As we near the halfway point of 2019, immigrants in the United States, both legal and illegal, find themselves mired in as much uncertainty as there was at the beginning of the year. Despite the endless discussions in Congress and incessant media chatter, not much has changed for immigrants over the past six months.
A recent report found that the administration’s stance towards illegal immigrants has led to the implementation of policies that are harming legal immigrants as well. The report came from Massachusetts, but this is undoubtedly true across the United States. The main issues legal immigrants are facing are the changes and uncertainty related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the “public charge” rule.
DACA and TPS Update
Just last week, the House of Representatives passed the latest version of the DREAM Act, slightly renamed to the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019. In addition to renewing DACA for existing and new applicants, the ambitious bill also gives TPS recipients a path to permanent residency.
Unfortunately, while the Senate is still controlled by the Republicans, it is unlikely that this bill will go anywhere. So, for now, the true update is that there is no change on the DACA situation, and existing participants are still in a state of limbo.
The Trump administration continues to try to end the DACA program through judicial means. Most recently, the Supreme Court denied the administration’s request to expedite a decision on ending DACA, though this does not mean anything other than that the court wants to take its time with research before issuing a decision.
Changes to the “Public Charge” Designation
Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of the “public charge” designation for immigrants has negatively impacted the immigrant community even before it has been implemented. New research shows at least one in seven immigrant families are afraid to apply for much-needed public benefits so as to not jeopardize their eventual chances of legal residency. This was even more prominent in low-income immigrant families, where one in five held off on applying for benefits.
Why the Situation Is Not As Bad As It Looks
And yet, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps because of all this uncertainty, applications for legal residency status remain at high levels, and it turns out that the number of people who became United States citizens reached a five-year high in 2018.
So, if you have been waiting on the sidelines thinking that right now is not a good time to apply for legal residency or citizenship, do not wait any longer. The best plan is to get your application in now, before any more potential changes are implemented by the current administration.
Reach out to me today to set up a consultation and get your paperwork started before the immigration landscape becomes even more complicated!