New executive action offers relief to over 1 million CA immigrants

A new executive order from President Obama offers three years of deportation relief for certain immigrant parents and children who were brought to the U.S.

President Obama recently announced an executive action on immigration that may affect millions of people. The action will expand eligibility for deferred status, offering as many as 4.3 million immigrants short-term protection from deportation and removals, according to USA Today. The action will also broaden the 2012 Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program to include more children. The changes may affect many people in Los Angeles, given California's large immigrant population.

Expanded relief

The executive order allows the parents of legal residents or citizens to qualify for deferred action on deportation. The deferred action will last for three years. To be eligible, parents cannot have criminal records with any convictions, and they must have resided in the U.S. for at least five years.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the executive order also allows more children to qualify for the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program. When the program was implemented in 2012, it offered protection to people under the age of 30 who were brought to the U.S. either before 2007 or before age 16. Now, people who were brought to the U.S. before 2010 also qualify for protection, regardless of age.

The order also makes the visa application process more manageable for certain immigrants. Entrepreneurs who prove they have funds and can create jobs will be able to qualify for visas more easily; so will students who study math, science or technology and wish to stay after graduation to pursue higher training or career opportunities.

Impacts in California

These changes could have a huge impact in California, which has a larger population of immigrant parents than any other state, according to The Los Angeles Times. California has more than 1.1 million immigrant parents, and a recent Pew Research analysis found that the changes will offer relief to 51 percent of California's immigrants who currently lack legal status, or roughly 925,000 people.

The Los Angeles Times notes that more than 1 million immigrants in California will not qualify for relief. The following groups will not be eligible for deferred status under the new order:

  • Immigrants who don't have children and immigrants whose children were born elsewhere
  • Young immigrants who have recently arrived from Central America on their own initiative
  • Immigrants who have left the U.S. during the last five years, even for short durations

Even immigrants who qualify for deferred action are not guaranteed permanent residency or eventual citizenship. However, the changes may help keep more families together and give immigrants additional time to work toward securing permanent status.

Immigrants who are seeking permanent status in the U.S. or at risk for deportation should consult with an immigration attorney to understand the relevant laws and possible courses of action.

Keywords: immigration, deportation