Biden Administration Proposes National ID Cards for Undocumented Immigrants
The Biden administration has proposed a new national identification card system for undocumented immigrants. The “ICE Secure Docket Card program” would give migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border and other immigrants without legal status temporary ID cards as they navigate their immigration cases or removal court proceedings.
The details of the pilot program have not been finalized, but the ID cards are likely to include a photo, biographical information, and a QR code that would allow the holder to access their court information and immigration documents online. The program is designed to modernize the immigration system, while also lessening the bureaucratic paper burden of the process on immigrants.
The Biden administration has allocated $10 million for the pilot program in the upcoming Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill. Democrats are aiming for congressional approval before the end of September 2023 in order to make the proposed plan a reality.
USCIS Streamlines and Expands Afghan and Iraqi Visa Program
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced it is transitioning the processing of Special Immigrant VISA (SIV) classifications to the Department of State (DOS), and making changes to its Policy Manual that expand the eligibility requirements for Afghan and Iraqi SIVs.
The move by USCIS to consolidate processing of the Petition for Special Immigrant Classification in DOS is a notable change. The new method also removes a step from the process. USCIS hopes the changes will streamline the SIV process and increase efficiency.
USCIS also announced changes to its Policy Manual to reflect updates made to the SIV program by Congress in the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. These changes include reducing the required periods an applicant must have worked with the International Security Assistance Force, expanding the number of surviving relatives of SIVs who are eligible, removing certain time limits on petition changes, and explaining the meaning of providing “faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government.”
To read more about the Afghan and Iraqi SIV program, read the full article here.
Congress Introduces Bill to Regularize Long-Time Undocumented Immigrants
A group of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives recently introduced a bill that would allow long-term undocumented immigrants to apply for green cards after seven years in the country.
The bill, named the Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929, would create a rolling registry date, which is a mechanism in immigration law that allows people who have been living in the country for a certain number of years and who are of “good moral character” to apply for permanent residency.
Under current law, an immigrant must have arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 1972 and lived here continuously since that time. Because the date has not been updated since 1986 and is so far in the past, few of the estimated 10 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. can benefit from the current date.
By implementing a rolling date rather than a fixed date, the bill would not need to be updated by Congress again in the future to keep the provision active.
It is estimated about eight million immigrants could benefit if the bill is passed.
Biden Administration Works to Naturalize Noncitizen Veterans
The Biden administration is urging military veterans who are not U.S. citizens to naturalize and become citizens, with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beginning this week to contact the nearly 124,000 military veterans who are not U.S. citizens with information about how to become citizens.
The Department of Defense (DOD) provided the names of veterans who were not U.S. citizens at the time they left the military between 2001 through April 2022 to the VA, said Saif Khan, who is an advisor to the VA’s general counsel. The VA plans to make a series of attempts to reach veterans by phone and email over the course of the year after they separate from the military.
Khan, who is a veteran and naturalized U.S. citizen himself, told NBC News that he sees the efforts to promote naturalization to veterans as doing the preventative work of keeping veterans from being deported. A separate effort is being launched to repatriate veterans who have already been removed from the country.