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Weekly Immigration News Update

DACA

An article in Sunday’s edition of The Hill reported that the possibility of a government shutdown is looming as lawmakers face off over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In a closed-door meeting with President Donald J. Trump, Senate Republicans agreed that they would oppose addressing DACA as part of the December funding legislation. Democrats insist that DACA be addressed before the holiday break. This could lead to a government shutdown after Dec. 8. 

The Hill reported that there need to be 60 votes in the Senate to pass a funding bill. Democrats are not backing down on the issue of DACA.

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would give undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children a path to lawful residency and citizenship. 

Politico reported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a TV interview that he is open to a deal on the DREAM Act in exchange for improved border security and other changes to the immigration system.

Nonimmgrant Visas

In late October, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policies. Foreign workers seeking visa renewals will be scrutinized the same as first-time applications. USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna said in a statement that the change “provides clear direction to help advance policies that protect the interests of U.S. workers.”

There are concerns how this will impact individuals with H-1B status. Petitioners bear the burden of proof in establishing eligibility. It is crucial to work with a qualified attorney who can review all details.

Citizenship Applications on the Rise

The New York Times published a story about the increase in eligible legal aliens applying for U.S. citizenship. Unfortunately, the backlog in processing their applications continues. The Times reported that approximately 8.8 million people are eligible to become U.S. citizens, having been lawful permanent residents for at least five years. USCIS is requesting officers work overtime to move the applications forward in a timely manner.

Temporary Protected Status

Presently, there are approximately 400,000 foreign nationals residing in the U.S. with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS allows people to remain in the U.S. under a humanitarian program for citizens of countries that are war ravaged or plagued by natural disasters. Ten countries are currently designated for TPS, among them El Salvador and Honduras.

TPS has been repeatedly renewed by previous administrations. The program is up for renewal again in the near future and USCIS has not indicated what President Trump’s intentions are. An update is expected by the end of the year.