Bipartisan group pushes for solutions for longtime undocumented immigrants

A coalition of business leaders, faith-based groups and immigrant advocates say time is running out for the Biden administration to offer protections to longtime undocumented immigrants.

With only months to go until the presidential election, the bipartisan group is urging others who support immigration reform to lobby the administration.

They say such action is long overdue for an estimated 3 million undocumented immigrants, including 1 million spouses of U.S. citizens.

“When folks understand this issue, what they want is stability for their communities,” said Zaira Garcia, regional government relations director for fwd.us, a bipartisan political advocacy group. “That includes solutions for people to be able to remain in the country and continue to contribute to the workforce.”

During a meeting Friday with other proponents of immigration reform, Garcia laid out solutions that the Biden administration could implement via executive order.

They include what’s known as “Parole in Place” for the spouses of U.S. citizens. This would allow spouses who are undocumented to obtain work permits, relief from deportation and possibly pursue a path to legal status.

Another option is for the administration to grant longtime undocumented immigrants Temporary Protected Status as it has done for newer arrivals from certain countries. That status would also allow individuals to apply for a work permit and be protected from deportation during the period a person has TPS.

Yet another suggestion is to ease restrictions for DACA recipients to obtain H-1B visas and other employment visas.

A process for family caregivers to apply for deportation relief is another solution the group has suggested.

“These folks who – many have arrived here decades ago — have built families here, lives here,” Garcia said. “They’re a part of our churches, they worship with us. They provide services…Their children go to school with our children.”

John Stautner, who’s with Texas GOP Vote, a right of center group, said political rhetoric has hampered serious discussions about immigration solutions among conservatives. But he stressed some do support legal protections for DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants who’ve been in the country for years.

“They want to see the people who are here identified and then they’d like them work-authorized and then they would like them taxed,” Stautner said. “In other words, deduct and match payroll taxes just like you should.”

 

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