The Blury Path of Immigration Reform, a New Hope for Immigrant Youth

press_3Potential applicants and beneficiaries of immigration reform are hopeful for favorable changes in the system for 2013. Mainly, ensuring that a new legislation creates a path to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people who contribute every day to their communities. The current administration, however, has to understand the clear demands of organized groups, and boldly disregard the stubborn blockade immigration reform pushed by radical groups. It is important for individuals to join local and national organization and ensure that the push for reform does not stop while other political battles take place in Washington.

The election results and the voter turnout in favor of the president by the Latino community was a wakeup call for Washington. The president did not advance immigration reform during his first term, and during the 2012 campaign, he excused the failure to deliver changes with the lack of political willingness in the Hill. Also, Both the GOP and groups who had chosen to be silent on the immigration issue have understood the need for change. Currently, Elected Republicans, Evangelicals, the US Chamber of Commerce, and even figures like host Sean Hannity, have “evolved” on their views of immigration reform. The openness for dialogue in the search for immigration reform is certainly a reason for hope. These coalitions for change only show the need to mobilize and ensure that the reform is the best it can be.

Over the last months, the administration has only issued two small gestures for the immigrant community. First, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application, which has provided work authorization to about 100,000 undocumented youth across the nation as of December 2012. Second, the new Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver for family members of U.S. Citizen, which will be effective in March 2013, will ease the Green Card application process for eligible family members. Unfortunately, DACA only provides temporary relief to the applicants, and the new waiver process still requires family members of U.S. Citizens to leave the country to process their green cards.

Additionally, the Violence against Women Act would have extended domestic violence protection to immigrants, Native Americans, and the LGBT community, but due to inaction, the bill was not reauthorized in 2012. VAWA also remains in limbo, awaiting reintroduction in 2013. Without VAWA congress will prove that domestic violence is not a priority for the government.

Only through organizing, educating and mobilizing, will the changes needed for reform take place. In addition to comprehensive immigration reform, many youths are facing discrimination by states that deny driving licenses to the DACA recipients. Recipients also remain illegible for in-state tuition. Finally, ICE continues the arrest and deportation of undocumented individuals who are not a deportation priority. There is no reason to stop advocating and educating, join a local group and ensure progress for the future.

Some options for involvement include:

  1. Contacting your local chapter of United we Dream, unitedwedream.org/ or forming a local chapter.
  2. Contacting your State legislature, and request driving licenses for DACA recipients and in-state tuition for undocumented youth.
  3. Contacting your Federal representatives, and requesting to support immigration reform, and
  4. Organizing a workshop about immigration in your school, religious group, or club activies.

La lucha continua.