Their story is not an unfamiliar or uncommon one. The parents arrived more than a decade ago from Peru on tourist visas. The visas have expired but the parents could stay in the United States if the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA) is upheld by the United States Supreme Court.
People all across the world view the U.S. as a place of safety, where citizens have rights and are protected from the types of persecution others face in their home countries. Because of this, many people flee to this country in the hopes of escaping danger and protecting their families.
Immigrants who are considered permanent U.S. residents are granted green cards which allow them to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. It's important to note that, while a green card holder enjoys many of the same rights and privileges as a U.S. citizen, he or she can be stripped of a green card for failing to fulfill certain responsibilities, like obeying the law and filing income taxes.
The United States is a land of immigrants and refugees, the vast majority of whom came to this country to build a better life and/or to escape violence and persecution. While the U.S. is known worldwide as the land of opportunity and has a long history of welcoming individuals from all over the world, in recent decades, there’s been a drastic shift in ideology as immigration policy and laws become more exclusive and restrictive.
Fleeing violence in their Central American home countries, during 2013 and 2014, thousands of immigrants crossed illegally into the United States. While the U.S. has long struggled with how to address the many difficult issues related to illegal immigration, the large numbers of women and children crossing the U.S. and Mexican border caught the U.S. government off guard.
The spouse of an individual who becomes a U.S. citizen is granted the immigration status of a lawful permanent resident. In most cases, lawful permanent residents are safe from immigration enforcement actions including detention and removal. If, however, they violate certain terms as pursuant to their immigration status, they can become targets of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
As we've discussed in previous blog posts, when it comes to immigration enforcement actions, officials at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency move swiftly and decisively. This is especially true when it comes to operations that involve the arrest, detention and deportation of immigrants who are alleged to be in the U.S. illegally. ICE's ability to carry out detainment and deportation operations so quickly is due in large part the agency's sizable budget, which, during fiscal year 2013, the Department of Homeland Security listed as being more than $5.6 billion.
There are a total of 58 immigration courts throughout the U.S. and the judges who preside over these courts of law are responsible for making determinations related to removal, deportation and asylum cases involving individuals who are charged with coming to the U.S. illegally. The men and women who serve as judges in these immigration courts receive ongoing training and guidance on various immigration and judicial matters from officials within the U.S. Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review.
Created in 2003, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE is the federal government agency that is tasked with enforcing U.S. border control laws and engaging in immigration removal operations. As one would expect, the very mention of ICE can set off panic signals throughout immigrant communities and especially among those individuals who are undocumented.
In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program went into effect. The program, which was championed by President Barak Obama, allows undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. before they turned age 16 to obtain permission to stay and work in the U.S. for a two-year renewable time frame. In addition to coming to the U.S. prior to turning age 16, DACA applicants must meet a series of other requirements related to their age and current removal or deportation status.