(FRESNO, Calif.)-On Nov. 20 and 21, 2014, President Barack Obama announced the administration's "Immigration Accountability Executive Action." The plan that the President outlined is designed to help reform the immigration system and ranges from measures to enhance border security, to new temporary protections for many of the people living in the United States without permission. Many of these changes, will directly affect members of the Pacific Islander community. With this blog, I will highlight the two most pertinent changes.
DAPA: DEFERRED ACTION FOR PARENTAL ACCOUNTABILITY
This program is a form of "prosecutorial discretion," which means that it is controlled by United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS or "Immigration"), and it is in their sole discretion to grant or deny applications. It will provide the parents of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR or "green card holders") or United States Citizens, authorization to work and relief from the threat of removal or deportation. In order to qualify, you will have to meet the following criteria:
-Have US Citizen or Resident son or daughter as of November 20, 2014
-Have continuously resided in the US since before January 1, 2010
-Be physically present in the US on November 20, 2014, and at the time that you apply
-Have no lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014
-Not be an "enforcement priority," which includes various criminal convictions, suspicions of gang involvement and terrorism, recent unlawful entries into the country, and other immigration violations
If you qualify, you will be granted work authorization for three years, which will include a valid social security number. You may also be able to travel outside of the US with advance permission from USCIS, and only in certain circumstances. If travel becomes necessary, it is important to seek competent legal advice before attempting to exit the country. If you travel without first obtaining the proper permission from USCIS, including paperwork that will guarantee you are allowed to reenter the US, you could be banned from returning. Applications for the DAPA program have not yet been released, however, the administration estimated that they would be ready within 180 days of the initial announcement--May 19, 2015.
EXPANSION OF DACA: DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS
In 2012, USCIS began the DACA program for young people who were brought to the US as children. Prior to this announcement, applicants had to be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 and show that they had been continuously present in the country since June 15, 2007, along with proof that they attended school here in the US and either graduated from high school or achieved equivalent diploma or were currently enrolled in high school or an equivalent program. With the new executive action, there will no longer be any age limit for applicants and they will only have to show that they have been in the US continuously since January 1, 2010. In order to qualify, you will have to meet the following criteria: