E-ROCK: Ghana’s Rising Star

E-Rock -2Hailing from Accra, Ghana, Enoch Ofori Boamah, artistically known as ‘E-Rock’ is an emerging contemporary-gospel artiste. Gaining a strong underground following with his single “Church Dey Sweet,” E-Rock was nominated for Christian Community Music Awards. In 2014, he won a Future Africa Leaders Award which is an initiative aimed at exploring and expanding the leadership potential in Africa and for Africa.

With a debut solo album under his belt E-Rock seeks to push the boundaries and break stereotypes within the Ghanaian gospel music industry and beyond. He has already received support from credible Ghanaian media like Sunny FM, Sweet Melodies FM, Live FM, YFM, GH One TV, amongst others.

Alongside his artistic work, E-Rock is an active choir leader who doubles as a youth leader at Christ Embassy Church in Accra, Ghana. He pursued Mass Communication at Ghana Institute of Journalism and looks forward to studying law also. The young and dynamic singer has purposed in his heart to explore his passion for music by expressing forth his love for God.

E-Rock desires to push boundaries and break the monotony and stereotypes within gospel music. The lyricist has a global mindset as he believes he has a message that must be heard, thus a message of faith, hope, love and positivity in the word of God. The budding star has captivating vocal ability which ignites joy and admiration in the hearts of many.

“Music was always a childhood passion. I loved the guitar, the microphone, the keyboard, music intrigued me. I will say I was born with musical ears and a voice that could sing so I’ve been writing music since I was 8 years old. The Holy Spirit inspires my music and everyday life but you will find one word in almost all my songs – Love. I love Jesus with all my heart. He is amazing. I speak of his love as I have experienced it.”

“I met Jesus at 17 and he gave me a fresh musical focus. Glorifying him with my talent.  That’s how I got into music. I have one album so far. An album of 11 anointed songs titled “The Necessity Project”. And I am currently working on my next album “Love Songs Project”

E-Rock is passionate about impacting his world. He has organized several success motivation and Leadership training programs with over 6,000 youths in attendance.
E-Rock 4E-Rock - 3

Follow him on Twitter: @Erock_official

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Celebrating Fashion Through Storytelling

Alfajo_Painting PresentationChris_Akinyemi_1

On December 20, 2014 54 Kingdoms, an apparel and accessory company, hosted their 3rd annual Storytellers in Fashion in grand style at Farafina café and lounge. Hosted by Fatima Sesay of Sahara TV, the event began on a spirited note with powerful poetry performance by Frank E. Brady. Frank’s high vocal projection, animation and poetic consciousness captured the audience attention and set the tone for songwriter and pop-artist, Chris Akinyemi who serenaded the crowd with both pop and soulful classics. The event featured the live painting of Alfajo Jallow.  A multi-colored painting with the African continent split into different pieces, Alfajo described the painting as depicting, “Africa in its current state is not unified, and until we start discussing our unity, we will not achieve this dream”. The painting auctioned for $400, of which 30% was donated to 54 Kingdoms to support its Community Outreach Initiatives.

The lively Ghanaian duo, Nana Poku (CEO) and Kwaku Awuah (President) started off their set in tradition by pouring libation to pay homage to the higher spirit and ancestors followed by a ‘jamming session’.  During their presentation, 54 Kingdoms  presented the creative process and inspiration behind their Score For Unity (SFU) collection; a merge of history, culture and creativity, this part was an experience.

The night concluded with a performance by Congolese-born songwriter and songstress Rafiya.

Storytellers in Fashion 2014 was sponsored by Vita Coco, Applause Africa, African Youth Excellence (AYE), The Council of Young African Leaders (CYAL), Broken Limits, Primo Supremo, Farafina Café and Lounge, Lux Shea Organics, Amariya’s Kitchen and 413 Management.


About Storytellers in Fashion 

Launched in 2012, Storytellers in Fashion (STF) brings to light the creative experience and inspiration behind various 54 Kingdoms designs. Accompanied by a live band providing background music, STF involves an oral and visual presentation to attendees in addition to performances from other emerging artists sharing their stories through diverse creative outlets.

Ticket sales from every Storytellers in Fashion event goes to support 54 Kingdoms’ Community Outreach Initiatives (COI), which has benefited non-profit partners such as African Youth Excellence (AYE) and African Youth Network (AYONET).

Rafiya_4 54K_Libation  Frank_Intro 54K_Jam Session Chris_Akinyemi_1

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Going Back To Your Roots: What Will You Find?

It is all the rage now: Finding your roots!  This is even more so with Africans in the Diaspora.

In his article for the Huffington post, Greg Archer begun with three questions:
1. Who are we-really?
2. Where do we come from?
3. What happened before us?

and now we add one more question to this: Does it matter?

We have come so far in history that our identities are more fluid that two decades ago.  One has to wonder if unraveling the myths of our past really matters. Does it make us better? Does it improve on our contribution to the world?

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Have We Won the Battle Against Ebola?

In my morning routine, I browsed the news in efforts to update myself on what is going on in Africa. One of the most important updates I always look for is the current state of the Ebola Crisis.  Thats where I saw that we have hit a 20K mark in Ebola cases. Frustratingly so, it seems that the zeal we saw in the African Diaspora’s response to the crisis has died with the lack of media interest in what is going on with this crisis.  It was tempting to just revert to my previous article on this issue. 

I am unapologetically a critique, but an eternal optimist at heart- a rather interesting combination.  Therefore I am taking step towards my optimistic side with hopes that I can offer insights as to what the African Diaspora should be doing right now in regards to the Ebola Crisis.

It has been clear that while #AfricaAgainstEbola is a great initiative we must engage multilateral action- with Africans taking lead. This is a point that we aught to pose and reflect on. How does Africa take lead? To be fair, Africans on the ground are taking lead, but the African Diaspora is still lagging behind.

The Ebola Crisis in West Africa

The Ebola Crisis in West Africa








Originally posted in ElleAfrique, here are 4 things that the African Diaspora should be doing to combat the Ebola crisis.


Partnership with US agencies engaged in the response and the African Union is critical. 

USA: The US has made a significant investment- I believe it is up to $175 million to stop Ebola along with committing logistical support to build health capacity. We should consider leading initiatives that would partner with U.S. agencies engaged in the response, including the State Department and the USAID, CDC, FDA etc.  In their recent report, USAID is looking for Diaspora groups that they can work with.  While we are an extension of Africa, we have a responsibility to make sure that these agencies work in Africa is representative of the needs in the continent.  The critical point in this partnership is that Africans on the ground, and in the Diaspora be at the forefront of the actions being taken.  

Furthermore, take advantage of the ability to lobby your senators and congressmen and ask them to pass relevant legislation whether it in increasing funding, providing immigration relief for citizens from the countries affected, or making sure that the commitments made are honored. Examples of groups leading legislative efforts are Believe in Africa and US-Africa Ebola Working Group

AFRICA: Importantly, a partnership with the African Union is critical as well. the African Union has committed technical resources to affected countries  and an initiative to support the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA). In the first week of December 2014,  an Private-Public partnership was launched with several businesses/corporations joining the fight against Ebola. Whether you believe that the African union is effective or not, they still play a role in linking the diaspora to efforts taking place in Africa. ASEOWA is going to be a great way for the Diaspora to join in the efforts, with Africans at the forefront of the fight. 

2 Be Organized

African Diaspora communities and professional organizations should organize better and mobilize more effectively to supplement ongoing efforts.  If you believe everything the media says, you would have thought that  Africans were unresponsive to the ebola crisis.  However, if we all did our research, we would have found that the greatest need was not that Africa needed to respond, but that Africans needed to be organized.  Because Africans were responding- just not in the Diaspora.

If the diaspora is to be effective, we need to take the time to come up with proper strategies that will galvanize our communities into action. While the crisis is time bound, planning events for the sake of planning events, starting campaigns for the sake of having Africans respond will yield little results. Meanwhile, we will keep complaining about the efforts of the others, while watching ourselves scatter in different directions, aiming for the same goal. We need to critique our efforts- and challenge ourselves to do better. We should not accept poor organization, and pass it off as African, or keep patting each other’s back  because they are “atleast doing something”.  Lets keep ourselves accountable.  Ebola is no longer a West African crisis- it is an African crisis.

We are stronger in numbers. We are stronger united. However, all our efforts thus far have been anything but united. Some of the places to start might be joining  the African Diaspora Response taskforce whose mission is to gather the efforts of the Diaspora on one platform- making it easier for people to identify with different initiatives and see how they can lend their skills, time, or money to initiatives taking place in areas affected by Ebola.

3 Stay Ahead of the Curve

Much of what is being discussed right now deals with stopping Ebola. The root causes of the epidemic still abide in systems that have largely failed to build proper infrastructure that would have normally equipped health workers and care center with emergency response training and adequate resources. 

 Therefore, while looking at the ways and means of mitigating effects of the virus,  We need to start thinking about emerging situations and come together to project future scenarios- then come up with effective ways to handle these scenarios and provide training.

So far, we have seen that the crisis has bred other problems, or possibly magnified other problems in the communities that are affected.  We are possibly witnessing a shift in demographics if the death rates increase. Hospitals are overrun while local health workers remain under resourced. This is not to mention that there is an increased neglect of other health needs.

So how do we rebuild the cities and the villages after Ebola? We need to ask ourselves: Long After Ebola is gone, and our news are back to the “Africa Needs A Savior” Archetypes,  what will the African Diaspora do to assure that we do not have a repeat of this Crisis?  What happens after the cameras stop rolling?

4 Lead New Efforts in PPP ( Public-private Partnerships)

This partnership should be with the intent of building better health systems in the continent. African Diaspora communities can organize for bilateral agencies, NGOs, private sector, Academia, and civil society in partnership with governments to build infrastructures that can absolve crises such as this in the future. It is undeniable that we need fresh and innovating thinking anchored on easy access to amenities such as affordable health care, sanitation, water and continued medical research. This is still an area that needs more research and more thought, but if we can organize ourselves, and start working on this right now- we will be able to stay ahead of the curve.

Africans in the Diaspora have a critical role in coordinating a comprehensive response to the Ebola outbreak and mitigating health crisis in the future. More importantly, the Diaspora is well situated to foster an international public-private partnership that would enable the building of infrastructures such as health care systems in Africa, which would enable our the governments to better and efficiently handle such crises were they to rise again.

However, this means that the Diaspora needs to move beyond small-scale efforts and organize themselves better.  We need to think beyond- “Doing something”- to- ” Acting Effectively and Strategically”. This means a greater partnership with already existing structures and platforms dedicated to eradicating the disease and building sustainable health systems throughout Africa.

Africans on the ground are resilient in their work to fight their disease. They are doing everything in their power and mobilizing communities, gathering resources to combat this crisis. The Diaspora, with all their resources should do better.

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Why the African Diaspora is Failing Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone

(This is being reposted from its original publication on ElleAfrique.com

 Do You Know its Christmas?”

When Bob Geldof announced that he was coming out with the Band Aid 30 song to raise funds for Ebola, it was like seating in a theater and watching history repeat itself. It was not surprising that #bandaid30 brought in a shrew of critics and the African Diaspora found a new enemy. cd-artworkFor weeks, I have watched, listened, and participated in some very interesting discussions on Ebola. Mostly, it has been on the Diaspora’s response to the disease. So one day, while minding my business and doing the usual daily social media check-in, I got a message that truly disturbed me because it called me to question whether I should engage myself into all the social media battles over who is right and wrong with fundraising for Ebola. So here is a two-part article on the African Diaspora’s response to Ebola.

Note: in reference to the African Diaspora, I  am referring to the Diaspora that is not from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia (this will be explained clearly in article 2).

As I watched via social media and blogosphere I seemed to have more questions than answers. For what I saw was frustrating, and frightening. In our efforts of trying to do better that Geldof, and multi-lateral organizations, we have resulted to poor tactics of exalting individualism rather than collectivism in this response to a virus that has no eye for color, nationality, nor socio-economic status. I started to wonder if the likes of Bob Geldof were really the enemy of our progress. While we are trying to keep the West accountable (which is important), I wonder who is keeping us accountable.

Band Aid 30 is an awful song. You don’t have to look hard to find its condescending tone albeit much better than its previous versions. Yes, it is a Band-Aid solution for what is a gaping wound, but let’s be serious for a minute; did we really expect Bob Geldof to come to African Artist and say “here, let’s do this together?” This is Bob Geldof we are speaking about. He doesn’t care. He recorded the song, made his own donation, and then let iTunes do the rest, with the help of course from all of us. Controversy sells and I bet Geldof in his calculations expected it and spun it to his benefit. You can’t blame famous people for manipulating the culture of celebrity adoration that we’ve created. This is the same reason that there was a FIFA #11againstebola campaign. Should we fault them for this?

In regards to songs like #BandAid30, or other global band-aid campaigns, have we thought about saying, yes, its bloody awful but its a start. Lets see if we can improve on these efforts, and do better. For example, trying to bring our African celebrities together to do a campaign?  Or maybe learning the marketing and branding nuances in such campaigns that are raising money for Ebola?

In many ways, the response of the African Diaspora to the release of the #bandaid30 was reflective of just how much work is in store for us. We follow. We do not lead. And for us African critics and revolutionaries, we tell them (the “West”) – “we don’t need you”, and then turn around and say “ you need to do better, fix the structural issues.” Even I get confused, because it seems we don’t really know what we want from the West. On one hand, we invite them in, while the other hand tells them to shoo away. Oh the joys of mixed signals!

How the Diaspora responded…481844255-staff-of-the-doctors-without-borders-medical-aid.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge When we finally caught on to what was going on in West Africa, the communities in the US, and to my experience in NYC acted by hosting forums, fundraisers. These efforts are to be applauded. These efforts continue today. But lets face it, we were late! Whether it was in our action to send money, resources, hold forums, raise awareness we waited until Ebola made headlines for us to wake up to the fact that we had responsibility to act. We waited at least three months before we truly rallied in Diaspora to act upon the crisis. The attitude of most was that this was going to pass. Until July when the two missionaries came to the US to be treated, the diaspora was still acting in pockets. Special exception is to be made for the diasporans from the countries affected. They were, first responders whether it was by sending resources in medical supplies, money or holding forums to properly access the situation. When the rest of the diaspora caught on, it was in the most unorganized manner that it was hard to follow any of the efforts or know how to contribute in funds. At times, you would find three events in the same zip code, at the same time. We were, and are still scattered.

However, we applaud the  Diaspora standing up…

We did not allow media to box us in. One of the best examples was the episode of the two Senegalese students who were bullied over Ebola in New York City. Not only did the community band together to speak out against such behavior, the leaders made sure that the media told the story correctly. Another example has been the success story in Nigeria. While the metanarrative would have been that WHO, and UNICEF were key players in making the country Ebola-free, Nigerians used mediums such as social media and blogs to correct this misconception by owning their success. It is thanks to new media that we have also seen Africans play a role in telling the stories, with first hand accounts, and call to action.

However, let us not pat ourselves on the back…at least not just yet.during-the-ebola-scare-be-sure-to-avoid-direct-contact-with-tv-and-social-media-fd1d2

We let our voices be heard, but seem to be failing in adequately providing the necessary support. We are caught in a perpetual circle of blaming the Western entities for what they are doing, while refusing to come together and collaborate on providing ample support and resources on the ground.

To this, I will borrow the words of Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainana as he put it best

If diaspora and Afropolitan Africans were to be taken seriously, I wonder what it does to your and our place in the world, and the past month many of you have spent your best time social-mediaring how ignorant Americans are about Ebola. It is almost as if being concerned about Ebola, raising money for Ebola, volunteering your time for Ebola in Africa, promoting efforts to eradicate it are less important than feeling good because you are smarter than a white American who will never read your innovative map. There are things to do for our continent than seek fairness from those whose very power and existence was about debasing you. Post much more about building ourselves – otherwise some may think you have no confidence in our possibilities. Some of this is starting to feel like a dance of approval: Like me! Like us!

We are not there yet…..

I applaud our efforts. However, we sVidUpdateeriously need to consider the quality of our output. We in the diaspora have access to top academicians, marketing/branding professionals, videographers, campaign experts, fundraising experts, grant writers, and a very skilled labor force. Yet, the majority of the campaigns and events we are producing do not reflect this at all. In fact, the look on my social media walls is sad because it seems with Ebola no longer being a problem in the USA, the diaspora has already forgotten the original zeal of Africa responding to this crisis. Yet in Sierra Leone, the infected numbers are rising. So what happened?

Ebola is not just an African issue, it is a humanity issue. It is obvious that the countries that are affected cannot work on this alone. At this point, with the slow mobilization of the communities, and campaigns, maybe Bob Geldof needs to come back to remind the African Diaspora to respond to this crisis.

If we can put ego aside, recognize the efforts of each other, and form a true Africa-African Diaspora partnership we might never have to call on Bob Geldof, or Bono to come to our rescue. But there is a catch, we have to do better than we are doing right now. We have to use our skills collectively and effectively in order to meet the challenges and crisis that arise. We need to take charge of the tools available to us, and make sure our strategies are good enough to make an impact. But we are not there yet. Until then, lets focus on the big picture.  Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of Liberia in her Letter to the World pointed out well:

From governments to international organizations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defense.

– See more at: http://elleafrique.com/ebola-we-are-failing-our-fellow-africans#sthash.SnWuwlxX.dpuf

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Why Sophia Bekele Should be Forbes “Most Inspirational Young African Leader”

It’s not everyday you meet a woman who just makes you want to become a better you. Even if you knew you were a Bekelehustler, there are people in your life that will just push you, by essentially being rock stars, to become a better and excellent version of yourself.

One of these people is Sophia Bekele. The CEO of the one and only DotConnectAfrica spoke at the 2014 CUNY Young African Leadership Symposium on October 11.  The minute you meet her, you find that is rather hard to not be impressed with a woman who is so comfortable in her own skin that she freely extends this magnificence to others. Unlike many of our “social media made”   Young African Leaders,  Ms. Bekele seems to make sure that she makes a genuine connection with everyone she meets.  So don’t be surprised if she asks you questions such as “where do you see yourself in 5 years?- when you do have the honor of meeting her.  If you are lucky, you will get to hear just how much she is working to change the way Africa connects to the rest of the world.

What truly got earned her this nomination was her Keynote Address at the Symposium.  It was her clear vision, her insistence on renewed leadership in Africa and pushing the envelope for change. Here is a recap thanks to the folks at DotConnectAfrica:

Speaking at the Symposium, Bekele conversed with the students behind what she says are of priority to Africa. Her rallying call “The operative word for what would move Africa is CHANGE.  So we all need to PUSH the envelop – (Persist, Until Something Happens)”

Bekele said that “Our generation has the power to promote freedom of ideas, innovate and be accountable, ethical and transparent, to forge leadership that is keen on every small detail. It is really in building lasting foundations that we can prepare for a better future. It is your chance to chart a new path, without reinventing the wheel so that future generations can appreciate your input”.

She recalled “Our great Pan-African Leaders like Mandela, Mwalimu Nyerere, Haile Selassie, Jomo Kenyatta saw a future in creating opportunities though self governance, economic development through education to drive a change.   As we sit now and analyze their visions we have a great chance to stand on the shoulders of these giants and in retrospect stop and look at their achievements and the challenges that they faced in their quest to make Africa and the World a development platform”.  

She reminded that we can also learn from our modern-day Giants that were close to us, our own fathers, mothers, uncles and village Chieftains. “My Giant is my own Father” she said and

noted his staying power under three varying government regimes with successful business undertakings.  She also named such leading African business figures as Tony Elumelu, calling him “her modern-day Giant“.  His advocacy for private sector leadership in economic development and PanAfican vision under his coined term AfriCapitalism mirrors mine, she said. 

Bekele also sited her first “Nation building systems integration project” in Africa that her company successfully commissioned, saying it was “disruptive” business model.  Since, we had many ventures my various star-ups have accomplished, and pioneered in Africa and the US, in the field of ICT, internet, social media and Corporate Governance, including our very successful and famous Pan-African effort on .africa domain name.

At a country level, she cited Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia as one to use successful and disruptive models models to advance their economies.  

Sophia Bekele

She urged the students to develop a “staying power” saying, I was educated in America like yourself, so I can’t help but also learn from some of the Giants right here in the US, and quoted US President Theodore Roosevelt on “staying in the Arena”.   

 Given what we were enduring at our organization at DCA, I was inspired to write an entire commentary from his single quote for our Company’s 2014 New Year’s Newsletter and titled it “The ARENA Issue”, she said.  

We need to learn to stay in the course like our celebrated Giants did, but what would help us move into our journey to the future is to continuously PUSH the envelop – (Persist, Until Something Happens)

Adding that Africa must renew its leadership, “We must invest in training leaders from a very young age, the best leaders of our time have been given a chance to drive change in their own levels such as the one you are doing now”

She used the Biblical citation “Parable of the Talent” to give examples on hard work, success, and wealth creation. She quoted diverse Giants: Aristotle on, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others”. Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya on renewed leadership, “Our children may learn about the heroes of the past. Our task is to make ourselves the architects of the future.”, and Bob Marley, singer and freedom fighter on good governance, “You can fool some people sometimes but you ant fool all people all the time”.    

Bekele encouraged the students saying  “What does not kill you makes you stronger, and It does not mean you are lonely when you are alone.

Not forgetting women in the equation, she said the following – Women represent over 50% of the African continent and they have many gifts and talent and not utilizing them is also missing over 50% of the population’s talent. Without examining the contributions made by African women throughout the ages, the full story of the African experience and struggle cannot be told.  So for those women in this room, have hope and use your talents and when the going gets tough  and or the men want to treat you like you should only be seen and not heard,  pin your ears to these two songs – a must have in your play list – “Can’t hold US down” – by Christina Aguilera and “Girls Run the World ” – by Beyonce:  These two ladies have your back. 

In her concluding remarks Bekele stressed “Consistent with your mission and vision at The Council of Young African Leaders, which is to inspire the next generation of African leaders to cultivate awareness and action, and call to lead the continent of Africa to its greatest era yet”, I call upon you to do just that ” You are the next generation Leaders, Game Changers, and Change Agents – go and do something for Africa“.

“There were so many ways to have answered the questions you posed for today’s symposium, but I spoke to you on what is of priority for Africa – use your talents, do it the right way, practice good governance, no short cuts, stay the course, use the power of hindsight, and PUSH -Persist Until Something Happens.   Otherwise, your leadership will also suffer and you will be “Swinging from the Chandelier” and I let you search whose song is that.

She concluded by acknowledging the victims of Ebola, saying let us  keep them in our prayers. It is a huge tragedy.  Our Continent’s future is online. 

This is a simplified recap off course but we say YES to this:

“We must invest in training leaders from a very young age, the best leaders of our time have been given a chance to drive change in their own levels such as the one you are doing now”

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10 Executive Actions To Immigration Reform

by Charles Busari
US immigration

Executive orders are instructions to officers and Agencies of the Executive Branch and this particular set of ‘Orders’ pertain to the Agency in charge of Immigration and border patrol; Namely the Department of Homeland Security, DHS.
The points outlined by the president in his speech on November 20, 2014  translate to 10 specific set of instructions known as Executive Action for the DHS as follows:
1. Executive Action: Strengthen Border Security
To be implemented as follows:
Employing the “Southern Border and Approaches Campaign strategy” to alter the ways in which resources are funneled to the border.
The Southern Border and Approaches Campaign strategy was developed to stem the spike in illegal migration through the southern Texas border. A large number of these immigrants were unaccompanied children and adults with children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The response was to form 3 joint task forces of various law enforcement agencies focusing on Southern Seas, Southern and West Coast land and the third focusing on Investigations to support the other two task forces. With objectives to reduce the terrorism risks to the nation, Combat transnational Criminal organizations and discourage illegal border activity and behavior. (You can read more about it here).
2. Executive Action: Revise Removal Priorities
The DHS will revise its removal priorities and enact a new department wide enforcement and removal policy with priorities as follows;

  • Priority 1 – national security threats, convicted felons, gang members, and illegal entrants apprehended at the border
  • Priority 2 – those convicted of significant or multiple misdemeanors and those who are not apprehended at the border, but who entered or reentered this country unlawfully after January 1, 2014
  • Priority 3 – those who are non-criminals but who have failed to abide by a final order of removal issued on or after January 1, 2014.
  • Under this revised policy, those who entered illegally prior to January 1, 2014, who never disobeyed a prior order of removal, and were never convicted of a serious offense, will not be priorities for removal.
  • This policy also provides clear guidance on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
  • Greater transparency in the reporting of removal statistics

3. Executive Action: End Secure Communities and Replace it with New Priority Enforcement Program
Secure Communities  is a deportation program that relies on partnership between federal state and local law enforcement agencies.
Ordinarily the fingerprints of county and state arrestees are supplied to the FBI only, under Secure communities these fingerprints also go to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) – if the fingerprint of that person matches that of an immigrant (whether legal or illegal), ICE is notified and depending on the case can decide to place an “ICE Hold” on the person which allows law enforcement to detain them up to 48 hours beyond their release date.
This practice became unpopular and highly controversial for a number of reasons and a number of local and state governments have refused to cooperate with the program.
The Priority Enforcement Program, as its name implies will still rely on partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the sharing of fingerprint data but will adhere to a set of priorities as listed in the Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.
4. Executive Action: Personnel Reform For ICE Officers
New measures to bring ICE officers pay in line with other law enforcement personnel.

5. Executive Action: Expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created in 2012, is purely an administrative relief where the DHS may “defer” removal of an individual for a specified time period. Contrary to popular belief it is not an amnesty and it doesn’t even create a path to obtaining a Green card or citizenship. It is simply a way to be “Lawfully Present” in the United States for a set period of time. Under the revised version the criteria for qualification have been expanded as follows;

  • DACA provided that all immigrant children under the age of 16 who entered into the country as children and were not years 31 years old as of June 15 2012 were eligible for the relief. Under the new ‘Expanded’ version of the program the age cap is lifted, so a person no longer had to be under 31 years old as of June 15 2012. This means anyone who entered in as a child under 16 is now eligible to apply for the relief.
  • Extend DACA renewal and Work authorization to 3 years – Applicants were previously granted a 2 year deferment both for first time applicants with renewal applications receiving 2 year increments.
  • Adjust Date-of-Entry requirement to January 2010– Previously applicants had to have been in the United States prior to June 2007 to be eligible to the relief.

6. Executive Action: Extended Deferred Action to Parents of U.S Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents
Similar to DACA, deferred action relief is now available to the following individuals who;

  • have a son or daughter who is a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • have continually resided in the United States since before January 2010.
  • Are physically present in the United States on November 20 2014 and at the time they make their request for
  • Deferred action
  • Have no lawful status as of November 20
  • do not fall under the enforcement priorities listed in the priority section above

7. Executive Action: Expanded Provisional Waivers to Spouses and Children of Lawful Permanent Residents
Spouses and Children of US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, though are eligible to obtain immigrant Visas must leave the country to be interviewed at a US consulate overseas before they can get these visas. Trouble is that in some cases where individuals have overstayed their current immigrant visas they would be subject to a 3-10 year ban if they left the country. Also, while it is possible to apply for a waiver of this 3-10year ban they are still required depart the country with no guarantees of being successful in order to apply for the waiver.

  • A Provisional waiver of the 3-10 year ban was created In January 2013 – this made it possible for spouses and children of US citizens only to apply and get the waiver for the 3-10 ban before leaving the US for a consular interview. The new revision now makes it possible for spouses and children of Lawful Permanent Residents to be able to apply for the waiver before leaving the country. In both cases they would still be subjected to a successful consular interview before being allowed back into the country as a non-immigrant.
  • Also under the Waiver requirements applicants would have to be able to demonstrate “extreme hardship” in order to qualify but there is little guidance of what constitutes extreme Hardship. Under the ‘Expanded’ version guidelines will be made available as to what factors will be considered to demonstrate “Extreme Hardship”.

8. Executive Action: Revise Parole Rules
This order seeks to identify conditions in which the following would be paroled into the country;

  • Parole rules for Entrepreneurs,
  • Availability of Parole-In-Place and ‘Deferred Action’ for Spouses, parents and children of US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents who seek to enlist in the US Armed Forces.
  • When anyone is given “Advance Parole” to leave the country they will not be considered to have departed.

9. Executive Action: Promote The Naturalization Process
To promote access to the Naturalization Process the DHS will do the following:

  • Implement a Credit Card payment process – Currently, applicants can only pay with Checks and Money order.
  • Consider a fee study for a partial fee waiver program – The current fee waiver of the full $680 cost of Naturalization is available if the applicant’s income is no greater than 150% of the federal Poverty Level (see here for guidelines. Proposed 50% waiver if income is greater than 150% but no greater than 200%.

10. Executive Action: Support High Skilled Business and Workers

Administrative directives to improve the process in the following areas:

  • Reforming Optional Practical Training (OPT) for foreign student its graduates of Universities. – Foreign national students under the F-1 visa can extend their visas for an additional 12 months to gain temporary employment in their relevant field of study. STEM (Science, technology, Engineering and Math) students are eligible for an additional 17 months.
    • New directive is to expand degree programs eligible for OPT
    • Extend the use of OPT for foreign STEM students and graduates
    • Ensure that OPT employment is consistent with US labor market protections to safeguard the interests of US workers in related fields
  • Modernizing the employment based Immigrant Visa system – by improving the system of determining when immigrant visas are available to applicants during the fiscal year. Visa Bulletins will be revised and made simpler. USCIS to revise current regulations so that long-standing Visas are valid even in cases when there is a change of job or employer.
  • Promoting research and Development in the United States – by issuing guidelines and directives to simplify the following
    • ‘National Interest waiver’ that allows applicants with advanced degrees to seek Green Cards without employer sponsorship provided their admission is in the National interest.
    • Grant Parole status to inventors, researchers and founders of small enterprises (on a case by case basis).
  • Greater consistency to the L-1B Visa program – This is applicable to multinational companies who want to transfer managerial and or executives who have “specialized knowledge” of the company’s products or processes to the United States. – Provide clear and consolidated guidelines of “Specialized Knowledge”.
  • Increasing working Portability – Currently workers waiting to adjust their status to obtain a green card can do so without jeopardizing their ability to seek lawful Permanent Residency as long as the job is in the “same or similar” occupational classification as their old job.
    • New directive to provide guidelines to employees and their employers as to what constitutes “Same or Similar” job class.
    • Guidelines should make it clear that a worker can accept a promotion to a supervisory position or transition to a related field of their endeavor.

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