Obama’s Executive Action for Illegal Immigration, Explained

obama executive order immigrationAs recently reported by The Guardian, President Barack Obama announced his Executive Action plan on immigration which has been making waves rather than ripples throughout the United States ever since.

According to former White House advisor David Axelrod, the move that ends the threat of sudden deportation for over four million undocumented immigrants has more to do with principal than groundbreaking politics. He said, “The president wanted to keep faith with these people, and he wanted to do right by them. There’s no hidden motive.”

Who is Affected?

According to, immigrants who arrived in the United States before 2010, and were either under 16 years of age or have at least one child who is a legal citizen or permanent resident, will be able to apply for three years deportation relief, including relief from work permits.

Although the President’s decision has brought with it a massive furor for many, it’s also being seen as a positive step forward by the Hispanic community, which currently makes up almost two thirds of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

Many have been expecting Obama to tackle immigration reform, so this most recent move has been welcomed as a first step to help fix the US’s flaws in the current immigration system, which Obama himself has declared “broken”.

Obama’s Executive Action for Immigration: the Main Points

So, how will Obama’s recent Executive Action affect you? Below, we’re going to go over everything you need to know.

1. Strengthen US borders

The first point is to strengthen border security, with additional resources in the form of three new immigration task forces. These are new divisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) office set up to help reduce the amount of legal crossings and expedite the return of those who have crossed illegally. These are:

  • A southern maritime border task force
  • A southern land border and west coast border task force
  • Supportive investigations for the above two task forces

2. Revise removal priorities

Obama’s executive action will also mean a new ranking system for deporting illegal immigrants as part of a new deportation procedure, to replace the blanket policy we all know. In order of priority, the new system lists:

  • National security threats, gangs, felons and border apprehension
  • Those who have committed significant or multiple misdemeanors, along with those who have not been apprehended at the border, but have entered or re-entered illegally after January 1, 2014.
  • Illegal immigrants who have not committed any crime but who fail to leave after a final order of removal that has been issued either on or following January 1, 2014.

Interestingly, those who entered the United States illegally before January 1, 2014 and were not issued with a prior order of removal, or convicted of any serious offense, will not be listed as a priority for deportation.

3. New Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) 

This new program will replace the more controversial Secure Communities program and will run alongside the priorities listed in point 2 above. State and local law enforcement agencies will provide fingerprints and biometrics in order to create notice for those that are seen as high priorities for deportation.

4. ICE officers’ personnel reform

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will undergo major changes, including higher wages for officers and duty reclassifications. This will hopefully result in a much more efficient system and more motivated personnel.

5. Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program

First brought into play in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program only covered those under 31 as of June 15, 2012, and who arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007, under 16 years of age at the time of entry. The program is now set to be expanded to cover all undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States under the age of 16. The entry date will be moved from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010, and DACA will now cover up to a full three years, instead of only two – this includes work permits.

6. Deferred action for parents of US citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAP)

INS will also extend deferred action eligibility for those who fall into the following categories:

  • Are not priorities for deportation
  • Have been in the country a minimum of five years
  • Are parents of children who are US citizens or lawful US residents as of November 20, 2014.
  • Have no other factors that would render deferred action inappropriate.

7. Expansion of 601A provisional waivers to spouses and children of lawful permanent residents

601A was first launched in 2013 for children of US citizens and immigrant spouses, and will now be extended to cover the following:

  • Children and spouses of legal permanent residents
  • Adult children of US citizens and legal permanent residents
  • Those who fall under the two categories above must also fit the “extreme hardship” standard required; this is yet to be clarified by Immigration.

8. Clarify rules of parole

The ways to grant parole will be properly classified by Immigration, including the rules for talented entrepreneurs, as well as parole in place, and deferred action to parents, children, and spouses of US citizens wishing to enlist in the US military and Armed Forces. Guidance on advance parole will also be given.

9. Promote naturalization

The new executive action allows for payment via credit card.

10. Help for high-skilled workers and businesses

Immigration also plans to improve the current system for businesses who wish to hire and hold onto highly skilled workers while also expanding and reinforcing channels for students to obtain in-work training. Considering the long wait times for Green Cards, changes will also allow more flexibility for workers via approved employment-based petitions.

We will report more on this and other related immigration stories as the information becomes available.

Looking for Immigration Help in the US?

If you are in the US illegally or know someone who is, or if you have any immigration questions, VisaPlace is here to guide you through the immigration process. We work with qualified immigration lawyers who can help you with your US immigration matters. Contact us to book a consultation.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

2 thoughts on “Obama’s Executive Action for Illegal Immigration, Explained

  1. KALEEMUDDIN Mohammed

    Hi.. As I came to America with my wife on April 2010 then after we got two kids over here US born now one is 4 year and the younger is 3 year and now I am overstay can you suggest me an I eligible for DAPA or some other way to get the work authorization to live legal …. Please suggest

    1. Muga Rajbhandari

      Hello Kaleemuddin. Overstaying is a serious problem. I am going to suggest that you contact us to make an appointment to talk with one of our immigration professionals who will be able to plan the best strategy for you. You can book an appointment by calling us at 1-855-886-8472 or online at
      Regards, Muga


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