CHICAGO (JGL) – The “winds may change” from a split to a Republican majority in the United States Congress but these should not let applicants drag their feet in applying for Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (E-DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and when these programs roll out on Feb. 18 and May 18, respectively.
This was the suggestion of Dr. Thomas M. Cioppa, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) District 14 Field offices in Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during a US CIS’s outreach program, spearheaded by the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights (AFIRE), a community based organization (CBO), held on Jan. 21 in the Philippine Consulate General’s office in downtown Chicago.
Cioppa said applicants for E-DACA, the latter version of DACA, and DAPA, should not procrastinate in filing for these immigration benefits despite the uncertainties that the new U.S. president in 2016 can change these benefits.
Quoting Cioppa, Jerry Clarito, AFIRE’s Executive Director, told members of the community that included guests Esther Wong, Executive Director of Chinese American Service League (CASL), Ami Gandhi, Executive Director of South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) and Inchul Choi, Executive Director of Korean American Community Services (KACS), that, “We are reaching out to our friends qualified to sign in on the programs who may be living in fear because these programs can be changed by the next president and as Dr. Cioppa said, ‘such change of policy may send a difficult message.’”
Clarito said Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge, who delivered the welcome and closing remarks to the fourth monthly interaction by the Consulate with the community, would actively disseminate information encouraging those who qualify to avail of the programs.
Aside from encouraging applicants to embrace the immigration benefits, Consul General Calonge also urged members of the community to join the 10th Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour to the Philippines (Manila & Cebu) from July 6 to 10, 2015; apply as dual citizens; and to register to vote in the 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections.
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Calonge also introduced New Orleans, Louisiana-based Filipino American businessman Roberto Romero, candidate for Philippine Honorary Consul in Louisiana, whose appointment was already accepted by the U.S. government but is yet to be approved by the Philippine government.
Atty. Maria del Carmen Rodriguez, Community Relations Officer of the Chicago District 14 office of the U.S. C.I.S., said both applications for E-DACA and DAPA can only be filed 90 days and 180 days, respectively, after President Obama announced the executive actions last Nov. 20, 2014 or on Feb. 18 and May 18 this year upon payment of $465. She clarified application forms are not yet available but applicants may now gather documents to support their applications. They should only ask assistance from CBO representatives accredited with Bureau of Immigration Accreditation, which can be found in this, website: http://www.ilrc.org/info-on-immigration-law/bia-accreditation.
For DAPA applicants, they should be parents of U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPR’s), who had a child born on or before Nov. 20, 2014. Their child may be a minor or adult, single or married. Parents must continuously live in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010.
They must be physically present in the U.S. on Nov. 20, 2014 and at the time of the filing the application; did not have a lawful status on Nov. 20, 2014; have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanor offenses; and can demonstrate that they deserve a grant of deferred action.
For the Expanded DACA, those who qualify should be under 16 years of age when they arrived in the U.S. (this removes the upper age limit, which currently limits DACA eligibility to only those youths who were born after June 15, 1981); have continuously resided in the U.S. from Jan. 1, 2010 (this was previously, set June 15, 2007) to the present; physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 at the time of filing the application; did not have lawful status on June 15, 2012; currently enrolled in school, graduated from high school, obtained a GED, are enrolled in GED classes or are honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces; have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and are at least 15 years old (may be younger if in removal proceedings).
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Successful DAPA and E-DACA and pending DACA applicants would be extended temporary relief from deportation for three years; would be issued employment authorization for three years (may qualify for social security number and driver’s license) and maybe eligible to travel abroad with advance permission.
A 26-year Army veteran, Cioppa, grandson of Italian immigrants, also thanked Filipino veterans “for their sacrifices during World War II” in brief remarks during the program emceed by Deputy Consul General Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr.. He also told the Journal GlobaLinks that the Department of Homeland Security is still working on the Temporary Protective Status of Filipinos, who overstayed their visas in the U.S., for humanitarian consideration due to super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.
Rodriguez provided information on immigration laws, administrative policies and procedures and identified and solved problems that impact immigrant communities.
She said after 9/11, Congress mandated a new Department of Homeland Security, which united 22 separate federal agencies under its wings on March 1, 2003. The I.N.S. (Immigration and Naturalization Service) ceased to exist and its various functions were refocused into three new immigration agencies under DHS – ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and US CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services).
The other agencies under DHS include U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), U.S. Secret Service, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, National Cyber Security center, Office of Intelligence and Analysis and others.
US CIS, Rodriguez said, “secures America’s Promise” as a nation of immigrants by ensuring the integrity of the U.S. immigration system; providing accurate and useful information to customers; granting immigration and citizenship benefits; and promoting awareness and understanding of U.S. Citizenship. U.S. CIS is headed by Leon Rodriguez, US CIS Director.
U.S. CIS has four regions – Western Region based in Laguna Niguel, California; Central Region, Dallas, Texas; Southeast Region, Orlando, Florida; and Northeast Region, Burlington, Vermont – and 26 field districts, including District 14 Field Office in Chicago, which has jurisdiction over Milwaukee. U.S. CIS also has international operation, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, California and Miami, Florida; one District Field Office in Mexico and 17 field offices, including Manila.
A typical day in U.S. CIS includes processing of 135,000 background security checks; handling of 41,000 calls at 800 helpline number; adjudicating 30,000 applicants; speaking to 12,000 walk-in customers; receiving 250,000 website hits; issuing 7,000 Green Cards; and welcoming 2,600 new U.S. citizens.
U.S. CIS also issues two types of visas – Immigrant visas for permanent residents for family-based, employment-based, refugee-based and diversity visas (visa lottery); and Non-Immigrant visas for temporary visas such as tourists (B-1, B-2), students and exchange visitors (F, J, and M visas), specialized workers, crewmembers/in-transit and 40 other Non-Immigrant visas; and U.S. citizenships.