How did the U.S. immigration laws change in 2014?


Quick Answer

Congress didn't pass new immigration laws in 2014. In November 2014, President Obama issued an executive order that changed existing programs for undocumented immigrants. It also directed federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus more on immigrants with a criminal history.

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Full Answer

The executive order allows undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders who have lived in the United States for five years to register with the government, undergo background checks and pay taxes. This protects them from deportation for up to three years. The order also expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was established in 2012 to protect those who had been brought into the United States illegally as children. It eliminates the age limit and allows anyone who has lived in the country since 2010 to apply for the program.

Executive orders are not laws and don't apply to regular citizens, though they affect citizens because they change how laws are enforced. A president issues them for federal agencies, and governors issue them for state agencies. Executive orders carry as much weight as a law unless the judicial or legislative branches of government overturn them.

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