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Lawyers Optimistic About Immigration Policy Under Biden

The pandemic has shown how Biden’s administration could make immigrants feel more welcome, advocates and experts say.

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Advocates and experts noted that the pandemic has highlighted immigrants’ contributions to the U.S. and shown how President-elect Joe Biden’s administration could make immigrants feel more welcomed. Immigrants make up 13.7 percent of the U.S. population, and 77 percent of them are legal and documented, according to a Pew Research Center study. Ana Ynegelmo, an immigration attorney, said Biden could easily reverse a lot of executive orders and restore former President Barack Obama’s policies, which were friendlier to immigrants. But Poorvi Chothani, founder and managing partner of LawQuest, said that it will not be easy for Biden to replace President Trump’s policies while dealing with 11 million undocumented immigrants. Patch 

In other national immigration news…

Riverside County Provides Another $500K for Farmworkers With COVID-19

Approximately 200 Riverside County, California, agricultural workers who contracted COVID-19 could qualify for temporary housing, grocery delivery and a $2,000 check to cover any lost wages after the county Executive Office gave $500,000 in emergency funding to Housing for the Harvest program. Still, farmworker advocates feel the funding will not last long. More than 200 people are on the waiting list for funds, and are more likely to contract coronavirus after the holidays. According to the United Farm Workers, about 70 percent of California farmworkers are undocumented and are ineligible for unemployment benefits. Some refuse to be tested for coronavirus because they fear it could jeopardize their status. Desert Sun 

Democrats Relying on Latinos in Georgia Senate Runoff

Latino voters may have provided the edge Democratic candidates needed to win Georgia’s Senate runoffs. About 377,000 Latinos are eligible to vote in Georgia, making up five percent of the electorate, and 270,000 are registered to do so. About 80,000 Latinos in Georgia requested absentee ballots and 70,000 sent them in early. Polls showed Latinos favored both Democratic candidates in the race, and Rev. Raphael Warnock has already been projected to win. Still, Democrats have been re-evaluating their Latino outreach after the group underperformed for Biden in Florida and Texas. Vox 

Trump Making it Harder for Biden to Stop Wall Construction

The Trump administration is continuing to hand out contracts to build the border wall in Trump’s final days in office. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan confirmed with CNN on Tuesday that there are plans to finalize the contracts, which include building on land the federal government doesn’t own. Morgan said the Biden administration could end the contracts, but it would be a “messy process.” Contracting experts say the government has the authority to annul contracts, though it will come with a price. CNN

More Work Needed to Protect Dreamers, Advocates Say

The government has approved 171 new applications for DACA benefits after a judge ordered the program resume accepting new applicants. But advocates note there’s more work needed to protect DACA recipients. “It’s going to be up to Biden and Congress to take action and pass clean legislation to permanently protect ‘Dreamers’ and their families from deportation without family separation or needless militarization,” said Claudia Ioli, co-executive director for the nonprofit Deeds, Not Words. Marco Malagon, cofounder of the North Texas Dream Team, meanwhile called on Dreamers to hold Biden accountable to his promises. Local SYR

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