Last Thursday, President Barack Obama announced several new programs affecting undocumented immigrants in his administrative relief announcement. The largest single new program is the creation of a deferred action program for the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs). Also known as Deferred Action for Parent Accountability (DAPA or sometimes just DAP), we know much less about this program than we do about the other large program, the extension of DACA for DREAMers. We do not expect to be fully versed in this program until March or April of 2015, but there are a few things we do know and steps undocumented immigrant parents can take to get ready.
To be eligible you must be the parent of a U.S. citizen or LPR who came to the United States before January 1, 2010. We do not know if there are going to be any age cut-offs on how old the U.S. citizen or LPR son or daughter must be yet, but so far it does not look there is a cut-off. In other words, at least for now, it looks like both the parents of U.S. citizens and the parents of LPRs will be potentially eligible whether the son or daughter is a baby or a grown man or woman. We will need more guidance as we go along on this, but so far, the language used by Homeland Security is expansive.
We also know there are a number of things that the applicant for this program will have to prove. First you must prove that your son or daughter is a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. The son or daughter’s green card or naturalization papers (citizenship papers) or U.S. birth certificate will be needed. Obviously, if you are the parent of a LPR, you will have to ask them for a copy of their green card.
Next you need to prove that you are the parent. If you are the LPR or U.S. citizen’s mother, you need the birth certificate showing you as the mother. For men, things are a little more complicated. You need the birth certificate showing you as the father, plus a marriage certificate showing you are married to the mother of the U.S. citizen or LPR son or daughter, with the marriage having taken place before the child’s birth or before the child turned 21 (and before Nov. 20, 2014).
If you never married the child’s mother you will need proof that you had a parent-child relation before the child turned 21. This could be evidence that the son or daughter lived with you or that you provided financial support or other evidence of a father-child relationship. If you are not on the birth certificate, you should speak to a lawyer to find out how you can prove a parental relationship.
There are also ways for adoptive and step-parents to be considered parents for the purposes of this program.
A few final suggestions.
1. Make sure you have a passport if you think that you may want to apply.
2. Make sure to get certificates of disposition for any arrests.
3. Collect proof that you were in the U.S. before January 1, 2010 as well as proof that you have been here continuously ever since.
CARECEN will be offering free workshops on this new program.