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16 • FEBRUARY 08, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

VOLUME 03 ISSUE 06

The State of the Union’s immigration mess And a solution to consider

Andrew L. Reback is a Southern Californiabased sole-practitioner attorney.

Washington DC is regurgitating towards another government shutdown over Immigration. Despite this distasteful course, we do have viable options on the political menu, depending on the size of Mr. Trump’s appetite.  Some fast food for thought: it’s almost February 15, the next shutdown is quickly approaching and the extra value menu option of Comprehensive Immigration Reform is too much to chew in this short timeframe.   So lets boil down two major issues we actually could address quickly: our DACA “Dreamers” and that Wall.  Dig in, America. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created through Executive Order by President Obama, took effect in Aug. 2012.   DACA allows persons brought to the United States before their 16th birthday, AND prior to June 15, 2007, to apply for temporary relief from “Removal” (deportation).  An applicant must prove they have completed high school or are currently enrolled and attending school, and must prove good moral character—meaning no significant criminal history.  Most importantly, along with this temporary relief from Removal, DACA holders may also apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (Work Permit), renewable every two years, with a government fee of course.    Today, the reality for DACA holders is a perpetual cycle of relief and angst. They are a shamefully tossed around like a political football to score points.   We have a whole population of young, educated, industrious

folks, legally working and paying taxes, who cannot travel abroad, apply for benefits at home, or get on any pathway towards American citizenship. This is why Trump’s offer to simply extend DACA for three more years in exchange for a permanent border wall is shameful and ridiculous.  The ironwilled “Ms. Nancy” and her unified House Democrats are right to reject this proposal.         Comprehensive immigration reform is needed but terribly unlikely before Feb. 15 or anytime soon.  So instead of shutdown after shutdown, and the constant threat of a fake national emergency about constructing the most idiotic piece of infrastructure humanity has ever imagined, here is one Immigration lawyer’s more practical proposal for a deal.  First: permanently legalize DACA holders using the “Dream Act” template that already passed the Senate years ago. That Dream Act essentially was “DACA Plus” that provided a pathway to citizenship.  Polling shows there is general consensus for this idea across both parties and amongst the American public. Second: legalize the parents of the Dreamers using the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) model that Obama tried to implement in 2014 before being blocked by the courts. The DAPA program would grant Deferred Action status to the undocumented parents of US citizens and US green card holders. After a certain period of time (to be negotiated), allow DAPA holders to apply for green cards so they, too, can get on the pathway to citizenship.  Third: provide the same Deferred Action relief with eventual pathway to citizenship to most, if not all, current holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  Fourth: update the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) specifically at Section 245(i).  That section allows persons who have either illegally crossed the border, or have overstayed visas, to apply for green cards based on the petition of a qualifying family member or an employer-sponsor, even though they would otherwise be ineligible to apply for a green card by paying a $1,000.00 fine as the penalty fee for their illegal entry or visa overstay.  An update to Section 245(i) would create a path to legalization for the large undocumented population that has

ballooned due to the law called “Unlawful Presence” (the legal ramification suffered once someone has been found unlawfully inside US territory beyond their allotted time. Once tagged with “Unlawful Presence,” a series of “Bars to Reentry” can kick in that prohibit an immigrant’s lawful reentry to the US for periods of 3 years, 10 years, or sometimes permanently.  Since taking effect in 1997, the Bars to Reentry resulting from Unlawful Presence have fueled a persistent rise in the undocumented immigrant population, and the reason is simple.  Someone with Unlawful Presence is unlikely (and ill-advised) to ever leave the United States, because once they leave, there is little hope of ever returning legally under current law.  The risk of family separation for 3 years, 10 years, or possibly forever, is not worth the risk of stepping out of the shadows.        Congress’ last update of INA Section 245(i) set a cutoff date for April 30, 2001, meaning anyone with a valid petition filed by that date could continue the process towards obtaining a Greencard by following current laws, and by paying the $1,000.00 added penalty fee.  Reviving INA Section 245(i) with a new cutoff date, perhaps April 30, 2020, would pave the way to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants.  At the same time, billions of dollars from penalty fees would be paid to the government by those same intending immigrants.  The revenue from penalty fees could then be used to further fund enhanced border technology, add customs and border patrol agents, and hire more Immigration Judges—which are sorely needed to clear a terribly backlogged system.  There could also be money for additional physical border barriers (where locally approved and deemed appropriate).  Another sweetener:  these additional border barrier funds would come from the penalty fees paid by intending immigrants, not from direct Federal tax dollars.    This is just the opinion of one concerned immigration attorney on the front line, who represents dozens of DACA and TPS holders, and who is married to a Mexican immigrant.  Please digest with care.  Millions of lives are at stake.

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Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 6, February 8, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 6, February 8, 2019

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 6, February 8, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 6, February 8, 2019

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