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Biden To Propose 8-Year Citizenship Path For Immigrants

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President-elect Joe Biden plans to roll out a plan specifically for Immigrants living in the United States starting on day one of his administration.

What We Know:

  • President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. This is to reverse the Trump Administration’s already harsh immigration policies. Expected to run hundreds of pages, the bill is set to be introduced after Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the legislation and granted anonymity to discuss it.
  • According to HuffPost, during the Democratic Primary, Biden consistently named immigration action as one of his “day one” priorities, pointing to the range of executive powers he could invoke to reverse Trump’s policies. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and enough other GOP senators to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades.
  • Under the legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfill other basic requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they decide to pursue citizenship.
  • For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status, could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school, or meet other requirements.
  • As a candidate, Biden called Trump’s actions on immigration an “unrelenting assault” on American values and said he would “undo the damage” while continuing to maintain border enforcement. The bill is not as comprehensive as the last major immigration overhaul proposed when he was vice president during the Obama administration. It does address some of the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States and provides grants for workforce development and English language learning.

Biden is expected to take swift executive actions to reverse other Trump immigration actions, including an end to the prohibition on arrivals from several predominantly Muslim countries.

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Headlines

Illinois State Program Offers Health Coverage to Seniors Regardless of Legal Status

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Illinois has implemented a program that offers health coverage to low-income immigrant seniors regardless of their legal status in the U.S.

What We Know:

  • This is important because, under federal law, Americans who lack legal status are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or Obamacare enrollment. The bill was signed into law last year, and 2,200 people have enrolled since its institution. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services expects the policy to cover almost 4,600 people statewide.
  • According to Hayley Burgess of the National Immigration Law Center, Illinois is the first state to fully fund a health coverage program that focuses on noncitizen immigrant seniors. The health coverage bill is sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Delia Ramirez, who is also a member of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus. The program was successfully passed in 2020, notably due to the impact of COVID-19. Ramirez remarked, “Covid was killing people, and it was a human rights violation.”
  • As mentioned above, the program is state-funded, which means that patients don’t experience any copays or enrollment fees. Before the program was implemented, a clinic in Brighton Park, Chicago, revealed that the uninsured rate for older patients older than 65 was 31%. Two-thirds of Brighton Park’s senior population are immigrants, according to census data. With the increased expansion of the program, it’s possible to lower the rate of 31% down to 14.5%.
  • Currently, it costs 8,500 a year to ensure a senior citizen under the program. According to a recent study by FAIR Health, the average cost for an uninsured hospitalized COVID-19 patient reaches as high as $74,000 for a week visit. However, despite the number of costs the program saves patients, a few remain hesitant to apply.
  • This has caused concern to rise regarding fear of being deported, which can be attributed to Trump’s immigration policies. A study by the Urban Institute found 1 in 7 adults in immigrant families have reported not having enrolled in healthcare programs, even when they’re eligible for benefits. They fear enrollment could impact their legal status.

Only time will tell how successful the innovative program may turn out for many and if other regions in the U.S will follow by example.

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Judge Rules Only One George Floyd Family Member Allowed in Chauvin Trial at a Time

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Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police Officer, charged with George Floyd’s death, is set to stand trial on March 8th.

What We Know:

  • The ruling issued by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill on Tuesday mandates that only one of Floyd’s family members be allowed in the courtroom at a time. Different family members can rotate in the position throughout the trial with the proper credentials. The order applies to the family of Chauvin as well. Jury selection for the trial will begin on Monday, with opening arguments beginning no earlier than March 29th. 
  • Access to the proceedings by family members will be restricted by necessity, as space inside the courtroom during the highly anticipated trial will be limited due to covid protocols. In addition, the order forbids “any mask or article of clothing that contains any image, logo, letters, or numbers that are visible.”
  • Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three of the other officers present during the incident–Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, have been charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s death and will stand trial together in August.
  • The family’s attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci related the Floyd family’s sentiments in a joint statement Tuesday, “while they understand the judge’s reasons to limit attendance in the courtroom, the family is understandably disappointed by this ruling. The family is looking forward to the start of the trial as a critical milestone on the path to justice and a step toward closure in this dark chapter of their lives.”

The death of the late Minneapolis resident, who was killed last May during a confrontation with police over allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, has continued to be the staple of nationwide protests over police brutality over the past year.

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Crime

Dallas Police Officer Arrested and Charged in Connection with Two 2017 Murders

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A Dallas police officer has been taken into custody for allegedly ordering the deaths of two people.

What We Know:

  • According to NBC News, Officer Bryan Riser, 36, was arrested on Thursday morning and charged with two counts of capital murder. Riser is believed to be connected to the murders of Lisa Saenz, 31, and Albert Douglas, 61. Saenz was found shot to death in the Trinity River in March of 2017. Douglas was reported missing in February of 2017, but his body was never found.
  • Despite being murdered just two weeks apart, the incidents are believed to be unrelated. Dallas Police Department Chief Eddie Garcia held a press conference to address the public.

“We received information from a witness that implicated Riser in both murders,” Garcia stated. “The motive for these murders is unknown at this time, and this remains an ongoing investigation.”

  • According to the affidavit for the arrest warrant, Riser offered $3,500 for a hit on Albert Douglas and another $6,000 to one of the three people who was arrested in connection to Saenz’s murder in 2017. Riser instructed the witness and others to kidnap and kill both individuals and dump their bodies in the Trinity River.
  • Riser joined the department in August of 2008 and has been patrolling South-Central Dallas while under investigation for the killings. This is not Riser’s first known offense either. In May of 2017, Riser was arrested after being accused of misdemeanor assault family violence, causing bodily injury towards an ex-girlfriend. An Internal Affairs investigation was conducted at the time, but no further details have been released.
  • As the Internal Affairs administrative investigation continues, Riser has been put on administrative leave pending the outcome. The department is moving as quickly as possible toward termination. Chief Garcia said they would be looking deeper into Riser’s arrest record in light of the charges against him.

Jail records show Riser’s bond has been set at $5 million, $2.5 million per charge.

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