President Obama has asked the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss with stakeholders and come up with recommendations to improve the U.S. immigration system. Based on their assessment, they have come up with the following ten areas where they can take action under President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform.
DHS will implement a Southern Border and Approaches Campaign Strategy that will help the agency to use its assets and resources in a strategic way and effectively enforce the U.S. immigration laws. The resources will be used to prevent more foreigners and minor children from illegally entering into the country. DHS will commission three task forces to strengthen border security.
Revise Removal Priorities
Department-wide removal policies that will focus on deporting gang members, convicted felons, immigrants who illegally entered into the U.S. after January 1, 2014 and national security threats, will be implemented by DHS. The agency will not prioritize deportations of undocumented immigrants who got into the U.S. before January 1, 2014 and who were never convicted of crimes.
End Secure Communities and Replace it with a New Program
The Secure Communities program will be ended and it will be replaced by another program that will reflect on the above mentioned new top enforcement priorities of DHS. Plans to engage state and local governments on enforcement priorities will also be formulated and the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities to arrest and remove criminals and those deemed threats to national security will be enhanced.
Personnel Reform for ICE Officers
DHS will take measures to bring the pay offered to ICE agents in line with the other law enforcement authorities. Their pay would be increased adequately for the work they perform.
Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be expanded to cover all undocumented immigrants who got into the U.S. before January 1, 2010 and before they turned 16. Such immigrants will be granted work permits and temporary relief from deportation under DACA will now last for three years.
Deferred Action to Parents of U.S. Citizens and Green Card Holders
Undocumented adults whose children are U.S. citizens or green cards holders and who are currently not in removal proceedings will be granted a relief from deportation. To qualify, they must have lived in the U.S. for five years or more. These immigrants will be allowed to get work permits. However, they need to undergo background checks and pay taxes and contribute to the U.S. economy by working here with work permits.
Provisional Waivers to Spouses and Children of Green Card Holders
The agency will expand the provisional waiver program meant for undocumented husbands, wives and children of U.S. citizens, that was implemented in January 2013. This program will be expanded to include the husbands, wives and children (minors and adults) of green card holders and adult children of U.S. citizens. However, they need to meet the “extreme hardship” standard to obtain provisional waiver.
Support High-skilled Foreign Workers
Steps will be taken to help U.S. businesses hire and retain highly skilled foreign workers. Administrative actions will be taken to expand opportunities for international students to gain on-the-job training.
Promote the Naturalization Process
The naturalization application filing fee of $680 can only be paid by cash. DHS will now allow the applicants to use their credit cards to pay this fee. Fee waiver options are also likely to be expanded.
Revise Parole Rules
DHS will revise parole rules for talented entrepreneurs whose entry into the U.S. would yield a significant economic benefit. By working with U.S. Department of Defense, DHS will support the military and its efforts to recruit officers. By doing so it will address the availability of parole-in-place and deferred action to husbands, wives, parents and children of U.S. citizens and green card holders seeking to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces.