By Steve Taylor
Rio Grande Guardian
EDINBURG – What will happen to President Obama’s new immigration initiative if Mitt Romney wins the presidency in November?
This was one of the questions students and parents had for two immigration attorneys at two lively and informative Right to DREAM forums hosted by the University of Texas Pan American’s Minority Affairs Council (MAC) in June. More than 200 people attended the events. One was held in English and the other in Spanish.
MAC was recently voted Best New Student Group at UTPA. It is affiliated with the national United We Dream group.
The two immigration attorneys fielding the questions and explaining the Obama administration’s new Administrative Relief initiative were McAllen-based Carlos M. Garcia, a partner in Garcia & Garcia, Attorneys at Law, and Edinburg-based Lauren Joyner, of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
“We do not know what will happen if Romney wins, we do not know what will happen if Obama wins,” Garcia said. “It just does not seem right that they would come in and take this deferred action program away. But, we never know what will happen. We believe it will continue but we do not know for how long.”
President Obama signed Administrative Relief initiative into law on June 15. It allows undocumented immigrants who came into the United States under the age of 15 to avoid deportation and sign up for a work permit that lasts for two years. They have to be 30 years of age or under and must have lived in the United States for five continuous years.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants will benefit from deferred action. More details on the policy are anxiously awaited by DREAMers and immigration attorneys.
Students and parents asked Garcia and Joyner if, under “deferred action,” DREAMers would be able to sign up for another two years, once their work permit has expired. “They can renew, again and again, but if there is a change in administration or a change in mindset and they can take that away in a second,” Garcia told the Guardian.
The attorneys were also asked if, under Administrative Relief, undocumented immigrants will be able to change their status and become citizens. “Right now that is not the thinking but who knows what can happen. That is why there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform,” Garcia said.
Garcia and Joyner were also asked how Affirmative Relief might affect an undocumented immigrant’s chances of securing a driver’s license. The answer is that when you get a work permit you can go and get a social security number. Once you have a social security number you can go to the Department of Public Safety and get a driver’s license.
Garcia said he does not know whether the State of Texas will change its laws regarding driver’s licenses in the light of the Obama administration’s new initiative.
Garcia and Joyner were also asked whether students can travel while applying for deferred action. The attorneys…
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