This year the Hispanic Heritage month comes on the heels of some positive changes for many Latinos including Latino immigrants. A much-needed change as the last few years have been an interesting time in immigration policy. I prefer fewer interesting times where law remained established and people’s futures, livelihood, and families were not constantly shifting with the political sands.
As an immigration attorney, I have been able to experience firsthand how the uncertainty in immigration policy has affected the lives of clients, friends, and families. Which specific changes to policies have affected them would take me too much space to list out. Although these changes have affected people from a variety of races, genders, faiths, and ethnicities it seems that Latinos have been disproportionately affected by these changes. Although many policies have caused a negative effect here are some recent changes that have recently occurred which have changed things for the better.
1. Temporary Protected Status was granted to Venezuelans and Haitians, and the extension of work permits for Salvadorians, Nicaraguans, and Hondurans amongst others.
2. Overturned Cases- Recently certain Trump-era rules which overturned existing law at the time and limited and almost eliminated asylum for victims of non-government rape, domestic abuse, and gang violence were reversed allowing those who fell victims to private actors to once again have a shot at obtaining asylum rather than being deported to their deaths or to worse.
3. Victims of Crime- Victims of certain crimes who have or are cooperating with law enforcement can often apply for a U-Visa. The visa requires law enforcement or judicial certification, but it gives these victims a pathway to being in the United States legally and eventually citizenship. The process is limited by a yearly quota and often takes applicants 4-5years or more to obtain. Now those with bonafide U-Visa cases can obtain a work permit while they wait. Which means they can work, pay taxes, get licenses, and much more.
4. Digitization- Many applications are now available to be filed digitally with immigration, this change has also caused immigration to accept applications without a wet signature something that may seem small to many but now Immigrants can scan and email their attorneys their applications rather than using the mail (which has become slow) or driving hours (many times without a license) to drop off documents. Welcome to the new world.
Although this year has brought positive changes it has also brought a few negative changes that have affected Latinos greatly like a Federal Court preventing new DACA applications. In addition, we must stand and fight for our Venezuelan and Cuban brothers and sisters who are currently facing major civil unrest due to the strong man tactics and policies of their despotic leaders!
Abraham Cepeda, Attorney at Law