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Obama Immigration Plan: Presidential Memorandum Aims to Reform, Streamline US Immigrant Visa System

First Posted: Dec 22, 2014 01:33 PM EST
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While President Barack Obama issued executive actions that may defer nearly five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, he also issued a "presidential memorandum" aimed towards modernizing and streamlining the country's immigration visa system.

The presidential memorandum, titled "Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century," was located on the White House website separately from other actions that included the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Obama recognized immigrants are more than twice as likely that U.S.-born Americans to start a business in the country. He added that despite such contributions, the immigration system "has not kept pace with the changing times."

"We have worked to simplify an overly complex visa system, one that is confusing to travelers and immigrants, burdensome to businesses, and results in long wait times that negatively impact millions of families and workers. But we can and must do more to improve this system," wrote Obama.

According to the president, executive agencies and departments have to focus on "streamlining and reforming" the legal immigrations system, yet, "safeguarding" the interest of U.S. workers.

Must Read: Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), Details on Who's Included & Excluded - What You Need To Know

The first recommendation in the presidential memorandum is for the Department of State Secretary John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to consult with the directors of the Office of Management and Budget, National Economic Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. attorney general, to name a few, to develop further recommendations to improve the legal immigration system with a focus on reducing government costs, services for applicants, burdens on employers, fraud and abuse of the system.

The first recommendation should include consultations with private and non-federal public actors such as business people, universities and other stakeholders. Experts on immigration law are also advised to participate in the consultations " to ensure that administrative policies, practices, and systems use all of the immigrant visa numbers that the Congress provides for and intends to be issued, consistent with demand."

Obama also instructed technology experts, both inside and outside the government, to be involved in order to provide information technology infrastructure for the visa processing system with a goal of "reducing redundant systems, improving the experience of applicants, and enabling better public and congressional oversight of the system."

Since the publication of the presidential memorandum, all participants have approximately 90 days left to consult with each other and provide their recommendations. Following the consultations, a metric to measure the progress of the recommendations should be established.

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