Changes in Immigration Law

The following is an overview of the recent changes to immigration law in the United States.

A Shift in Removal Priorities

The policy builds on existing law and memoranda that will effectively use resources to interdict persons attempting to enter the United States without inspection. This effort will place individuals in removal proceedings in three categories of priority. The top priority are those that threaten our national security. Second, are those who are convicted of a “significant” or multiple misdemeanors, and those who are not apprehended at the border but entered or reentered unlawfully after January 1, 2014. Third, are those who do not have convictions but have failed to abide by an order of removal issued on or after January 1, 2014.

By this policy, resources used to detain individuals shall conform to promote the effectiveness of the priority categories. Absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirement of mandatory detention by law, persons suffering from a serious physical or mental illness, or are disabled, elderly, pregnant or nursing, or demonstrate to be the sole caretaker of children or an infirm person, or persons whose detention is not otherwise in the public’s best interest, shall not be detained.

This policy grants officials the ability to exercise prosecutorial discretion and look at factors such as extended length of time since the conviction, length of time residing in the U.S., military service, family/community ties in the U.S., or compelling humanitarian factors such as poor health, age, pregnancy, a young child, or a seriously ill relative.

Guidance on this shift will be effective January 5, 2015.

Expansions on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Deferred Action for Adults that Qualify

DACA began in June 2012 as a way of deferring a deportation for a period of time. In this context, DACA is not an amnesty, a path to citizenship, or residency. It simply means the person granted DACA will not be deported for the time period the DACA is current. In 2012, to be eligible for DACA you had to: 1) be under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012; 2) entered to the U.S. before June 15, 2007; 3) entered before the age of 16; 4) and meet educational and public safety requirements.

The changes, under the recent announcement, are as follows: 1) no age cap, if you entered before age 16, you can apply without regard to your age today or age in June 2012; 2) DACA now lasts three years instead of two; 3) the required date of entry has moved from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.

New DACA applications are to be accepted no later than 90 days from November 20, 2014.

To further promote the enforcement efforts and prioritization of removals, the policy change includes Deferred Action for Adults. To qualify you must meet the following requirements; 1) have a child born before November 20, 2014 who is a U.S. Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident; 2) have continuously resided in the U.S. since before January 1, 2010; 3) be physically present on the date you apply AND present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014; 4) have no lawful status on November 20, 2014; 5) are not a priority as outlined in the removal priority above; 6) and present no other factors that would make granting deferred action inappropriate.

ICE is instructed to begin identifying individuals in its custody who meet these requirements to prevent the expenditure of additional enforcement resources and release adults who qualify under this deferred action. This also applies to individuals subject to final orders of removal.

Applications for such deferred action are to be accepted no later than 180 days from November 20, 2014.

Please see the chart at the below link for a helpful guide of eligibility.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/22/flow-chart-who-qualifies-for-obamas-immigration-offer/

To see if you qualify, or to speak to an attorney about your immigration issue, please contact 210-540-3449, and take advantage of RGP’s free consultation.  

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