Nov 292014

“Felons and not families should be deported,” this is the clear message of President Obama last week during his speech on his executive actions relating to immigration.

While the immigration policies coming from the President is expected to benefit an estimated five million undocumented immigrants, there is doubt on whether majority will indeed come out of the shadows to take advantage of the proposed benefits.

One of the many undocumented Filipinos who will apparently benefit is Jane. She arrived in the United States in 2003 on a visitor visa and has been overstaying since then.

Jane met Dan, who was her coworker at a care home facility. After a few months of courtship, Dan married Jane. Unknown to Jane, Dan also has immigration issues because of a prior deportation order rendered against him 10 years ago.

The marriage of the couple was entered into in good faith and it did not matter whether Jane remains undocumented. Jane gave birth to two beautiful daughters, now ages 7 and 5.

When Jane heard about President Obama’s policies, she got excited and was hoping to file for employment authorization document so she can obtain temporary legal status.

However, she raised valid concerns. What will happen to her status after three years and will she eventually be deported if President Obama is no longer in office?


Executive actions

The new immigration policies are very temporary in nature. Obama signed the memorandum to prevent certain undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to apply for a three-year work permit if they can pass a background check or submit biometric data and establish they are eligible for relief.

The policies also apply to the parents of children who were either born in the US or are lawful permanent residents.

It also applies to children who were brought into the country illegally prior to Jan. 1, 2010, and have lived in the US for at least five years, which is the extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or Daca) to include more eligible young immigrants.

Jane is clearly qualified for the temporary relief as a parent of US citizen children. However, she has to weigh in the consequences of obtaining a temporary employment card against any adverse effect on her future status or that of her husband.

If the US Department of Homeland Security will maintain the same policy it applied to Daca, information submitted would not be used to file deportation proceedings against the relatives who are not qualified for the relief.

In this case, information obtained from Jane will not be used against her husband. As far as the future of her status is concerned, the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform will assure her of a more permanent status although it remains to be seen what the political environment will be in 2016 to make this a reality.

The specific details of the implementation of the new immigration policies are still being finalized and are expected to be released by spring of 2015.

Not all who will benefit are in the same situation as Jane. Some may have no other immigration issues, and would come out of the shadows and avail of any temporary relief.

For those who have long immigration history or have been in the United States for a long time, it may be wise to proceed with caution and exercise due diligence before taking any concrete steps relating to these new policies.


(The author may be reached at, [02] 721-1963,, facebook/tancincolaw or at

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