Last night, President Barack Obama announced a set of executive actions his administrative is taking to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, as well as a number of changes to other aspects of the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
Please keep several things in mind.
First, the President’s changes are not amnesty and provide no long term relief for millions of undocumented immigrants. The next President could undo some or all of the changes implemented by President Obama.
Second, these changes in no way include a path to citizenship. Only Congress can implement such fundamental changes to the immigration system.
Third, the changes announced by President Obama do not apply to everyone. As the regulations are issued and the changes implemented, we will have a better grasp of who benefits and who does not.
Fourth, changes do not begin to go into effect for at least 90 days. Some rule changes will not take effect for even longer than that.
Let’s look at the announced changes themselves:
- Parents of US citizens and LPRs: one group that will be protected from deportation will be parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have been in the U.S. for more than five years. These individuals will be allowed to obtain “temporary relief” from deportation and work authorization for three year periods at a time, as long as they have a qualifying relative and have no criminal history.
- Expanding DACA: the President will also greatly expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Originally, DACA only applied to children born after 1981 who arrived prior to 2007. DACA allowed those kids to get a work authorization and relief from deportation. The new changes would expand DACA to individuals brought to this country as children prior to January 1, 2010 and would be eligible no matter how old they are today.
- Highly skilled workers: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to make regulatory changes to allow foreign skilled workers to change jobs more easily. Also, the spouses of such workers who have an approved green card application are also going to be allowed to work. The Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign students to work temporarily in their field of study, is also expected to be tweaked. DHS is also going to ease travel restrictions for foreign workers and their families to allow them to visit home more easily.
- Prosecutorial discretion: the immigration enforcement resources at government agencies are being redirected, along with a package of immigration court reforms meant to address the huge backlog at immigration court.
- An end to Secure Communities: DHS will shut down its controversial Secure Communities program which sought the assistance of local and state law enforcement officials in detaining immigrants and investigating their status.
Time will tell how these changes will be implemented. These changes simply do not apply to many of the immigrants who are in the country without status.
Angry Republicans have vowed to fight back against Obama’s revisions to the enforcement of immigration laws. Stay tuned for more updates by clicking here: