Executive orders passed down from President Obama will prevent an estimated 9.6 million undocumented immigrants from being deported, officials say.
Migrants to the United States live in constant fear of their status being discovered, so this decision has come as a beacon of hope to many people and families across the country.
The official amnesty, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), was first proposed back in November, and at the time it raised protest amongst anti-deportation advocates because it only provides safety to immigrants who have spent at least 5 years in the country, and have at least one American-born child in their care. Those immigrants who have foreign-born children, new arrivals, LGBT immigrants and any with criminal records are not eligible for protection. Steven A Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said after the announcement that the five-year minimum requirement was “arbitrary” and that it was hard to see how discrimination between a migrant who had been in the country with children for five years and someone without children who had been here nine could be possible.
However, Obama also issued orders for enforcement agents to not bother deporting any immigrants who didn’t meet the top priority levels for deportation. That is: convicted felons. This decision has reportedly caused a significant drop in deportation numbers for the 2015 fiscal year, with a shocking 117,181 migrants being deported in comparison to last year’s 157,365 in the same period – a difference of around three-quarters.
This drop has been directly credited to Obama’s enforcement priorities, and has raised questions about the legality of his amnesty proposal.
The amnesty itself, though, has not yet becomes official because almost immediately it was subject to a court battle that is predicted to be lengthy – perhaps even stretching into the last weeks of Obama’s term as President. Texas officials were joined in December by 25 other states in suing the administration against launching the program, and they recently went back to court again at the beginning of July for further debates.
So while the court proceedings continue to keep the amnesty from becoming a reality and leave many migrants with no option but to wait – these falling deportation numbers do provide hope to those who have previously felt their status was endangered. President Obama is committed to the cause, so much like his Dreamers campaign back in 2012 there is hope that it will be implemented successfully. Immigrants fill a lot of important roles in the US workforce, and the people with families face a lot of undue hardship if forced to separate, so the amnesty is an important step in preventing it.
If you or someone you know has any further questions about whether the amnesty or these enforcement priorities will affect you, or if you have any questions about immigration in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with an immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas. You can get in touch via the website or by calling 512-215-5225.