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This Week in Immigration: DREAM and DACA Developments

Advocates for federal immigration reform have been quietly fasting on the National Mall for nearly a month and solidarity fasters—from Florida to Oregon, California to Colorado—have joined in across the county. As the encampment appears to be coming to an end, the national media continues to report on how states and localities grapple with pressing immigration issues, in some cases for the better and in others for the worse

In King County, Washington, home to Seattle, the County Council approved an ordinance that limits “federal immigration authorities’ requests to hold immigrants who are arrested for low-level crimes.” Also Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) related, advocates in Orange County, California are concerned about detention of young people in the region. Lastly, public defenders in Racine County, Wisconsin suspect ICE is profiling Latinos by visiting the court on days clients are provided with translation services.

There has not been any movement on New Jersey’s DREAM Act over the last week. Governor Chris Christie stands behind his opposition of the Senate’s bill but maintains broad support for tuition equity.  Christie is now the focus of an online ad from a Democratic super PAC, “alleging he broke his promise to Hispanic voters.”

In Georgia, a state judge “needs more information and more time” to determine if Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients are eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. The state’s Board of Regents requires students seeking in-state tuition to provide proof of “lawful presence” in the country but does not recognize DACA as a qualifying status.

Whether or not Deferred Action is an acceptable status is also coming up in states considering barring undocumented immigrants or DACA recipients to practice law, most recently in New York.

On December 3, Illinois began the application process that would expand driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. It is currently the largest state to expand driver’s licenses, and the success or failure of the Illinois’s expansion will inform other states considering similar legislation or readying for implementation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez is gearing up for another attempt to repeal the privilege

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