Listen to this article here

The Biden administration, following a humanitarian crisis at the border with Haitian refugees last week, is working on a solution to address immigration reform in the United States. President Joe Biden is attempting to maintain protections for Dreamers, people who came to the United States as children and have lived here since their youth.

“The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The administration’s goal is for Dreamers to maintain their residency status in the United States while working toward permanent citizenship.

In July 2021, a federal judge ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was not entirely legal, forcing the Biden administration to find a work-around solution. The result is the administration’s new plan to regulate the DACA process for Dreamers and others seeking citizenship in the United States.

50,000 Dreamers in limbo

Biden’s proposed changes will allow Dreamers an opportunity to get processed through the program initially started by President Obama in 2012.  The program was briefly suspended when a judge ruled that the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. 

daca immigration dreamers

Meanwhile, immigration reform advocates are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration’s response will help the more than 50,000 Dreamers who were in legal limbo during disgraced former President Trump’s tenure in the White House. Currently over 1 million residents would qualify for DACA under Biden’s new proposal.

The Biden administration’s plans include maintaining the rules that DACA recipients must have entered the United States in 2007 or before, to have been in the USA when the DACA program began in 2012, and to have been born on or after June 16, 1981. Potential Dreamers can apply for deferral for $85 or for a work permit at nearly $500. 

Proposal must go through Congress

“The proposed rule recognizes that enforcement resources are limited, that sensible priorities must necessarily be set, and that it is not generally the best use of those limited resources to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived since early childhood and whose languages they may not even speak,” said the Department of Homeland Security in a statement. 

These changes will satisfy the legal requirements laid out by Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas, when he ruled that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The proposal will first face public scrutiny before going before Congress. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...