Today, President Obama announced highly and long anticipated executive action on immigration. While it doesn’t substitute for immigration reform, it will certainly provides huge relief for many immigrants and their families who live in constant fear of being deported. The main purpose of this executive action is to prevent the deportation of immigrants who came to the United States long ago, have family ties to the U.S., and do not represent a threat to society, as well as those who arrived in the country as children.
In some areas, the President’s new initiative does not introduce any new initiatives, but rather extends and modifies those that were adopted by previous presidential administrations and that have been around for quite some time. One of those actions is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was introduced in 2012. DACA is an executive action that authorizes the U.S. government to grant temporary legal status to certain immigrants who came illegally to the United States as children.
Because it is an executive action and not a law adopted by Congress, the President’s initiative is limited in its effect and in its longevity. It does not provide permanent legal status and its benefits last for only 3 years (hopefully subject to renewal). People who are entitled to the relief will be granted work authorization, but they are not entitled to any other benefits enjoyed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Nor does it pave the path to citizenship or permanent residence.
The official website of the Department of Homeland Security provides detailed information on the executive action, which you can find at the following link.
If you have questions about your specific case and how the President’s executive action might affect you or your family, please contact me by sending me an email or calling me at 917-426-8227.