Overview of Obama’s Sweeping Changes on Immigration

President Obama just announced a sweeping executive action on immigration, providing relief for an estimated 4.1 million undocumented parents of U.S citizens, and almost 300,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

After the announcement the White House tweeted the following update, outlining the three basic goals for the new immigration action:

According to the President’s speech, the Obama Administration’s main concern is keeping families united. They want to new reforms to deport felons, not families.

So, which areas of immigration law will this new executive order cover?

Parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents

This will be the largest group that benefits from this executive order. Parents whose children are U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, regardless of whether the children are minors, will be protected from deportation and be eligible for work permits.

To be eligible, the parents must have lived in the U.S. for five years. After passing a background check and paying the application fees, parents would be granted relief from deportation for three years at a time.

DACA children

The new reforms will expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Obama launched in 2012.

The program shields from deportation those minors who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The President will expand the program to minors who arrived before 2010, instead of the current cutoff of 2007, and will lift the requirement that applicants be under 31 to be eligible. About 250,000 people could be affected.

Future relief under DACA will also be extended to three years at a time, which is up from two years. However, the parents of DACA children are not included in this protected group.

Prioritizing deportations

A new policy will emphasize deportation for recent arrivals, criminals, and national security threats. However, this aims to also lower the deportation priority for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for less than five years and for other immigrants who have been here illegally for more than 10 years.

Law enforcement

Replace the Secure Communities program, which hands over people booked for local crimes to federal immigration authorities. The new program will be called the “Priority Enforcement Program” and will set up different priority levels based on the conduct for which immigrants are detained.

Border security

Commit more resources for enforcement efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of sending back more individuals who attempt to cross the border.


Increase salaries for U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, who will play a larger role in law enforcement, and bring them in line with other policing agencies like the FBI.

Business programs

Make other immigration changes sought by businesses, such as a parole-in-place program that could affect another several hundred thousand people.

Green cards

Loosen eligibility requirements for a waiver program for people seeking green cards. People who entered the U.S. illegally must leave the country for as many as 10 years before getting in line for a green card, unless they get a waiver.

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Disclaimer: Nothing in relation to the enclosed information should be construed and or considered as legal advice for any individual, entity, case, or situation. The following information is prepared for advertisement use only. The information is intended ONLY to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice on your specific situation, we encourage you to consult an attorney experienced in the area of Immigration Law.