President Obama Tackles Immigration Reform

Date: September 11, 2011

On August 19, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that he would direct the Department of Homeland Security to identify cases involving undocumented immigrants that are deserving of prosecutorial discretion.

This means that the undocumented immigrant will be permitted to remain in the United States even though they are not currently living here legally or may have a deportation order. This sort of status is nothing new. It is called Deferred Action. On a case by case basis, the Office of Detention and Removal exercises discretion and allows certain people to remain in the United States. Sometimes it is on account of family or health issues. Those who are helping law enforcement are also permitted to remain.

This is not an amnesty. This does not lead to legal status in the form of a green card or United States citizenship. Deferred Action status is simply permission to stay in the United States without legal status.

There are no procedures in place yet for the new guidelines. It is very important for those who have deportation orders not to bring themselves to the attention of the immigration authorities just yet. The prudent thing to do is consult a competent immigration attorney for advice on how to proceed.