A federal judge in Texas is expected to rule within days – to a few weeks – on a case that will determine the fate of DACA and 640,000 immigrants brought to the country as children illegally. While the Biden administration has vowed to secure a pathway for citizenship for these people, many anticipate that DACA will be ruled unlawful, resulting in recipients being stripped of their protection from deportation and work permits. Texas and eight other states are asking the court to end DACA, arguing the program is unconstitutional. The first hearing was in December, but the judge did not issue an immediate ruling.
On Tuesday, the First Circuit found that searches of cellphones and other electronic devices at the U.S. border do not require a warrant or probable cause and can be used to search for contraband. The court ruled in favor of ICE and CBP, finding that the government’s security interests are at their peak when dealing with people crossing the border and outweigh privacy concerns. The case was initially brought by the government and ACLU of Massachusetts in November 2019, where the trial court found that a simple search of devices required reasonable suspicion. The 1st Circ. overturned that holding, saying the trial judge’s finding was too narrow.
DOS announced that certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, students, and journalists may qualify for national interest exceptions (NIEs) under the presidential proclamation covering travelers from the Schengen Area, U.K., and Ireland.
A Texas court extended the temporary restraining order enjoining the government from executing a 100-day pause on removals. Judge Drew Tipton said that he found it necessary to extend his order, which was set to end yesterday, while the case continues to be litigated, citing potentially “irreparable” harm to Texas, which brought the lawsuit if the administration is allowed to put its moratorium into effect.
President Biden, who recently sent an immigration reform bill to Congress, has indicated he is open to dealing with immigration reform piece by piece. For him, the important thing is to make progress on the immigration front, as such. The first sign that such progress could be in the works is the introduction of a new immigration bill dealing with the so-called Dreamers, that is to say, young people who were brought to America as children and grew up in this country. A bipartisan bill authored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) entitled The Dream Act of 2021, was just introduced in Congress and would provide these young people the opportunity to apply for lawful permanent resident status and eventually citizenship, if they meet certain requirements.
Requirements to Qualify
Applicants of the proposed bill would have to meet the following requirements to qualify for conditional permanent resident status:
- Through documentation described in the bill, establish that they were brought to the U.S. at age 17 or younger and have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment;
- Pass a government background check, demonstrate “good moral character” with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submit biometric and biographic data, and undergo a biometric and medical exam;
- Demonstrate they have been admitted to a college or university, have earned a high school diploma, or are in the process of earning a high school diploma or an equivalent; and
- Pay an application fee.
The bill would automatically grant conditional permanent resident status to DACA recipients who still meet the requirements needed to obtain DACA.
Conditional permanent resident status can be changed to lawful permanent resident (LPRs or green-card holder) status as soon as they meet the following conditions:
- Maintain continuous residence in the U.S.;
- Complete one of the following three requirements:
- Graduate from a college or university, or complete at least two years of a bachelor’s or higher degree program in the U.S. (education track);
- Complete at least two years of honorable military service (military track); or
- Have worked for a period totaling at least three years (worker track);
- Demonstrate an ability to read, write and speak English and an understanding of American history, principles and form of government;
- Pass a government background check, continue to demonstrate “good moral character” without felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submit biometric and biographic data, and undergo a biometric and medical exam; and
- Pay an application fee.
Recipients can lose conditional permanent resident status if they commit a serious crime or fail to meet the other requirements set in the bill. These are the very same requirements that the Senators said were in the bills they had proposed in the last few years.
Chances of Passage
There still are those legislators who object to providing any relief to anyone who has ever entered the country illegally, and based on that position alone regardless of the equities involved, will not support this initiative. But nonetheless, the chances of passage of this measure are reasonably good since Dreamers as a whole have won broad-based support in both parties in Congress, as well as general acceptance in the population as a whole. The challenge will be to steer the legislation through the legislative traffic jam that is likely to form as Congress takes up a wide range of other pressing issues before it, such as the pandemic, the economy, cybersecurity breaches, and international hot spots boiling over.