2014 has been a rough year for immigrants who have waited for decades for some type of immigration reform. After the president announced his intention to act if Congress did not this summer, he pushed off announcing and implementing his plan until after the mid-term elections. Was this just more politics? After taking quite the beating at the polls, many wondered whether the president would act or delay, again. Read our immigration reform news here. On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced sweeping improvements to the US immigration system. Here are five things you should know about these reforms.
- DACA now valid for 3 years: One of the smartest items of the 2014 reforms is the extension of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The original program, announced in June, 2012, allowed those brought into the US under age 15 to make themselves known, to request a work permit and to be demonstrate they were a low priority for deportation. The initial program provided for work authorization for a mere two years. Now, in light of the success of this program, President Obama has extended that to three years. Given the similarity of the initial and renewal processes, this change rewards recipients who still qualify and reduces the frequency with which they must apply. This is a smart, simple way to reallocate DHS resources.
- DAPA: for parents of US citizen children: The most natural extension of the 2012 is to extend opportunities to parents of US citizen children and lawful permanent residents. Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) creates a substantially similar program for them. Applicants must demonstrate their continuous presence in the US since 2010, that they are not a priority for deportation, and have a qualifying relative.
- Implementation timelines: Typically the implementation timeline is a short one. When DACA was originally announced, it took 60 days for the regulations to be written and implemented. The extension of the authorization period for DACA is the simplest and will be effected immediately. DAPA-eligible applicants will need to wait six months before applying. In the meantime, those interested should meet with an experienced immigration lawyer to evaluate the strength of their case and get ready.
- Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes: Part of these changes includes applicants demonstrating their willingness to comply with the law, especially the obligation of paying taxes. When preparing yourself for your meeting with your immigration lawyer, be sure not only to bring your taxes but to be willing and able to make changes if errors are found.
- “Executive Amnesty”: Immediately after the details of the president’s reforms, many critics called them “executive amnesty.” Amnesty is a form of a pardon, the forgiving of breaking a law or rule. In the immigration context, amnesty includes the awarding of legal status. Neither DACA nor DAPA provide for legal status. Instead, it puts successful applicants in a position to work legitimately, to pursue educational opportunity, and to come out of the shadows.
The broad changes announced just a few days ago are wonderful news and provide millions with opportunities they wouldn’t have without them. If you are one of those millions, protect yourself and your family by working with a licensed, experienced immigration lawyer – like Christine Swenson – who can be your voice during this process. Contact us or call 720.414.2027 to set up a time to discuss how we can help you realize your dreams and redefine your family through immigration!