"DACA, DAPA, and Beyond: Plus ça change?" Newsletter of the APSA Migration & Citizenship Newsletter 3(2): 35-38 (go to brief)
In this policy brief I review a series of executive orders issued by President Barack Obama between June 2012 and November 2014 that provide temporary and conditional relief from deportation to an estimated 5.2 million migrants without legal status (Mathema 2015). The executive measures confer “no substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship” (a prerogative of the U.S. Congress) and they are not without its critics. Limitations notwithstanding, the measures provide relief from deportation, facilitate access to drivers’ licenses and give access to work authorization. I argue that the executive actions are consistent with the dominant framing of CIR in that they combine a sustained focus on enforcement with the selection of particularly deserving subjects for inclusion. The latter includes migrants that came to the United States as children, parents of citizens or legal permanent residents (LPR), and those who enlist (or have family members who enlist) in the armed forces.These measures do not put an end to the production of illegality that has historically characterized the immigration regime. Instead, they codify a new form of non-legality (a temporary deferral of expulsion) that a select portion of undocumented migrants can access. Those who do not qualify for these programs because they lack the qualifications, cannot afford the fees, or arrived after the cut-point (January 1st 2014) remain with the status of illegality and subject to deportation.