An executive order that provides relief for eligible illegal immigrants could expire when President Barack Obama leaves office in 2016. As of right now, nobody can guess who will take over the Oval Office or if they’ll support Obama’s stance on the issue, so what should immigrants do in preparation?
A little background is in order: President Obama said in June 2012 of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants that they are “Americans in their heart, in their minds, in ever single way but one: on paper.” Unfortunately, some of these immigrants arrive as children, go to school and graduate from high school, only to be deported. It’s worth noting, however, that under the Obama administration, more immigrants have been deported per month than were deported per month under the Bush administration.
For more than a decade, Democratic and some Republican legislators have worked to introduce and pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act). Lawmakers opposing the Act have consistently and successfully shut it down. However, the President’s executive action in 2012 put a stop to deporting illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before they turned 16, have lived here for five years or longer, are in school or graduated from high school or are military veterans. The only caveat is that the immigrant not have a criminal record or be older than 30. The President acknowledged that the order was not a permanent fix or a path to citizenship.
The order is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and follows some of the eligibility standards that are written into some versions of the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, it will likely expire when Obama leaves office, which means the executive order’s fate will be up to the incoming president who can undo the order with one of his or her own. Because many immigrants were aware of this expiration date, low numbers came out to apply for DACA relief when the order was first issued. However, as of last March, around 80 percent of those eligible either applied for the first time or reapplied for DACA deferrals.
What really needs to happen in order for these immigrants who are in every way Americans except for on paper is for Congress to pass an act that helps them. However, given that immigration reform is such a divisive, polarizing issue, there is no indication that lawmakers are going to change their thinking, which has remained consistently anti-immigration reform for 15 years or longer.
While DACA still exists, immigrants are advised to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney when they apply for deferral, even if they feel confident that they are able to complete it on their own. Sometimes, broader issues arise, which will likely be missed unless an attorney is overseeing the application process. Furthermore, options might be available to immigrants who are otherwise unaware, which is another reason an immigration attorney should be sought after.
For more information about how you should address your immigration situation, contact the Szabo Law Group today. Our immigration attorneys have the experience necessary to guide you through any immigration process.