There is more to the President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Action Fact Sheet than what has already been laid out in detail as instructional guidelines in the USCIS website whose rules and regulations will be released in three to six months.
To millions of undocumented aliens, this means work permits or green cards as the case may be. Interestingly, there are provisions that are not necessarily less important but do not affect one’s immigration status on a personal level.
These provisions include: (a) Increased security forces (border patrol agents) at borders (particularly in the south due to the recent heavy influx of illegal entrants); (b) Streamlining immigration court processes by closing out low-priority cases to focus on high-level national security threats and cases involving criminals and human traffickers, thereby implementing the “New Priority Enforcement Program” which effectively removes and identifies criminals in local and state jails for deportation purposes.
On a positive note, the following are covered as well:
(a) Better protection and more incentives for foreign students in US universities who are studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics); “DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and require stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation”; incentives meant to entice the highly educated to remain and work for US-owned companies;
(b) Provide work authorization permits for spouses of H1b workers whose petitions have been approved but whose visas are not yet available. Under the present regulations, spouses of H1b visa holders are not allowed to work until their visas are finally issued. In 2005, some Filipino nurses experienced “retrogression” for which their employers’ petitions were already approved but their visas have not become available yet. Because they were in the US, these nurses’ H1b status has to be renewed every year. But their spouses’ immigration status remains ‘in limbo’ and could not legally work. The spouses petitioned Congress and wrote the office of the President in an effort to resolve their predicament, but up to now the matter has yet to be clarified. Obama’s Executive Order (EO) hopes to be able to address their dilemma. At least for some who have U.S. citizen-born children or who have U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children, they can now apply for work permits under the executive order;
(c) DHS will address other possibilities for foreign entrepreneurs to bring in investments into the United States to create jobs and generate revenues.
Let it be clear that although the last three enumerated items are not yet outlined in the USCIS website as “initiatives” with corresponding “benefit” that an alien can actually apply for right now, it is one of the “items” listed in the EO that can come to fruition.
One of the items in the new EO is the already existing “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” popularly known as “DACA.” Prior to the new EO, if you are over 31 years old, it is a disqualification from DACA. In the new EO, there is no age limit. If one thinks about it, there is no rhyme or reason for the rule. The reality is, some people finish high school at age 17, others later.
Moreover, the new EO set the cut-off date on January1, 2010 (the previous date was June 15, 2007). Under the new EO, if you were already in the US by January 1, 2010, you came to the US when you were under 16 and complied with all other requirements, then you can apply for DACA.
Why was the date changed from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010? Are these random policy suggestions or substantive regulatory changes to address loopholes and strengthen the laws?