In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® I write about the termination of the DACA program and how this could make way for comprehensive immigration reform in the future.
This is the column:
Over the course of the first day that the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced, we have seen tears, protest marches and a multitude of news reports with information, analysis, assumptions, criticism of President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Obama, Republicans, Democrats, and lawmakers from past Congresses for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The end of DACA is sad, because approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants covered by the program created by President Obama's executive action gave hope and a chance to live and work legally to these people who came to the United States before their 16th birthday. Many of them now feel let down. They got temporary legal status and will no longer have it.
But it should be remembered that this program was always intended to be a temporary measure until Congress finally passed comprehensive immigration reform that could not only legalize the status of the "dreamers," but also the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States, many of them, most of their lives.
While it is difficult for DACA recipients to accept the end of the program and all that it entails - losing temporary legal status, work permits, and in certain states, their driver's licenses - there remains optimism that the Trump administration's decision to cancel DACA could pave the way for a change in immigration laws that would eventually grant these individuals permanent residency. Moreover, it is possible that the current Congress could set aside their ideological differences and pass comprehensive immigration reform that would benefit many more immigrants, including the undocumented parents of DACA recipients.
The U.S. immigration system has been dysfunctional for years and does not adequately respond to the economic needs of the country. We all need to continue to motivate Congress to act and bring forward a comprehensive immigration reform bill as soon as possible.
While we await Congressional action, every undocumented immigrant should remain calm and not do anything that would jeopardize his or her stay in the United States.
It is very important that you seek legal advice from a licensed and experienced immigration attorney to help you better understand your options and apply for immigration benefits for which you qualify. Please do not go to notarios, immigration consultants, paper fillers and multiservices, because they are not authorized to give you legal advice.
America is a country built by immigrants. I am optimistic that Congress will do the right thing and put an end to the uncertainty of millions of undocumented immigrants, most of whom contribute positively to the country.