2014: The Year in Review
As we begin a new year, it is good to look back at all the accomplishments of the last. 2014 was an important year for immigrants in Illinois.
In January, the Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses (TVDL) program of the IL Secretary of State became fully functional. This program allows undocumented Illinois residents to apply for a driver’s license. Prior to this program, a person could not apply for a driver’s license without presenting a social security number. This meant that many undocumented IL residents came to the attention of federal immigration authorities through routine traffic stops. Although the program has faced its trials, it is a step in the right direction. To read more about TVDLs or make an appointment, visit the IL SOS website.
In June, Illinois became a marriage equality state by recognizing marriages between partners of the same-sex. This, coupled with the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, meant that same-sex couples married in Illinois were able to take advantage of immigration benefits previously only available to opposite sex couples. For example, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents in same-sex marriages could petition to bring their spouse to the U.S. and to adjust their spouse's status while in the U.S. to that of green card holder.
In November, President Obama President Obama took executive action to amend several aspects of our immigration laws and protect millions of undocumented families. The first change to take effect will be the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in late February 2015. The next is the implementation of the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program in late May 2015. To read more about these programs, you can check out my December 2014 article or visit our website to view our PowerPoint presentation on administrative reform.
There is still much to do in 2015. The implementation of the President’s executive actions will inevitably face challenges and need for improvement. TVDL appointments are still far too few and far between. Opening diplomatic relations with Cuba will impact the immigration landscape, and the slow build-up to the 2016 presidential election will bring the need for comprehensive legislative immigration reform starkly into the foreground. Let’s see what 2015 will bring!
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