The President plans to use his executive authority to overhaul U.S. immigration law unless Congress passes a comprehensive immigration reform bill by the end of the year. Despite protests from Republicans, the President is expected to announce a 10-point plan that could protect up to 5 million immigrants from deportation by the end of the year and as early as next week.
According to Fox News, the 10 points of the President’s plan are:
1) Expand deferred action for young illegal immigrants: President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in June 2012. To be eligible for DACA, you must have come to the U.S. before the age of 16, have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15. 2012, and be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. Eligibility for DACA is expected to broaden to include anyone who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010.
2) Expand deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents: This point would also expand DACA to include illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for over five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
3) Prioritize deportations for serious criminals: The Department of Homeland Security will focus on deporting serious criminals and illegal immigrants considered a threat to public safety, such as gang members.
4) End “Secure Communities” and start a new program: Secure Communities is a program that helps Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) identify people in jails who are unlawfully in the U.S. or removable because of a criminal conviction. The President’s plan will end this program and replace it with a new program.
6) Expand high-tech visas: The State Department plans to offer more visas for foreign nationals who have high-tech skills to support U.S. businesses.
7) Strengthen border security: More resources will go towards strengthening the U.S-Mexico border.
8) Expand provisional waivers to spouses and children of legal permanent residents: A provisional waiver program that began on March 4, 2013 allows spouses and children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, who only need a waiver of inadmissibility for unlawful presence, apply for a waiver from the U.S. before they leave to appear for their immigrant visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. This program will be expanded, but no details have been released.
9) Expand parole: USCIS currently provides parole to spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizen military members who are in the U.S. on a case-by-case basis. Under the expansion, parole will be available for parents of U.S. citizens.
10) Promote the naturalization process: The fee to apply for naturalization is currently $680. The Department of Homeland Security plans to lower the price by 50 percent for the first 10,000 applicants whose income levels are under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Stay tuned for updates regarding the President’s plan to overhaul immigration.