On November 20, the President announced his plan to streamline America's current immigration system so that illegal immigrants might "come out of the shadows." The decision was announced just over two weeks after his party lost control of both houses of Congress. The plan should begin implementation during the spring.
A key part of the President's proposal is to shift the focus of immigration authorities to those of the roughly 11 and a half million undocumented workers who are considered dangerous—"felons, not families. Criminals, not children," according to Obama's speech. Those who qualify have a chance to remain the U.S. for three years so long as they submit to a background check and pay back taxes. However, they will not be offered a path to eventual citizenship or be eligible for benefits from the federal government or health care programs.
At the same time, President Obama remarked that undocumented criminals will be deported and plans to step up enforcement at the border.
Who will be affected?
Those most affected by the bill would be the roughly four million people who are undocumented and will be offered papers and work authorization so long as they have lived in the U.S. at least five years. In addition, the upper age limit of the Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals would be removed. The limit for the so-called Dreamers had been 30 years old which means anyone who had been brought to the U.S. illegally as children can stay.
Further, these Dreamers will be removed from priority lists for deportation.
Obama also moved to appease business leaders by simplifying rules for science and technology students to study in the U.S. The new program also looks to attract entrepreneurs to come to the U.S. if they indeed have sufficient investors.
The announcement was met by considerable scorn from Republican leaders who fear implementation of the bill without Congressional approval via an executive order.
To understand more about how this new bill would affect your current status or if you need representation for any immigration service, get in touch with a Hidalgo County immigration attorney.