New plan could impact over one-third of undocumented Texas immigrants

President Obama’s new executive action, which offers deferred deportation and greater eligibility for DACA, could affect over 500,000 Texas immigrants.

Last November, President Barack Obama announced an executive action that could affect as many as 5 million immigrants across the U.S. The action broadens the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, extending eligibility to more immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. It also grants temporary reprieve from removal from the U.S. to the parents of children who are legally present in the U.S., according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Twenty-five states have filed a lawsuit opposing the action, and the outcome remains to be seen. However, if the action stands, it could affect hundreds of thousands of immigrants in San Antonio and other parts of Texas.

Terms of plan

The Los Angeles Times explains that the action implements two primary changes. First, more children become eligible for the DACA program, which allows deferred action on deportation for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. at a young age. The program is now open to children who arrived before 2010, rather than 2007, and age limitations no longer apply. This change could affect as many as 300,000 people.

Second, the executive action allows deferred deportation and temporary three-year work authorizations for the parents of citizens or permanent legal residents. To qualify, a parent must have resided continuously in the U.S. since the beginning of 2010 without being convicted of a crime. Up to 4.1 million more people may qualify for deferred action based on these criteria.

Legal limitations

While these changes may affect many people, they do not offer relief for every immigrant. Immigrants who don’t have children do not receive protection. The same is true of immigrants whose children were born elsewhere but brought to the U.S. at a young age.

The Los Angeles Times notes that the executive action does not impact people who have already been deported, even if they now qualify for deferred status. However, people who are facing deportation actions or removal orders could petition to stay if they qualify for deferred action under the executive action.

Deferred action does not provide permanent protection or a path to residency. Immigrants who are affected by the executive action could be subject to deportation in the future if the deferral period ends and no further action is taken. However, this executive action may help families stay together while giving immigrants access to limited relief.

Impact in Texas

The executive action could have a sizable impact in Texas. The Texas Tribune reports that 1.46 million undocumented immigrants currently live in the state. As many as 533,000 of those immigrants, or about 4 out of 10, could qualify for reprieve because they have children who are citizens. An additional 92,000 Texas immigrants may have children who are legal residents.

Regardless of whether the executive action stands, many Texas immigrants may face challenges in securing work permits, working toward resident status or handling matters involving deportation or removal. Immigrants who are navigating any of these processes should consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney who can explain the available options and potential complications.

Keywords: deportation, removal, immigration