Executive Orders Under Review
In 2012 immigrants who arrived in the United States as children found relief from deportation under the new guidelines for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. The 2012 guidelines came in the form of an Executive Order by President Obama. Similarly, he implemented the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program in 2014. According to United States Immigration and Services (USCIS) approximately 4.9 million individuals are estimated to be eligible for the two programs. However, those individuals are currently unable to apply for either program. According to The Hill the programs are on hold, pursuant to an injunction, since a federal judge in texas ruled some states may possess grounds to challenge the programs. Now the issue is poised to be heard by the United States Supreme Court. The Post and Courier reports that South Carolina is one of twenty-six states challenging the executive orders as unconstitutional.
Could I use DACA or DAPA?
There is a strong chance you may be one of the 4.9 million individuals who could utilize the programs implemented by president Obama. The USCIS on their website lists the conditions necessary to qualify for either program. What DACA does is grant individuals deferred action from deportation and an employment authorization period. A person can qualify for DACA if:
- They entered the U.S. before turning 16.
- They have lived in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 2010 (previously it was June 15, 2007).
- Are of any age.
- Meet all other DACA guidelines.
You may also qualify for DAPA. The point of DAPA is to grant deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Individuals may qualify for DAPA if:
- They have lived in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 2010.
- As of November 20, 2014, they had a son or daughter that is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
- They are not categorized as an enforcement priority for removal (qualifications for enforcement priorities are listed here).
Current Status of DACA and DAPA
According to the USCIS update, as of the injunction by the federal judge, applications for DAPA and the expanded DACA are suspended. However, individuals applying for DACA under the previous regulations, before the 2012 order came into being, may still apply. According to the National Immigration Law Center, these qualifications include being under the age of sixteen before entering the U.S., living in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007, and various other regulations (including, but not limited to possessing a high school diploma or GED).
Implications of a Supreme Court Decision
If you do not qualify for deferred action under the previous iteration of DACA, then the upcoming Supreme Court Decision may prove critical to your ability to stay in the U.S. if you are currently here without legal status. If the Court finds in favor of the executive orders, you may be able to begin your application, but until then all applications under the new orders are suspended. If you are in the country illegally it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a licensed immigration attorney to help you gain some sort of legal standing before removal proceedings are initiated. Even if you are already in removal proceedings an immigration attorney may still be able to help you.