Although President Barack Obama's latest deferred action programs have been temporarily blocked, House Democrats are still calling for eligible undocumented immigrants to prepare their paperwork ahead of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) application launch.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., held a press conference announcing the "Family Defender Toolkit," a pamphlet featuring the requirements needed to apply for either the Deferred Action for Childhood Availability (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs. The extended DACA and new DAPA programs would provided approximately 4.9 million eligible undocumented immigrants an opportunity to temporarily avoid deportation for three years and obtain a work permit.

"We developed this 'Family Defender Toolkit' that is designed to help people organize the documents they will need when the court injunction is lifted - and it will be lifted, because the law is on the president's side," said Gutierrez during the press conference this week.

As Latin Post reported, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas' Brownsville Division issued a temporary injunction on the two deferred action programs on Feb. 16, two days before the new DACA guideless were to be in effect by the USCIS. Hanen's decision went in favor of 26 states seeking to block the DACA and DAPA's implementation, stating Obama overreached his executive privileges. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and a hearing is scheduled on April 17.

The pamphlet includes a detachable card for immigrants to alert immigration law enforcement officials about their low priority status from deportation.

Gutierrez continued, "If you are in the unfortunate position of getting put into ICE custody in the meantime and have committed no serious crime, you will have the ability to say that you think you qualify for DACA or DAPA for all of these reasons, my documents have been collected and I can prove it, and I should be a low priority for deportation. If the ICE and DHS officials are following the policy correctly, that should be enough to let you go or at least get your case reviewed."

With the Nov. 20, 2014, immigration executive actions, Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would prioritize on how deportations are conducted based on criminal record. The DHS is responsible for three federal immigration agencies: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the USCIS.

Gutierrez's press conference included Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland.; Barbara Lee, D-California.; Karen Bass, D-California.; Tony Cárdenas, D-California.; Kathy Castor, D-Florida.; and Al Green, D-Texas.

Hoyer recognized the immigration system is broken and there is a need to fix it. While he believes Obama's executive actions are legal and that the courts will eventually allow the deferred action programs, Hoyer wants to see a immigration reform bill in the House of Representatives. Hoyer supports the Family Defender Toolkit as it allows people to understand their rights related to Obama's immigration executive actions.

"To those who are undocumented: Help is on the way," said Green. "This toolkit will provide the help you need so that you will not only understand your immigration status; you will be able to communicate that status by passing a card, when necessary, to the appropriate person. This is important because it says to people that members of Congress are taking a stand with the undocumented. We have decided that we are not only going to fight here in the halls of Congress for reform, but we are going to take it to the community and let the message go far and wide that we are here to help."

The Family Defender Toolkit is available in English and soon in Spanish.


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