By RAKESH RAMPERTAB
The arrival of a new government headed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris offers some hope for “undocumented” persons in the United States (US).
Among some of the early promises made by the new president is a proposal for extensive immigration reform, including a speedy path for undocumented persons to get US citizenship. While this is easier said than done, this new government is likely to bring a welcome break from four years of stringent and racist attitude regarding immigration policy under former President Donald Trump.
President Biden has already signed executive orders setting aside a number of harsh immigration directives associated with the Trump Administration, but resistance to President Biden’s efforts has also begun. One order which operates as a ban on deportations for the next 100 days has been put on hold by a federal judge who issued a temporary restraining order preventing its enforcement.
Of course, it would take much more than a few court orders to stop an attempt at immigration reform by this new administration, especially since the Obama Administration promised sweeping immigration reform which never materialized. Indeed, one of President Biden’s directives has, for example, reinstated benefits for undocumented persons who came to the US as children, and benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA Executive Order, signed in 2012 by former President Barack Obama.
DACA allows for a person who came to the US before turning 16 to remain here and therefore avoid being deported—at least temporarily. DACA also recognizes such a person being in school, or having graduated from high school (or acquired their GED), and allows for one to get a temporary work permit to be gainfully employed.
These are very important benefits especially when parents may also be undocumented and cannot sponsor their children; and of course, in a time when racist or specifically anti-black or anti-brown sentiments have become increasingly prevalent.
Said another way, it is time to apply for DACA immigration benefits once again. Some may recall that despite what the courts have said on the issue of DACA, the Trump Administration had instructed immigration officials to suspend processing both new and renewal DACA applications, essentially putting a stranglehold on the DACA program.
Now that President Biden has instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security and the US Attorney General to preserve and fortify DACA benefits, undocumented persons who are eligible for DACA benefits, as well as those who have already benefitted, should immediately apply for DACA benefits. Those who have already submitted DACA renewal applications but have been ignored by immigration officials because of former President Trump, should consult an attorney to determine whether they need to file a new application altogether.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. For immigration-related questions, please feel free to contact my law office at (917) 943-1336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the THE WEST INDIAN.