On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced new administrative initiatives to defer removal for people who entered without documentation under two circumstances: 1) They entered prior to the age of sixteen and could show continuous physical presence since January 1, 2010 (an expansion of the prior deferred action for childhood arrivals (“DACA”) program already in existence); 2) They can show continuous physical presence since January 1, 2010 and parentage of a United States citizen or permanent resident child (also known as deferred action for parental accountability – “DAPA”). These deferrals would not apply to persons with certain criminal convictions nor to those otherwise considered a high enforcement priority for removal from the United States, nor would they provide legal status. These individuals would be able to legally work in the United States, obtain social security numbers and driver’s licenses. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was to begin accepting applications for expanded deferred action for childhood arrivals on February 18, 2015. It was to begin accepting applications for DAPA on May 19, 2015.
Unfortunately, an impasse has developed between the states, Congress and the Executive branch of government, and many states brought suit to declare the new programs to be unconstitutional. On February 16, 2014, a Texas federal district judge granted an injunction against implementation of the initiatives. As a result, USCIS announced it will not accept any applications for expanded DACA or for DAPA until all legal challenges are resolved. President Obama has expressed that he will appeal the court ruling and it is widely believed that his administration will prevail. For further information on the status of DACA and DAPA programs, please check http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction.