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How US Immigration Policy Has Given Relief- And How It Applies Now

Amidst a great deal of immigration debate and potential change, we take a look at 3 different elements of immigration policy that the US has introduced—and at times rescinded. Each of these has provided a certain level of relief to its beneficiaries, at times overlapping to protect immigrants.

DACA

One of the most hotly debated immigration topics of the moment, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy introduced in 2012. It provided that certain individuals who came to the US as children and met a set of guidelines could request consideration of deferred action, which postpones removal action against an individual for a set amount of time. In the case of DACA, such deferred action is for a period of 2 years, after which point it is subject to renewal. Individuals affected by this policy, often referred to as “Dreamers,” would also be eligible for work authorization. DACA is no longer accepting new applicants, and the future of many Dreamers is unknown. However, Congress is now working toward the passing of bills that will revise the system. One bill that could offer relief to Dreamers is the Dream Act (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), which would offer Dreamers “a path to citizenship if they continue to participate in the higher education system, the military or the workforce” (latimes.com).

Employment Authorization

Employment authorization, mentioned previously as a provision of DACA, is proof in the form of documentation that an individual is allowed to work in the United States for a specific time period. This is especially important for immigrants with asylum, refugee, or nonimmigrant status, who may need evidence of employment authorization. Lawful permanent residents or individuals with nonimmigrant visas authorizing them to work for a specific employer (i.e. H-1B, O, L-1B) do not need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document. In the case of Dreamers, this employment authorization will allow certain individuals, within the parameters of the Memorandum on Rescission of DACA, to remain in the US to continue work.

Child Status Protection Act

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) took effect in 2002, and worked to redefine who qualifies as a child for the purposes of immigration. Because a child is defined as an individual who is unmarried and under age 21, any applicant for permanent residency who turned 21 at any point prior to receiving said permanent residence could not be considered for immigration as a child anymore. This phenomena, referred to as “aging out” is caused by long processing times and therefore large backlogs for visa petitions. An individual could theoretically apply for immigration at age 20 as a child, but turn 21 before the visa was processed and no longer classify as a child. The CSPA was designed to protect the beneficiary’s immigration classification as a child in the case of aging out due to these extensive processing times. Its protection applies to family and employment-based immigrants, as well as some humanitarian program immigrants.

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