Overview of the Immigration Accountability Executive Action
The President announced the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). These programs will provide temporary protection from removal for millions of unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S. We ask our clients to be aware of the possible increase of individuals offering to assist in the application process for these services. DAPA is not available until May 20, 2015. In addition, with the Injunction issued by a Federal Court judge in Texas, no new DACA (3 year work permit) or DAPA applications will move forward until either the injunction is lifted or the court rules in favor of the government.
Deferred Action Programs
What is the new DAPA program?
The Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) is a prosecutorial discretion program administered by USCIS that provides temporary protection from deportation (called deferred action) and be able to obtain work authorization to unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs).
The program will be open to individuals who:
- have a U.S. citizen or LPR son or daughter as of November 20, 2014;
- have continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 2010;
- are physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014, and at the time of applying;
- have no lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014;
- are not an enforcement priority, which is defined to include individuals with a wide range of criminal convictions (including certain misdemeanors), those suspected of gang involvement and terrorism, recent unlawful entrants, and certain other immigration law violators
- present no other factors that would render a grant of deferred action inappropriate; and
- pass a background check.
DAPA grants will last for three years. The DAPA program should be ready to receive applications within 180 days.
How was DACA expanded?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a prosecutorial discretion program administered by USCIS that provides temporary relief from deportation (deferred action) and work authorization to certain young people brought to the United States as children—often called “DREAMers.” While DACA does not offer a pathway to legalization, it has helped over half a million eligible young adults move into mainstream life, thereby improving their social and economic well-being. On November 20, 2014, the Administration modified the DACA program by eliminating the age ceiling and making individuals who began residing here before January 1, 2010 eligible. Previously, applicants needed to be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, and to have resided here continuously since June 15, 2007. Moreover, the Administration announced that DACA grants and accompanying employment authorization will, as of November 24, 2014, last three years instead of two. While USCIS will continue to take applications and renewals under current eligibility criteria, those eligible under the new criteria should be able to apply within 90 days of the announcement.
If I am eligible for DAPA can I be deported before the new program is in place?
No. DHS has instructed officials in both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to identify expanded DACA and DAPA-eligible individuals who are already in their custody, in removal proceedings, scheduled for deportation, or whom they newly encounter, and to exercise discretion favorably for those individuals. For eligible individuals in immigration court or before the Board of Immigration Appeals, ICE lawyers are instructed to close or terminate their cases and refer those individuals to USCIS for case-by-case determinations.
Why can’t the President just grant a permanent legal status and be done with this?
The new DAPA program, like the DACA program, are only temporary measures. The president can defer action, effectively declining to remove an individual, but only Congress can determine who is eligible for permanent legal status and citizenship.
Will DAPA recipients be eligible for public benefits?
DAPA recipients will not be eligible for federal public benefits, including federal financial aid, food stamps, and housing subsidies. The New York Times has reported that the Obama Administration will promulgate regulations to exclude DAPA recipients from any benefits under the Affordable Care Act, much as it did in the aftermath of the DACA announcement.
Whether DAPA recipients will be eligible for state benefits and opportunities like driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, and professional licenses will turn on the law of the state. As of the publication of this guide, deferred action recipients are eligible for driver’s licenses in the overwhelming majority of states.
What can I do to be ready for DAPA?
At Burga Law Firm, we are helping everyone who wishes to apply for DAPA by making sure their children’s birth certificates have their correct names, reviewing their criminal history for possible post conviction relief or dismissals, and more. Give us a call to meet with the attorney to help you review your eligibility.