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Obama’s executive action initiatives on immigration: a summary

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  • Obama’s executive action initiatives on immigration: a summary

    President Barack Obama has announced a series of executive actions that will simultaneously crack down on illegal immigration and provide protection adjacent to deportation for almost five million undocumented migrants currently living in the US (United States).

    The president describes the actions as a step in the direction of “accountability”, allowing a temporary stay in the country without fear of deportation, and the opportunity to play by the rules and pay taxes.

    Broken system

    The new moves are, he says, attempts to fix an immigration system that has become broken.

    There are two main thrusts: one is a plan to prioritize deportation of recognized criminals and individuals believed to pose a nationwide safety threat; the other encompasses migrant parents of children who are people or legal inhabitants, as well as a prolonged pool of migrants who reached in the US as children.


    Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks and months, but here is where we are at present.

    1. New measures will be put into place to deport suspected terrorists, convicted felons and gang members, and persons apprehended at the border. Those who entered illegally after 1 January 2014, and those who failed to leave under a removal order after that date, will also be deported.
    2. More Border Patrol agents will be added to strengthen enforcement.
    3. Two deferred action initiatives will be put in place that will benefit undocumented individuals. Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) is for the parents of US citizens who have been continuously present since 1 January 2010 and who pass background checks. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an amendment of existing legislation, removing the age cap and bringing the arrival date into line with that of DAP.

    With these actions in place the intention is that felons will be deported, rather than families, and that those who are eligible for temporary relief from deportation may also be eligible for work authorization and the paying of taxes.

    Start date

    The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not begin accepting applications until early or mid 2015, but individuals who believe they may be eligible can prepare by gathering documents that establish identity, relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, and show that they have lived continuously in the US for at least five years.

    It is important to note the time requirement, for these measures will not benefit those who have recently crossed the border, or who may cross the border in future. Further, the strengthening of border security will greatly increase the chances that anyone attempting illegal entry will be apprehended and returned.

    The program will cover anyone who arrived in the country before 2010 and will provide security of stay for three years. It is not a pathway to citizenship, federal benefits or health care programs.

    The new deportation priorities will compel law enforcement agencies to focus on tracking down serious criminals and people who have recently crossed the border.


    President Obama’s actions have created a storm of controversy, with accusations that he is acting unilaterally, but White House officials have countered by saying the immigration measures are within his powers because he is directing authorities to prioritize which groups of the estimated 11.4 million undocumented immigrants in the country should be deported.

    The officials have said that law enforcement officials made similar decisions each day about which categories of offenders to target with prosecution and that the president is simply charting a new way to apply existing immigration laws.

    The White House says that Obama’s moves are grounded in law and constitutional precedent, in spite of claims by countless that they represent an illegal overreach of his power.


    What the program does mean is that the fear of deportation that is part of the daily life for unauthorized immigrants will be removed. Or at least, for some of them.

    More announcements are expected. For example, there are plans to reform the immigration rules to make it easier for science and technology students to study in the US, and for entrepreneurs to enter the country if they can show they have sufficient investors backing them.

    At present, however, the way forward is far from clear and will be further dogged by controversy.

  • #2
    See and hear the President tell immigrants "they don't have to hire a lawyer," insult us and lump us in with "notaries":
    (at 21:18)


    • #3
      Open letter to the President, first rough draft:

      Mr. President,
      We immigration lawyers have worked hard to get where we are.
      Many of us worked and/or volunteered with immigrants before becoming attorneys,
      with federal, state and local governments, non-profits and humanitarian and religious organizations.
      As a college student in Austin, I used to spend my vacation time driving pickup-truckloads of food across the border to the "colonies," makeshift shanty-towns in the desert where hundreds, thousands of Central American refugees had camped, not being allowed to cross our border. Some got through, many did not. Many died of depression and malnutrition in those camps…

      We are the first to tell immigrants when they do or do not need a lawyer. Most of us give free consultations to determine just that.
      So when you tell immigrants that they do not HAVE to hire a lawyer ("or a notary"),
      please remember to follow that up by telling your audience that if they ever DO need a lawyer's help,
      we are the only ones willing to do the incredible things it takes sometimes to get it done.
      And done right.
      The first time, or maybe the second, since we're dealing with incompetent government bureaucracies all day long.

      Thank you for your cooperation, sir.


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