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Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights holds educational immigration event for community

Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights held a community outreach event on Dec. 11 summarizing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights held a community outreach event on Dec. 11 summarizing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and created the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program.  The event was co-sponsored by the Law Office of Sharon Barney.

Penn State Law professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, alongside Friends of Farmworkers’ attorney Vanessa Stine and Centre County attorney Sharon Barney, identified and explained the specifics of the changes to DACA and eligibility requirements under DAPA to several members of the community.  Wadhia also outlined the administration’s revised enforcement priorities.

Programs like DACA and DAPA are forms of prosecutorial discretion used by the Department of Homeland Security to protect certain people from deportation. Shielding such individuals from deportation allows the Department of Homeland Security to target its limited resources on higher priorities such as threats to national security, according to Wadhia.

DAPA is a program available to qualifying parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents born on or before Nov. 20, 2014. Parents must have had unlawful immigration status in the United States on Nov. 20, 2014, and have continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 1, 2010.

The program additionally requires the immigrant parents to have been physically present in the United States on Nov. 20, 2014, and on the date of application for protection. Finally, DAPA requires that the immigrant parent not be an enforcement priority and submit to, and pass, security and criminal background checks.

“There is no application process yet, but there are a number of steps that you can take in order to get the necessary information,” said Wadhia concerning DAPA. She further identified the types of documents people could gather now in order to prove eligibility for the program, such as a birth certificate to prove a relationship to a child or a passport to prove identity.  The government is expected to begin the application process for DAPA in May 2015.

DACA was created in 2012 for qualifying immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16, have graduated from, or are currently in, school, have resided in the United States for the requisite time period, and meet other requirements. Some of the changes that President Obama announced on Nov. 20, 2014, concerning DACA include the removal of an age cap for the application along with an adjustment to the resident requirement.

At the informational session on Dec. 11, several members of the community voiced questions about the program’s benefits and limitations.

Wadhia, Stine, and Barney reiterated the importance of acquiring an attorney familiar with immigration law who can analyze an individual’s legal case and assist in the application process.

Stine warned the community to be weary of “notarios,” people who are fraudulently pursuing immigrants claiming to be able to file DAPA applications and then absconding with the immigrants’ money.

More information about President Obama’s executive actions and the work of Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights is available on the center’s website.




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