Hey everybody, it’s Jim. I wanted to shoot this video to go over some of the thoughts that I have on the President’s decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. I want to explore what the decision to end DACA means and how that’s going to affect people who are currently benefiting from Deferred Action. Molly, can you let me know, can you hear me, what I’m saying? I don’t know if my microphone’s working. I have a new microphone. So if someone could give me a thumbs up or let me know that the microphone’s working, I’d appreciate it.
We’re going to talk through what Deferred Action is and was and … Thanks, Nick. All right, hot mic. So we’re going to talk about what Deferred Action is, what it isn’t and sort of what’s happened. I’m going to be doing a little bit of reading, and I apologize for that, but I just want to be sure that I’m thorough in talking this through to everybody.
Back in 2011, 2012, the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented people in the United States who have been in the United States for a long time and who entered without inspection. This law was introduced by Senator Durbin and Lindsey Graham and some other people. It was a bipartisan bill that the Senate passed overwhelmingly, and they sent it to the House for approval or for a vote. There was every indication that the House had the votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
But some immigration hardliners like Steve King from Iowa refused to let it come to the floor for a vote, because they knew it was going to pass, and so no immigration reform happened under President Obama’s watch. What happened instead, frustrated with the Congress’s inability and refusal to process or to pass legislation bringing about comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama adopted a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This was put into place in the summer of 2012, and basically what happened is that immigrants, undocumented people who came to the United States as young people, who came as children, who’d been in the United States and who were either getting their GED or had finished high school and were studying and not gotten into any kind of criminal trouble, basically what happened was that those people had their deportation actions deferred. And that’s sort of where the “Deferred Action” comes from.
President Obama and the Attorney General, Eric Holder, and some other people, Janet Napolitano, people at the Department of Homeland Security, came to the conclusion that they weren’t going to be able to deport 12 million people. And so what they decided to do was to come up with priorities. They wanted to focus on people who had been arrested, people with criminal convictions, people who had entered the United States over and over and over, and so they did that. They adopted an Executive Order back in the summer of 2012 that said listen, we’re not going to deport these young people, we’re not going to put them at the top of our list unless they’ve committed some kind of crime. In fact, what we’re going to do is we’re going to give the ability to obtain work authorization and to have their deportations halted.
That sort of has been in place. It’s important to remember that this was not a piece of legislation. This was not something that was passed by Congress. This was just an Executive Order. And so with an Executive Order, that can always be undone by the next president. And that’s exactly what happened today. As a candidate, Donald Trump ran on a campaign to do away with Deferred Action. He and some other immigration hardliners viewed it as an unconstitutional abuse of power. Many legal scholars have refuted that, and most legal scholars have said that this was within the President’s ability to prioritize who he wanted to deport, and that President Obama’s actions were completely legal.
Lately, there have been rumblings from some states, some southern states and some other anti-immigrant attorney generals around the country, that they were going to file litigation to challenge the legality of Deferred Action. Enter stage left Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Jeff Sessions was one of the most anti-immigrant members of the Senate before he became President Trump’s Attorney General, and he has now allegedly concluded that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is unconstitutional, and he’s like, “Oh no, I can’t defend this Executive Action in court, so President Trump you have to do something.”
What has happened today after much to-do, President Trump has finally come about and announced that he’s going to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. There is an estimated 800,000 people, more than 800,000 young men and women who are law abiding people, who have been in this country for a very long time, who know no other country in which they live, and the program is going to come to an end in six months unless Congress acts. So the President has dropped a little poison pill, I believe, on the Congress, on Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Don’t forget, he’s very frustrated with these people, and now he has taken a very, very hot political topic and dropped it in the lap of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, who he’s been fighting with for a long time.
Let’s get into the meat of it. Let’s talk about what the announcement today covers on September 5, 2017. This means that those young people are eventually going to have their temporary protected status and their work authorization go away. The first thing to keep in mind is that as of today, September 5, 2017, if you have not applied for Deferred Action and if you are eligible, it is now too late. Some really smart immigration attorneys have been filing these DACA applications over the last couple weeks for the people that waited to the last minute, but the program is now ended. So they will not be accepting any more Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival applications.
For those people who have already been granted Deferred Action, the question is then what happens to them? What happens to their work cards, what happens to their deportation cases, and there’s so many angles to this that we’re going to be shooting video all this week, and then we’re going to post it out to all our social media channels, because we want to get out the word as to what’s going to happen to these people. For the people who already have Deferred Action, if it expires before March 5, 2018 … in other words six months from today … if it expires by March 5, 2018, if you already have DACA and it’s going to expire, you can apply for a two-year renewal, but your application must be received one month from today. It must be received no later than October 5, 2017.
In our office, we’re going to be going over all of our Deferred Action applications, all of our beneficiaries, and we’re going to shoot those applications over for renewal for the people that are eligible. If you have Deferred Action and it expires after March 5, 2018, you’re not going to be eligible for that extension, and your DACA and your work authorization will expire on the date that’s shown on that red work authorization card that you have.
If you have a new DACA application that was filed before today, it is going to continue to be processed. They are not going to stop processing Deferred Action applications that were on file prior to September 5, 2017.
Now, one of the great things about the Deferred Action program, and one of the things that really has driven the hardliners crazy, is that with Deferred Action, not only could you get work authorization, and not only could you get your deportation halted, you also had the ability if you needed to get back to your home country to apply for something called “advance parole.” Advance parole is permission before you leave the United States to return to the United States, and it allows you to go out of the country. And if you have a qualifying relative, that is if you’re married to a US citizen, now that you’ve come back you can apply for a green card, for lawful permanent resident status through that advance parole and through that Deferred Action that you’ve been previously given. And it allows you to be properly inspected so that you can adjust your status.
We did this for a good number of clients, where we had people who had obtained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, they had a reason to go back home, some kind of family emergency. They’d go back to their home country, and when they return, they come through customs on that advance parole, and now they’ve been properly inspected and they’re allowed to adjust their status. In fact, we had one approved this very morning. We had a case that we’d been sweating. We weren’t sure what was going to happen with Deferred Action. We thought that it might be going away, and one of our long time clients who has had Deferred Action for quite some time and is married to a US citizen got the word today that he’s going to get his green card.
The question is are people who have Deferred Action and who have already obtained advance parole, are they going to be able to leave the United States or are they going to be able to come back to the United States and adjust their status. And the answer to that question is yes. If you’re outside of the United States and you’ve been granted advance parole, the good advice would be to come back as soon as you can, but you are going to be able to do that maneuver that we mentioned and, hopefully, obtain your lawful permanent resident status. That will still be considered a good entry for purposes of adjustment of status.
The USCIS as of today will no longer process those advance parole applications, so some of our clients do have pending advance parole applications. Those will not be granted. As far as people who have final orders of deportation and are in deportation proceedings, we’re going to cover that in tomorrow’s video, but as of now I think it’s safe to assume that those people are going to have their cases what are called “re-calendared”. They’re going to be sent back to Immigration Court, and they’re going to have to be responsive to the charges of deportation, and if they’ve already been ordered deported I suspect that eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, ICE is going to start effectuating those orders of removal. So we’ll see if that’s paused or not. I’m not sure exactly if that’s going to happen yet, but we’ll see.
One thing to keep in mind with all this is you should not be relying on the advice of strangers, you should not be relying on the advice of notarios. You want to make sure that you are using an immigration attorney, preferably one who’s in the American Immigration Lawyers Association, lawyers who specialize in immigration. There are a lot of people in times of crisis like this who try to take advantage of people, and there are many, many, many good immigration attorneys around the country. I encourage you to talk to one of them.
We are going to continue to fight for our clients, and we’re going to continue to press Congress to take action. That will be the topic of another video later this week, but for now, if you have questions about the ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, if you have any questions about what your particular situation is, be sure to give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected] Make sure to like our Facebook channel, our YouTube channel so that you find out all of our future updates as to what’s been going on. We are sorry to say good night to you on this very sad evening.
You’ve gotta keep hope alive, as Reverend Jackson said. We’re going to keep fighting. We have friends in Congress, and there have been a lot of good signals that have come out of Congress that this might be changed legislatively, and that would take away a lot of the arguments that Trump, Sessions, and Kris Kobach have for doing away with Deferred Action, and we’re hopeful that even in this dark hour that things will turn around and that we’ll be able to find a good solution for a lot of the great quality people that we’ve met and we haven’t met who’ve all been benefiting from this Deferred Action program. There’s absolutely no reason these children, these young people, these quality individuals should be sent back to their home countries, and we pray and hope and will strive to make sure that that doesn’t happen.