Panic mode

Even if every immigration attorney has a crystal ball and is able to read  ‘mumbo jumbo’ or perform magic, they are unable to forecast  the future for  undocumented aliens (imagine the potential clients).  Unpredictability or ‘flip flops’ is becoming the name of the game called politics.  More than a month after the presidential elections,  people are weary and wary.  Among the 11 million undocumented aliens, being fearful is an understatement. The  president-elect  promised during his campaign that his first task upon assuming office is to rescind President Obama’s  executive actions and orders (E.O.).  One of the first in line is “DACA”  –  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  DACA gave almost 700,000 undocumented aliens who were brought into this country when they were still children by their parents,  a chance to stay and work in the US provided they have enrolled and/or  graduated from U.S. schools, without criminal records, and have continuously been present in the country.   DACA allowed them to: (a) have their possible deportation deferred because of their lack of legal immigration status; and (b) work by granting them work permits.   The promise made during the campaign was to deport all illegals and if you are true to your words, you must keep that promise.

Calls kept pouring in a week after November 8.  Concerns of being randomly picked up and sent home by immigration authorities,  some  from legitimate green card holders and naturalized citizens who have no reason to panic.  Based on false, unverified news, of course from social media.  It is important for the public to know that it is Congress which has “plenary power” to pass immigration laws.  Laws that are already in place such as who can become lawful permanent residents (LPR) or be naturalized as U.S. citizens  cannot be altered or violated by a presidential or executive order (E.O.).  As long as the rules and regulations have been followed in obtaining these benefits, there is nothing to panic about.  However, immigration benefits, borne out of an  E.O. issued by the president do not enjoy the same stability.  The president, as the chief executive  tasked with implementing the laws, to a certain extent, has authority to issue executive actions or orders, within the bounds of the law already passed by Congress.  This is why presidents would rather have Congress pass the law than  issue an executive order.  For instance, DACA was an offshoot of the failed attempt to convince Congress to pass the ‘Dreamers’ Act’ that would have provided immigration benefits similar to DACA,   thereby paving the way to obtaining  U.S. citizenship.  But the ‘Dreamers’ Act’ failed to pass.  Since the grant of  DACA benefits is a creation of an executive action,  it is subject to repeal by the next president.   So, if it is repealed, what happens to the work permit previously issued?  Rules and regulations dictate,  you will lose it.

What’s next?  Unfortunately, your guess is as good as mine.  The more pressing concern for DACA recipients is the threat of deportation for simply being undocumented.  Applicants were required to list all of their  residential addresses  from the moment of  entry in the U. S.  They were able to obtain driving licenses or I.D.’s. Obviously, finding them is easier than finding those who never filled up an application form.  Another ironical immigration consequence.  We find comfort in the thought that theoretical possibilities are different from reality.  Or that campaign promises are just words.  DHS has budgetary constraints and has to prioritize.  The president-elect has been saying  that criminals, drug addicts and dealers are on the top of his list (a very long one).  Does anybody really have the facts on the number of undocumented aliens?   This country and its people are resilient and have adapted to changes since 1776 when  it opened its doors to immigrants  without restrictions (“open door policy”).  They are its backbone  and will continue to be, immigration is its identity.

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Maria Rita Reyes-Stuby is a licensed attorney in Michigan.  She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law. She specializes in immigration and practices in Las Vegas, Michigan, California and other states.  Bernadette Bretana, a graduate of the Ateneo Law School and Ms. Stuby are licensed attorneys in the Philippines. Please call @702-403-4704 or email her at [email protected] or go to for any questions on this article.

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