A light at the end of the tunnel for immigrants
FELICIA J. PERSAUD | 1/21/2021, midnight
It’s finally over––the dark days of Donald Trump’s White House xenophobia campaign and scapegoating of Black and Brown immigrants. Light has overtaken the darkness with the ascendency of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, thanks to millions of immigrant voters.
And Biden, even before his swearing in, has shown that he is ready to show his appreciation from Day One. As of Jan. 18, two days before taking the oath of office as president of these United States, his team has made it clear that Biden’s campaign promises are going to become reality.
In Jamaican parlance, he is already proving he is not simply “a bag a mouth.” He has said a push for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws will come beginning on inauguration day, Jan. 20, 2021.
Oh, what a day! The plan will finally be one that will help undocumented immigrants get on an eight-year pathway to citizenship and expand refugee admissions. Under the proposal, millions of undocumented immigrants who are in the United States as of Jan. 1, will be placed in a temporary status for five years and then granted a green card once they meet certain requirements, such as a background check and payment of taxes. They would be able to apply for citizenship three years after that.
DREAMERS, or those who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by President Barack Obama and then suspended by Trump, along with those immigrants here under the Temporary Protected Status Program (TPS), will be able to apply for a green card immediately if the measure passes Congress and becomes law.
The proposals will be sent to Congress on Inauguration Day, the Biden team has said. The U.S.’ first Black, Caribbean American VP, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants, also revealed that the administration plans to create "greater efficiencies" to streamline the naturalization process and add immigration judges to help eliminate backlogs on court hearings.
"We believe it is smarter and a more humane way of approaching immigration for immigrants," Harris said as a Cuban national could take over the running of the Department of Homeland Security, which will oversee the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, (USCIS); the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol (USCBP) and the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the dreaded (ICE).
Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain said in a publicly released memo that the president-elect will also sign an executive order that includes ending the travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries on his first day in office. As Klain put it, the administration will "restore dignity to our immigration system and our border policies and start the difficult but critical work of reuniting families separated at the border."
To those critics who feel it will be open border season, think again. The president says his enforcement plan will deploy technology to patrol the border. His plan will also address the cause of illegal migration, especially from Central America, as it puts the focus on addressing the root causes of migration from that region.
After four years of tears and fear, light has come bursting in for immigrants. President Biden is off to a historic start. Not since 2013, has there been any attempt at a comprehensive immigration overhaul in the U.S.
With Democrats controlling all three houses, the Biden/Harris plan should finally become reality. Immigrant voters can already see the fruits of their Nov. 3, 2020 vote, and for those who delivered the Senate Jan. 5, 2021, its inspirational.
Let us now pray that the lawmakers in the House and Senate deliver for President Biden and immigrants.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow