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What’s President Obama’s Executive Action All About?

Last night (November 20, 2014), President Obama announced that he is taking Executive Action on the immigration front. His Executive Actions are designed to help secure the border and provide limited protections for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants.

President Obama has announced the following actions:

1. He will shift resources to the Southwest border and the Department of Justice will focus immigration court dockets on prioritizing removal cases for recent border crossers.

2. President Obama will direct the Department of Justice to reform the immigration court processes to address the backlog of pending removal cases. This will be accomplished by prioritizing cases focusing on criminals and closing cases for individuals who are low priorities.

3. He will expand and strengthen immigration options for victims of crimes (U visas) and trafficking (T visas) for those who cooperate in government investigations.

4. He will focus deportation and removal energies to departing felons, not families.

5. He will expand the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include more immigrants who came to the US as children by removing the upper age restriction. provided they meet all other guidelines. USCIS expects to implement this within 90 days.

6. He will allow parents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they have continuous residence in the US since January 1, 2010; are the parents of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 1014; and do not have a criminal record. UCIS expects to implement this within 180 days.

7. He will allow undocumented individuals who have resided unlawfully in the US for at least 180 days and who are the spouses, sons, or daughters of lawful permanent residents , and sons and daughters of US citizens to apply for a waiver of unlawful presence if a visa is available.

8. He has directed the Department of State and USCIS to develop a method to allocate immigrant visas to make sure that all immigrant visas authorized by Congress are used each year when the demand is sufficient for the visas.

9. He has directed USCIS to clarify adjustment portability for those currently waiting for their employment-based immigrant petition priority date to become current.

Other administrative actions are also being discussed.

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