Executive Action: 10 Things You Must Know

President Obama’s November 20, 2014 Executive Action Announcement Brought with It Ten Main Points:

  1. Strengthen Border Security

Immigration will have three new task forces.

  • Southern maritime border.
  • Southern land border and West Coast.
  • Investigations to support the other two task forces.


  1. Executive Action to Revise Removal Priorities

The executive action also states that Immigration will have a new deportation procedure that puts

  • highest priority on national security threats, felons, gangs, and border apprehension
  • next priority on significant or multiple misdemeanors and those not apprehended at border but who enter or re-enter illegally after January 1, 2014
  • third priority on non-criminals who fail to leave due to final order of removal issued on or after January 1, 2014.
  • NOTE WELL: PEOPLE who entered illegally before January 1, 2014, who never ignored a prior order of removal, and were never convicted of a serious offense, will not be priorities for deportation.   This policy also provides clear guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.


  1. New Priority Enforcement Program through Executive Action

The controversial Secure Communities program will be replaced by the executive action Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) that will be consistent with those listed in (2) above. Fingerprints and biometrics from state and local law enforcement will create notice to those agencies who Immigration seeks to remove.


  1. Personnel Reform for ICE Officers Due to Executive Action

Major changes are to be implemented in Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This includes higher wages and reclassification of duties.


  1. Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

Since 2012 DACA covered people under 31 on June 15, 2012, who entered the U.S. before June 15, 2007, and who were under 16 at entry.  DACA will be expanded to cover all undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before age 16, and not just those born after June 15, 1981.  Entry date will change from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.  DACA (including work permits) will cover three years, instead of two.


  1. Give Deferred Action to Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAP”)

Immigration will extend eligibility for deferred action to people who

  • are not deportation priorities
  • have been in this country at least 5 years
  • have children who on November 20, 2014, are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and
  • have no factors that would make deferred action inappropriate. 


  1. Executive Action to Expand 601A Provisional Waivers to Spouses and Children of Lawful Permanent Residents

601A first introduced in 2013 for immigrant spouses and children of U.S. citizens will now cover

  • spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and
  • adult children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
  • Immigration will also clarify the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain the waiver (the language noted here is referenced from the criteria by which a presumption of extreme hardship may be determined to exist, as under the old NACARA program)


  1. Clarify Parole Rules by Executive Action

Immigration will classify the ways to allow parole including

  • talented entrepreneurs
  • parole in place and deferred action to spouses, parents, and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who wish to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • also guidance is to explain (based on prior caselaw) that when anyone is given advance parole to leave the country – including those who obtain deferred action – they will not be considered to have departed.


  1. Executive Action to Promote Naturalization

With allowing credit card payment.  Not unlike E-filings that have already existed.


10. Help High-skilled Businesses and Workers

Immigration will improve the system for companies to hire and keep high-skilled immigrant workers while also reinforcing and expanding ways for students to get on-the-job training.  Since there are very long waits for green cards, changes will be made to give more flexibility to workers with approved employment-based petitions.



Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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