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.
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.
On November 14, 2020, Judge Nicholas George Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued an opinion regarding the July 28, 2020 memorandum signed by Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf. On December 4, 2020, Judge Garaufis required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take certain actions to implement his November 14 opinion. As a result, effective December 7, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is:
- Accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
- Accepting DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
- Accepting applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
- Extending one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years; and
- Extending one-year employment authorization documents under DACA to two years.
USCIS will take appropriate steps to provide evidence of the one-year extensions of deferred action and employment authorization documents under DACA to individuals who were issued documentation on or after July 28, 2020, with a one-year validity period under the Wolf Memorandum.
DHS will comply with Judge Garaufis’ order while it remains in effect, but DHS may seek relief from the order.
 Reconsideration of the June 15, 2012 Memorandum Entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children” (Wolf Memorandum).
 Batalla Vidal, et al. v. Wolf, et al., 16-CV-4756 (NGG) (VMS), 2020 WL 6695076 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 14, 2020); State of New York, et al. v. Trump, et al., 17-CV-5228 (NGG) (VMS), 2020 WL 6695076 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 14, 2020).
Per order of the Chief United States District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio: “There shall be no naturalization proceedings in the southern district of Ohio for a period of 45 days of this order, or until further notice of this Court. The Court will vacate or amend this General Order no later than May 28, 2020.
For more information on Naturalization, please download our free ebook here.
President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of alien parents and children in an operation across major U.S. cities.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”
Those targeted are the ones who failed to appear at their hearings in immigration court and were issued orders of removal. While that may be the targeted group, anyone who is not in lawful status, or has a pending immigration court hearing is subject to an immigration arrest.
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