Local agency outlines how policy of Administration Relief can help immigrants
The news regarding President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration reform sent a whirlwind of emotions and charges across the states, but also left questions on what the move really means for undocumented immigrants.
Organizers of the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project set up informational meetings days after the announcement, hoping to quell any misinformation.
Executive Director Jose Vera and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, during the initial viewing of President Obama’s announcement, warned individuals to seek out qualified agencies or licensed attorneys for information, and advised individuals to learn the facts before taking any action as a means to protect themselves.
The group wants to guide undocumented immigrants on how to avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous immigration consultants, who will take every opportunity for financial gain.
The SSIP held an informational meeting Dec. 3 in Bolingbrook to inform the immigrant community about President Obama’s administrative relief to undocumented immigrants. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 13 at Truth Foundation Ministries, a church with many Ghanaian immigrants, in Romeoville.
Vera explained that administrative relief is based on prosecutorial discretion—the power to make decisions about an immigrant’s ability to remain in the U.S. without congressional action.
“Administrative relief is not a law, but is administrative policy that can be changed or terminated at any time and it does not provide lawful immigration status,” explained Vera, hoping to clarify some information out in the public. “It is not a pathway to legal permanent residency or citizenship. Administrative relief, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can defer deportation (removal) for several years (with possibility of renewal). However, it can grant work authorization, and it can lead to a valid Social Security number.”
One of the main points emphasized is that there is no application yet. The government will not start accepting applications until Feb. 18, 2015, under the new criteria. Attorneys advise not to pay anyone to submit an application.
Administrative relief has now expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to eliminate the age cap. DACA is extended to every qualified person who entered the U.S. before his or her 16th birthday, meaning there is no longer an upper age limit. And the employment authorizations received under this program will be valid for three years instead of two.
Deferred action for young people will be available to qualified applicants who entered the U.S. before Jan. 1, 2010. To be eligible, applicants must be 15 to apply, in school, have a high school diploma or GED, no felony convictions or significant misdemeanors.
In addition, certain parents will be able to apply for deferred action (DAPA), if they had a child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) as of Nov. 20, 2014; entered the U.S. before Jan. 1, 2010; were present in the U.S. and out of status on Nov. 20, 2014; and do not fall within ICE enforcement priorities.
DAPA would be valid for three years and recipients could get work permits and apply to travel outside the U.S. DAPA will cost $465 (same as DACA). The application period does not start until May 19, 2015.
Vera explained that the benefits of administration relief allow for protection from deportation for a three-year period, work authorization, a Social Security number, a regular driver’s license in Illinois; and the ability to request permission to travel abroad. However, the action does not provide a Green Card or Visa and is not a permanent solution, said Vera.
For more information, Visite www.ilestalisto.org, Envía la palabra LISTO por mensaje de texto al 630-524-4106.