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New Year, New Policies: What you and your family need to know about immigration changes under President Biden

New Year, New Policies: What you and your family need to know about immigration changes under President Biden
February 18
16:18 2021

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

President Biden’s proposed immigration reforms and new executive orders have raised expectations among immigrants across LA County. A Virtual Town Hall took place on Feb 11 for LA County Residents and Reporters on Immigration Reforms – What’s Changed Now, What Could Change. As the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles is home to immigrants from more than 140 countries. L.A. County has more than 3.6 million immigrants, a third of the population, according to a recent report from the University of Southern California.

Maria E. Peñaloza, Program Manager, LA City Office of Immigrant Affairs briefed on DACA and TPS. The county wants the 30,000 TPS holders and 80,000 DACA recipients in the LA area to know the latest on this rule. On his first day in office, President Biden signed a memorandum for the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security ordering them to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. This means it remains in its original 2012 form.

It means USCIS is accepting a first time DACA application, DACA renewals and issues work authorization for two years and processing the advanced parole. But a pending lawsuit in Texas federal court continues to threaten the program. If you are eligible for a first time DACA application or renewal, please do so, said Maria. TPS beneficiaries are individuals from countries ravaged by natural disasters or political unrest who cannot return to their homes. If you are in TPS, we urge you to seek legal consultation and see if you are eligible for other immigration relief. President Biden also extended Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) and employment authorization for Liberians until June 3, 2022. Biden’s renewed commitment to protecting the DACA program, which provides protection against deportation and work authorization to certain Dreamers, a group that includes many current college students and young alumni.

Rigo Reyes, Executive Director, LA County Office of Immigrant Affairs said that separating families is one of the harsh policies ever adopted. There are hundreds of families that are still caught up in this long, fraught chapter of U.S. immigration policy. The Biden administration formally rescinded the “zero tolerance” policy that led to family separation. Immigrant advocates are still searching for hundreds of parents. There are more than 600 separated parents they haven’t been able to reach and hundreds more who have been located but still are not reunited with their kids.

LA County has made a commitment to find the kids and help them. LA County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is a trusted messenger throughout our diverse immigrant communities, and they are standing by at 1-800-593-8222 to help. Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA), which is within the County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, to work with County Counsel, other County Departments, and non-profit organizations that serve immigrants and their families, to conduct outreach and education for immigrants and their families in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner about wraparound County and external services that are available to them.

Adriana L. Garcia, Associate Director, LA City Office of Immigrant Affairs addressed the immigration fraud, which is inevitable when there is a change in any immigrant law. All these memorandum signed by President Biden is not a law yet. Adriana warns of immigration consultant scammers targeting those in need of immigration assistance. To prevent being a victim of an immigration consultant scam, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office suggests consulting with a licensed immigration lawyer, checking the consultant’s references, and obtaining a copy of the consultant’s identification along with a written contract and payment receipts. Don’t give your original documents to anyone, share only copies, don’t sign any documents without understanding the contents, said Adriana. We recommend you work with a licensed lawyer who specializes in immigration law. Or, you can get a referral by calling the Los Angeles County Bar Lawyer Referral at (213) 243-1525. If you believe you have been victimized by an immigration consultant, call us at (800) 593-8222.

Daniel Sharp, Chief, LA County Office of Immigrant Affairs addressed the issue of public charge. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began applying the new public charge rule on February 24, 2020. This has impacted the immigrant community at large. President Biden signed an executive order directing the Justice, State, and Homeland Security departments to “review all agency actions related to implementation of the public charge ground of inadmissibility” and consult with other departments, including Health and Human Services, when considering the rule. This is going to take some time, we are not certain on the time frame. It cannot be removed by an executive order; it has to go through the process and will take time. Many immigrants are not subject to the public charge test. The test does not apply to refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles, and persons applying for immigration status as survivors of trafficking, domestic violence and other serious crimes.

USCIS has clarified that it will not consider treatment, vaccination or testing for COVID-19 in any future public charge. This means immigrants can access all COVID-related health services without fear that their immigration status may be impacted. There is no public charge test when a legal permanent resident applies for citizenship or renews a green card. State and locally funded health care programs such as MyHealth L.A. are not included in the public charge test. Nutritional programs like WIC, school lunches, food pantries and food banks, shelters, childcare assistance, and many other programs are not considered public charges, said Daniel Sharp. Medical sheltering, emergency food resources, short-term emergency aids, one time cash assistance does not attract public charge.

If you’re in the City of Los Angeles and would like to sign up to receive Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Immigrant Affairs bi-monthly newsletter, please visit



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