President Obama's Administrative Relief for Immigrants Explained

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  ***UPDATE – FEBRUARY 17, 2015***

Yesterday, in a disappointing ruling that is not in the best interests of our state, a district judge in Texas temporarily blocked the President’s Administrative Relief for Immigrants, halting expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). The court found that the President may have not the authority to enact these forms of administrative relief. The temporary injunction allows the 26 states that sued the U.S. government, including South Carolina, to pursue a permanent injunction.

We believe this is a temporary setback. It is the first round in a long legal battle. The Department of Justice is immediately appealing the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, but a decision will not come for at least several weeks. The lawsuit could be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What you should know:

  • The temporary injunction does not impact current DACA recipients. Current DACA recipients must still renew their status well before it expires.
  • More than 230 legal scholars and public officials – including 100 constitutional legal scholars – have all publicly stated that the President’s executive actions on immigration are legally sound.
  • Those eligible for expanded DACA and DAPA should continue preparing for administrative relief by lining up documents, saving money for fees and getting ready to apply once the programs open.

SC Appleseed wants to emphasize that the Judge’s decision is very narrow, holding only that the federal government may have failed to follow procedural requirements before implementing the programs of expanded DACA and DAPA. We are confident that the court system will eventually reject this lawsuit and allow millions of immigrants to come forward and realize their American dreams. This decision is NOT in the best interest of South Carolina!
Appleseed will continue to follow this matter and post relevant updates.

On November 20th, 2014, the President announced an administrative relief plan for some undocumented people in the United States. Administrative relief, also known as executive action, grants certain people temporary reprieves from deportation. There are a number of details that must still be worked out and until they are, no one can apply for any of the programs the President announced. To see the President’s full plan, go to this link .

The administrative relief plan will provide temporary relief from the threat of deportation to several groups of people currently in the United States. It is important to note that this relief does not automatically grant anyone citizenship. In fact, for the vast majority of people affected by it, it offers no path to citizenship at all. The plan only seeks to preserve families already living in the United States.

Expanded DACA

In 2012, the President, also through administrative relief, granted a temporary reprieve from deportation to certain children brought to the US prior to age 16. But the DACA program of 2012 left many children unprotected. In order to address those shortcomings, the 2014 relThe Dream is Coming to DC by Justin Valas Flickr B&W smallief order removes the existing age cap (DACA did not apply to anyone over age 31 as of the effective date of the act) and only requires that children have lived in the US continuously prior to 2010. Children still have to have been brought to the US prior to age 16 and they must be in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED at the time they apply for the relief. The deferred action only lasts 3 years, but it does allow those children to attend state run colleges. Unfortunately, in South Carolina they will have to pay out of state tuition no matter how long they have lived in the state.

To qualify for Expanded DACA, a child must:

• Have arrived in the US before age 16
• Have no current legal status
• Have been in the US continuously since January 1, 2010
• Have no felonies or significant misdemeanors
• Pass a background check
• Be in school, have graduated from HS, or have obtained a GED


Consistent with its goal of keeping families together, the new DACA also provides administrative relief for certain parents. Under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) section, some parents may be eligible for a form of deferred action if they have US citizen or green card holding (lawful permanent resident) children. To qualify, a parent must prove continuous residence in the US since January 1st, 2010 and have no felonies or significant misdemeanors. In addition, the US or green card holder child must have been born on or before November 20th, 2014. This relief will not entice people to immigrate to the US in the future because it only applies to people already in the US. Parents who qualify will be able to receive a work permit and apply for a Social Security Number, as well as receive temporary legal status and a reprieve from deportation.

To qualify for DAPA a parent must:

• Have no current legal status
• Have been inthe US continuously since January 1, 2010
• Be a Parent of a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (green card holder) child born November 20th, 2014 or before.
• Have No felonies or significant misdemeanors
• Pass a background check

Other Components

The administrative relief the President announced also has components to help stimulate and grow the economy, including making it easier for foreign investors and researchers to enter and remain in the US, and providing more immigration options for investors, researchers and entrepreneurs who create jobs through new technologies. The relief restructures the Secure Communities program and eventually will replace it with a new Priorities Enforcement Program (PEP). PEP will be phased in January 2015. Under PEP, ICE will continue to collect fingerprints of non-citizens but ICE will follow new guidelines to determine who is placed in removal proceedings. There will be three levels. Level one is people apprehended at the border, people with felony convictions and people who pose a danger to national security. Level two will be people with “significant” misdemeanor convictions and anyone convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors. Finally, level three will be those people with orders of deportation or removal issued on or after January 1, 2014.

In the Meantime…

While United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is creating forms and other necessary documents to help streamline the process, the impacted community should get ready to apply for relief by taking certain steps, including:

1.    Obtain reputable information. Appleseed will continue to post important and reliable information. USCIS also will provide regular updates here and here.
2.    Save money for immigration fees and other needed documents.
3.    Gather documents showing identity. This could be birth certificates, marriage records, or current passports, to name a few.
4.    Gather documents showing presence in the US since January 1st 2010. This can be utility bills, leases, mortgages, school records and tax filings.
5.    Gather criminal records, arrest records, court orders and background checks, as this may impact a person’s ability to obtain legal status.
6.    Find out if vacating or expunging a criminal record is possible. If so, one might become eligible for immigration relief. Talk to a lawyer about this, as he or she will know the law.
7.    Speak to an attorney as soon as possible if there are previous or current orders of deportation or voluntary departure. These orders will have an impact on the chance of obtaining legal status. It may be possible to re-open some of these orders in special circumstances.
8.    Recognize that not everyone will qualify, but there will be time to find out if you do. It will be several months before anyone can apply for administrative relief.
9.    NEVER give someone money to “put you in line” or “hold your spot”. THIS IS A SCAM.
10.  Find out who can help with immigration matters. See SC Appleseed’s fact sheets in English here and in Spanish here.

For an audio recap of the information in this blog, follow this link to our Spanish podcasts or this one to the English version.