Seguritan US Immigration Articles

Relief from Deportation

Although president-elect Donald Trump has softened his stance on deporting undocumented immigrants, many are still fearful of what his presidency could do especially to the young immigrants who came out of the shadows and offered their information in exchange for the protection promised by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Being placed under removal proceedings, otherwise known as deportation, is probably one of the hardest things any immigrant might have to experience. Thankfully, various deportation reliefs are available. Some reliefs will even offer a path to permanent residence which can ultimately lead to citizenship. Therefore, it is best to know what options are available before giving up hope.

Reliefs from deportation include asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, voluntary departure and deferred action.

Aliens who have a well-founded fear of persecution from their home country on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a political group or political opinion can seek asylum here in the US. They can bring their family members to the US, obtain employment authorization and may be eligible to apply for a green card one year after the grant of an asylum.

Cancellation of removal, just like an application for asylum, can also lead to a green card.

To be eligible for cancellation, the alien must prove continuous physical presence in the US of at least 10 years counted from the first physical entry into the country, legally or illegally, and ends upon the service of the notice to appear (NTA) at a removal proceedings. He must also prove his good moral character during the 10-year period and must establish that deportation would result in ‘exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a US citizen or a legal permanent resident spouse, parent or child.

For an alien who was admitted and inspected when he came to the US and he is the parent, spouse, widow or child of a US citizen, he may apply to adjust his status to permanent residence even before the immigration judge if removal proceedings have already begun.

Another type of relief that may be available is voluntary departure. This allows an alien who would otherwise be deported to leave the US at his own expense but within the time period ordered by the judge, which can be as long as 120 days if requested at the beginning of the proceedings.

An alien who is ordered removed may be barred from reentering the US for at least several years, but one who voluntarily departs is not subject to the penalties of removal. Voluntary departure may be requested before or at the master calendar hearing, after the individual hearing, or at the conclusion of the proceedings.

Finally, the alien can also request for a deferred action which may be granted for humanitarian reasons. It is a form of relief granted not by the judge but in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by the district director.

The alien must demonstrate that his removal is not a priority of the government. Some of the factors to be considered include the likelihood of ultimately removing the alien; the presence of sympathetic factors; likelihood of a large amount of adverse publicity because of those sympathetic factors; the alien’s continued presence is desired by law enforcement for an ongoing investigation or review; and whether the alien is a member of a class that is  a high enforcement priority.

 

New Bipartisan Bill To Protect DREAMers from Deportation

DREAMers may have found hope against possible deportation in the coming months as a new bipartisan bill that will protect them is underway.

Called the “Bar Removal of Immigrants who Dream and Grow the Economy” or BRIDGE Act, the new bill introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) would provide DACA-eligible individuals temporary protection from deportation. They will be placed under “provisional protected presence” similar to the one provided by the DACA or the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals. They will also be granted work permits and will be allowed to continue their schooling after paying the required fees and undergoing background checks.

DACA protected the children of immigrants brought here to the US before turning 16 years old and have remained here, gone to school or worked and maintained no criminal records. But because DACA was merely an executive action, that could be repealed by President-elect Donald Trump, having a bill that would safeguard 740,000 young people from deportation is a glimmer of hope.

Although the text of the actual bill is not yet available as this will be reintroduced in January 2017, the provisional protected presence will be for three years. The proponents of the bill are hopeful that within those three years, they would have been able to pass a more comprehensive immigration reform act that would not only stop deportation for these young people but provide a path to citizenship as well.

The Bridge Act will also be made available not only to those who have already been granted DACA but also to those who will apply for the protection for the first time. It will also ensure that any information obtained by the government under DACA or the new provisional protected presence will not be used for immigration enforcement purposes, with exceptions for national security or non-immigration felony investigations.

Despite Republicans questioning DACA because this was done through executive rather than legislative action and the GOP’s immigration platform being anchored in securing the rule of law, both at the borders and at ports of entry, it is interesting to know that there are some Republican lawmakers that are just as willing to protect the young immigrants just as much as their Democrat counterparts. Aside from Senators Graham and Murkowski, Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) also expressed their support. However Sen. Durbin wants to add people in pairs- one Republican and one Democrat.

The senator is also hopeful that more Republicans will sign on because “most of them feel it’s only fair to take care of these young people.” He is also hopeful that with Trump slowly softening his immigration stance, they would get a more favorable response. Trump recently told Time magazine that these young people “got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Meanwhile, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed the new bipartisan bill. William A. Stock, AILA President, said “since DACA’s inception, we’ve seen three-quarters of a million DREAMers come forward in order to have a chance to pursue higher education and careers, in the process becoming productive taxpaying members of society. Senators Graham and Durbin recognize that these young adults are a vital part of our communities and an innovative and creative force that should not be stifled.”

AILA’s Executive Director Benjamin Johnson also said that “the bill is illustrative of the widespread bipartisan support for DREAMers and for reform that recognizes the valuable contributions that they and millions other immigrants have made to this country. Keeping DACA going is not only the right thing to do, it is smart business. Studies have shown that revoking DACA for the hundreds of thousands of current grantees would cost America more than $430 billion over ten years.”

 

What You Need to Know About Deportation

President-elect Donald Trump has softened his stance on immigration. During his campaign, he vowed to deport all the 11 million undocumented immigrants. In a recent interview however, he said that he would prioritize the removal of the 2 to 3 million with criminal records.

Focusing on undocumented immigrants with criminal records has also been the thrust of outgoing president Barack Obama. In 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said that the focus of the agency’s limited resources was in combating threats to national security, public safety and border security rather than expending funding on individuals charged with minor crimes like traffic violations.

Back in 2011, the government deported a record-high of 396,906 individuals, 90% of those removed were criminals and repeat immigration law offenders. Fast forward to fiscal year 2015 and total deportations declined to 235,415, according to a report dated December 22, 2015 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As of July 2016, ICE has completed 168,781 deportations, a slight decline from the same point in 2015.

While this trend and Trump’s latest pronouncements may ease the worries of some people, it must be noted that those who are without lawful immigration status may still be placed under removal proceedings. It is therefore important for them to know what to do when facing deportation. An increase in sweeps or workplace raids may occur in the coming months.

Contrary to popular belief, unless subject to expedited removal an alien is generally entitled to court proceedings before being removed. Removal proceedings typically start with the service of a notice to appear (NTA) upon the alien.

The NTA specifies, among other things, the alleged immigration violation, the charge against the alien and the specific provision/s of the law alleged to have been violated, and the time and place of the hearing. An NTA may be served in person or by mail. As non-citizens are required to notify the USCIS of any change of address within 10 days of the change, in many cases the ICE may simply mail the NTA to the alien’s last addresses and it would be considered valid service.

If served with an NTA, the alien is strongly advised to consult an immigration lawyer because being placed under removal proceedings is a serious matter. An immigration lawyer can tell him whether proceedings can be terminated because of a problem with the NTA on its face or in the way that it was served. The lawyer can analyze the facts of the case, explain what options may be available, and if the alien would be eligible for a relief from removal. Reliefs include voluntary departure, asylum, adjustment of status and cancellation of removal.

The alien must attend the scheduled master hearing, which is a preliminary hearing where the charges are read and the alien is asked to admit or contest the allegations and whether he intends to seek relief from removal. An individual hearing is scheduled if the case will be heard on the merits.

The alien may be represented by an attorney at the master and individual hearings. However, unless provided pro bono services by a volunteer attorney or by a non-profit organization, any legal representation will be at the alien’s own cost because there is no right to government-appointed counsel in immigration cases.

The alien must keep the immigration court updated of any change of address and must attend his hearings. If he fails to notify the court of an address change, and because he did not receive correspondence he fails to attend a hearing, the proceedings may continue and may result in the alien being ordered removed in absentia.

 

What To Expect from Trump on Immigration

Donald Trump’s election as president has caused fear and anxiety in immigrant communities across the US.

It is no secret that central to his campaign was his hard-line stance on immigration. He vowed to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, build a wall on the US-Mexico border and make the Mexican government pay for it, triple the number of ICE agents, end sanctuary cities and suspend the issuance of visas to certain countries.

In a post-election television appearance on the CBS program “60 Minutes”, he reiterated the same promises and vowed to turn his campaign slogan into concrete actions and move forward with an aggressive policy to deport immigrants. He softened his tone a little bit by saying that he would go after two to three million undocumented aliens who are “criminals and have criminal records”.

But he did not elaborate on how he would hunt down his deportation targets. Some fear that a deportation force would be created to conduct sweeps or raids in homes and in the workplace.

He has reportedly started to assemble his immigration team and this includes at least two notorious anti immigrant activists, Kris Kobach, architect of anti immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama and Danielle Cutrona, Senator Jeff Session’s counsel, who is avowedly anti immigrant.

Now more than ever, undocumented immigrants fear deportation and separation from their families. Immigration lawyers are likewise experiencing a surge of panic-stricken families who are anxious about their future. Even Filipino migrant workers are also worried about their jobs especially since Trump has espoused a more protectionist stance and that includes “bringing jobs back to Americans.” Filipino workers fear that their contracts may abruptly end when the new president assumes office in January. Immigrant workers whose petitions are now pending are likewise anxious that they may not be able to make it here due to Trump’s statement last August 4 in his campaign in Portland, Maine tagging nine countries, including the Philippines, as terrorist nations.

To what extent will he be able to muster his executive might to be able to fulfill his ideas to “make America great again”?

We can expect that Trump will muster his executive might by way of executive actions. He will undo Pres. Obama’s policy on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).As a result, more than 700,000 young immigrants who came to the US before turning 16 and have stayed here since June 15, 2007 will find themselves in a limbo. It is very unfortunate because they have long ties with the US and have already considered it to be their home and if Trump will push through with scrapping DACA, they will not be able to attend school or find work.

It is also to be expected that Trump will totally scrap Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) which is now on hold following a preliminary injunction placed by the lower Texas court and upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court. This is sad news for those who have no lawful immigration status although they have continuously resided in the US since January 10, 2010 and have a US citizen or LPR son or daughter. Immigrant rights advocates fear that scrapping DACA and DAPA altogether will disrupt family unity and ultimately become economically disadvantageous. This would mean separation of families among affected immigrants. This could also adversely affect businesses and the local economy as certain sectors like agriculture are dependent on the labor force provided by the immigrant population.

Disappointing Ruling on DAPA and DACA+

Without any explanation, the US Supreme Court gave Pres. Barack Obama’s immigration initiatives another blow as it denied last Oct. 3 a petition to rehear United States v. Texas, also known as the DAPA and DACA+ case.

Back on June 23, the High Court came to an even 4-4 decision on the preliminary injunction placed by the lower Texas court and upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court upon DAPA and DACA+ essentially putting a stop to these programs in the whole country. The evenly split decision came about because the High Court was missing its ninth member following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia early this year.

On July 18, the Department of Justice filed with the US Supreme Court a petition to rehear the case and argued that although it was exceedingly rare, the Supreme Court had granted a rehearing in the past where the prior decision was issued by an evenly divided court and that it “appeared likely that upon reargument a majority one way or the other might be mustered.”

It is a disappointing decision for the millions of undocumented immigrants who have been waiting for DAPA and DACA+ to provide them a reprieve from deportation and an authorization to work. Many immigration advocates are also saddened by this news.

However, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) through its President William A Stock remains optimistic. “This case is far from over. Once a more complete record of the merits of Texas’ claims is created, we are confident that when the case is once again back on the Supreme Court docket, the Court will show appropriate deference to the executive branch and not legislate from the bench by enjoining this program permanently,” said Stock.

DAPA would have temporarily deferred deportation for those who have a US citizen or LPR son or daughter as of November 20, 2014 and who have continuously resided in the US since January 1, 2010 but with no lawful immigration status. As long as they had no criminal convictions and have passed a background check, these undocumented immigrants could benefit from DAPA.

DACA+ eliminated the age requirement of DACA and pushed the arrival date to January 1, 2010. It must be recalled that DACA was first introduced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) back in 2012. Under this program, those under 31 years old on June 15, 2012, have arrived in the US before becoming 16, have continuously resided from June 15, 2007 to the present, are either in school, have graduated or completed high school or a general education development (GED) certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the US Coast Guard or US Armed Forces and have not been convicted of a felony could have deferred action or deferred deportation.

With immigration policy being among the salient battleground in this year’s presidential elections—with the two parties clutching the opposite ends of the pole, undocumented immigrants cannot rest easy. While Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promises to continue Pres. Obama’s immigration initiatives, the denial of the rehearing could also affect any further steps she may take. There is also Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s incessant vow to put a stop to Pres. Obama’s initiatives because of what he deems as a railroading of the country’s immigration laws.

Immigration Fraud and the U Visa

The U visa is a temporary visa granted to victims of certain criminal activities which occurred in the United States, US territory or US military installation. It is granted to victims who suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the criminal activity and who, as a result of being at the receiving end of such an unfortunate circumstance, possess credible and reliable information about the criminal activity.

It is important that the victim is helpful, is being helpful or is likely to be helpful in the course of the investigation and prosecution of the criminal activity. In recent years, USCIS has granted 10,000 U visas yearly, which is the cap provided by Congress. It has done a lot in the prosecution of offenses, especially those committed against vulnerable undocumented immigrants.

Before this visa, undocumented immigrants were largely placed in very disadvantageous positions because they could not report the crime for fear of being deported due to their immigration status or lack thereof and they could not seek assistance from the authority for fear of being harmed even more by the perpetrators or abusers.  Especially in domestic abuse or sexual abuse cases, the situation would persist because the perpetrator would use the lack of immigration status as a leverage to pin the victims down.

When this was created by Congress with the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act in October 2000, they listed the following qualifying crimes: abduction, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, female genital mutilation, felonious assault, fraud in foreign labor contracting, hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostution, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trade, stalking, torture, trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint, and other related crimes which includes any similar activity where the elements of the crimes are substantially similar. It also includes the attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the aforesaid crimes.

Immigration services fraud is not specifically included in the list of qualifying criminal activities but it could potentially fit in the categories of witness tampering, obstruction of justice or perjury.

Recently, lawyers and immigration advocates have lobbied for the inclusion of immigration services fraud in the list. Immigration services fraud is the crime of taking advantage of one’s lack of knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of the US immigration law and promising to render services which are fraudulent, unauthorized or rendering nothing at all.

Immigration services fraud come in different forms. The popular one is notario fraud, which is claiming to provide immigration services, without actually being qualified to offer such assistance.

Another form of immigration services fraud is the visa lottery scam, which is promising immigrants that they will have a better chance of winning the visa lottery, or offering to enter them in the lottery if they pay a fee which are oftentimes exorbitant when in actuality, USCIS does not collect any fees to be entered into said lottery.

Recently, a company with a Las Vegas address has victimized many Filipinos in the Metropolitan New York area promising them quick green card for a fee of $15,000 each.

Evidently, these practices prey upon the most vulnerable sector of immigrants. In the hopes of one day legalizing their status here in the US, undocumented immigrants rely upon the promises of these services not knowing that they are being taken advantage of.

GOP Platform Has Bad News for Immigrants

The Republican Party’s platform which mirrors the vision that the party hopes to campaign on leading to the upcoming November 2016 elections has some bad news for immigrants.

Anchored on the pursuit of “Reforming the Government to Serve the People”, the GOP has sixteen major agenda that it hopes to push forward on matters of retirement security, economic growth, Medicaid and health, tax reforms and of course, immigration.

The party has acknowledged the huge contribution that immigrants have made for the American economy. “Just as immigrant labor helped build our country in the past, today’s legal immigrants are making vital contributions in every aspect of our national life. Their industry and commitment to American values strengthens our economy, enriches our culture, and enables us to better understand and more effectively compete with the rest of the world,” the platform states.

However, the platform likewise underscored that while they applaud those who go through the legal channels of immigration, they are saying that those who came here illegally undermine the benefits that legal immigrants have contributed to the country and at the same time, these undocumented immigrants threaten the safety of communities, remove jobs from US workers, and pose grave risks to the safety and the sovereignty of the United States.

Thus, their platform drumbeats the same hard line stance of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in saying that the highest priority should be in securing the rule of law  both at our borders and at ports of entry. Building the wall that they hope will counter illegal immigration is also a part of their agenda although this is nothing new since building a “wall’ was also in the Republican 2012 platform. “The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built.”

The platform promises that it will grant no amnesty to the undocumented immigrants because it rewards breaking the law and encourages more people to do the same. Instead, it promises to enforce alien e-verify programs before immigrants will be granted any kind of federal or State support or entitlements or work authorization.

Many frowns upon this platform and policy directions of the GOP saying that it has a very simplistic and black-and-white view of immigration and lacks a deep understanding of why there are illegal immigrants in the country. It has failed to recognize that for these millions of undocumented immigrants, they simply do not have a choice- they don’t have any choice but to run away from their home country either to escape persecution or gang violence, as in the cases of those trying to cross the borders from Central America or escape extreme poverty but lacks the required documented family members or skill set to be able to go through the rigorous process of legal migration.

While the document blames undocumented immigrants for taking jobs away from American workers, it has failed to provide any concrete solutions to actually provide jobs for these displaced workers.

Senators Urge Obama to Stop Deportations

As the November presidential election looms and as his term’s end draws closer, President Barack Obama faces a growing clamor to address immigration problems. The latest call for immigration reforms came from Senate Democrats that are pushing his administration to stop the deportations of asylum seekers.

Senators Edward J. Markey joined Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 22 Senate Democrats in calling for an end to the deportation raids conducted since the start of the year targeting mothers, children and unaccompanied minors who have fled the violence in Central America.

The group of senators sent a letter to Pres. Obama urging his administration “not to focus its scarce resources on deporting vulnerable individuals who have no criminal record and were not represented by counsel during their removal proceedings.” Instead, they want the administration to start working on solutions to address the root causes of the problem.

Their letter states, “Deploying immigration raids upon this vulnerable population for the purpose of deterrence is an ineffective and unacceptable strategy. Immigration raids create fear and insecurity among immigrant communities in the United States. They will deter students from attending school and parents from seeking medical care, but they will not deter terrified mothers and children from fleeing life-threatening violence in their homelands.”

Data shows that although undocumented immigrants from Mexico account for the majority of undocumented immigrants in the country, immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have surged and is touted to compare to what happened back in 2014. High murder rates and gang violence happening in these countries, called the Northern Triangle, have driven many families to flee.

Based on figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), impunity and inadequate government capacity to address the violence have exacerbated in the region in recent years. Homicides in these countries remain unresolved. From 2010 to 2013, 95 percent of murders in the Northern Triangle were unsolved or unprosecuted.

This situation has prompted many families to flee in droves to seek refuge here in the United States. However, for the past two years, the Obama administration has sent them back. In January this year, the Obama administration conducted the first large-scale effort to deport Central American families and rounded up 121 individuals. ICE agents reportedly rounded them up at wee hours in the morning, only giving about five minutes for fathers, mothers and children to gather their belongings before they were made to board ICE vehicles.

Although it has received a lot of criticisms, ICE sources say the raids will continue and target illegal alien adults and minors whose asylum cases were denied and have been ordered removed from the country.

Apart from deportation, the government has also sent those families into detention centers while they plead their asylum cases. Even infants and small children are locked up in these detention facilities set up all over the country. Usually, it takes weeks before they are interviewed and they cannot leave the detention until they have passed their interviews.

Expanded Provisional Waiver to Benefit Thousands

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last July 29 the expansion of the existing provisional waiver program to include all individuals who are statutorily eligible for the waiver of the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility. The new rule, which will take effect on August 29 will benefit thousands who are not eligible to file for adjustment of status.

Before the first provisional waiver program took effect on March 4, 2013, applicants who had incurred unlawful presence in the US for more than 180 days, and were not eligible to adjust their status, had to go back to their home country to process their visa application there. They included fiances who entered on a K-1 visa but did not marry their petitioner and also crewmen and EWIs (those who entered without inspection) who were not grandfathered under Section 245(i).

Their departure from the US triggered the three or ten year bar. They were allowed to apply for a waiver of their unlawful presence but this took months, if not over a year. They had to appear first at the visa interview, wait for the denial of their visa application and then file for the unlawful presence waiver from outside the US and wait for its approval there. This discouraged many because of the risks, costs and hardship involved so instead of applying for a green card, they opted to remain undocumented.

To alleviate the hardship brought about by the lengthy family separation, the provisional waiver was introduced. It allowed them to apply for the waiver before their departure to process their immigrant visa application abroad.  However, the 2013 rules only applied to immediate relatives (spouses and children of US citizens and parents of adult US citizens) who can show that their separation would cause “extreme hardship” to their US citizen spouse or parent.

The new rule would cover visa applicants who can show extreme hardship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent whether their visa petition is family-based or employment-based.

The provisional waiver covers unlawful presence and no other ground of inadmissibility. The application would be made on a new form, Form I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver.

Individuals who are not eligible for the provisional waiver would still be able to apply under the old waiver procedure, i.e. depart from the US and apply for the I-601 waiver abroad.

Note that the waiver is provisional in that it would not take effect until after the applicant departs the US, appears at his visa interview and is found by the consular officer as otherwise admissible to the US. But the time that the individual would have to spend abroad would be significantly less compared to that under the old procedure.

We have recently represented a fiancée and also a crewmember and we successfully obtained their provisional waiver in only a few months. They went to Manila for their visa interview and came back with their green card after only a few weeks of stay there.

DOJ Petitions For Rehearing of DAPA/DACA+ Case

It may not yet be end of the road for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+). On July 18, the Department of Justice filed with the US Supreme Court a petition to rehear United States versus State of Texas.

In its petition, the Department of Justice argued that “the Court should grant rehearing to provide for a decision by the Court when it has a full complement of Members, rather than allow a nonprecedential affirmance by an equally divided Court to leave in place a nationwide injunction of such significance.”

The petition underscored that although it is exceedingly rare, it is not a new practice for the Court to grant a rehearing. In the past, it has also granted rehearing in other cases especially when the court was unable to obtain a decision due to a vacancy. It was not also uncommon that upon reargument, a majority vote was arrived at.

The petition highlighted the immediacy of the resolution of the case. With the Supreme Court’s deadlock on the issue, the preliminary injunction issued on February 16, 2015 by US district court Judge Andrew Hanen which was later affirmed on appeal by the Fifth Circuit, stays. And although the Fifth Circuit is only made up of three states— Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, the injunction nevertheless effectively halted the implementation of the two immigration initiatives introduced by Pres. Barack Obama back in 2014.

“The preliminary injunction prohibits the government from implementing the Guidance anywhere nationwide; there is no reason to expect that the district court would issue a permanent injunction that is narrower. Unless the Court resolves this case in a precedential manner, a matter of ‘great national importance’ involving an ‘unprecedented and momentous’ injunction barring implementation of the Guidance will have been effectively resolved for the country as a whole by a court of appeals that has divided twice, with two judges voting for petitioners and two for respondent States,” the petition stated.

This is a welcome development and one that has given a glimmer of hope to potential recipients. However, the rehearing depends on the confirmation of a ninth judge which may happen after the November US Presidential elections. The Court could dismiss the case for lack of standing of the plaintiff or reverse the decision of the Fifth Circuit thus allowing DAPA/DACA + to be implemented. It could also affirm the Circuit’s decision and uphold the injunction and the case would go back to the district court whose decision could eventually be appealed to the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court a second time.

While waiting for this new development to take some steps forward, it must also be noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling did not affect the president’s authority to establish priorities for the enforcement of immigration laws and the grant of deferred action. Shortly after the SC made its decision, Obama clarified that undocumented immigrant who are otherwise qualified under DAPA and DACA+ and have no criminal conviction, are still among the lowest priority for deportation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) therefore still has authority to review and grant individual request for deferred action.

The decision also did not affect the DACA which was announced by Obama back in 2012. Those who meet the program’s criteria established in 2012 may continue to apply – both first-time applicants and the DACA recipients who seek to renew their deferred action and employment authorization.

Based on estimates, there are about four million undocumented immigrants who could have benefited from DAPA and DACA+. Of that figure, there are still those who can avail of other forms of deportation relief. In fact, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), 14.3% of DACA-eligible population may qualify for other forms of relief, even more permanent than DACA+ and DAPA.

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