Homeland Security Rescinds Obama-era Protection for Immigrant Parents

Published in Asian Journal on

Citizenship prospects of undocumented parents threatened  by the revoking of DAPA

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John F. Kelly signed a memorandum on Thursday, June 15, revoking a program that would have offered a pathway to citizenship for immigrant parents of U.S. legal permanent residents or citizens.

The program — called the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — was introduced by former President Barack Obama in 2014 after the success of his landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provided benefits for undocumented youth.

In 2015, a federal court blocked DAPA and since then, it has never been formally executed.

According to a press release from the DHS, Kelly consulted with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in rescinding Obama’s memorandum that created DAPA “because there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.”

Previously, 26 states — all of which have Republican governors — sued the Obama administration for the DAPA memo, arguing that the president does not have the authority to implement “amnesty” of that grandeur.

If it were implemented, DAPA could have protected 3.7 million people from deportation, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimated. According to University of Southern California (USC)’s Center for Immigrant Integration, 340,000 people in Los Angeles County would have been eligible for DAPA.

In order to have been eligible for the program, undocumented immigrants must have been parents to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents as of November 20, 2014. The parents must have also been residents in the U.S. before January 1, 2010, and have no criminal records.

When announced, Obama’s intention with DAPA was to protect around 4 million parents from being separated from their families while also helping them secure legal work in the U.S.

The press release indicated that the DACA program will still remain in effect, aligning with President Donald Trump’s promise to “take care of” them.

Thursday’s revocation of the DAPA memo aligns with the administration’s stringent immigration policy. According to legal and civil rights organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the decision “does not come as a surprise.”

Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has made vastly unpopular decisions when it comes to reforming the U.S. immigration system from implementing a travel ban from six Muslim-majority nations to proposing to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“The administration’s efforts to target and vilify immigrants in myriad ways, from mass deportations to the Muslim ban and the VOICE office, will not be ignored just because it is currently maintaining DACA,” Advancing Justice wrote in a press release. “We will continue to resist these policies and stand up for justice and the dignity and humanity of all people.”

DACA recipients and those eligible for DACA are encouraged to know their rights and seek legal counsel when applying or renewing their DACA applications. (Klarize Medenilla/AJ Press)