POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah immigration attorney breaks down Biden’s executive action aimed to help immigrants

Jun 18, 2024, 9:04 PM

People outside the Supreme Court, supporting the DACA program. A Utah immigration attorney said Bid...

People outside the Supreme Court, supporting the DACA program. A Utah immigration attorney said Biden's executive action announced Tuesday, June 18 could help countless Utah immigrants.(Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP Photo)

(Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP Photo)

SALT LAKE CITY — On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced executive action tackling immigration, primarily aimed at protecting two groups of immigrants. 

According to CNN, the action would help the following on their path to American citizenship: 

  1. Undocumented spouses of American citizens.
  2. Children of undocumented immigrants, or “Dreamers.”

AP News reports that this will primarily allow these two groups to apply for citizenship without having to leave the country.

‘Streamlines the process’ for undocumented spouses

Local immigration attorney Carlos Trujillo said these changes will impact thousands of people here in Utah. That includes at least 150 people he’s already working with. 

“This is for those people that have been waiting for so long… That were so afraid of doing the process. They can finally come out and say ‘ok, let’s do this.'”

The rule in the past has been that undocumented immigrants married to a U.S. citizen had to return to their home countries before gaining legal status, Trujillo said.

This action could allow them to finish their paperwork in the United States.

It could also help undocumented spouses apply for a work permit, Trujillo said.

“During that time that you are married to a U.S. citizen, that you are working towards your green card, there is no work permit,” he said.  

Ultimately, this action could just streamline an already existing, but bogged down, process. 

Related: Utah governor’s office pushing back against Denver for bussing immigrants to Utah

“Most of these people already qualify for a process. The process they qualify for is called a Counselor Process,” he said.

But, the wait for that kind of process right now is about seven to nine years. 

The Federal Government estimates that around half a million people will be impacted by this, but Trujillo said he thinks it’s a lot more.

“A lot of these people, in my experience, can also be living in the shadows, so the government might not even know about them,” he said. “There have been people so scared to go out of the country… That they just haven’t done it.”

How this affects ‘dreamers’

Trujillo explained that the action dealing with DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is pretty straightforward.

“A lot of these DACA recipients that have been working legally for all these years since President Obama did this program for them… encountered a problem,” Trujillo said. 

“Let’s say they graduated from a U.S. university, they found an employer, they’re doing a great job and they would like to find some more security. And the employer wants to help them with a work visa. However, the problem is that a lot of these kids came illegally into the country, they are in need of a special waiver. That waiver was a bottleneck for a lot of, if not all of these, DACA recipients.”

Today’s announcement means there will be better considerations and procedures for these people, he said, so employers can now officially hire them. 

This could trigger a lawsuit

Trujillo expects a lawsuit on these new rules very quickly.

“That’s really because there have been so many lawsuits and changes to DACA in the past,” he said. 

“It is very clear that will still be a ping-pong where they just keep throwing this issue, this family, these children, from one side to the other, giving them hope, and taking it away, so it’s hard to be completely excited about it.” 

Be wary of scams

Trujillo warned that many people take advantage of executive actions on immigration to scam those affected. 

He said that the new rules from the President today are not yet in place. There are no forms to even fill out yet. 

Trujillo said people need to wait for this action to be made official, when lawyers like him have the forms from the federal government.

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Utah immigration attorney breaks down Biden’s executive action aimed to help immigrants