Hey, it’s Jim Hacking, immigration attorney, practicing law around the United States with our offices here in St. Louis, Missouri.
I want to talk to you today about the recent developments in President Obama’s Deferred Action program. Last November President Obama announced a sweeping new initiative that would grant certain privileges to undocumented immigrants throughout the United States. The centerpiece of the program was to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to make that program bigger after its sweeping success and Deferred Action for Parents of certain US citizens. The president had a team of researchers, lawyers, including our own Professor Steve Legomsky from Washington University, who helped craft a program that would push the envelope to the outer edges of how far President Obama could use his executive authority, as president of the United States, to change the way the immigration laws were enforced. He takes the position, the president and his researches take the positions that, the president, as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the country, as the executive, had the power to decide who to enforce the immigration laws on and who not to.
Specifically, what the president was saying was that there was a limited amount of resources, that the government did not have the resources to try to deport everybody who was in the United States. So they decided to come up with a list of priorities. The president announced that last November amid much fanfare and at the center of it was, that, the parents of US citizens, if they had come into the country on an undocumented, that is they were un-inspected, that is, they had no real status and they entered without inspection, that if they met certain criteria, i.e. not having a criminal record and having been here for a certain amount of time, that they could get work authorization and stop their deportation.
The program also expanded Deferred Action for the children. These would be the so-called DREAMers (children who’d come to the United States as young people) and had been in the United States, had gone to school. On that part of deferred action for childhood arrivals, it was just simply expanding the dates of eligibility and making the relief available for up to three years instead of the previous two years. That program had been on the books for about two years and was extremely successful. Many people had taken advantage of it, had been able to get work authorization cards, enroll in school, and advance their way to the American Dream.
Everything was going fine until twenty-six states let by the state of Texas, mostly republican governors, filed suit in federal court. When they filed suit they picked a jurisdiction in which there where two federal judges and one of the judges was notoriously against President Obama and against the enforcement provisions of the Department of Homeland Security. They happened to get that judge and that judge ruled that President Obama had not followed the procedures in announcing these new rule changes. The president takes the position that he doesn’t have to, that it’s because he was just enforcing the law a little bit differently that he doesn’t have to do what’s called Notice-and-Comment, that is that he doesn’t have to publish the rules and wait for public comment. The federal judge in Texas never really reached the merits of whether it was constitutional for the president to make these changes, he just sort of reaped these introductory issues.
The case went up on appeal and while it was on appeal, the Obama Administration was prohibited, and still is prohibited, from expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and for implementing the Deferred Action for Parents. Everything’s at a stand still. We’ve been getting a lot of questions in our office because the Deferred Action program expansion was supposed to take place in May of 2015 and now that May of 2015 has arrived, we’re getting calls and comments from people, questions asking about whether or not the program is in place. As we stand here today on May 13, 2015, the program is halted, it’s been up on appeal to the fifth circuit court of appeals.
There’s a real question as to whether this program’s going to be implemented at all and if so if it’s going to be implemented before President Obama leaves office in 2016. All we can say to our clients and the people who wish they were eligible for this program is, “Sit tight. Stay tuned. You can sign up for our email updates, we write about this regularly, we’ll be blogging about it. Shooting these kinds of videos and we hope you found it informative.”
If you have any questions about it, about whether or not you’re going to be eligible, and the kinds of things you can do right now, which is to continue gather evidence of your lawful presence, of your lawful existence in the United States, i.e. not having been arrested and that you have been here for a certain amount of time. You need to develop those records to the extent that you can. Otherwise, stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted.