President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration was announced on November 20, 2014. Since then, there are still a number of unanswered questions about the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or “DAPA.” We talked about some of those questions here. However, besides unanswered questions, there are also misunderstandings about what the Executive Action does and does not provide. Today, I want to discuss the top five misconceptions that people we talk to have about DAPA.
1. DAPA leads to a green card.
Wrong. Only Congress can pass an immigration law that grants permanent residence to undocumented and illegal aliens. President Obama’s Executive Action is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, which-despite what opponents say-is well within his powers as the chief executive of the government who is charged with enforcing the laws. DAPA and DACA grant deferred action, which protects aliens from deportation, but it is not a path to a green card.
2. You can qualify for DAPA by just having the five years.
Wrong. You need to have five years physical presence and have to prove that you are the parent of a US Citizen or lawful permanent resident. It is not one or the other. You have to meet both requirements.
3. DAPA is automatic.
Wrong. DAPA, like DACA, is discretionary. Applications are reviewed and granted on a case-by-case basis. Just because an applicant meets the requirements does not entitle or guarantee that he/she will be granted the three years of authorized protection. If the adjudicating officer learns of something in the applicant’s background that negatively influences his/her opinion, the case could possibly be denied, even if the derogatory information does not constitute a mandatory bar.
4. DAPA has not been passed.
Wrong. President Obama has already announced the order. It just now has to be implemented. Forms and further guidance are expected to be issued in the next couple of months. USCIS is expected to accept DAPA applications as early as May 2015.
5. If you are in removal or have been deported, but still in the US, you cannot apply.
Wrong. The Memo specifically says that deferred action is potentially available to qualifying individuals even if they are in removal proceedings. Or subject to a final order of removal. The government is expected to identify those already in custody who qualify for DAPA. However, those who have already been ordered deported but who are still here will have to come out into the open and apply. Before anyone does this, it is strongly recommended the person consult with an immigration attorney. This is especially true for those who have final orders of removal after January 2014. This class of people may not qualify to apply for Deferred Action because they fall within Priority 3 of the new enforcement guidelines. The DAPA memo indicates that the applicant must not only satisfy the five year requirement and demonstrate that he/she is a parent of a US Citizen or green card holder, but that he/she is not an enforcement priority.
We hope that you have enjoyed this article and learned at least one new thing or tip that you may not have known. To keep informed about the latest developments in immigration law, please subscribe to our blog feed by clicking on the “Subscribe To This Blog’s Feed” button on the left. It is important to understand that the above is only general information and not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor should it be relied upon as legal advice. The law is extremely fact and circumstance sensitive. For an individual legal analysis of your specific legal case, please complete the “Case Evaluation” box to the right of the screen to get in touch with one of our attorneys.