The U.S. Supreme Court announced a decision today legalizing same sex marriage throughout the United States. This is a constitutional right protected under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses. Religious institutions, however, still have a first amendment right to advocate against same sex marriages.
The Constitution applies to all persons in the United States, citizens and non-citizens alike. The immigrant community is included in these protections and rights. With the decision announced today, Immigration benefits cannot be denied in any state on the basis of same-sex marriages.
Implementation of the new DACA and DAPA programs has been temporarily suspended. Last week, on February 17, a federal court judge decided the President’s programs were illegal.
However, the President’s DACA and DAPA programs are not illegal. Nearly every President for the past 40 years, Republican and Democrat, has used executive action for immigration matters.
The Justice Department is filing an appeal with a federal appeals court in New Orleans this week. The Department of Homeland Security is still planning to implement both programs as soon as the court process allows.
The existing DACA process and renewals of DACA are not affected by the recent court action. Murphy Law Firm will post updates when changes occur.
The expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) begins on February 18, 2015. On that day, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications under the expanded guidelines announced by the President in November of 2014. The DACA program grants a period of deferred action for eligible individuals who entered the U.S. before the age of 16. With deferred action, the government agrees to issue an Employment Authorization card and not deport an individual.
Eligibility under the new DACA program includes the following changes:
- There is no age limitation, the applicant no longer has to have been born before Jun 15, 1981;
- Applicants must prove continuous presence in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 (the prior continuous presence date was June 15, 2007).
- Approved applicants will receive deferred action and work authorization for three years instead of two.
All other DACA guidelines remain the same. To find out if you qualify under the new program, please schedule a consultation.
See the full requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The Department of Homeland Security announced on November 20, 2014 that due to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, Temporary Protected Status is now designated for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for a period of 18 months. Eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
There is a 180-day TPS registration period which begins Nov. 21, 2014 and ends on May 20, 2015. The TPS designation is in effect from Nov. 21, 2014 until May 20, 2016. If you are granted TPS status, you will not be removed from the United States and are eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they have been continuously residing and continuously physically present in the United States since Nov. 21, 2014. Applicants must also undergo security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS. A consultation with an Immigration Attorney will help determine whether an individual’s criminal convictions will prevent them from applying for TPS.
Read more at the USCIS Website