Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Driver’s Licenses Available to Undocumented Immigrants in New Jersey; Ban on Foreign Workers Lapses; Undocumented New Jersey Taxpayers Seek COVID-19 Relief
Undocumented Immigrants in New Jersey Can Receive Driver’s Licenses
Residents of New Jersey are now eligible to apply for driver’s licenses in the state of New Jersey regardless of an undocumented immigration status.
Applications for the driver’s license require applicants to show proof of age, identity, and residence to start the process of applying for a license. The state requires any documentation in a foreign language to be translated into English by a professional. A list of acceptable documents can be found on the state’s website.
This license will cost $24.00 and will allow licensees to drive throughout the state of New Jersey. However, anyone applying for this license must be aware that this license is not compliant with the federal REAL ID Act, and, as a result, it cannot be used at airports or to access federal buildings.
Any New Jersey resident considering applying for this new driver’s license should first consult an immigration attorney.
Ban on Temporary Workers Expected to Lapse
President Biden will allow a visa ban, which blocked tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers from entering the United States, to expire on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.
Former President Trump issued the visa ban in June 2020, stating that it was necessary to protect American workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban was subsequently renewed through March 31, 2021. Workers affected by the proclamation included workers on H-1B, H-2B, L, and J visas, which includes employees in specialty occupations, employees of global companies being transferred from foreign offices to U.S. operations, au pairs and trainees, and seasonal workers such as landscapers, summer camps counselors, and lifeguards.
The ban has frustrated many major U.S. businesses, leading to a federal lawsuit to overturn the ban. In October 2020, a federal judge blocked the policy as it applied to the several organizations and their member companies that had taken part in the lawsuit, finding that the policy would “cause irreparable harm” by interfering with business operations and leading to layoffs and closed positions.
New Jersey Organizations Seek COVID-19 Relief for Undocumented Taxpayers
After a full year in which taxpayers in New Jersey who do not have lawful immigration status had yet to receive any pandemic financial relief from the state, a coalition of immigrant advocacy organizations are calling for Governor Phil Murphy and other state leaders to provide aid for the undocumented community. New Jersey ranks fourth in the country for the highest number of undocumented residents, who contribute over $600 million in state and local taxes.
New Jersey residents who filed their tax returns using a Social Security number benefited from the three stimulus packages released by the federal government, starting with the CARES Act that took effect one year ago. However, undocumented workers typically file taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number, commonly known as an “ITIN,” and people who filed with these numbers were excluded from the stimulus payments.
Organizations are urging lawmakers to propose a new bill that would provide $600 weekly to all unemployed workers and payments, akin to stimulus checks, to taxpaying families that are otherwise excluded from COVID-19 stimulus packages.