National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) 

PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCES ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION:
Around 5 million individuals eligible for temporary relief


On November 20, President Obama made his promise to take Executive Action a reality as he announced the forthcoming implementation of a new package of administrative immigration relief provisions.  While immigration reform efforts got off to a quick and robust start during the soon-to-end 113th session of Congress, they stalled after the Senate’s passage of a comprehensive bipartisan bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, last year.  Advocates hoped that the House of Representatives would follow suit up until House leadership indicated in late June this year that it would do no further work on immigration reform legislation.  President Obama subsequently signaled a new willingness to take administrative action to temporarily protect certain people with significant ties to the United States, who would have been beneficiaries of new opportunities under the Senate’s bill, from deportation. 
 
Major Provisions of President’s Executive Actions
  • President Obama has extended eligibility for deferred action to parents of American citizens and LPRs who have lived in the United States for more than five years.  Deferred action status grants recipients temporary relief from deportation and work permits for periods of three years at a time.   Newly-eligible parents of U.S. citizens and LPRs can begin applying for deferred action in Spring 2015, and will have to pass background checks, pay an application fee of $465, and, prospectively, pay taxes.
  • President Obama has also expanded eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Henceforth, DACA status will also be valid for periods of three years at a time.  There will be no upper age limit for applicants, and the date by which applicants must have been in the United States has been moved forward from January 1, 2007 to January 1, 2010.
  • The Administration will dedicate additional resources to ensuring border security, while enforcement procedures, including the Secure Communities program, will be reformed to strongly prioritize deportation of people with criminal records and people who arrived in the country recently.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will reform work visa provisions to expand employment opportunities in the United States for immigrants who hold degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, other highly-skilled individuals, and investors in the U.S. economy. 
  • DHS will also expand access to family-based visas by increasing the number of relatives of U.S. citizens and LPRs who can get their visas without leaving the country and triggering a 3- or 10-year bar to re-entry to the United States that currently exists.
The President’s executive actions also include naturalization and civic integration measures, which have been key advocacy priorities for the NALEO Educational Fund.   The Administration will launch a White House Task Force on New Americans, which will develop a federal integration strategy; conduct a comprehensive U.S. citizenship awareness campaign in states that are home to the majority of LPRs eligible to naturalize; and direct the USCIS to examine the feasibility of a new partial waiver of the naturalization application fee.  In addition, the USCIS will permit applicants to use credit cards to pay this fee.
Impact of President’s Actions on Immigrant Community
 
The Administration estimates nearly 5 million individuals will become eligible for temporary relief from deportation as a result of the President’s actions.  The Migration Policy Institute separately projects that about 3.71 million parents of U.S. citizens and LPRs will be eligible to apply for deferred action, and that changes to the DACA program will make an addition 290,000 people who arrived in the country as children eligible for relief.  An as-yet undetermined number of U.S. citizen and LPR family members of people granted deferred action will benefit indirectly.
 
What You Can Do To Prepare
 
As a Latino elected leader, your constituents and community members may reach out to you for advice and assistance with applications for relief under the President’s initiative.  These potential grantees also will begin to pursue licensing, educational, and other state and municipal programs in greater numbers.  At the same time, state and local entities can expect to benefit from increased tax revenues as more residents of their communities access authorized and fully tax-compliant employment opportunities.
 
We recommend the following resources to help prepare you, the governing body you represent, and your constituents for administrative immigration relief:
  • The Coalition for Immigration Reform Implementation (CIRI) has created a website – www.adminrelief.org/about – that includes information about temporary relief programs, directions for finding legal assistance, and opportunities for volunteers to assist applicants.
  • The iAmerica campaign also provides information for applicants and a directory of legal service providers on its website at http://iamerica.org/facts-about-relief-applying/.
  • The NALEO Educational Fund has launched a new hotline – (844) 411 iAMERICA (844-411-4263) – which will immediately begin offering pre-recorded messages in English and Spanish concerning the scope of administrative relief, updates on the application process timeline, information about preparing an application, warnings about immigration law fraud, and directions to non-profit legal service providers.  We aim to staff the hotline with trained bilingual operators as soon as is feasible.
  • Here are the NALEO Educational Fund’s Talking Points [click here] on administrative relief.
  • Here is the NALEO Educational Fund’s Press Statement [click here] on the President’s announcement.
  • We have made available an infographic on our hotline for social media purposes [click here.]
  • Here is a sample tweet, as well as our new hashtag, about the hotline: What's next after administration relief? Call 844-411-4263 for more information on executive action and legal assistance. #ImmigrationAction
Next Steps
 
In the coming weeks and months, the NALEO Educational Fund will be working with the DHS, the White House, Congressional leaders and immigrant advocates to ensure that application requirements for administrative relief are fair and reasonable, that implementation of this initiative helps to keep families united, and that civic integration initiatives are effective in encouraging and assisting eligible immigrants to naturalize.  We will continue to provide you with information and analysis of the administrative relief package, and to advocate for the long-term solution our broken immigration system needs:  comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
 
For more information about administrative immigration relief or other immigration and naturalization policy matters, please contact Laura Maristany, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at lmaristany@naleo.org or at (202) 546-2536.
 
Copyright © 2014 NALEO Educational Fund, All rights reserved.