Putting Dreams on Hold
NYLAG joins immigrant rights organizations around the country in our opposition to Texas District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s temporary injunction halting the rollout of President Obama’s program, designed to ease the threat of deportation for deserving immigrants, and focus instead on removing those immigrants who pose a real threat to national security. We firmly believe, along with most experts, that the Administration’s action is on solid legal ground and the ruling will not stand.
The President’s plan is currently the only solution to the decades-long legislative deadlock in Congress over immigration reform. It does not provide a pathway to full legal status, but those who qualify will receive work authorization and other benefits. Parents and children will have a respite from the constant threat of separation, and hardworking immigrants will be able to find legal employment for a fair wage.
The administrative action permits undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for five years and are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization through a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program.
The plan also expands Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy introduced in 2012 that provides temporary relief to immigrants who were brought to the US as young children. The Judge’s order does not affect those eligible for original DACA, or DACA renewals.
Since the injunction was announced on February 17th, NYLAG’s immigration attorneys have not shifted our priorities or changed direction. In fact it is more important than ever to make sure that immigrants affected by the ruling do not lose heart, and know that they have our support. We continue to meet one-on-one with clients and to conduct screenings and consultations in partnership with community-based organizations, elected officials and City agencies. Our priority is to ensure that clients are informed consumers who know their rights.
NYLAG, with the invaluable support of pro bono attorneys and other volunteers, is assessing all potential avenues for status relief. We make sure that those who do qualify for DACA or DAPA prepare in advance for the filing process by collecting the necessary documentation, and remind them that they are still free, if eligible, to apply under the original DACA provision. Finally, we warn them to be wary of unethical and fraudulent immigration legal services providers and to seek legal advice only from licensed attorneys or BIA accredited representatives.
I am confident that the President’s plan will prevail, and that DAPA and expanded DACA will be fully implemented. But our hearts go out to so many immigrants for whom this comes as one more bitter disappointment. We may tell our clients that this is just a temporary setback, but “temporary” means one thing for us, and quite another for people who have already lived for years under a cloud of fear, depravation and humiliation. Even a few months delay adds unnecessary stress and uncertainty for immigrant families who have already suffered enough.