Chat Box: Biden will bring change for immigrants, but attorney urges caution

After years of trauma, attorney says new administration will 'treat people as human beings'

Immigration attorney Ingrid Echeverria warned immigrants to tamp down their enthusiasm over news that President Joe Biden’s immigration reform bill will provide an immediate path to citizenship for 11 million unauthorized residents, close to a half million of whom live in New Jersey.

“The past four years have been very, very difficult for the undocumented community because the prior administration had made it very difficult for people to obtain employment authorizations or green cards,” said Echeverria, whose practice is in Hudson County. “But first we have to caution people; we have to educate people so that they understand that this is not a law already. It has to go through the process of becoming legislation, so the best thing they can do right now is to prepare.”

Speaking on NJTV’s Chat Box with David Cruz, Echeverria said many of her clients, traumatized by aggressive enforcement under the previous federal administration, have balked at interacting with government agencies. Birth certificates, passports and proof of residency will be critical documents for participating in whatever program emerges from the immigration initiative, which is already facing opposition from Republicans.

“I think that this new administration will treat people as human beings, and will actually do something to help people obtain their legal status.” she added.

Also on ChatBox this week: Dr. Suraj Saggar, chief of infectious disease at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck discusses the challenges of getting communities of color to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and what impact the virus variants could have on achieving herd immunity.

Then, WBGO radio CEO Steve Williams explains the challenges of running a full-time jazz radio station in the middle of a pandemic and how the station is helping the greater jazz community hit hard by the pandemic.

Chat Box streams live on NJ Spotlight News and the NJ Spotlight News YouTube channel Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and airs on NJTV Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

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