Obama Administration Announcement: August 18, 2011

Various newspapers and television news programs have been reporting that President Obama has announced a new policy to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants who do not have criminal backgrounds.  These reports have generated some confusion about the President’s announcement, and there are people using this confusion to take advantage of immigrants.  This post is based on the recent advisory on the subject from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  It is intended to provide some information about the recent announcement so that you do not become the victim of an immigration scam.  Please consult with an immigration attorney before taking any action.

What the Obama Administration HAS announced:

The President is forming a high-level group that will:
–  review the approximately 300,000 cases currently pending in removal proceedings to identify cases that should be considered “low priority”
–  formulate rules for federal agents to follow in deciding when to start removal proceedings
–  give direction for cases where final orders of removal have already been issued.

Cases that are considered to be “low priority” may be administratively closed or simply not acted on.  This means “low priority” cases will not receive any status.  Some “low priority” cases will be allowed to apply for an “employment authorization document” (EAD), which can be used to obtain a Social Security number for work, and (in some states) a driver’s license – but an EAD is TEMPORARY, and it does NOT provide any kind of immigration status.

In the future, the criteria for deciding how to handle different types of cases will be explained, but right now, all that has been announced is that the government will review existing cases and close some in order to focus on others.  The government will be doing this – at this time, there is nothing you can do to initiate or advance the process.

What the Obama Administration HAS NOT announced:

There has not been a grant of amnesty of any kind, and there has not been any new immigration benefit created.  There is no status to apply for, there is no fee that can be paid, there is no form that can be completed – anybody telling you otherwise may be mistaken or trying to scam you.

People who are deemed to merit “low priority” treatment from immigration authorities could avoid removal from the US, but they would not be eligible for any temporary or permanent immigration status.

The criteria by which people would be considered “low priority” have not been announced, and there has been no guarantee that people meeting any set of criteria would be automatically given any kind of benefit.  This is why it could be a serious risk for anybody to attempt to put themselves into removal proceedings in hopes of getting a benefit that the government has not defined.

 Do not let yourself fall victim to fraud.

This post is available for download as a PDF flyer in English and Spanish here.

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