CURRENT IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
There is no doubt that our current immigration system is broken. As an immigration attorney, I do not understand why it takes 14 years or longer to process someone’s application for them to receive their permanent residency (green card). There has been a blame game way to long on both sides of the political isle to get anything passed. Yet the majority of Americans are in favor of some form of immigration reform. Many immigrants recall President Obama’s campaign that he was going to accomplish immigration reform within the first 100 days of his presidency. Well, that hasn’t happened. Republicans talk about the need to secure the border before other reforms are considered. Well, that hasn’t happened either. In fact, just yesterday, an off duty border patrol agent was shot and killed while fishing near McAllen, Texas. The alleged assassins have been caught and it has been discovered that one of them has been deported a total of four previous times. The system is broken and both political parties are too busy posturing for the next election to accomplish anything.
WILL THE PRESIDENT DO SOMETHING?
The White House has stated that President Obama intends to act by executive order. The time frame is between within the next couple of weeks to sometime in October. It must be understood that an executive order is not the same as legislation being passed concerning immigration and then being signed into law by the President. What the President can do by executive order is create policy and prioritize how current immigration laws are implemented.
WHAT THE EXECUTIVE ORDER MIGHT LOOK LIKE
Although, this is only speculation, a mere educated guess, many indicators and my experience as an immigration attorney point to the following possibilities:
1. The President intends to arrange a way to grant work permits, I-765s to more than 11 million immigrants who are currently living in the shadows.
2. The program and requirement might be some what similar to those implanted when in 2012 President Obama, by executive order, implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The expansion of this format would make the most sense.
3. Another idea is that the President could offer temporary legal status to family members who are guardians eligible to legally stay and work in the US under the DACA program or perhaps to those who have minor US citizen children.
For more reading on what the President’s executive order might look like you can go to: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/04/us-immigration-obama-executive-order-options-deportation.
WHAT CAN I BE DOING TO BE PREPARED?
It must be understood that there are no guarantees that the President will, by executive order, implement some policy changes (reforms). What is certain is that if he does there will be an onslaught of immigrants who will qualify and a considerable back log will ensue in trying to pass all of the applications. My office experienced this with the DACA applications. It’s doubtful the government would hire more agents to handle the demand. Also, they will probably be processed on a first come basis. So what are some probable things you will need in order to be better prepared and among the first filers?
1. You will probably need a criminal back ground check. Most of these are obtained at your state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations. The cost is usually around $20.00 per applicant. Now is the time to get yours!
2. Proof of living in the United States. I can only speculate on the time frame but you will probably need to show that you arrived in the United States by a certain date, usually the date the executive order is implemented.
3. Proof that you have lived continuously here in the United States from any where from now back to five (5) or ten (10) years from now. I would start with gathering proof showing continuous resided here continuously for at least the past five (5) years. The more proof you have the stronger and better your case will be.
4. What constitutes proof? Tax returns, lease or rental agreements, monthly utility bills in your name, and pay stubs are a few items. You will probably need some thing to cover each month over the required time period.
5. Save money. There will be filing costs and legal fees should you elect to use an attorney. DO NOT USE NOTARIOS OR NON-LAWYER SERVICE COMPANIES!!! They are not qualified to give you legal advice and in fact might even delay your application process. See these, informative videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5CXht-Vs94#t=14 and You are putting your future at risk if you do.
Now is the time to prepare and gather together your information. Get prepared. Those who are will be in a better position to take advantage of the changes to immigration, if and when they arise.