President Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 25 that could affect millions of immigrants in the country. The enforcement of the new EO can have a severe impact particularly on three groups of people, namely, immigrants with criminal convictions, immigrants who arrived illegally as children, and undocumented parents of American citizens.
Immigrants with Criminal Convictions
Since the mid-1990s, the US government has prioritized deporting immigrants with criminal convictions. The new immigration law, however, does not require conviction of a serious crime. The category of “criminal aliens” has been expanded to include anyone who has been charged with a crime, individuals who have been arrested, or those with unproven gang affiliation.
Trump has promised to deport 2 to 3 million criminal aliens even though the Migration Policy Institute only reports 820,000 illegal immigrants have criminal convictions.
Immigrants Who Arrived Illegally as Children
Last September 5, the Trump administration announced that it is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Signed by President Obama in June 2012, the program protects undocumented children and young people from deportation if they meet several guidelines.
DACA eligibility stipulates five factors to guarantee protection:
- They came to the United States before turning 16
- They came to the United States before June 15, 2007
- They should be under 31 years of age now
- They should have completed high school or its equivalent
- They do not have a criminal record
DACA recipients are allowed to study, work, and live in the United States provided they renew their DACA eligibility every two years. They can even purchase a home and join the military without the threat of deportation.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are around 1.1 million immigrants who are eligible for DACA protection. Nearly 800,000 have applied for the program since 2012.
The Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting DACA applications as of September 5, 2017. If Congress does not pass a new immigration law on undocumented children, the permits of current DACA beneficiaries will begin to expire.
In December 2016, senators Dick Durban and Lindsey Graham introduced the BRIDGE Act that would provide DACA recipients temporary permission to remain in the country but no path to citizenship.
Those who already have DACA status and whose work permits expire before March 5, 2018 would be able to apply for a two-year renewal if they did so by October 5, 2017.
Undocumented Parents of American Citizens
In 2014, President Obama extended the DACA program to include undocumented parents of US citizens. Around 4 million immigrants would have qualified for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans or DACA+ program but it was never implemented.
President Trump promised to immediately rescind DAPA and DACA+ and individuals who have qualified for these programs must seek legal counsel for assistance.
Consult an Immigration Attorney for Legal Assistance
Whether or not you have applied for a DACA renewal before the deadline of October 5, 2017, your status could still be hanging in the air. To make sure you are well aware of all your rights and responsibilities as an immigrant in the US, it is best to talk with a reputable immigration attorney who is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Call DeZao Law today to book an appointment.