There are more than 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without proper immigration papers. Under the President’s new initiative, less than half of those immigrants will become eligible for legal status. At the same time, there are many who are eligible for legal status in the U.S. but are unaware of it.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) are two programs announced by the President that will provide a temporary relief from deportation to some undocumented youth and adults. These two programs will not allow the beneficiaries to apply for green cards or for U.S. citizenship. However, there are other forms of relief that can provide such immigrants with a permanent relief from deportation. American Immigration Council and other immigration advocacy groups say that the immigrants need to check whether they are eligible for some other form of relief while applying for temporary status under DACA or DAPA.
Most of the undocumented immigrants are unaware of their eligibility for other forms of relief from deportation. A study published in the Journal on Migration and Human Security says that the legal capacity of organizations serving immigrants must be expanded and more organizations must come forward to offer legal support to immigrants with low income levels. Likewise, communities and organizations serving immigrants must not stop with screening immigrants for eligibility for deportation relief under Obama’s immigration reform but also for other forms of relief that may be available to them.
President Obama’s recent announcement will benefit more than four million immigrants who are living here without proper immigration papers. Most of them are likely to seek legal advice before filing their applications. Those offering legal assistance can help these immigrants explore other forms of relief available to them and help them apply for the one they are eligible.
For example, undocumented immigrants in removal proceedings before an immigration judge can apply for Cancellation of Removal if they have been living here for more than a ten year period. Likewise, immigrants who have been emotionally or physically abused can apply for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Parents, husband or wife and children of U.S. citizens and husband or wife and children of green card holders can apply for protection under VAWA. Eligible undocumented immigrants can also apply for provisional waivers as this provisional waiver program will also be expanded.