The midterm elections are over and the new year is upon us. As new members get sworn in, the 116th Congress will be split with a House Democratic majority and a Senate Republican majority.
Despite the partial shutdown, a divided Congress can bring bipartisan opportunities to legislate towards modernizing our outdated immigration system. At the same time, the new House Democratic majority must also investigate President Trump’s erratic immigration policies.
Until now, only the federal courts that have remained resolute in their constitutional obligation to restrain the president’s arbitrary actions including dismissing the Justice Department policies that made it harder for immigrants to claim asylum because of domestic violence or gang violence.
It’s time for Congress to step up and work on meaningful immigration legislation. One of the first opportunities of this will be the DREAM Act.
Of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, more than 1 million are Dreamers or undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
In 2012, then-President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to temporarily protect Dreamers from deportation. Trump terminated the program five years later. Fortunately, federal courts have blocked the White House from fully ending the immigration protection.
Congress still needs to find a permanent solution for the Dreamers, however. The DREAM Act has been introduced countless times over the past two decades with overwhelming bipartisan support. Giving Dreamers a path to citizenship — through education or military service — will allow these young people to transition out of DACA and out of the shadows to fully contribute to their communities.
Another opportunity for bipartisan support is to pass legislation that will bring more resources to clear bureaucratic red-tape and reduce the average processing time for green card applicants and permanent residents applying for naturalization.
Among a recent change causing delays is the expansion of in-person interviews to all employment-based applicants who are filing for green cards. Interviews for employment-based green cards were largely waived unless there were major issues, like criminal arrests, that needed to be reviewed in person.
By Cesar Vargas for THE HILL
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