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On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama introduced one of the biggest measures in immigration reform to prevent the deportation of approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants. Immigration reform had been debated in both the Senate and House of Representatives in late 2013 and was shot down by Republicans. Throughout the following months in 2014, President Obama faced pressure from pro-immigration reform organization. Eventually, Obama met with Secretary Johnson of Homeland Security and a group of advisors to determine the extent of his presidential powers in the matter. Although, the group concluded that the executive power of the President could not benefit the same number of immigrants that the 2013 Senate bill proposed, the new changes introduced through executive action could benefit about 5 million illegal residents, including immigrant children, parents, and spouses.

ATTORNEY MICHAEL BORJA DISCUSSING OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION 

What changes does President Obama’s executive action introduce to the United States’ immigration system?

(1) It expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). There is no longer a maximum age for immigrants who want to apply (so long as they entered the United States before turning 16 years of age), and extends date of entry from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. Additionally, work permits will be extended to three years.

(2) It introduces Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) to parents of both United States citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country since January 1, 2010, are not priorities for deportation (based on the policy explained above), have children who were citizens or permanent residents before November 20, 2014.

(3) It introduces the New Priority Enforcement Program.

(4) It introduces personnel reform for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

(5) It strengthens border security.

(6) It includes a new deportation policy that gives

  • First priority to national threats, convicted felons, gang members, and immigrants arrested while illegally crossing the border;
  • Second priority to immigrants convicted of “significant or multiple misdemeanors” and immigrants who entered illegally after January 1, 2014, but were not immediately arrested at the border;
  • Third priority to immigrants who did not abide by an order of removal issued on or after January 1, 2014.

IMMIGRANTS WHO ENTERED THE UNITED STATES BEFORE JANUARY 1, 2014, AND DID NOT DISOBEY A PRIOR ORDER OF REMOVAL AND DID NOT COMMIT A SERIOUS OFFENSE WILL NO LONGER BE PRIORITIES FOR REMOVAL.

(7) Expands provisional waivers to children and spouses of lawful permanent residents.

(8) It revises parole rules.

(9) It promotes the naturalization process through public awareness and additional payment methods.

(10) It facilitates immigration for foreign high-skilled workers.

Do I Qualify for Deferred Action?