Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Executive Action on Immigration in the United States

November 26, 2014

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the executive action on immigration announced by President Barack Obama of the United States of America on November 20, 2014. This executive action will protect nearly four million persons of the 11.2 million in an irregular migratory situation in the country from deportation. Given the temporary and partial nature of this measure, the Commission urges the U.S. Congress to take additional legislative action in the near future to regularize the migratory situation of these and other groups of persons present in the United States.

According to the official announcement, this executive action will provide for the deferral of deportation of migrants in an irregular situation who arrived to the United States before January 1, 2010 and have lived in the country continuously for a period of at least five years; have a child in the United States who, through the application of jus soli, is automatically a U.S. citizen upon birth or is a legal resident and was born before the date of the announcement; and register with the government, pass a criminal background check, and pay taxes. For these parents whose deportation is deferred and who meet and successfully complete the requirements, they will be granted a three-year work permit. This, in combination with pre-existing U.S. immigration law, provides that when a United States citizen turns 21, he or she may petition for the permanent residency of parents or siblings.

In addition, the group of young persons who may be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is to be expanded by 300,000 under this executive action, by extending the cut-off date for arrival to the United States from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010. Parents of children who qualify for DACA are not included or conferred any protection under this executive action, nor are persons in an irregular migratory situation who arrived to the United States after January 1, 2010. According to official sources, the executive action also calls for the continuation of a surge of resources to the United States’ southern border, so as to increase apprehensions and deportations of persons who seek to enter the country in an irregular manner. Additionally, immigration enforcement priorities are to be placed on anyone suspected of terrorism, violent crimes, membership in a gang, and recent border crossers.

“On behalf of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, I commend this first and important step taken by the United States to protect millions of parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents from deportation as well as to expand the coverage of those young people who would qualify for DACA,” said Commissioner Felipe González in response to the announcement.

“Despite all the positive contributions that migrants make to a country like the United States, those in an irregular migratory situation have to live in the shadows. This exposes them to several and daily violations to their most basic human rights. Regularization of migrants is the most effective way to reduce their vulnerability and to strengthen the human rights protection available for other sectors of the population,” he added. Felipe González is the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants and Country Rapporteur for the United States of America.

Given that many of the migrants present in the United States have resided in the country for years and have strong family ties there, the Commission calls on the United States’ Congress to pass a comprehensive reform on its immigration laws, allowing for the regularization of migrants who have benefitted from this executive action as well as other groups that should be included. Any such enacted measures should take into consideration factors such as the circumstances under which the person in an irregular migratory situation entered the United States, the duration of his or her presence in the country, in addition to other pertinent considerations, such as strong familial or communal ties and contributions to society. In the framework of this executive action, and in light of the new order of immigration enforcement priorities, the Commission also calls on the United States to ensure that the protection needs of every person – without exception – are analyzed in an individual manner by properly-trained authorities upon arrival or apprehension.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 142/14