Executive Order on Immigration: Top 7 Myths

Executive order – It’s been five weeks since President Obama spoke to the Nation on Immigration Action.  In that short time, law firms all over America which exclusively handle immigration matters have been flooded with calls, emails and in person consultations.

Most people want to know about expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA).

We have been doing our best to educate the folks who contact us on the executive order.

And in these communications we have already done our best to separate truth from rumor.

 executive order

Here now are the Top Seven Myths About The November 20, 2014 Executive Order on Immigration Law (along with the accompanying Truths).

1. “The President has signed a law giving green cards to undocumented immigrants.”  Wrong. First of all, he signed nothing.  Rather, Mr. Obama gave a short speech summarizing the day’s events. On November 20, 2014, the Secretary of Homeland Security issued about 20 legal memoranda.  Moreover, not one word of these memos grants a green card to anyone. Repeat: Nobody’s getting permanent residence. This executive order stands for many things but not green cards.

2. “If you are living in the US for more than ten years, you’re entitled to a green card.”  Nonsense.  This rumor had its origin in a form of actual deportation defense called Cancellation of Removal.  The application has been in existence since 1997 after Congress created it by passing a law signed by then – President Clinton.  But only 4000 immigrants annually receive Cancellation.  In addition,  this benefit may only be granted by a Judge in Immigration Court. The ten year rule is but one part of the procedure, which is very difficult to achieve.

3. “Under the new Executive Order, immigrants will start receiving legal status on January 1, 2015.”  False.  While certain changes to Enforcement policies will commence on that date, there is not a single person who will be given any new status on New Year’s Day. Applications for Deferred Action as per the terms of the 2014 action will begin to be reviewed after being filed in 2015. In reality, estimates place waiting times as long as 6 to 18 months for the 3 year temporary work permits for those who qualify.

4. “If my child previously received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), now I can apply for Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA).”  This statement is completely untrue. In fact, the requirements for DAPA by the Executive Order start with the need to produce evidence that Applicants are parents of either US citizens or green card holders.

5.  “Once DACA and DAPA end, the government will round up all of the immigrants who hold this status and deport them.”  Highly unlikely if not impossible. While many people worry about the temporary nature of DACA and DAPA given by Executive Order, it is impossible to envision mass removals of a population which is typically estimated to be in the millions. As Former Speaker Newt Gingrich stated in 2011, you can’t deport 11 million people.  Additionally,  even if Immigration and Customs Enforcement attempted to deport millions, the vast majority would be entitled to a hearing in a court system which currently has huge backlogs.

6. “The Executive Order is Unconstitutional. It will be overruled.”  Not the case.  Members of the legal community as diverse as elite members of the Federalist Society as well as 135 notable law professors and scholars agreed that the President’s executive order is constitutional and within his authority.  Indeed, no party who attempts to sue the government – such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona and various Governors of certain American states – truly has “standing,” or legal capacity, to do so. Even the recent opinion by a federal judge was called “unfounded” by The Justice Department.

7. “Citizenship applications will be processed faster and for less money.”  This is a Myth.  There were news reports in the days leading up to the speech by Mr. Obama, that included talk of discounted naturalization fees.  However, the fact is that the only significant changes to the citizenship process consider allowing the public to pay for applications by credit card and contemplate more fee waivers.

We have heard rumors, myths and stories about the executive order from diverse clients, whether they are Hispanic, European, Indian, African, etc.

If you are Peruvian, Portuguese, Pakistani or Polish, do not believe anyone who tells you any of the above myths about the Executive Order on Immigration Law.

Call an law firm which exclusively handles immigration law and has experienced attorneys so you can learn the truth.

There are many more myths and rumors out there.  Often these tales are started by unscrupulous individuals seeking to defraud immigrants.  Be sure to find an experienced law firm that specializes in Immigration Law if you have questions about the New Executive Order.

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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