In November 2014, following the congressional mid-term elections that resulted in more Republican legislators elected to the Senate and House of Representatives, President Obama announced that his administration would be implementing new policies aimed at providing temporary immigration-related relief to undocumented foreign nationals who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders). This policy, referred to as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents or DAPA, is an offshoot of the President’s previously implemented policy for undocumented foreign nationals who were brought to the U.S. as children (referred to as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA).
In less than two months, the President’s new policies have already worked to reunite American families and provide relief for undocumented foreign nationals who are poised to greatly contribute to the U.S. economy, but for their undocumented immigration status. This beneficial result has occurred because the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE) is releasing DAPA- and DACA-qualified foreign nationals from immigration detention centers.
Arizona is the Current Leader in Releasing Detainees
All too often, the state of Arizona makes national headlines due to its discouraging immigration-related actions. However, Arizona has now become the leader in releasing DAPA- and DACA-qualified foreign national detainees, a distinction that hopefully indicates that the state is becoming more immigrant-friendly.
ICE representatives have reported that Arizona has released more than 200 foreign national detainees since the President’s announcement of his executive action policies. According to the Migration Policy Institute, approximately 140,000 foreign nationals stand to benefit from the executive action in Arizona alone.
The Rest of the Country is Slowly Following Arizona’s Lead
As of December 27, 2014, ICE has released nearly 650 foreign nationals from immigration detention centers across the United States. The majority of those released likely qualify for DAPA or DACA, and the remaining foreign nationals are considered to be “low priority” enforcement cases due to the non-violent or non-serious nature of their transgressions.
In order to discover who may be eligible for release, ICE officials are pulling detainees’ files and calling them in for questioning to determine if they qualify for DACA, DAPA, or as a low priority enforcement case. For example, Mr. Guilebaldo Medino has been held at the Eloy Detention Center since September 2014, but he is now one of the first to be released pursuant to the President’s executive action policies. Upon pulling his file, the ICE officers called him in for questioning and determined that, as the father of three U.S. citizen children who has no criminal record, Mr. Medina would likely benefit from DAPA and therefore should be released. He was released to his family later that day.
What Happens to Those Who are Released?
When the detainees are released from the immigration centers, they are given an order of supervision that will remain pending until their cases are ultimately decided by the immigration court. Pursuant to these orders, former detainees will be required to periodically report to an immigration officer until their cases are concluded.
This news coming out of Arizona is extremely heartening to the immigrant community. It seems that immigration policy in the U.S. is finally beginning to reflect the realities of what the population wants, as well as what the country needs. Continue to check with our blog for the most up to date news on this and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts:
The Government’s War on H-1Bs, ImmigRantings, October 11, 2012
Obama Signs Immigration Executive Order, ImmigRantings, June 15, 2012
Problems with the H-1B visa: From Work Horse to Show Pony, ImmigRantings, February 13, 2012