DAPA uncertainty leaves families in jeopardy

World Today

Another key component of President Obama’s immigration plan is now up in the air. It would allow undocumented people to defer deportation, if they are parents of children born in the United States. CCTV’s Andrea Arenas reported this story from Alexandria, Virginia.

U.S. immigration law tough for some

Another key component of President Obama's immigration plan is now up in the air. It would allow undocumented people to defer deportation.

For fifteen years, Jimmy Calderon and his wife have been living in the shadows. Originally from Guatemala, they entered the United States illegally. With four children, all born in this country, they could be eligible for a temporary reprieve from deportation.
President Obama’s executive action, announced late 2014, includes a program known as DAPA, “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.”

DAPA aims to protect illegal parents whose children are US citizens, from being removed from the country. Families like the Calderons say that while DAPA would help them feel more secure, it doesn’t go far enough to solve their problem.

“This will help us, but it is not a solution. We are always uncertain of what will happen in time,” Undocumented parent Jimmy Nelson Calderon Ochoa said.

Still, it is estimated that some 3.7 million undocumented immigrants would benefit from DAPA. The application process had been set to open in May.

The immigration community has been organizing workshops, where prospective applicants learn about who would be eligible and the steps they would need to follow to apply.

Although DAPA is aimed at keeping families together, it is not a road to citizenship, it will only protect these people from being deported for three years, and grant them work authorization.

Not all parents of American citizens would be eligible. Potential DAPA recipients would have to show a crime-free record and prove they have been in the United States continuously since at least January 1st, 2010.

“Making sure that those documents are in fact documents that we can use to prove their permanency here in this country for the past five years,” Lindolfo Carvallo, Director, Casa de Virginia said.

Life as an undocumented immigrant often means hiding from the government which is why providing proper documentation can be tricky.

“Whenever there is a government program that rewards somebody who has been here for a period of time, and they have to proof they have been here. Many people just simply don’t have the documents,”Jose Pertierra, Immigration Lawyer said.

Families like the Calderons face even more uncertainty as they learn that this program that would have offered at least a temporary reprieve from deportation could be blocked from happening at all. In the meantime, they continue to live as they have in the shadows of U.S. authority.