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No Travel under Obama’s Executive Action

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President Obama stressed the importance of family unity in his Executive Action on November 20th, however that may pertain only to families within the United States and does not allow families divided between the United States and their home-states to be reunited.  For Immigrants all over the world, a main priority of theirs is the ability to return to their home countries and visit parents, and children who were left behind.  While President Obama’s Executive Action will allow undocumented migrants to no longer live in the shadows of the fear of immediate detention and deportation, it will not reunite families.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants in the United States left behind children and parents for an attempt at achieving financial stability, and may still be tempted to illegally cross the border to visit with their families.  However with President Obama reallocating resources to bulk up border security and promising harsher treatment of those who are caught illegally crossing the border, these undocumented migrants now have more to lose as it will now jeopardize their new legal status and their ability to support families located in the United States.

Many provisions of the Executive Action do not fully go into force until the beginning of 2015, however it appears that those who will qualify by having U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children and having had been here for more than five years, may only be able to travel to their home countries with a special one-time permission usually granted only for emergency situations or family deaths.  Those who simply want to reunite with their families will not be able to do so.

President Obama’s 2012 Executive Action plan that established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) granted temporary deportation relief to illegal immigrant youths who met a number of strict requirements.  This program also does not confer the right to travel to those who qualify.  Technically under the Immigration and Nationality Act, those who are granted temporary relief from deportation are still technically considered illegal, and can only leave the country legally with assurance of return if they apply for a one-time emergency travel document known as ‘advance parole.’ Further, immigration officials have complete discretion of whether to approve or deny such requests, and the requests are frequently denied.

While President Obama stressed the importance of family unity and avoiding the harsh reality of dividing families, his Executive Action does nothing to assist family reunification with members who are not living within the borders of the United States.

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