US President Obama’s plan is out. The question is, “Are you in it?”
For those outside the United States and would have to apply for visas, Obama’s aggressive executive initiative to force a comprehensive immigration reform casts a shadow of doubt.
Of the estimated 11 million undocumented aliens in the United States, more than 5.6 million are expected to benefit from the expanded definition of those who could qualify including children and parents who have been in the US for the period 2007 to 2010.
More than 6 million will remain unprotected and under the threat of deportation or removal unless the US Congress passes a Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan that addresses the issues of border protection, enforcement and increased number of visas for employment-based and family-sponsored categories.
Who are in?
According to the Pew Center, a nonpartisan fact tank in Washington, DC, the primary beneficiaries – close to 50 percent – will be undocumented Mexican and Central American migrants. About one million Pinoy TNTs could also benefit (this is the approximate number of Filipino undocumented in the US according to advocacy groups)– concentrated mostly in California, New York New Jersey, Texas, Washington State and Hawaii.
Ricardo and Cynthia are parents who were granted a 10-year B-1/B2 visa each in 2000. Their minor daughter Grace was also given her multiple entry 10-year tourist visa. Another daughter Kathleen – who was turning 21 that year was refused. They had a lucrative lending and residential rental business. A debtor who absconded with almost P3 million turned their life for the worse. Cynthia had a minor mental breakdown and a trip to the US was regarded as a much needed therapy.
They consulted a lawyer in New York and thought that their legal papers were being processed. The lawyer said their tourist visa status will be changed to a treaty investor. Fourteen years after, they have entered the twilight zone of the undocumented, their authorized stay expired without a change of status. The lawyer was no longer returning their calls.
Kathleen was able to study, and met and married a US citizen school mate. She got her green card and has an application pending for naturalization. Because of the change in Kathleen’s civil status, she is no longer a child eligible under the expanded protection program that President Obama announced on November 20, 2014.
Neither are Ricardo and Cynthia.
They are no longer parents of a child under DACA (Deferred Action for Children Arrivals). Their hope? Once Kathleen becomes a US citizen, they can be sponsored. Hopefully, they have not committed any misrepresentation or presented fraudulent documents during their 14 year stay.
Otherwise, Kathleen’s petition for them could be refused. And there is no waiver or forgiveness for parents of US citizens who have committed fraud. Right now, Ricardo and Cynthia face deportation if accosted or arrested by US immigration officers. They could apply for deportation or removal relief for having been in the US for at least 10 years since they have a qualified relative (Kathleen). Ricardo and Cynthia, however, would have to prove that their separation will result in extreme hardship to Kathleen. That maybe an uphill climb, but with Obama’s aggressive executive initiatives, hope remains.
Who are out?
From the words of President Obama , “..this deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship or the right to stay here permanently.”
In short, those who are just now intending to apply or have applications pending, individuals who have just recently arrived in the US, are not eligible and will not benefit from the announced immigration benefits.
In an announcement that immediately followed President Obama’s announcement, the USCIS emphasizes the following to warn potential applicants about becoming victims to immigration scams.
The announcement states that the intended executive actions are “initiatives” and “have not yet been implemented”.
USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time.
The specific details on how to determine who is eligible, when an application could be submitted and how to apply will be announced at a later date.
Who will benefit in the US?
Children unlawfully present through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Individuals born prior to June 15, 1981; had been residing continuously in the US since January 1, 2010 instead of the prior date (June 15, 2007) – provided they meet all other guidelines
The deferred action (of being deported or removed from the US) had been extended from two (2) to three (3) years.
Application guidelines are expected to be issued 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014 announcement.
Parents of Children Unlawfully Present in the US through the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Applicant must be
Undocumented parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who had continuous residence in the US since January 1, 2010;
The parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014.
Excluded from the category of aliens considered as enforcement priority for removal from the United States, pursuant to the November 20, 2014, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum.
Beneficiaries in and out of the US
There are undocumented individuals who may benefit both while in and once outside the United States through the Provisional Waiver Program of 2013. These are persons who have approved immigrant visa petitions but are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status in the United States, and instead, must leave the country and apply for an immigrant visa at a consular post outside the United States.
The Executive Order expands the provisional waiver program to include the Sons and Daughters of US Citizens or Green Card Holders as well as the Spouses of Green Card Holders
The coming regulations will also clarify the meaning of “extreme hardship that must be met by the applicant to obtain a waiver” – something that Ricardo and Cynthia look forward to.
For additional migration updates, you can listen to “Amerika, Atbp.,” on Radyo Agila, 1062 AM, from 8:00 to 9:00 pm every Monday.