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2018 Immigration Issues

The tilt in this Administration towards harsh immigration measures is well known because of high profile moves like the travel bans and the separation and incarceration of parents and young children from Central America who have sought safety in the U.S.  But a series of seemingly less significant steps that have largely flown under the radar of public notice have even bigger consequences for the fate of legal immigrants.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are in the U.S. legally file applications for new or different types of immigration benefits.  Up until now, if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had questions about an application, or thought the application was missing a piece of evidence, it would send a request for additional information, giving the applicant a chance to supplement his visa application.  If USCIS ultimately denied the application, the agency sent the applicant a letter telling him that his application has been denied, informing the applicant of his appeal rights, and telling him that, if he has no other legal immigration status to fall back on, he should leave the country.

Continue Reading Does USCIS Want to Turn Lawful Immigrants into Unlawful, Removable Immigrants? The Answer it seems, is “Yes”

It appears that the Republican controlled Congress and the Trump Administration cannot get anything done on the contentious issues of immigration.

Right now, a slight bi-partisan majority in the Senate wants to provide a pathway to citizenship for young people brought to the US illegally as children (the so-called Dreamers) and will provide $25 billion for border security or a border wall.  Because it lacks other measures President Trump views as critical, the Trump Administration lobbied against this bill, resulting in its failure with only 54 of the 60 votes needed to pass.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan will not bring an amendment to a vote unless it will be signed by President Trump.  President Trump has stated he will not sign a bill unless it meets his “4 Pillars” requirement: a path to citizenship for Dreamers, billions to fund a border wall and other border security measures, limitations on legal family-based immigration, and elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery program.  A bill sponsored by Republicans John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley, which mirrors President Trump’s 4 Pillars, was brought to vote and failed 39 to 60.

Continue Reading Immigration Issues on Capitol Hill – Will Anything Get Done?

We thank Michael W. Klein, of The Fletcher School, Tufts University, for co-authoring this post.

This blog post originally appeared as an article in Econofact and is being reprinted on our blog with Econofact’s permission.

The Issue

The term “chain migration” is currently being used to describe a process in which one legal immigrant can generate many new admissions by sponsoring his or her relatives — each of whom, in turn, leads to even more immigrants. President Donald Trump called for an end to “chain migration” in his State of the Union address on January 30, 2018, stating that: “…a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” While immigrants admitted on the basis of family ties constitute the largest share of new permanent residents each year, the potential for an ever-expanding chain is constrained. Under current law, family-based immigrant visas are limited to a small number of categories of close relatives, many of which have numerical limits and are subject to caps by country of origin. As a result, there are long wait times, of years or even decades, for many family-based immigrant visas. Furthermore, family members are subject to extensive background and security checks, and financial support by U.S. residents must be established for them to obtain visas.

Continue Reading Weak Links in the Chain Migration Argument

As of 4 pm on Friday, January 19, 2018, the US Senate had not reached an agreement on the terms of a continuing resolution to keep the US government running. The US House passed a 30-day resolution on Thursday, but this must also pass the Senate and President Trump must sign it before midnight, January 19, 2018 to avoid a shutdown.

 

If this shutdown does happen and if it mirrors what happened with shutdowns in previous years, the immigration processes most impacted with be those involving the Department of Labor (DOL). Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) and PERM Labor Certification Applications cannot be filed during the shutdown as their funding is dependent on congressional appropriations. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), however, is a fee-based immigration benefit provider and it is not dependent on appropriations. As with prior shutdowns, we expect USCIS to continue operations and adjudicating cases.

The US State Department may also see a slowdown or even cessation of visa processing until funding legislation can be passed.

Our ML Strategies group is also monitoring congressional action and updates can be reviewed here. Stay tuned for further alerts as this situation continues to unfold.