There is an avalanche of new laws and immigration bills that are currently coming in effect. The new opportunities have different meanings depending on the situation of those affected by them.
The ‘Dreamers’ who have applied to Deferred Action have had the opportunity to receive a work permit, with a number for tax purposes and on top of that the opportunity to apply for a driver’s permit. After their driving test, they will have an Indiana driver’s license.
Even then this new status does not give them a ‘legal residence’ towards applying for citizenship. The new procedure offers young people under 30, who meet all the other requirements, to have a safe haven for two years. They do not know if they will be able to continue enjoying of such status, or if it will be denied after the two years elapse.
Also, USCIS has recently announced that on March 4, 2013 it would begin accepting applications for the provisional unlawful presence waiver for processing in the United States. Under the current law, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who cannot adjust status in the United States must leave the U.S. and obtain an immigrant visa abroad.
Many families eagerly wait for this date to arrive in order to have their family together after applying for this procedure. It’s important to note that undocumented immigrants are integrated in mixed families, and their status affects the financial, mental and social well being of the entire family.
Meanwhile, other bills offer different solutions to undocumented immigrants at the local level.
Senate Bill 550 submitted by State Sen. Frank Mrvan Jr., D-Hammond, is part of a ‘Safe Roads Campaign’, that would allow undocumented immigrants in Indiana to apply for and receive ‘driving permits’, therefore having also the opportunity to purchase regular car insurance. Senator Mrvan sits on the Commission for Hispanic/Latino Affairs. Part of the proposal explains that it is for a “Driving authority permit." It provides for the issuance of driving authority permits, probationary driving authority permits, and driving authority learner's permits (permits) to residents of Indiana who cannot provide proof of identity and lawful status in the United States. Permits may not be used for federal identification or for any federal purposes. An individual who holds a permit and operates a motor vehicle must ensure that financial responsibility on any motor vehicle that the holder operates is continuously maintained in the amounts required by law”. On January 14, it was read the first time and referred to Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans affairs.
Whether the local undocumented individuals decide to apply for a ‘driving permit, is yet to be seen. In other states like Illinois, people have had doubts taking this solution, since they feel that any officer that demands to see their document will automatically know that he/she is an undocumented immigrant.
TAP, a church organization is calling to a press conference on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 to witness publicly and demand a comprehensive immigration reform, and second to launch the immigration campaign, “Dream for All.” at 1pm in the Civil Rights Heritage Center, 1040 W. Washington Street, South Bend, IN.
S.B. 207, co-sponsored by Senator Carlin Yoder would allow students that are not able to obtain a federally issued ID to be able to pay in-state tuition if they decide to attend college in Indiana. As its well known the passing of HB1402 that went into effect on July 1, 2011, said that undocumented immigrants living in the State of Indiana have to pay non-resident tuition rates at Indiana’s public colleges and universities impacting negatively many young people who desire to obtain a degree and continue contributing to Elkhart County. On January 7, this bill was sent to the Committee on Education and Career Development.
Community advocates and the immigrants and their families are cautiously watching all these changes in immigration policy. Let’s keep alert to be able to offer support to these immigrants that have waited for so long for a just solution for their lives.
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