Immigration Accountability Executive Action
On November 20 2014, President Obama announced his “immigration accountability executive action,” which includes a series of measures designed to provide temporary protection from removal (deportation) from the United States for millions of unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S. This will be achieved through expansion of the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the creation of a new deferred action program, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). The (DAPA) program is set to start approximately six (6) months from the date it was announced, or around May 19, 2015. The expanded DACA program is set to start 90 days from the date it was announced, or around February 18, 2015.
On February 16, 2015, a federal district court in Texas temporarily blocked the implementation of DAPA and the expanded DACA program. As a result, the implementation of both initiatives is currently on hold.
NOTE: The 2012 DACA program is not affected by this decision. Individuals who qualify under the original, 2012 DACA program can still submit initial applications and renewal applications.
What is the new DAPA program?
The Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) is a prosecutorial discretion program that will be administered by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It will provide temporary relief from deportation (also called deferred action) and work authorization to parents who are currently living in the US without authorization but have a child who is a U.S. citizen or Permanent Residents (PR). The DAPA program is similar the DACA program, but the eligibility criteria are distinct.
Based on the details announced, the DAPA program will be open to individuals who:
* have a U.S. citizen or PR son or daughter as of November 20, 2014;
* have continuously resided in the United States since before January 1, 2010;
* were physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014, and are present in the US at the time of applying;
* had 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
* present no other factors that would make a grant of deferred action inappropriate; and
* pass a background check. DAPA grants will last for three years. USCIS should be ready to receive DAPA applications within 180 days of the November 20, 2014 announcement.
What is the Expansion of the DACA Program?
On November 20, 2014, the Obama Administration modified the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (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 to qualify. In addition, the Obama Administration announced that, as of November 24, 2014, new DACA approvals and accompanying employment authorization cards will be valid for three years instead of two years. USCIS will continue to accept initial applications and renewal applications under current DACA eligibility criteria. Those eligible under the new eligibility criteria should be able to apply within 90 days of the announcement (on or about February 18, 2015).