Policy Update: All Eyes on the President, Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors, and Getting Ready for Driver Licenses for All

Federal Immigration Policy – All Eyes on the President

While this month, Congress has gone for summer recess without taking up immigration reform –the push for changing our country’s immigration policies continues. Earlier this year, President Obama pledged to use his authority to reform deportation policies which he will announce by the end of the summer. During this time, community members and organizations are continuing to weigh in urging the Administration to support changes to the immigration system. Recommendations include expanding deferred action to those who would be eligible for relief under the immigration reform bill the Senate passed last year, making DHS’ prosecutorial discretion memos meaningful for those facing deportation, instituting alternatives to detention, and ending policies that allow state and local law enforcement to carry out immigration laws. SIREN, along with partner organizations throughout Santa Clara County, will continue to advocate with policy makers so there is meaningful administrative relief that helps immigrant families as well as work with local members of Congress to make sure the permanent immigration reform legislation becomes a reality.

Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors – Providing Safety and Security

The country continues to grapple with providing a humane response to the tens of thousands of children and families fleeing from violence and extreme poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. In recent weeks, the House of Representatives has failed these children by passing bills that would roll back current protections available to them under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), send the National Guard to the border, and even going a step further by barring the Administration from expanding deferred action. While these measures have passed the House, they are not expected to succeed in the Senate and the President has already indicated that he would veto these bills if they came to his desk. Nevertheless, the actions of the House signal that they are willing to take the wrong approach in dealing with a severe humanitarian situation.

In Santa Clara County, our Board of Supervisors has instead adopted a more compassionate response. On August 6, in a 4-1 vote, the Board authorized the County Executive to move forward in developing a plan to create a host family program for unaccompanied immigrant children in our area and determine what legal support could look like for those who will make their case for relief in immigration court proceedings. SIREN applauds the County’s efforts and looks forward to continuing to work with the County Executive’s office in developing the details of this plan.

In addition, Assemblymember Marc Levine has introduced state legislation that urges the federal government to provide eligible children with immigration relief and provide resources to support them.

AB 60 – Getting Ready for Driver Licenses for All

In mid-July, the DMV wrapped up its comment period for proposed regulations implementing AB 60, granting California driver licenses to undocumented immigrants. During the comment period, community members and organizations encouraged the DMV to broaden the list of documents it accepts for applicants to prove their identity and residency as well as include robust privacy and anti-discrimination protections. Over the coming months, the DMV is expected to release its final regulations and community members across the state continue to wait for the agency to share details on what exactly AB 60 licenses will look like. With a new temporary DMV office slated to open in San Jose before the law goes into effect in January 2015, SIREN will continue to educate community members on how to get prepared.

Want to know more about AB 60? Check out SIREN’s new AB 60 resource page with answers to frequently asked questions and links to test preparation materials in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Interested in having an AB 60 presentation for your organization or place of worship? Or want to be trained in giving a presentation yourself? Contact Jeremy Barousse, SIREN’s Community Organizer, at jeremy@siren-bayarea.org