President Obama is scheduled to announce his plan for Executive Action on immigration tonight at 5pm PST. Most of the networks will NOT be carrying his speech. However, CNN, MSNBC, Telemundo and Univision among others will, although this could change later today. If you miss it, the White House will have a recording here. Most of the controversy between the Democrats and Republicans is over what to do with the millions of people living in the US without legal papers. However, Executive Action will hopefully also encompass some administrative fixes to the legal immigration system, both for family and business immigration. President Obama is also predicted to make some changes to enforcement and border security, which could mean more deportations and problems for certain classes of undocumented immigrants as well as for those trying to get to the US without proper papers.
Relief for more of the undocumented? Things to consider.
Whatever relief President Obama offers to a wider group of undocumented immigrants, people should be aware of these important points:
- He cannot grant new classes of green cards (permanent residence), visas or citizenship, “amnesty” or any other type of legalization program. The most he can do is defer deportation, offer some procedural fixes that might help some people such as Parole in Place allowing more people to adjust status v. consular process (IF they have another legal way to immigrate).
- Deferring deportation such as that previously given to DACA youth is just that – delaying or deferring deportation. Many of the youth who have received DACA will tell you that it has changed their lives in many ways because they were able to get work permits and then social security numbers resulting in other new opportunities such as college and jobs. However, they still have not immigrated in the legal sense; cannot sponsor relatives; travel is somewhat constrained; and it is only available in two-year increments. Participating in this program requires an analysis of risk to oneself and family members because it requires stepping forward out of the shadows and disclosing a lot of personal information. Of the expected one million DACA applicants, only about half of that applied. But even 500,00+ is still a significant number of people who chose to take a chance.
- Whatever President Obama offers can be taken away by him or the next President. Whether that would be a good strategic move is another matter, and most advocates feel that is unlikely. But, no one knows for sure.
- Opponents of President Obama have threatened to not fund the agencies that would carry out these programs, except that these programs are self funded through user filing fees. Opponents have also threatened to sue the Administration, which could result in the program getting tied up in litigation.
- More importantly, however, whatever the President announces tonight, the program will not be implemented for several months, meaning Congress could still come up with a bill that fixes many things. But no one knows whether the end result of Congressional action, if we ever get it, will be more or less favorable to the undocumented population even though the Senate bill passed last year had a pathway to legal status.
While the undocumented population gets the bulk of the media attention tonight, it will be interesting to hear what President Obama plans in the way of legal immigration fixes to help families and employers, investors and entrepreneurs. In addition, his plans for increased enforcement could become more harsh. Stay tuned for more information. Check back to this blog and our other blog at www.bswasserlaw.com/blog.