Many opponents of President Obama’s executive action regarding immigration reform are Republican lawmakers who seem to resist any action or proposals put forth by this president. According to the president, his actions are in response to non-action by Congress, especially the House since the Senate has passed immigration reform with bipartisan support only to see the measure die in the Republican controlled House of Representatives.
Then there are others who simply oppose any changes in deportation policies or which appear to grant amnesty or federal benefits to undocumented immigrants. On the political left, immigration attorneys and advocates have long been critical of present administration policies whereby thousands of immigrants with minor criminal offenses have been arrested and deported despite otherwise having jobs, paying taxes and owning property or businesses in many cases. More immigrants have been deported under Obama’s administration than in past administrations, leading to the breakup of many families and causing undue hardships.
Obama’s executive actions on immigration are in response to critics of his deportation policies and to business cries for more highly skilled workers among other much needed reforms. The main thrust of his executive orders are designed to protect millions of undocumented aliens in the US. For instance, under the current DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), individuals who are under 31 must have arrived in the US before June 2007 to qualify for 2-year renewable reprieves from deportation and work permits if they came here as children.
Under the reforms, the cut-off date is now June 2010 and the age ceiling, once 31, is now eliminated.
Also, pursuant to the DAPA program, or Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, the undocumented parents of US citizens or permanent residents who have been in the US for 5 or more years can now obtain 3-year work permits and may no longer fear deportation, which could make about 4 to 5 million immigrants eligible. These individuals may re-apply every 3 years. To qualify, you must:
- Demonstrate presence in the US for at least 5 years
- Pass a criminal background check
- Pay a fee
- Prove your child was born on or before November 20, 2014
- You have not crossed the border recently
None of the proposed reforms would, however, provide a path to citizenship nor are any qualifying immigrants directly eligible for federal benefits such as food stamps, Medicare or any other need-based programs. However, they could become eligible once they begin paying federal taxes such as payroll taxes, which go to Medicare and Social Security. If these people are in the US legally, then they may qualify when eligible for these benefits but still not for food stamps, student financial assistance or housing subsidies. They will also become eligible for the earned income tax credit or EITC, which gives low income earners more of their money by giving them a refund. Purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, however, is not an option to them. Get more information about how you might qualify for certain federal or state benefits from an immigration attorney.
It will be up to individual states as to whether DAPA recipients will be able to receive in-state tuition and professional licenses. DAPA recipients may receive driver’s licenses in nearly every state.