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  • Writer's pictureVoces Unidas de las Montañas

Immigration Executive Orders impact Colorado mixed status families, Dreamers

After years of advocacy from Voces Unidas and other groups, we are pleased to learn that President Joe Biden has used his legal authority through Executive Order to offer legal relief for more than half a million undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens as well expedite work visas for Dreamer and DACA holders who graduated from college and have a job offer.

We have marched to the White House, shared impactful stories, and made our voices heard with a call for these reforms, so this is a day to recognize and celebrate our efforts. The announcement made early Tuesday serves to keep mixed-status families together by eliminating the requirement of being forced to leave the country as they pursue a legal pathway to citizenship. President Biden’s actions will also provide peace of mind to DACA holders, Dreamers and other young immigrants educated in the U.S. Together, these two actions recognize our immigrant community’s contributions to the economy, communities, and social fabric of our nation.

While details are still being worked out, two immigration Executive Orders were announced on Tuesday that are relevant to Coloradans. The Executive Orders do not create new policies or programs, but rather give new guidance using existing federal law.

The first Executive Order directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to begin taking action to ensure that an estimated 500,000 U.S. citizens with noncitizen spouses and children can keep their families together. DHS will establish a new process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens who have lived in the United States for 10 years or more; do not pose a threat to public safety or national security; are otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status; and merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

This will temporarily protect individuals from deportation, allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens to apply for legal work authorization, and provide up to a three-year window to complete their application process for lawful permanent residency. The Executive Order also eliminates the requirement that a spouse must leave the U.S. indefinitely while waiting for their status to be adjusted. Additionally, more than 50,000 undocumented children of U.S. citizens under age 21 will be eligible for this process.

President Biden also announced his intention to invite DACA holders and Dreamers to apply for work visas, which will put them on more solid legal footing than the deferred-action program.

This second Executive Order refers to waivers that would allow for DACA recipients and other Dreamers to be sponsored for temporary work visas if they have earned degrees at accredited institutions of higher education in the U.S. and have a job offer relating to that degree. 

While these combined actions only impact a small percentage of the estimated 11 million undocumented residents currently living and working in the U.S., Voces Unidas recognizes them as an important first step by the Biden-Harris administration. 

We understand that many members of our community will have many questions about the impact of these Executive Orders. Voces Unidas will disseminate information to our communities as it becomes available.

In the meantime, Voces Unidas is supporting 50 DACA holders with free legal consultations so participants learn more about work-based visas and other legal pathways. As part of this pilot, Voces Unidas is also offering legal consultations to employers of these 50 DACA holders to learn more about work-based visas and the options for employers. Click here to apply for a free consultation for DACA holders.

While today is a day to celebrate this victory, it is also a reminder that there are 11 million people living in the United States without a clear path to citizenship. We will continue our advocacy work  to demand that Congress and  President Biden expand protections to the millions of others who have been waiting decades for this relief and pass comprehensive immigration reform. We invite you to join our effort by participating in our annual Latino Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in September.

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