SEIU obama immigration
Immigrants rights and union groups protest in New York against the delay of President Obama's executive actions on immigration. The administrative moves, which could give up to 5 million undocumented immigrants legal status, are currently frozen by an injunction by a Texas court. Courtesy / SEIU

President Barack Obama’s sweeping executive actions would have taken effect today if not for the hold place on them by a Texas district court in February. To mark the date, pro-immigrant groups turned out in New York and other states for demonstrations and town-hall information sessions. Obama announced his program in November, promising to offer temporary deportation relief to 5 million through an expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that would include parents of those eligible for DACA. Republicans engineered a two-pronged assault on the program in Congress and in the Courts. Legislative attempts to hold national security funding hostage for a reversal of deferred action ultimately failed, but a lawsuit initiated by Texas and joined by 23 other Republican stated succeed in stopping the program, at least while the issue works its way through the courts.

“Today, on the day that administrative relief would have gone into effect, we double our resolve to fight for justice, dignity and respect for our immigrant families and communities. While we may suffer setbacks – as was the case when one Texas Judge earlier this year blocked the President’s executive action – nothing can stop the movement for immigrant justice,” José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation, told the Latin Times via email.

Republican efforts against legal status has galvanized pro-immigrant groups. A GOP congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. None of the current Republican candidates for president have stated any serious support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. All seem to support a rollback on Obama’s deferred action. When 113 Republican congressman signed an amicus brief supporting Texas’ lawsuit it added insult to injury.

"Republicans are making it very clear that there is no room for Latinos and immigrant families under their tent," Rocio Saenz, executive VP of SEIU International, a pro-immigrant union, told NBC News.

Republican candidate Sen. Marco Rubio disagrees with part of that statement, saying that he can make the case to Latinos on other issues important to them. Jeb Bush, one of the most popular Republican candidates among Hispanic voters, had hedged his bet, saying that he would support amnesty for legal status and residency, but stop short of citizenship. Their arguments will be weighed in the primaries, and might not even make it to the 2016 election.

In the mean time, little formal relief will come for undocumented immigrants. What should immigrants and their advocates know looking ahead for the next year? First, the state of limbo is leading to exploitation. Second, that’s not likely to end soon. Third, the 2016 elections are likely to be the real arbitrator of the DAPA/DACA programs. Fourth, deportation relief isn’t a sure bet, but applicants should be ready just in case.

Notarios Are Exploiting Immigrants

The most important thing the public needs to know, according to Calderón, is that the DAPA programs don’t exist. And that means no one should be asking for money to fill them out.

“Unfortunately, there are notaries taking advantage of individuals by charging for application assistance for DAPA. No such application exists as of yet. If someone is offering assistance for this application, it is fraudulent.”

To learn more about notario fraud, check out our previous articles:

Notario Immigration Fraud: Congressmen Ted Deutch, Bill Foster Introduce Bill That Would Punish Fraudsters, Fund Nonprofits

Will FileRight Be The TurboTax Of Immigration For DACA?

The Outcome Of Texas v. U.S. Is Unpredictable

“We believe the decision by the Texas District Court was flawed. We believe it represents only a temporary setback,” Calderón said. Yet No one knows for sure which side will prevail during the legal case, let alone how long the court battle will take. The 5th Circuit Court is likely to send the the case to the Supreme Court. Even if President Obama’s DACA and DAPA programs are considered constitutional, they might be required to be delayed for months after a court decision. For example, the executive actions could be considered substantive rule changes, in which case they’d have to be postponed even after the Supreme Court decision for a comment period. That period could be extended. In any case, some argue that Texas will prevail.

Deportation Relief Won’t Really Be Settled Until November 2016

Even if Obama were to win the case, he might only secure a 12-18 month of deportation relief for eligible immigrants before the next president, who could reverse his orders, is sworn into office. For students who want to go to college, that’s not enough time to get settled. For families who want security for the long term, coming out of the shadows is still appears risky. Why would you identify yourself to the government if the next president could reverse the order?

DAPA Applications Don’t Exist, But Immigrants Can Prepare For Them Now

“DAPA or expanded DACA may begin to collect documents to prove they have been present in the United States since January 2010. Such documents include: receipts, bills, bank statements, and other legitimate documents of that type [....] While we do not yet know how much the filing fee will be, we are confident there will be one,” Calderón said.

Once they’re in order, applicants will have to get ready to wait.

"I have all my documents ready to apply," Ehiracenia Vazquez, a potential DAPA applicant from Texas told NBC News. "I have personal documents, like my birth certificate and my passport. I have documents that prove I've been here for more than 10 years. I also have the documents of my children, like their birth certificates and passports, and receipts to prove I paid property taxes on the trailer home where we used to live."

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