DAPA: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans

Introduced by the Obama administration in 2014, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) aimed to grant deferred action status to certain undocumented immigrants who have resided in the United States since 2010 and have children who are American citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. To be eligible for this status, these individuals must not have been convicted of a significant misdemeanor or a felony, and must also not pose a threat to national security. While gaining deferred action did not translate to full legal status, it did offer exemption from deportation as well as a 3-year renewable work permit.

DAPA Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for DAPA, applicants must meet certain requirements:

  • Resided in the U.S. without leaving since January 1, 2010
  • Resided within the country while applying for DAPA
  • Have at least once child with resident status or citizenship since November 20, 2014
  • Was not a lawful immigrant when DAPA was announced on November 20, 2014
  • Have no high-level misdemeanors and no felonies on criminal record

History of DAPA

The Obama Administration first sought to limit deportations in 2013 when the U.S. Senate’s Gang of Eight passed an immigration reform bill. By late 2014, President Obama had announced DAPA to the nation on primetime television. When it was first introduced, the program was believed to be constitutional and similar to the 1990 “Family Fairness” program delivered by George H. W. Bush. Two memorandums were released by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson which stated that aliens who did not have criminal records were among the lowest priority for removal.

In December 2014, the DAPA program was stalled when Texas and 25 other U.S. states filed a lawsuit that alleged that the program was unlawful. The lawsuit was considered political in nature and was not backed by a clear understanding of the history and importance of the deferred action. More than 100 scholars of immigration and law professors stepped in to announce the history and legal foundation of programs like DAPA. The case was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court which resulted in an equally divided 4-4 ruling. After the ruling, a blocking of the program that began in February 2015 remained in place.

Rescinding of DAPA

DAPA experienced heavy controversy from the very moment it was conceived, even experiencing a deadlocked Supreme Court ruling in the summer of 2016. DAPA was never a law passed by Congress, but rather a presidential executive action. Since its introduction, several states had filed lawsuits that argue that DAPA violates federal statutes and the Constitution. By summer of 2017, it was announced by the Trump Administration that the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans order was rescinded. The action that set out to help more than 3.6 million undocumented immigrants was never enacted.

When combined with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), just under half of the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. would have experienced delayed deportation. While the Trump administration has terminated DAPA, it is working towards a new policy pertaining to the program’s members.

Contact the immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi for more information.