Since the announcement of President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration, various immigration reform myths have been abundant in social media. For someone in the system, hearing inaccurate information can be not only frightening and intimidating, it can be devastating—and if someone acts on false information, he or she may jeopardize his or her visa status or asylum claim. It is absolutely imperative that those who need accurate information can get it.
Myth #1: The president’s actions are unprecedented.
False. Nearly every president in our country’s history has used executive orders to push major legislative aims, including immigration reform. Eighteen executive orders regarding immigration have been enacted since 1950 that came from Republican presidents, including George H.W. Bush’s Family Fairness program in 1990. The Immigration & Nationality Act vests the power to make immigration decisions in federal officials, including the President.
Myth #2: This is a replacement for actually enforcing immigration law.
False. Immigration activists have been decidedly unimpressed with President Obama’s massive total of deportations. The Obama administration actually changed the rules on what constitutes a deportation, compared to previous administrations’ definitions, in order to boost numbers. The Pew Research Council found an all-time high in the number of deportations for fiscal year 2013. Immigration law is being enforced.
Myth #3: Reform means amnesty.
False. President Obama’s words in his own speech belie that statement. When he unveiled his plan on November 20, 2014, he stated that those who “cut the line” would not be unfairly rewarded. He stated that those who have been in the country less than five years would not qualify for the new program. Extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is essentially what President Obama is doing, is intended to hold people accountable without condemning them to a life outside the system.
Myth #4: The new programs will apply to everyone.
False. President Obama stated in his speech, and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already been instructed, that the reforms will only apply to those who have been in the country for longer than five years. The circumstances will be similar to those surrounding the first incarnation of DACA—people will need to apply and provide information, as well as pay any fines or outstanding balances to get right with the law. If you are freshly arrived within the past five years, the new programs will not benefit you.
Myth #5: The executive order is already in effect.
False. This myth is particularly dangerous, because if people believe the order is already in effect, they will act based upon it instead of the laws that are actually in force. Executive orders do not have to be passed or approved by Congress, but they do have to be funded and implemented. That takes time, and if Congress attempts to cut funding for immigration reform as they have threatened to do, it will take longer.
An Immigration Attorney Can Help
With the misinterpretations and rumors abundant after President Obama’s announcement, it is more important than ever to have a professional on your side who knows the law. The experienced Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC have been in business long enough to know the ins and outs of the legal profession, and we are ready, willing, and able to put our knowledge to work for you. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation.
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