PHOENIX — Mercedes Ryden, chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Arizona Chapter, on behalf of the executive committee, released the following statement today:
We welcome the President’s announcement offering his planned administrative action to ameliorate some of the damage done by our broken immigration system in the absence of Congressional action.
The President acted in the best interest of the country after months of delays by Congress. The actions he has taken will keep America safer, offer relief that takes into account the need to boost businesses, keep families together, and alleviate some of the daily tragedies our broken system engenders.
The President took a bold and courageous first step by turning away from the naysayers, from the critics, and made good on his promise to try and fix America’s broken immigration system.
Congress should be ashamed that instead of doing its job, and passing comprehensive reform, they have done nothing to help the situation.
President Obama was well within his legal authority to act on immigration reform: Presidents from both parties going back decades have taken similar steps, including President Bush, Sr. who gave blanket deferral of enforcement in 1990 to 40% of the undocumented population at the time.
The President’s action does not fix all the problems with America’s current immigration system, it’s a stopgap measure. It’s not permanent but it allows Congress the opportunity to step up and pass comprehensive immigration reform.
What President Obama intends to do on border security remains unclear. Unfortunately, the administration seems committed to increased buildup of resources on the border despite the fact he has already deployed unprecedented amounts of manpower, resources, and technology to secure the nation’s borders in the past decade.
The President’s plan as described today includes:
- Deferred Action for the parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children who fit the eligibility requirements.
- Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to remove the age cap and move the continuous presence date up to January 1, 2010. DACA will now be granted for 3 years (including those with pending renewal applications).
- Replacement of the controversial Secure Communities program with a “Priority Enforcement Program” program the details of which are still unclear.
- Ensuring that job-creating entrepreneurs have legal means to enter and operate in the U.S.
- Increasing access for university affiliated businesses to key talent.
- Allowing spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to apply for unlawful presence waivers from within the U.S. and ensuring appropriate standards for adjudicating those waivers.
- Enabling families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces to utilize parole in place to ensure legal status.
- Changing the procedures for adjustment of status to allow legal immigrants caught in the immigration quota backlogs to register their applications and thus begin the final step of the process.
- Directing agencies to look at modernizing the visa system, with a view to making optimal use of the numbers of visa available under law.
- Announcement of a new border security campaign and plan.