Last night, President Barack Obama announced that the White House would be taking executive action to attempt to overhaul the immigration system in the United States. The New York Times reports that this immigration action plan would potentially offer protection from deportation to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. The action is controversial, as Obama is acting unilaterally in this matter, in response to Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. President Obama urged those in Congress who opposed him to "pass a bill."
The New York Times offers a concise description of the President's plan, which does not include a way to obtain full legal status or eligibility for ACA benefits. The Times article describes who would be impacted, why the President is taking this action now and how Americans feel about the issue. The Department of Homeland Security lays out each aspect of the plan, here. Some details include:
Strengthening Border Security: The DHS will commission three task forces comprised of individuals from different law enforcement agencies to provide border security. One will focus on the southern ocean-based border, another the southern land border and the third on providing support and investigations for the other two. DHS will also continue providing the additional resources that it began supplying in response to the influx of children at the border this summer, such as additional ICE and Border Patrol agents.
Revising Removal Priorities: The DHS will now prioritize removal of illegal immigrants in the following order:
(1) Individuals who are threats to national security, convicted felons, gang members, and individuals caught at the border while entering the U.S. illegally.
(2) Individuals convicted of "significant or multiple misdemeanors" and individuals who entered or reentered this country illegally after January 1, 2014, but were not caught at the border.
(3) Individuals who have not been convicted of a crime, but who have disobeyed a removal order issued on or after January 1, 2014.
*People who entered the U.S. illegally before January 1, 2014, who have never disobeyed a removal order and have never been convicted of a "serious offense" will not be priorities for removal.*
Expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Previously, individuals who were born after June 15, 1981,who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007 and were under 16 when they entered were eligible to obtain deferred action. This has now been expanded. Now to qualify for deferred action under this program an individual must have entered the U.S. before they turned 16 and before January 1, 2010. Deferred action (deferrals of deportation) will now be granted for three years instead of two. This will continue to include work authorization.
Extending Deferred Action to parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents: Individuals who meet all of the following criteria will be eligible for deferred action and work authorization:
1. Individuals who are not a removal priority (see above),
2. Who have been in the U.S. for at least 5 years,
3. Who have children who are currently U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and
4. Who do not have other factors that make deferred action inappropriate.
These individuals must also pass a background check. There will be a fee to apply for work authorization.
This is not a complete list of all provisions, but a summary of some. For a complete list, visit dhs.gov.