On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a monumental executive action that will make the lives of millions of undocumented/illegal immigrants much easier. This comes as a relief to these immigrants and their families. Many of the affected immigrants obey the law just like the average U.S. citizen, and like everyone else, are simply in pursuit of happiness in this great country. Now, because of the President’s efforts, a huge swath of the population will no longer have to exist in an underground economy where they contribute to the larger society but cannot claim part of that society or live openly without fear of being removed.
President Obama’s new program is called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability(DAPA). To qualify for this Executive Action, you must have been an undocumented/illegal immigrant residing in this country for more than five years, have a qualifying child or children who is either a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, and pass a criminal background check. You are considered undocumented or illegal if you:
- Have been ordered deported but are still physically present in this country;
- Came into this country illegally without being inspected at the border;
- Came to this country legally but have overstayed your visa-allowed staying time;
- Currently are on deportation proceedings (in the process of being deported from this country).
If you are qualified for this program, you will be able obtain a social security number, and work authorization, and you will be able to travel if you petition for traveling documents. Additionally, with this new Executive Action, you will be able to do many things easily without seeking the help of a third party. You will be able to:
- Open a bank account;
- Lease or buy a home;
- File taxes;
- Obtain a proper driving license in your name;
- Obtain title to a home, car, etc. in your own name;
- Report incidents of domestic violence to the authorities without fear of immigration consequences;
- Start your own business.
The list is not limited to that mentioned above. Immigrants under DAPA can do almost anything that everyone in society can do, EXCEPT they cannot vote or meet certain job requirements that require citizenship or lawful permanent residency status. Essentially, these benefits make life easier and more enjoyable for millions of our fellow people who are otherwise living here undocumented and in fear of being removed from the country.
It is also important to note that undocumented immigrants with a criminal record may still be qualified for DAPA. Criminal records can be interpreted in many ways and certain offenses may not disqualify you from this program. Therefore, I suggest that you consult with an immigration attorney regarding your matter if you feel you have a criminal record that may disqualify you.
In my next write-up, I will be discussing THE UNNECESSARY FEAR our undocumented immigrant families entertain and why I-601A (another OBAMA effort on making lives of immigrants easier) is another device that can allay the apprehension.
O. Isaac Falusi is a general practice attorney. He appears in front of all immigrations courts in the United States. He is a partner at TAIWO|FALUSI & ASSOCIATES, PC., based in Silver Spring Maryland. For more information send an email to Isaac@taiwofalusi.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The African Immigrant Caucus.