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During President Obama’s address to the nation, he stated we have a tradition of welcoming immigrants. His speech and executive action was prompted by 500+ days of inaction by the Republican House of Representative on an immigration bill already passed by the Senate. In referring to the executive order he will sign, he stated “this is about who we are as a country…working hard…and keeping families together.”

Republicans may block Obama immigration order by passing a resolution denouncing the president’s action and then vote to censure him or sue over the legality of the executive action. Opponents have mentioned an appropriations bill to stop spending for this executive order but U.S. Department of Homeland Security is self-funded by application fees and does not rely on Congressional spending. Republicans need to be cautious that whatever action they choose to take, it does not alienate them from Latino and minority voters.

Deportation Protection for Parents & Children: Obama immigration order offers two deferred action (or protection from deportation) initiatives that will benefit 4.4 million undocumented immigrants. First, undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will be granted three years of deportation relief. To qualify, they must have lived in the United States since 1/1/2010, pass background checks and pay taxes. Application for Deferred Action for Parents (DAP) will be released and accepted in 180 days.

In 2012, Obama immigration order to help immigrant children was implemented and many immigrant children continue to benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Obama will revise DACA to eliminate the age restriction, residency requirement will start as of 1/1/2010 (instead of previous 6/15/2007) and deportation relief will be granted for three years. Application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will be released and accepted in 90 days.

Elimination of Detention Detainers: The practice of immigration officials lodging a detainer on immigrants booked into a jail and making them ineligible for bond/release will be discontinued. Additionally, under Obama immigration order, Secure Communities, a program where state and local law enforcements shared probation and conviction records with immigration officials will be discontinued and replaced with a Priority Enforcement Program.

Deportation Priorities: Under Obama immigration order, new memos will be released naming enforcement priorities for the following cases: (1) suspected terrorists, convicted felons, convicted gang members, and people apprehended on the border; (2) people convicted of serious misdemeanors; and (3) those who after 1/1/2014, failed to leave under a removal order or returned after a removal order.

Expansion of Waivers: The I-601A provisional waiver allowing immigrants to file their unlawful presence waiver in the United States (rather than departing the U.S. and filing the waiver abroad) will be expanded to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (currently only benefits spouses and children of U.S. citizens). Also, parole in place which allows adjustment of status for immigrant spouse, parent and children of active or retired military will be expanded to include families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces.

Initiatives for Entrepreneurs and Skilled Worker: Obama immigration order will allow certain investors to be paroled into the U.S. for job creation and investment. Also, entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, and founders will be eligible for national interest waivers where permanent resident status is granted due to shortage of skilled workers in those designated job fields. For foreign students, the optional practical training (OPT) period for students who studied in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will be extended longer than one year. Also, individuals with employment-based immigrant petitions that have a backlog for visa availability will be able to pre-register for adjustment of status to obtain benefits of a pending adjustment (such as work authorization).

Obama Immigration Order covered under the U.S. Constitution: Authority for President Obama’s executive action on certain immigration policies lies in Article II of the U.S. Constitution that vests executive powers in the President, makes him the commander in chief, and requires that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” An executive order from the President has the same power as federal law. In this situation, President Obama’s executive order is insuring our immigration laws are “faithfully executed” in a manner where immigrant families are united and immigrant criminals are deported. By this executive order on immigration, our immigration laws still stand but discretionary relief or humanitarian relief will be granted to certain immigrants.

For more information on executive order action by Obama, email or call 1-877-GAIL-LAW or 407-292-7730.

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