Is Obama’s New Immigration Policy a Law Enforcement Bonanza?

President Obama labeled his November 20, 2014, policy allowing some undocumented parents a short reprieve from deportation “deferred action for parental accountability.” Deferred action means that the government has decided not to spend resources on deporting someone for a limited period of time. By tacking on the goal of “parental accountability,” Obama warns that applicants will be carefully scrutinized for disqualifying crimes and expected to “play by the rules.” What Obama did not say, but which follows from the scrutiny of any parent, is that the rest of the family may go under a microscope. “Parental accountability” could turn into “family accountability.” 

Under the new policy, parents may apply for deferred action if they have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green-card holders). There is no age cap for the offspring, so they may already be adults. In any immigration application based on one person’s relationship to another, the government requests information about both individuals. Birth certificates, names and addresses, and copies of green cards will go into an applicant’s file. The validity of a permanent resident child’s status will be checked, and immigration officers may run the child’s name through multiple federal databases.

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