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2021 Immigration Reform, DACA, and DAPA

Now that Joe Biden won the presidential election, immigration reform in 2021 seems doable. Joe Biden will be following the same plan as Obama’s. He is signaling that an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will be implemented in early 2021. I also think that a resurrection of the Deferred Action for Parents of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) is also likely. Lastly, his pre-election plan included a plan for comprehensive immigration reform in 2021.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):

President Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program through an executive order in 2012. The program allowed children whose parents brought them to the United States at a young age to apply for deferred action. Deferred Action is a tool in the Immigration and Naturalization Act that allows the President to defer removal. This deferral can be based on humanitarian and other grounds. To be eligible under the program an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Be under 31 years old as of June 15, 2007.
  • Must have arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday.
  • The applicant must have resided in the United States since June 15, 2007.
  • Should have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2007.
  • Had no legal status on June 15, 2012.
  • Have graduated high school, currently enrolled in high school, or have received a GED.
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or a serious misdemeanor.

President Obama tried to expand the program but was sued by several states. The case reached the Supreme Court and the court upheld the nationwide injunction.

President Trump discontinued the program after he was elected. The Supreme Court ruled that the termination of the program did not follow proper procedures. The current administration is standing by its decision to terminate the program. However, it is accepting renewal applications for applicants who previously had approved petition.

President-elect Biden has vowed to reinstate the program after his election. He has also promised an expansion of the benefits under the program. The plan also makes recipients eligible for student loans and Pell grants. He will be able to make these changes through executive order since President Obama and President  Trump established and dissolved the program through executive orders.

Deferred Action for Parents of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA):

This program was an attempted expansion of President Obama’s 2012 order. The 2014 expansion added to the 2012 program with regards to DACA eligibility. The DAPA program was targeted towards undocumented immigrants with children who are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents.  The order stated the following requirements to qualify:

  • Be the parent of a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
  • Must have lived in the US as of January 1, 2010.
  • Have been present in the United States as of the date of the order.
  • The applicant should not have any legal status as of the date of the order.
  • Have not been convicted of a criminal offense including felonies and misdemeanors.

President-elect Biden can revive this program using executive orders. As I stated above, states might sue to stop the program. However, the Supreme Court’s recent decisions regarding executive power when it comes to immigration give us hope. An executive order to resurrect DAPA and DACA might withstand a constitutional challenge.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2021:

I have discussed President-elect Biden’s plan in an extensive way in this post.  The two programs I discussed above can be established very rapidly through executive orders. However, comprehensive immigration reform is 2021 seems less likely now that President-elect Biden will not have a clear majority in the United States Senate. So if the Democrats win the two run-off elections in Georgia, the chances of comprehensive reform in 2021.

Biden’s Plan has several points, which I will now summarize. It revolves around three points, modernizing the immigration system, reasserting commitment to asylum seekers, and tackling the causes of migration, and implementing effective border screenings.

Biden wants to reform the immigration system by creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He also wants to reform the temporary visa programs in the United States to retain highly educated immigrants. Lastly, he wants to expand protections under the Violence Against Women Act and victims of crimes.

Biden’s plan also wants to reassert America’s commitment to asylum seekers. This plan would surge the numbers of asylum officers. It will also restore asylum eligibility for victims of domestic violence and those fleeing political persecution. Lastly, the plan will increase the number of immigration judges, end for-profit detention centers, and increase the number of refugees to the United States.

Lastly, Biden’s immigration plan includes tackling the root causes of migration and implementing effective border screening. This part of the plan will include working with leaders of the triangle where most undocumented immigrants come from.

As I mentioned, President-elect Biden could implement the first two programs through executive orders. However, this mechanism is subject to attack in courts.  Biden will be better served by working with Congress to implement  Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2021.

How Can the American Dream Law Office Help While Waiting for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2021?

We are more than to discuss your options under the programs discussed above. We understand what the American Dream means to you, after all, it is in our name.

Throughout our years of practice, we have counseled numerous undocumented immigrants who qualified for Deferred Action. We have waited for comprehensive immigration reform for a long time. We would be more than happy to help you and your family members with the next steps.

Call us at (888)786-4507 24/7 to schedule a strategy session with Attorney Ahmad Yakzan to discuss your options. We have multilingual staff.

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