President Obama announced he will be taking executive action to address a vast array of immigration issues that Congress has been unable to address.  Here are the elements of the Administration's announcement on immigration executive actions, also known as the President's Immigration Accountability Executive Actions. Details (and memos) are still being finalized, and will be released in the coming hours, days, weeks, and months.  Stay tuned here for more details as they become available.

Enforcement Priorities
Many of the existing ICE memos on enforcement priorities and prosecutorial discretion will be replaced by a new memo with three priorities: (1) Suspected terrorists, convicted felons (including aggravated felonies), convicted gang members, and persons apprehended on the border; (2) Persons convicted of serious or multiple misdemeanors and very recent border crossers (those who entered after January 1, 2014); and (3) Those who, after January 1, 2014, failed to leave under a removal order or returned after removal. The memo will contain strong language on the use of prosecutorial discretion.

Deferred Action Benefiting Approximately 4.4 Million Undocumented Individuals
Two deferred action initiatives will be rolled out that are estimated to benefit 4.4 million undocumented individuals: (1) Deferred Action for Parents (DAP): Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (of any age) who have been continuously present since January 1, 2010, and who pass background checks and pay back taxes; and (2) DACA Expansion: The age cap on DACA will be removed and the date when continuous presence must have started will be changed from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. Both of these initiatives will provide deferred action for three years. The expanded DACA should be up and running in 90 days and deferred action for parents in 180 days. Note: no initiative specifically for parents of DACA recipients was included.

I-601A Waiver Expansion 
The I-601A provisional waiver will be expanded to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. An expansion and clarification of the definition of "extreme hardship" is also expected.

Timing of Filing for Adjustment of Status
The ability of individuals with an approved employment-based immigrant petition who are caught in the quota backlogs to file for adjustment of status will be advanced to permit them to obtain the benefits of a pending adjustment. This is expected to impact about 410,000 people. This will be done by regulation.

Business Immigration Changes 
A number of business immigration improvements are to be announced. For example, certain investors will be eligible for parole into the U.S., or for parole-in-place, and national interest waivers could be available for entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, and founders. Also, the term "same or similar" for AC-21 purposes will be clarified, L-1B guidance will be released, the H-4 EAD regulation will be finalized, and the length of time permitted on OPT for STEM graduates will be expanded. Additionally, the rule making process will be undertaken to modernize the PERM labor certification program and may include a harmless error provision.

Visa Modernization
There will be a Presidential Memorandum directing the various immigration-related agencies to look at modernizing the visa system, with a view to making optimal use of the numbers of visas available under law. Issues such as whether derivatives should be counted towards the visa quota and whether past unused visa numbers can be recaptured are expected to be included in this effort.

State and Local
Secure Communities will be discontinued and replaced with a new initiative, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). Details are still forthcoming on what PEP will entail, but in certain circumstances, detainers may be replaced by requests for notification to ICE when a law enforcement entity is about to release an individual.

Parole-in-place will be expanded to include families of individuals trying to enlist in the armed forces, as some branches of the military ban applicants who have undocumented family members.

Tonight, President Obama announced executive action that should regularize nearly five million undocumented residents in the United States.  Anticipating a political firestorm in response, President Obama tapped into his once renowned rhetorical skills to appeal to Americans' sense of connection to their immigrant forbearers.  Here's how he concluded his landmark speech:

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid – or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Contact us for more information about the reforms the President announced today.

Evaluate your Immigration Attorney with These Sample Immigration Law Questions

If you live in the St Louis area and need the services of a St Louis Immigration Lawyer here are some questions to begin preparing for your initial consultation which are often free. Legal advice given after the first consultation is usually charged at the attorney’s hourly rate. A list of questions for your immigration attorney is one of the items you should bring with you to your initial consultation. Read more information here about how to prepare for your free initial consultation with an immigration lawyer.

Preparing for Your Consultation with an Immigration Law Firm

If you are local a foreign national or non-US citizen living in St Louis, Missouri, you will likely need the services of a St Louis Immigration Attorney at some time. This article will help you and your attorney have the best understanding of your case, the breadth of which will likely be discussed during your initial consultation.

I suspect it is rare for a lawyer to experience a miracle in the course of representing a client, yet I have.  Miracle is the only word my client and I could come up with to adequately describe what happened.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Present Challenges to Freedom

Recent communications internal to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office at the Department of Homeland Security, reveal the details of the administration's efforts to step up enforcement of immigration laws and specifically to increase the number of foreigners being deported.  The emails and memo, dated in April and May of 2012, were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) North Carolina chapter.  They paint a picture of police state--a state filled with enforcement efforts at every corner.

United States Department of Homeland Security Allows Waiver for Spouses and Parents Here Without Authorization

Since 2011 the Department of Homeland Security has said it would allow spouses and parents of US citizens who have been in the US without authorization to apply for a waiver allowing them to become permanent residents.  Families in this situation have been waiting for nearly two years for the details to be published in a final regulation.  A draft was issued for comments back in April of 2012 and just this week the Department of Homeland Security announced the publication of the final rule for these families.

Cities value immigrant populations even when States pass anti-immigration laws.

Nearly everyone has heard about attempts by states like Arizona and Alabama to adopt laws that are unfriendly to immigrants.  This is in part because the Supreme Court this year made the news when it struck down parts of Arizona's immigration law as unconstitutional.  Other states have been eyeing developments in this area with great interest.  

St Louis company violates H-2B non-immigrant visa program and immigration law.

Last week local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials announced in a press release that a local landscaping business pleaded guilty to charges of visa fraud.

Dreamer immigrant children find it difficult to document residency for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Today is the first day that those who came to the United States as children from foreign countries (usually brought here by their parents) can apply for relief from deportation.  In June, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the Obama Administration would exercise prosecutorial discretion to defer action on children who meet certain qualifications similar to those proposed in various forms of legislation over the years under the name "DREAM Act."  The problem is that the quality of evidence the Department will require to prove these qualifications will be onerous for many children if only because they are children. 

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