Brexit: What is it, and what does it mean?

Francisco A. Laguna & Amy Turner

Last week, we began our series on Brexit by focusing on 3 potential winners:  continental capitals ready and able to replace London as commercial hubs from which to benefit from doing business in the European Union.  This week, we provide some historical context for Brexit.

Anyone with a television, computer or smartphone has heard of Brexit.  Commonly, Brexit is the process where the United Kingdom will formally sever its political ties with the European Union. While the name Brexit is new, the concept is old. Since 1973, when the UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor to the EU, certain UK political parties and advocacy groups have been advocating “opting out”.

The original “Brexit Vote” was on 5 June 1975. The UK held a referendum, during which, the electorate was asked to vote yes or no on the question: “Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?” By a vote of 67.2% in favor voted positively that the UK should remain a member of the EEC.  The 1975 vote was thought to have put the question to rest. However, the idea was resurrected again in 2012.

By LucasD - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50118738

By LucasD – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50118738

In 2012, Prime Minister Davis Cameron dismissed calls for a vote on UK’s EU membership, with a caveat of a vote at a later date to take the pulse of the public.  The years of 2012- 2013 saw the rise of UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party). UKIP’s rise gave enough political power to groups wanting a “Brexit” to successfully pressure Prime Minister Cameron. An official announcement by Cameron was made in January 2013 that if a conservative government was elected in 2015 an in-out referendum on EU membership would be held before 2017. The UK went to the polls and elected a Conservative government, and the party kept its promise, reintroducing the European Union Referendum Act 2015.  On February 22, 2016, Cameron went before the House of Commons and put forth a date of June 23, 2016 for a referendum. In his speech Cameron also laid out the legal parameters for a withdrawal in which he cited the need to immediately trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

By Jwslubbock - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50299666

By Jwslubbock – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50299666

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom went to the polls and with a vote of 51.9% in favor of leaving the European Union and 48.1% against. The morning after the Brexit vote result, Cameron announced that he would resign by October.  On July 13 2013, Theresa May become Prime Minister. Prime Minister May made the decision that discussions with the EU would not start in 2016. She stated “I want to work with … the European council in a constructive spirit to make this a sensible and orderly departure.” Currently, neither a timetable nor the terms for withdrawal has been set. Therefore, for now, the UK remains a full member of the European Union.

In the next blog we will examine at the political ramifications of Brexit and discuss what the possible legal framework for departure would look like for the international community.

Call TransLegal with your questions concerning Brexit and how to prepare for the UK exiting the EU.

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Open Government Partnership

Oversight & Progress

 Francisco A. Laguna & Melanie Enciso

This week, we conclude our series on the Obama Administration’s Open Government Partnership (“OGP”).  Today, we discuss the OGP’s enforcement and oversight mechanisms and the progress made by the member states.

OGP Oversight

Once members of the OGP, participating countries promise to provide National Action Plans (“NAP”) that promote and detail their commitments to open governance. Although countries must release annual self-assessment reports, currently, there is no single official authoritative body with enforcement power to ensure that these countries are taking the necessary steps to abide by their commitments.

Screenshot 2015-09-25 09.31.21Despite the lack of an authoritative organization, the Independent Reporting Mechanism (“IRM”) has been in operation since 2013. The IRM is an independent body guided by, but not directly answerable to, the OGP’s Steering Committee. An International Experts Panel (“IEP”) directly oversees the IRM and is made up of several senior advisors and five technical advisors. The advisors play a vital role in setting the vision for the IRM and promoting its findings. The technical advisors are experts in transparency, participation and accountability, whose role is to guide the development and implementation of the IRM research method and ensure a high quality of reports.

The IRM ensures the accountability and quality of each OGP country’s two-year NAP by reviewing the plan independently of the government or civil oversight.  The resulting IRM report analyzes the country’s progress of commitment completion and offers recommendations for a country’s subsequent action plan.  According to an independent consultant hired by the IRM, several countries have indicated that the IRM and its reports are an effective tool in assisting governments with the design and content of their respective NAPs.

Results of the OGP

The effects of the OGP are hard to measure in that each country’s progress is dependent on its level of commitment to the OGP (here, an official authoritative body might be beneficial), the successful cooperation of the government and its civil society partners, and a country’s status (i.e., 1st world vs. 2nd world vs. 3rd world countries). Some countries’ progress can be read below.

UNITED STATES

The first OGP meeting occurred in September 2011.  Later that year, the Obama Administration launched the first U.S. Open Government NAP. The first NAP contained 26 commitments whose goal was to increase public integrity, enhance the public’s access to information, improve the management of public resources, and give the public a more active voice in the U.S. Government’s policymaking process.  Even now, the government continues to make progress in all 26 areas, with 24 of the initial commitments already completed.  A positive example of the improvements made since the first NAP is the launch of We the People. We the People is a White House petitions platform that provides a direct line and allows Americans to voice their concerns to the Administration via online petitions.

With the continued success of the first NAP, the Administration developed a second Open Government NAP in 2013. In developing the second NAP, the Federal Government requested input from a broad range of civil society organizations, the general public, academia and the private sector in order to build a more transparent and participatory government.

UNITED KINGDOM

British Prime Minster David Cameron pledged that the United Kingdom’s leadership of the OGP would “drive a transparency revolution in every corner of the world.”  In a relatively short time, the UK has positioned itself as one of the world leaders in open data and transparency. Its web portal, data.gov.uk, is the most comprehensive data resource in the world, with over 10,000 datasets.

Since the publication of the UK’s first National Action Plan in September 2011, the UK has forged ahead with both their domestic and international transparency agendas. In September 2013, the IRM published its review of the UK NAP, noting that the government was successful in implementing many of its initial 41 commitments. However, in its self-assessment, the UK government acknowledged that it did not extensively consult civil society in the creation of its first NAP.

With the formation of their second NAP in October 2013, in collaboration with civil society, the government is searching to make commitments that meet a broader definition of open government.

OTHER COUNTRIES

"Transparency International 2014" by Ruben.2196 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons -

“Transparency International 2014” by Ruben.2196 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons –

Despite the positive effects of the OGP and the apparent success of both the United States and the United Kingdom’s NAPs, many countries are hindered from achieving open governance due to corruption.

For example, in Mexico, over the past year there have been many political and social confrontations that have tested the relationship between the Mexican government and civil society.  In the eyes of many Mexican citizens, the legitimacy of the government has faltered due to security based scandals and corruption. According to an OGP Civil Society Support Officer for Mexico, the Mexican National Action Plan will likely remain incomplete when the two-year period comes to an end this summer.

Generally, in countries with pervasive corruption, research shows that most state authorities are reluctant to advance commitments due to legal constraints, institutional uncertainties, and political agendas.  In some countries, such as Azerbaijan, low-level executive authorities are incognizant that their country is a part of the OGP. As a result, most of the local executive authorities do not know of the commitments taken by the central executive committees and only have a low-level understanding of their respective implementation responsibilities.

Administrative barriers further limit access to resources and prevent civil service organizations from establishing their presence and denying their input in the creation of the NAPs. Thus, civil society roles keep decreasing every year while the government’s influence only increases.  In response to this, for the past 18 months, with the objective of equipping national civil societies in OGP countries with a tool that pushes for stronger government engagement and more ambitious plans, the OGP Civil Society Engagement Team has been creating and accessing an advocacy tool that enables civil society to evaluate their country’s National Action Plan.

Annual Summit

In November 2013, the OGP Annual Summit was held in London in which over 1,000 delegates from over 60 countries attended.  This summit presented an incredible opportunity for the open government movement to strengthen and gain momentum. In reflecting on what is working and what is not, all participating countries returned equipped to pursue an ambitious reform agenda. Summit participants shared their experiences and endeavored to provide real examples of how openness can improve public services, drive economic growth, reduce poverty and corruption, and restore public faith in government in their quest for an open government.

Screenshot 2015-09-25 09.30.27This year, the Open Government Partnership Global Summit will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, October 27-29, 2015.

Since its launch in 2011, the OGP and its principles have been a guiding factor in creating concrete action plans by governments and their civil society organizations.  However, the OGP still has a long road ahead before its practices have generated tangible results in improving the everyday lives of citizens around the world.  Considering the changes and advancements in open governance, this year’s summit will most likely further strengthen the open governance movement, and perhaps, also address the concerns for more authoritative enforcement.

TransLegal is available to help clarify how the Open Government Partnership and its ensuing reforms or lack thereof have affected corporations and individuals alike.  Call us with your questions.

One Belt, One Road – China’s Mammoth Plan

Francisco A. Laguna & Annapurna Nandyal

Last year, China announced two ambitious construction / infrastructure projects: the “New Silk Road”; and the “New Maritime Silk Road”.  Dubbed “One Belt, One Road”, the projects focus on building roads, railways, ports and airports to connect China with Central Asia, South Asia and continents of Europe and Africa.  At this nascent stage, the new projects are being promoted as an infrastructure network which includes energy, communications and transportation to connect all sub-regions of Asia, as well as Africa, Europe and Russia. China hopes to use the projects to enhance regional connectivity and foster trade networks.

The ancient Silk Road connected Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe by land and sea. "Silk route" by Whole_world_-_land_and_oceans_12000.jpg: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Centerderivative work: Splette (talk) - Whole_world_-_land_and_oceans_12000.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

The ancient Silk Road connected Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe by land and sea.
“Silk route” by Whole_world_-_land_and_oceans_12000.jpg: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Centerderivative work: Splette (talk) – Whole_world_-_land_and_oceans_12000.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Chinese history is well known for its Great Wall of China and for the Silk Road.  Established during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), the Silk Road was a strategic transportation channel used to trade with countries such as India, Persia, Greece and the Roman Empire.  The Silk Road passed through Central Asia, West Asia, Europe and Africa – the same routes as proposed in the new project. The route not only grew trade exponentially, it also facilitated political and cultural exchange among great civilizations like the Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Persian and Roman. China would like to recreate that historical success with the New Silk Road and link itself with all the important cities in Central Asia, Russia, Europe and Africa.

The land route’s counterpart, the Maritime Silk Road, has two proposed routes: one linking the Chinese coastline to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean; and the other and linking China to the South Pacific through the South China Sea.

"Manzhouli Tracks" by Hoon6h - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

“Manzhouli Tracks” by Hoon6h – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

China envisions that these two projects could change the global economic and political scene and “break the connectivity bottleneck” in Eurasia. To garner support for its new initiatives and accommodate needs of various countries, China’s President Xi Jinping has identified five specific goals: strengthening economic collaboration, improving road connectivity, promoting trade and investment, facilitating currency conversion and encouraging people-to-people exchanges.  Such a framework would encourage investors from Asia and beyond to actively take part in the projects. The completion of these routes would also revive the sometimes strained ties China has mainly with India, Sri-Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Tajikistan and Mongolia.

"China Development Bank Tower" by Baycrest - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons

“China Development Bank Tower” by Baycrest – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons

Initially, China would fund the projects with ~ US$ 40 billion from its foreign exchange reserves and monies from the China Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank of China and the China Development Bank. Additional funds would come from China-backed financial institutions, such as the BRICS bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

While China may be enthusiastic about the revival of the Silk Road and the creation of a new Maritime Silk Road, Western powers are apprehensive that they will further expand China’s political and economic clout in Europe, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and South Asia, let alone Africa where Chinese investments have focused on strategic sectors such as mining and oil.  China argues that stronger economic growth in Asia and Europe will ease the tensions and instability widely prevalent in the region; economists are not necessarily convinced. China notes that it has backed similar, smaller-scale projects like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Bangladesh-India-China-Myanmar Corridor and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to develop economic growth in the Asia.

It is unclear whether China will be able to garner support from potential partners, how China’s current economic challenges will affect the New Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road.

TransLegal has offices throughout Asia and Africa, including China, Ghana, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Thailand and Vietnam.  Call us with your questions concerning trade in the region.

Trans-Pacific Partnership & Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership

To Deal or Not to Deal?

Francisco A. Laguna & Amy Turner

Among the many points of disagreement between the political parties are the benefits of trade agreements.  Currently, the two possible deals discussed most often are the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In very basic terms, the TPP is a trade agreement with Asia, while the TTIP is a trade agreement with European Union.  These agreements will have enormous impact on the United States. Furthermore, timing will make it more interesting: finalization of each is expected in 2016, during an election cycle.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP)

Dark Green:  Currently in negotiations    Light Green: Announced interest in joining Light Blue: Potential future members 2013 "TPP enlargement" by en:User:Japinderum, en:User:Phospheros, en:User:Orser67 - en:File:TPP enlargement.png (based on File:World map model.png). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Dark Green: Currently in negotiations
Light Green: Announced interest in joining
Light Blue: Potential future members
2013 “TPP enlargement” by en:User:Japinderum, en:User:Phospheros, en:User:Orser67 – en:File:TPP enlargement.png (based on File:World map model.png). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The TPP began as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. TPP negotiations have been ongoing since 2005, and the US joined the negotiations in March 2008.  Twelve countries are currently participating: Australia; Brunei; Canada; Chile; Japan; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Peru; Singapore; US; and Vietnam. The combined total GDP of these 12 nations is 40 % of global GDP and represents 1/3 of world trade – ~ US$27.7 trillion. The global benefits of the TTP have been placed at as much as US$295 billion annually.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Since the 1990s, there has been a Transatlantic Free Trade Area.  By that time, the Cold War had ended, and the world was no longer divided into conflicting blocs. The European Community (12 countries) and the US decided to sign a “Transatlantic Declaration”. The Declaration outlined yearly summits, biennial meetings among state ministers and more frequent meetings of political figures and senior officials.

"Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (8570621071)" by Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Flickr. Licensed under OGL via Wikimedia Commons

“Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (8570621071)” by Foreign and Commonwealth Office – Flickr. Licensed under OGL via Wikimedia Commons

One of the early initiatives was the 1995 creation of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), a pressure group of business people on both sides of the Atlantic.  Since 1998, a series of advisory committees have been established: the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (1998); the Transatlantic Economic Council (2007); and a group of high level experts created in 2011.

The experts ultimately recommended that talks should begin for a wide-ranging free-trade agreement.  In 2012, President Obama used his annual State of the Union address to call for finalization of that agreement.

Together, the United States and European Union represent 60 % of global GDP (33 % of world trade in goods and 42 % of world trade in services).  TTIP would cover 46 % of world GDP, giving it the potential to be the largest regional free-trade agreement in history. The European Commission claims that passage of TTIP could boost trade between the US and EU by up to 50 %.

Next time, we will discuss what the agreements include, how they will affect US businesses.  Whether we should deal or not deal.

TransLegal has 51 affiliate offices worldwide.  We assist our clients navigate the intricacies of global trade.  Contact us with your questions.

Future Business Opportunities in Iran

Francisco A. Laguna & Wojciech Kornacki

Under normal conditions, a country with a well-educated population, a large middle-class, 9% of proven world oil reserves, 18% of proven global gas reserves and an abundance of strategic minerals would be an excellent place to invest.  Unless, the country is Iran, which is currently subject, rightly, to complex and multi-faceted international financial and other sanctions that have reduced its economy by about 15 to 20%.  This may change soon, however, as Iran attempts to end its economic isolation.

According to a 2007 Goldman Sachs report, Iran’s energy sector, technology, and human capital could make it particularly attractive for foreign direct investment.  Now that there is a possibility that sanctions may be lifted, many national and private investors want to position themselves to benefit from the new and very attractive market when (and if) it opens.  Countries such as China, Russia, Turkey and various European countries are already preparing for the sanctions to be lifted.

Currently, the United States and Iran are engaged in extensive negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.  Depending on the outcome, certain sanctions could be lifted against Iran.  This would open its oil, gas, technology, human resources, natural resources, automotive, airline, hospitality and tourism, and many other industries to foreign direct investment, and it would create billions of dollars’ worth of business opportunities in Iran and the world.   Courtesy of http:// http://en.wikipedia.org

Currently, the United States and Iran are engaged in extensive negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. Depending on the outcome, certain sanctions could be lifted against Iran. This would open its oil, gas, technology, human resources, natural resources, automotive, airline, hospitality and tourism, and many other industries to foreign direct investment, and it would create billions of dollars’ worth of business opportunities in Iran and the world. Courtesy of http:// http://en.wikipedia.org

The expectation is that once sanctions are removed, new opportunities will create billions of dollars’ worth of business for local and international companies.  Essentially, Iran could be the “next big thing” (once the sanctions are lifted) after the opening of the markets in Central and Eastern Europe.  Some of its regional trading partners expect that their economies will also grow once the sanctions are removed.

Investors are already holding discussing Iran’s oil industry and auto industry.  Indeed, many international energy companies are very interested in Iran, including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, British Petroleum and Total SA.

Not all sanctions will be lifted overnight, and some sanctions may continue for years to come.  In addition to keeping an eye on the international sanction regime, a prudent investor should also consider the following Iranian industries, once the sanctions are removed.

Banking: New businesses and residents will require both domestic and international banking services.  The international banking community has started looking at the country’s potential.  It will be interesting to see which banks move in first.  Will the Swiss join?

Iran’s domestically developed drone capable of traveling almost 2,500 miles.  Due to sanctions, Iran has been forced to develop its own technologies.  Collaboration between international and domestic businesses partners is estimated to create millions of dollars’ worth of business, once the sanctions are lifted.  Courtesy of http:// http://en.wikipedia.org

Iran’s domestically developed drone capable of traveling almost 2,500 miles. Due to sanctions, Iran has been forced to develop its own technologies. Collaboration between international and domestic businesses partners is estimated to create millions of dollars’ worth of business, once the sanctions are lifted. Courtesy of http:// http://en.wikipedia.org

Construction / Real Estate:  Many Middle Eastern businesses are interested in Iran’s real estate market.  The lifting of sanctions is likely to result in the return of some of the Iranian diaspora as well as representatives of multinationals and other companies that will invest in the country.  This will create the need for housing and, as the economy progresses, more luxury condominiums and residences with Western amenities.

Consulting Services: International businesses are likely to begin working to pre-position themselves in a post-sanctions Iran.  To be successful in the country, businesses will need reliable consultants to assist them navigate cultural nuances, language barriers and business practices, including the practice of gift-giving.

Natural Resources and Minerals: After years of sanctions, Iran desperately needs billions of dollars to make its oil industry profitable again.  In 1974, Iran pumped 6 million barrels per day; today, it only pumps 2.8 million.

Cube of Zoroaster.  Iran’s rich culture spans over thousands of years.   This tower-like construction was in the 5th Century BC.  Iran’s tourism and industry are likely to grow fast once the sanctions are removed.  Courtesy of http:// http://en.wikipedia.org

: Cube of Zoroaster. Iran’s rich culture spans over thousands of years.
This tower-like construction was in the 5th Century BC. Iran’s tourism and industry are likely to grow fast once the sanctions are removed. Courtesy of http:// http://en.wikipedia.org

Tourism and Hospitality: Before the Iranian Revolution, Tehran was touted as one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the region.  Years of isolation and religious extremism have crippled Iran’s tourism and hospitality sectors.  As Iran seeks to re-open itself to the world, it will have to modernize these sectors, and FDI is the perfect means of accomplishing this goal.  There is much work to be done, however, for these sectors to be viable contributors to the Iranian economy.  Currently, tourism in Iran accounts only for 2% of the entire GDP; in most countries, it is typically around 5%.

It will be interesting to see how the government will approach FDI in strategic sectors such as banking, minerals, natural gas and oil, as well as non-strategic sectors.  How will it allow such investments to be structured?  What ownership percentage will be permitted?  What about repatriation of capital / profits or termination of investments?  How will corruption manifest itself? Equally important, how will it treat different religious views and cultural morés?

If sanctions are lifted, Iran will be an emerging economy.  It will not have the bargaining power of economies such as China that can exact concessions from investors.  The manner in which the government treats international investors will largely determine the success of a post-sanctions Iran.  Given the political and religious turmoil plaguing the larger region and the very real threat of terrorism, corporations will be cautious of investing financial and human resources for a deal that is overly burdensome with uncertain financial returns.

If you are interested in learning more about future business opportunities in Iran and how to increase your chances of harnessing them, contact TransLegal or call 703-566-9427.

Perspective

A true commentary on divisiveness. I would paraphrase Stuart’s message as follows: we are all people; our basic needs are the same; we should all stop the nonsense. Comments?

Storyshucker

Today I logged into Facebook. Or is it Fightback?

Gosh. I was only there to see cat pics.

The routine arguments were still in play: I don’t eat meat so why do you, I send my kid to school so why does yours learn at home, I can have a gun and you can’t make me get rid of it, and everything bad is Obama’s fault, no it isn’t, yes it is, no it isn’t, yes it is.

In that scenario, confrontations between “friends” seem to have escalated this week due to current events. Motivated by the latest issues, good people who usually post pizza recipes or the price of a new muffler were battling other good people over opposing views on flags and court rulings in addition to the usual topics. Some attacked the issue and others attacked the person. No one safe. Every view declared wrong. Perspective.

Seriously…

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DACA and DAPA Immigration Programs

United States Immigration Series

Post No. 9

Francisco A. Laguna & Annapurna Nandyal

In recent months, President Obama’s DACA and DAPA programs have been making headlines and catching the interest of the nation.  As the 2016 presidential elections approach, DACA and DAPA will be important immigration issues the candidates must address.  This two-part series explains the programs, their importance and the controversy surrounding them.

In 2010, the Obama administration introduced the DREAM Act, a multi-phase process to save certain undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide path to citizenship. The act failed to become law because it lacked support in the US Senate.

By Gshikula1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Consequently, in 2012, President Obama unilaterally implemented a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which included provisions similar to those of the DREAM Act.  Under DACA, “deferred action” means a stay on deportation for those illegal immigrants who met the program’s eligibility guidelines.  To qualify for DACA relief, an individual must:

  • have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
  • have come to the United States before reaching his/her 16th birthday;
  • have continuously resided in the United States at least since June 15, 2007 (but before June 15, 2012) until present;
  • have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 as well as at the time of applying for deferred action with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS);
  • have entered the US without inspection before June 15, 2012, or the illegal alien’s lawful immigration status (for example, if s/he entered with a tourist or other non-immigrant visa) shall have expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • currently be in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

US-Mexico Border Pedestrian Crossing, Tijuana I, Toksave [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

US-Mexico Border Pedestrian Crossing, Tijuana
I, Toksave [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Under DACA, apart from the stay on deportation, illegal immigrants are granted two-year renewable work permits and are given a social security number.  The program also allows the person to apply for a driver’s license as well as a document to travel abroad.  Equally important, successful candidates are eligible for the federal earned income tax credit and in some states, DACA allows them to pay in-state tuition rates for public colleges and universities. Illegal immigrants who are in the custody of the US immigration authorities can use DACA as a defense to stay deportation.

As stated above, DACA stays the deportation of qualified undocumented aliens.  This executive action program has proved to be a success: for the period ending June 2014, an estimated 580,000 individuals benefitted from DACA.  Unfortunately, however, DACA is only a temporary relief program that provides no lasting benefits. If the DREAM Act had become law, it would have provided a path to citizenship for millions of similarly situated illegal immigrants. DACA does not confer lawful status on the immigrant, provide a path to citizenship or alter the individual’s immigration status.

The DACA program provides protection for undocumented young people.  Its counterpart, DAPA, was introduced to protect certain undocumented parents of US citizens.  In November 2014, the Obama administration initiated the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), sometimes referred to as Deferred Action for Parent Accountability.

To be eligible for deferred action under DAPA, an individual must:

  • be the parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • have continuously lived in the US since January 1, 2010;
  • have been present in the US on November 20, 2014, and it is also likely that the applicant will need to have been continuously present in the US from November 20, 2014 until s/he applies for DAPA relief;
  • have been an unlawful immigrant on November 20, 2014: the applicant must have entered the US illegally, or, if the applicant entered lawfully, his/hers lawful immigration status must have expired before November 20, 2014;
  • not have lawful immigration status at the time of applying for DAPA relief; and
  • not have been convicted of certain criminal offenses, including any felonies and some misdemeanors.

Georgia Army National Guard eyes in the sky over Texas' Rio Grande Valley sector By Maj. Will Cox (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1169507) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Georgia Army National Guard eyes in the sky over Texas’ Rio Grande Valley sector
By Maj. Will Cox (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1169507) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The DAPA program does not provide amnesty or a path to citizenship, but it affords temporary relief to undocumented parents.  The processing of DAPA applications was to have begun in late February 2015, but a Texas federal court has temporarily halt the implementation of the program.  Our next blog in the immigration series will have more details on the legal controversies of the DACA and DAPA programs.

TransLegal is available to help corporations and individuals navigate the intricacies of the US immigration system.  Call us with your questions.

A Load of Fun

Happy New Year! I thought I’d start 2015 by re-blogging a story by Stuart Perkins (Storyshucker) that, to me, is about perspective! Enjoy!

Storyshucker

It was still cold the day I noticed that in spite of an unyielding winter determined to wear out its welcome, the local hardware store has taken a leap of faith by filling its storefront and walkway with a grand display of all things summer. I saw birdbaths, a gleaming row of new lawnmowers, and a stack of wading pools depicting smiling cartoon elephants spraying water on laughing cartoon hippos. Closest to the sidewalk was a row of huge, bright red wheelbarrows with glossy black wheels, price tags swinging in the still chilly breeze.

As I hurried past the hopeful display and on to the grocery store one building over, I passed a small boy waiting for his father who was busy admiring an array of shiny new grills. The father turned to catch up to his son who had stopped at the row of red wheelbarrows. With both of…

View original post 500 more words