It seems like yesterday I reflected upon 2019 and what it meant for our immigration system with a bit of hopelessness. One full year later, I can only say that 2020 has been chock full of ups and downs. It goes without saying that all our lives have been affected in one way or another, by the coronavirus pandemic. In the context of immigration, the courts and USCIS closed for a few months, only taking emergency appointments. All the U.S. Consulates around the world closed, again, only taking emergency type appointments. Cases became backlogged and court cases rescheduled. Uncertainty was at its all-time high. So many questions remain unanswered today for many people, even for documented foreign nationals. Yet, we continue to fight for immigrant rights and fight against a tough administration whose motive from the initial campaign trail, was to keep immigrants out.
First, the good news. On December 4, 2020, a federal district court ordered USCIS to fully reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program under the Obama administration. This decision came after years of fighting the government after it tried to cancel the program in 2017. Although there was much back and forth by USCIS, it finally announced on December 8, 2020 that it would begin accepting new applications again and reinstitute the original advanced parole requirements. This was a huge win for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented individuals that arrived before the age of 16.
Unfortunately, not all battles were won. On June 8, 2016, USCIS implemented a new parole program for Filipino World War II Veterans. The parole program allows family members of certain Filipino WWII veterans, who have approved family-based visa petitions, to receive parole to come to the U.S. while they wait for their visa to become available. However, in August of 2019, under the Trump Administration, USCIS announced its intention to terminate this program. Again on December 23, 2020, just two days before Christmas, it again announced the termination of the program, as early as February of 2021.
Although 2020 was difficult, I see light on the horizon. A new administration is coming into town with a very different outlook than what we saw the last four years. Make it a resolution for 2021 to speak to an attorney about what changes can help you and your family in the coming years.