By Sean Lewis, Immigration Attorney

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The word “temporary” should be taken as a word of caution when considering the executive action announced by President Obama in November. In other words, one ought to understand what executive action is and is not and should be fully aware of the possible future consequences before deciding to file an application. Since executive action is deferred deportation, it is no legal status nor is it permanent.

[tem*po*rary adjective tem-pó-rer-ē: continuing for a limited amount of time: not permanent]

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On November 20, 2014 Obama acted within his power to order the Department of Homeland Security to focus resources on deporting serious criminals and not families from the United States. “Serious criminals” includes those with DUI or domestic violence criminal convictions. Paying the fines or serving time in jail will never make the conviction go away under immigration law-a conviction always remains a conviction under the law.

The government will begin accepting applications in the Spring of 2015. No one should pay anyone “to apply” for anything right now since no applications are being accepted.

To qualify for executive deferred action, two classes of people are involved. Both classes belong to people who have resided continuously in the United States since January 1, 2010, pay taxes and pass a criminal background check.

Those who do NOT qualify are: those with felony or significant misdemeanor criminal convictions, three (non-traffic) misdemeanor convictions, and those who after January 1, 2014 were ordered deported and failed to depart and those who re-enter the United States illegally after that date.

On approximately February 28, 2015, applications will be accepted for people who:

• Arrived in the U.S. before age 16;
• Graduated from a U.S. High School or obtain a GED certificate, or;
• Are registered in an approved course of study to receive a GED certificate, regardless of age.

On approximately May 20, 2014, applications will be accepted for people who:

• Before November 20, 2014 are the parents of U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident children.

During this deferred deportation status the benefits to the applicant include:
• The government will not deport the applicant for three years.
• Work authorization will be provided.
• One could obtain a Tennessee driver’s license and a social security number.

The risks of applying include:
• The next president could cancel this status and begin to deport the applicant in 2016.
• The next president could allow the deferred deportation status to expire in 2018 and the applicant will have informed the government of her undocumented status in this country..
• People who do not qualify will be placed into deportation proceedings once an application is denied.
• People who do not provide all the necessary documents required, or who fill out the forms incorrectly could be placed into deportation proceedings.

My recommendation is to proceed with extreme caution and first consult with a licensed immigration attorney before exposing oneself to the adverse consequence of deportation. Always check the disciplinary history and qualifications of an attorney online at: www.TBPR.org. A good attorney will advise you of any other permanent forms of relief you will qualify for, or if you can apply for legal status if you are placed into deportation proceedings. A GREAT attorney will warn you of the consequences of filing and not just take your money.

My last recommendation is to NEVER use the illicit services of a person who calls himself a “notario publico”. A notary in the U.S. is not an attorney, has no authority to advise people what forms to fill out or and often steal the money and dreams of many non-English speakers in Tennessee. In Tennessee a notary is not even allowed to fill out immigration forms. DO NOT BE VICTIMS OF FRAUD, ILLEGAL SERVICES OR INCOMPETENCE. Avoid the advice of friends, people at churches or community organizations unless there is an actively-supervising licensed attorney with years of immigration experience present. These people may mean well, but they are not competent to render legal advice. We have seen many people who were deported because they attended workshops at community organizations and churches where lay people were involved in filling out of forms. These people will not understand what other options are available to you or be able to advise you about any of the risks involved. We have experienced that in the past, some group workshops cause more harm than good. There is no substitute for hiring en experienced immigration attorney who will know what amount of proof is required to file these applications in the first place. You get what you pay for!

Sean Lewis will conduct a training for lawyers about DAPA/DACA on December 10, 2014. Licensed attorneys may learn more about executive immigration reform by attending the Tennessee Bar Association CLE (webinar).

Sean Lewis is a Nashville immigration attorney with offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis His state bar number is 021222 which may be checked at www.TBPR.org. His phone number is (615) 226-4236 or he may be reached on Face Book at Music City Visa, or online at www.615AboGado.com. This article is not legal advice nor does it imply an attorney-client relationship exists with the reader.