What You Need To Know About the DAPA Immigration Program

On November 20, 2014, President Barrack Obama took executive action and implemented the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which gives the parents of undocumented immigrants a chance to avoid deportation for a set period of time.

Who Is Eligible Under DAPA?

During President Obama’s live address concerning immigration executive action, it was made clear that the DAPA program would give the parents of undocumented immigrants the ability to request deferred action and be exempt from deportation while also being able to obtain employment authorization if the individuals meet all three of the following criteria:

  • Individuals who have lived in the United States after January 1, 2010.
  • Individuals who are parents of U.S. born citizens born before November 20, 2014.
  • Individuals must complete a criminal background check and not be a deportation priority before November 20.

DAPA will officially go into effect exactly 180 days after the President’s Nov. 20 address. At around this time, in May of 2015, applications can be sent and will be handled on a case by case basis by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency. The USCIS will be responsible for all DAPA activities, and the exact date of the application opening will be announced in the coming months.

As for what it will financially cost for undocumented U.S. residents to avoid deportation through DAPA, the Department of Homeland Security spokesman has noted that applicants are expected to pay $465 to cover the “work authorization and biometrics” fees. According to the DHS there will be no fee waivers and fee exemptions will be very limited.

Who Is Left Out?

Immigrant rights groups commend the President for addressing the fallacy of the U.S. immigration system on live television, but these same organizations believe much more could have been addressed.

The policy attorney for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Kamal Essaheb, claims that the implementation of the DAPA program is a massive step forward and that immediate efforts will be made to ensure that hundreds of thousands receive beneficial protection and work authorization so people are able to contribute more to their communities.

Even though DAPA is a giant step in the right direction, Kamal Essaheb has pointed out that several different categories of people who are considered undocumented immigrants will be left out from receiving similar opportunities.

Undocumented immigrants who are single but were born in the U.S., as well as individuals that belong to the LGBT community who will have obstacles in becoming parents to receive DAPA protection, are just two of the many examples of people who will not be covered by the DAPA program. Essaheb notes that many of the people who fall under this umbrella are people who have strong direct ties to the U.S., have been living in the U.S. for decades, may have contributed to their community, started small businesses, and may have made an impact on industries that are vital to the overall state of the nation’s economy.

“It’s a big step forward. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s always sobering to think about the people that are left out,” says Kamal Essaheb.

Plenty of other people share Kamal’s thoughts. The Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Anthony Romero, claims that President Obama’s executive actions are “not a complete solution” to solve all the U.S.’s immigration problems.

According to Romero, he is “extremely concerned about the rights of all six million immigrants excluded from deportation relief, including those who are long standing neighbors within our communities.”

According to an evaluative statement written by ACLU Washington Legislative Office Director Laura Murphy, Policy Counsel Christopher Rickard and Legislative Counsel Joanne Lin, the DAPA program is similar to Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Obama took executive action to implement in 2012. The DAPA program will essentially allow undocumented immigrants to live without fear of deportation and given a chance to lawfully contribute to communities.

Similar to DACA, the DAPA program does not grant legal status to accepted individuals. According to the ACLU statement, this simply means for a specific period of time, an undocumented individual will be allowed to be lawfully present in the U.S. Individuals accepted through the DAPA program will be granted a temporary stay over a renewable three year period.

Beware of Fraud From “Notarios”

Receiving future information about the DAPA program will be critical in preventing fraud and unlawful activity. Essaheb stated “we don’t want people being victimized by notarios or other unscrupulous individuals who are really preying on individuals during this exciting moment.”

The Deputy Director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights (NMCIR), Cynthia Carrion, says that fraud prevention is something to be aware of for individuals wanting to receive deferred action through the DAPA program. There are already circulating stories of lawyers coaxing people into giving them a down payment with the promise of being first in line for the application process. Unfortunately, there is no way to be first in line for the DAPA program.

What May Come Next For US Immigration

When it comes to the political impact that the DAPA program may have in the coming months and years, Essaheb is hopeful that President Obama’s political opponents in Congress will choose to not block the DAPA program, saying, “We really need to defend it, so that as we defend it, we make sure people understand what’s truth and what’s bullying, because we expect opponents of this program to try to bully potential applicants by telling them that this is going to get them deported or this is not a real or concrete program.”

It is important that people who are potentially eligible for the DAPA program stay up to date with all the related organizations and media coverage to ensure they know when and how to apply, what type of documents or information may be required, and if they are actually eligible or not.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has yet to officially roll out the application for DAPA. Any specific documents that may be required for the application have also not been offically confirmed. Although it is advised that eligible applicants gather any documents that may establish their identity and proof that they have lived in the U.S. since January 1, 2010.

The Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program will impact thousands of undocumented immigrants, find out what the DAPA program is and how it may affect you.

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