In the immigration reform dance, there have been a few minor victories in moving towards a pathway for citizenship. In the summer of 2012, the deferred action program (DACA) was set into effect, and it allowed childhood arrivals, migrants who entered the country under the age of 15 and have proof of residence in the country for a specific time frame have been able, to have a 3 year limited visa. This visa provides the opportunities to work and legally drive, but it was not extended to allow attendance to university or community college. Youth under this program would not qualify for a pathway to citizenship, but they would not be at risk of deportation under this limited visa. When people craft policies such as the deferred action program, they are not a permanent fix to systematic problems rather than providing a temporary solutions in hopes of better conditions to pass reform legislation.
In a meeting with the Migrant Education Director of Rockingham County, Paula Tilltson Sanchez, stated:
“ I think we are going to see a lot more twists and turns to what is out here before they come to anything. The dreamers have been stuck for so long about when we start the dream act and that kind of stuff.”
The immigration debate is like a waltz, there is a box step here, a box step there, but in the end no one really moves anywhere. When it comes to childhood arrivals, there may be hope. The hope is that these young people will be able to drive, go to work, and not live in fear of deportation. Many childhood arrivals desire the visa to allow for educational opportunities in addition to work and driving privileges.
Imagine a third grade class were there are two kids who are best friends, and they do everything together. Sometimes, they are mistaken for twins because the look similar. However, the only difference between the two is that one child has papers, and the other does not. These kids make the same grades, and join the same teams. Suddenly, they are 17 years old and applying to college, but one without a visa is prohibited from pursuing higher education.
What do you think will happen with this new immigration bill?” I questioned Paula Tilltson Sanchez, and she answered:
“I think that is going to be interesting and a drawn out as it could be. It like we get 2 steps up and 2 steps back ‘I’m not gonna do this’. It is enough to keep everyone in limbo- and we give them [undocumented kids] a little more hope and it is a rubber band effect. It [policy] changes every day- things become invalid in one day.”
The New immigration reform bill seeks to change this dance and will provide a pathway to citizenship, but how different is this bill from other attempts to change national immigration policy in the United States? Migration Policy published this brief to examine the changes. Among the changes will be giving the ability to determine who is eligible for educational benefits to the states by repealing section 505 from the Immigration Act of 1995 which addressed immigrant rights to education.
Senate passed the s.744 which modifies the original Immigration Act last week and passed new provisions to address the dreamers to provide a pathway to education, if the bill passes the House of Representatives, the bill would create a path to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“When the immigration bill passes, (GOP Speaker John Boehner) should bring it up for a vote in the House of Representatives quickly,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. Read More…
Amanda Huber is the Immigration and Social Policy Staff Writer for Social Work Helper. She is a bilingual social worker in clinical practice and a community organizer for Latino rights which includes issues of migratory status, institutional racism, racial profiling, and the ways these issues affect the people.