New proposal offers fast-track to citizenship for farm workers, protects DACA recipients

New proposal offers fast-track to citizenship for farm workers, protects DACA recipients

Olivia Sandusky


Monserrat
Gonzalez is excited to hear about the executive order President Biden signed that deals with DACA. 

Through this proposal, the President is urging Congress to give recipients permanent legal status.

“It would be a huge relief to know that finally we don’t have to fear the removal of DACA,” said Gonzalez, a DACA recipient from Coachella.

But the President’s proposals also extend beyond DACA, giving certain farm workers a fast track to citizenship.

“It’s a day one bill that recognizes the contributions of farm workers and that honors the essential work that they do,” said Leydy Rangel with the UFW Foundation. 

Under this proposal, farm workers are only eligible if they’ve worked in agriculture for 100 days during four of the last five years, and pass a criminal background check.

But Rangel says, for several valley farmers, it has the potential to be life changing. 

“It’s definitely a new era, a new feeling of hope. There’s a lot of work to be done, there’s an uphill battle, but farm workers are coming to us telling us that they are ready to get things done,” said Rangel. 

While many are excited to get the process started, Karen Kler, the executive director of Coachella Valley Immigration Service and Assistance, says, once the legislation passes, citizenship won’t be granted overnight.

“We run the background checks, and we give them five years of a probationary period to show to the American people that we are doing the right thing. Then grant them residency and a pathway to citizenship after they demonstrate good moral character,” said Karan Kler. 

Kler says the process can be tricky, and urges valley residents to get help.

“You’ve got to go to an accredited place. There’s a lot of fraud with the notary offices or the income tax preparation places, be very careful. That would be my first cautionary advice,” said Kler. 

 

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