This week in immigration news – December 19, 2019

Immigration news

On Monday, the “Green Light” Law went into effect in New York state.

This means that undocumented immigrants who live in the state will be able to apply for and receive driver’s licenses legally.

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Critics have asserted that this would allow anyone to apply for a license. But others have pointed out that in general, if you have not been arrested or had problems with driving, you shouldn’t have trouble receiving a license. Additionally, applicants must still get a learner’s permit and pass a road test in order to be able to receive their license.

A similar bill was also passed in New Jersey and is expected to go before Governor Phil Murphy.

A Buzzfeed report shows allegations from a whistleblower that immigrants who were held in detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement received extremely poor medical care, resulting in four deaths and two people needing preventable surgeries, including an eight-year-old boy.

The whistleblower’s memo also contains information about immigrants receiving incorrect medications, enduring severe withdrawal, and that leadership was “unresponsive or even dishonest” when approached about the health care issues in their detention centers.

Legislation before Congress could help to alleviate a years-long backlog of H1-B visas and could receive a vote as early as this week.

A bill from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) wouldn’t change the number of green cards that are awarded per year, but it would allow those who have been waiting the longest to achieve permanent residency to get theirs first.

Sen. Lee’s bill would also phase out the country-cap system, which would allow more visas to be awarded to applicants who come from the same country. Previously, applicants from countries with larger populations—predominantly India and China—would have had a more difficult time receiving a visa.

Sen. Lee struck a deal with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)—who previously felt the eliminating the country-cap would be unfair to people who come from smaller countries—to phase out the country-cap system over a decade, set aside a number of green cards for individuals who aren’t from India or China, and provide temporary protections for individuals who are waiting in the backlog.

This will be the last immigration news round-up of 2019. For more immigration news, check back with us in 2020!

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