November 19, 2014 – President Obama is scheduled to unveil his strategy to implement executive action regarding immigration reform Thursday evening, followed by a rally on Friday at a Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. The White House made the official announcement via Facebook. It has been speculated that Obama will formally address the following components in his prospective immigration amendments:
• Expansion of Deferred Action
Obama’s executive order from 2012 previously created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This program allows undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children before June 2007, and who were also under 31 years old as of June 2012, to obtain legal status in two-year increments, including authorization to work and, in some instances, permission to travel internationally. According to Obama’s plan, a potential expansion to DACA will additionally include those who entered the U.S before they were 16 and extend the cutoff date for inclusion of immigrants who were under 31 as of January 2010. Moreover, deferred action is expected to include parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
• Immigration Changes in the Tech Industry
Obama also plans to amend immigration policy governing tech jobs. However, explicit procedures regarding such are less clear as Congressional approval was required for prior proposals, such as lifting the annual H-1B cap. Possibilities for change include offering work permits to spouses of immigrants with tech jobs who hold temporary visas, and to immigrants who have applied for green cards but are waiting for their priority date to become current in the world quota. Obama may also attempt to accelerate current wait times for green cards for tech job holders by altering the way in which spouses and children are counted under the annual cap, or by recapturing approximately 200,000 unused expired green card numbers.
• Immigration Infrastructure
Obama has proposed several large-scale changes to immigration infrastructure and policy. First, Obama intends to increase border security by prioritizing deportation for serious criminals (as opposed to the currently upheld policy of deporting immigrants convicted of a broader range of criminal activity), terminating the current border protection program, Secure Communities, enabling the implementation a new program, and executing increased pay rises for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.
Immigration reform has remained a hot topic this year, with particular emphasis throughout the November 2014 midterm elections. While Obama previously delayed immigration reform this past summer, it is evident that he intends to push forward with the implementation of his plan by year-end to improve the current immigration system.
Green and Spiegel will continue to monitor immigration reform closely and welcome those who could potentially benefit from a change in the law to add themselves to our mailing list.