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We are at a pivotal point for American immigration policy. In the months since Donald Trump’s inauguration, most aspects of U.S. immigration policy have come into question. In many instances, the Trump administration found these questions called for changes. Yes, there was always talk of the “wall” and tighter immigration restrictions on the Mexican border. Then, there were changes to the Obama Era’s policy on Cuba and retraction of the steps taken under the former administration to open relations with the island nation.
Among the big immigration news there have been several less discussed modifications to the American approach to immigrants, in particular undocumented individuals. Border security is tighter, detainment and deportation are higher, and the mindset of immigration law enforcement is narrower. These changes to approach and mindset are hardly surprising as Trump campaigned on a promise to remove all 11 million of the U.S.’s undocumented immigrants.
Accompanying the changes to broad immigration policies and specific laws comes uncertainty. For individuals completing immigration applications or living in the United States under certain immigration schemes, this uncertainty is more than inconvenient, it is unsettling.
In September, President Trump’s end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a source of debate across the country. DACA was a federal program, started in 2012 by the Obama Administration, that allowed children illegally brought to the United States at a young age to live, work, and study in the United States without the fear of deportation.
In addition to an age requirement, DACA had specific other application criteria. The young people who applied for DACA and received the privilege of staying in the United States for work or school are called Dreamers.
After President Trump’s announcement, immigration attorneys in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and across the country started to prepare clients and Dreamers for the uncertain ramifications and consequences of losing their immigration status. The Dreamers are securing jobs in America’s largest corporations, attending university, and going to high school, but their protected status in the United States could not change at any moment.
After President Trump’s announcement on DACA, several lawmakers began pushing for a deal that would prevent hundreds of thousands of Dreamers from being deported. Congressmen and women from both sides of the aisle expressed a desire to find a legislative solution to continue DACA, or some form of protection for the young immigrants who qualify as Dreamers. However, in the past few days, it has become apparent that the executive branch has its own ideas about what measures should be included in a deal to keep Dreamers in the United States.
President Trump has revealed a list of immigration initiatives that could be compromised by the Democrats to keep Dreamers protected and in the United States. Among the demands was a crackdown on sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are those municipalities that vow to provide robust immigration protection to the individuals living in their boundaries. Also, Trump’s list included agreement to build the controversial border wall and other border security measures that would try to prevent unaccompanied children from crossing into the United States.
Overall, Trump’s list is a robust set of policy changes that would affect a huge number of immigrants in the United States. It is also a list that is unlikely to be considered by the Democrats in Congress, which have staunchly refused any concession to a border wall. Some Trump critics have stated that the proposed measures are a purposeful move to use the Dreamers as bargaining chips in the Trump administration’s bigger immigration plan. Others have simply said the proposed compromises are unrealistic.
Thus, a month after Trump’s announcement to end DACA, the uncertainty continues.
The ever-changing and ongoing conversation around DACA and the Dreamers not only represents uncertainty for these immigrants, but also reflects a broader uncertainty felt by all immigrants and long-term visitors to the United States. Immigration to American, on nearly all levels, is in flux. Gigantic questions regarding how America protects its borders, accepts visa applications, and deals with undocumented immigrants are debated every day. In New York, the upcoming months could determine a great deal about who can come here, who can live here, and the process for doing both.
If you have questions about naturalization, the process for immigration, or your immigration status, contact an immigration lawyer right here in New York. At the Law Firm of Kyce Siddiqi, we are ready to take your call. Now, more than ever, it is imperative to have conversations regarding the status of immigration laws and changing policies.
For a free, initial consultation call our Long Island office toll free at 888.915.7333 or our local number at 646.930.4488.