In 2011, a young Moldovan woman came to the U.S. on a student visa to attend college. Last year, she decided to seek an adjustment to her immigration status and stay here long term. A competitive ballroom dancer since age 11, she had won a world championship in 2005 at age 15. She competed across Eastern Europe with a world-class ranking and had begun to teach. She wanted to continue her dance career in the U.S., so she petitioned to be considered an "alien of extraordinary ability."
The Obama Administration has just implemented an amazing new immigration policy. Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that all unauthorized-immigrant spouses, children and parents of current and former members of the U.S. military can now obtain legal status -- without leaving the country first -- as long as they have no other bar to residency.
Becoming a legal U.S. citizen is something that people all over the world strive for. Many people spend years or even decades waiting for a visa or trying to complete the requirements necessary to even be eligible for citizenship. The process can be a long and hard one for many immigrants in New York.
An auto mechanic from Queens was just released from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cell where he has languished for the past four years because the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found that he is a U.S. citizen, and has been all along. He found himself wrongly detained and facing deportation because he had previously been told by immigration officials that he was merely a permanent resident, subject to deportation upon even a minor criminal conviction.
The Regents of the University of Michigan have just announced that, beginning in January, it will offer in-state tuition to all resident students regardless of immigration status. Michigan joins New York and 15 other states with policies providing access to higher education for immigrants in some form. Most of the policies were prompted in part to help unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children (referred to as "Dreamers") and have lived essentially as U.S. citizens all their lives, but who are often denied tuition help for college.
A long-overdue change is happening in the way mainstream U.S. media refers to immigrants who are in the country without legal documentation. We've written before about the stigmatizing, offensive connotations associated with the term "illegal immigrant." After all, not having official immigration documents is not a criminal matter; it's a civil one.
Undocumented immigrants throughout the United States have their eyes on lawmakers as they try to agree on much-needed immigration reform. Since President Obama's electoral victory, which garnered 71 percent of the nation's Latino vote, Democrats and Republicans alike have been searching for a way to reform immigration policy.
Education is important for U.S. citizens and immigrants alike. In some states, young people who were brought to the U.S. when they were young face special difficulties in paying for their education. One major barrier for undocumented immigrants has been the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. When you have in-state status, you can pay a lower tuition rate, but not all states give in-state status to young immigrants.
Despite an unfortunately common perception in the United States, immigration charges are heard in administrative court, not criminal court. Still, immigrant detainees in New York and throughout the country are treated like criminals.
They're called Dreamers: those young, undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for legal status under the Dream Act. But the Dream Act has long been stalled in Congress, and young immigrants in New York and throughout the country are doing more to show their support for the bill.