIS filing fee for Form N-400 by credit card;
- Supporting highly-skilled noncitizen workers and students through administrative and regulatory changes to make it easier for businesses to attract and retain the best talent.
As yet, there is no way to affirmatively apply to take advantage of the benefits offered under President Obama’s executive action. DHS must still establish procedures and issue guidelines which are not expected until early next year. In the meantime, please continue to follow my blog where you can get the latest updates. I will be following developments closely and posting updates more or less as they occur.
Timothy D. Widman is a Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman, with offices in San Jose and Cupertino.