“A Wall Is Already Being Built,” says Desmond P. FitzGerald, an Immigration Attorney in Boston, MA
The Principal of FitzGerald & Company explains how a virtual immigration wall is already being built right before our eyes
BOSTON, Massachusetts — “Trump said that he was going to build a wall, and most of us thought him incapable of doing so. He has distracted us with his statements about steel slates on our Southern border, so we did not know that the wall is already being built right before our eyes,” said Desmond P. FitzGerald, Principal of FitzGerald Law Company, a boutique immigration law firm located in Boston, Massachusetts.
FitzGerald goes on saying that a wall separates people and that is specifically what the Trump Administration’s policies and executive actions are doing. “They have separated individuals from the protection of the law; separated families from their loved ones; employers from their employees, and virtually all of us involved with Immigration from justice,” added FitzGerald.
The immigration attorney in Boston continues making his point stating that the President of the United States (POTUS) has done it without most of us even noticing, using a variety of ways to form a virtual wall, including the five mentioned below.
Longer Applications & Processing Times
The law defines who is eligible to receive a benefit, such as a Work Authorization Card, but the Administration produces the forms to be used, which in turn affect the number of people and resources necessary to process them. The Trump administration has more than doubled and in some cases tripled the amount of immigration paperwork required. An application for Work Authorization (Form I-765) and a Petition for an Alien Relative (Form I-130) which were 2 pages long, turned into 7- and 12-page long applications, and an Adjustment of Status Application (I-485) originally 7 pages became 18 pages long. It is now much harder, longer, and costly for immigrants to obtain simple benefits for which they have a legal right.
This increase in paperwork has also caused a dramatic delay in the processing times of the applications. While an I-765 (work authorization application) was routinely completed in 1-3 months, it now takes generally 7-9 months to complete, leaving immigrants essentially “undocumented” for a period of time, despite their lawful right to otherwise be “documented.”
… It’s like putting them behind a wall.
Employment-Based Green Card Interviews & Re-adjudication of H1b’s
Nevertheless, Trump has enacted procedures (not laws) that require employees of U.S. companies who have an approved petition for an Immigrant Visa to have an individual interview with an immigration officer to obtain their US employment green card, even though they were already inspected and admitted to the U.S..
The processing times for these applications has lengthened from 10 months to 21 months.
This does not promote security or any other lawful objective, but it has created tremendous processing delays which have not allowed many immigrants to obtain the U.S. resident status that they otherwise lawfully deserve.
A similar tactic has been implemented against H-1B employees. Since the enactment of the H-1B law, an H-1B visa renewal or extension petition filed on behalf of a person in the U.S. already holding an H-1B visa, would only require a review of the proposed position, and not a review of the individual’s qualifications for the visa. This allowed H-1B employees to efficiently extend their status with their current employment or to provide services to a new employer.
Trump’s new H-1B policies have eliminated this efficiency. Now all H-1B visa renewals, extensions or transfers require a two-part adjudication process causing delays, costs, and disruption to American businesses and the lives the immigrants holding these visas.
… Another brick in the wall.
Elimination of Asylum for Domestic Violence Victims
Domestic violence is a crime that affects families and communities all over the world. We are fortunate in the United States to have some protection under our laws. This is not true in all countries. In 2014, the Obama administration understood the plight of victims of domestic violence around the world. Many that could not find protection in their home country were forced, often at great personal sacrifice, to come to the United States. A decision was issued by judges at the Board of Immigration Appeals, to clarify that victims of domestic violence could obtain asylum in the U.S. if they otherwise qualified under our asylum laws. It was a great victory for a deserving group of people. Unfortunately, in 2018, the Trump administration targeted this vulnerable class and his Attorney General issued an order, stating that victims of domestic violence could no longer obtain asylum in the U.S. This was achieved without the advice and consent of Congress or the American people, and this was also done without the consideration or ruling by immigration judges.
… And the wall keeps growing.
Obstacles to Obtain an I-601A Waiver
In 2013, a regulation was implemented by President Obama that would allow immigrants who had been in the U.S. unlawfully, to obtain an I-601A waiver (pardon) if there was evidence that their U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse or parent would suffer an extreme hardship living here without them. It was important to keep families together, particularly, families who had a member suffering from a medical or mental disability and it made good economic sense. If a person was in removal / deportation proceedings, this regulation allowed those proceedings to be temporarily stopped to allow the immigrant to obtain their residency and continue supporting their U.S. citizen or resident spouse or parent. These were immigrants that had no serious criminal history or prior violations of the immigration law.
In 2018, Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, issued a ruling which prevented immigration judges from pausing deportation / removal proceedings for people to obtain these waivers. This basically eliminated what was once a lawful means to secure resident status, for so many immigrants whose U.S. citizen or resident family members are in need of assistance. Furthermore, the financial burden that these US citizens and residents with special needs can place on the American government would be reduced significantly, if their immigrant family members were allowed to obtain their green card and continue supporting them emotionally and financially.
Barriers… another definition of wall.
Shifted the Bar of Reasonableness
Decisions taken by Trump and his administration have resulted in a flood of appalling cases that have to be managed by the Federal Court. These cases include lawsuits over Executive Actions, such as the Muslim Ban, restrictions over Asylums Proceedings, and the Detention of Immigrant Children, which have effectively redefined what Americans, in addition to judges and courts, view as reasonable.
By forcing so many despicable cases into court, Trump has now desensitized our country. We have become so accustomed to the administration’s bad behavior that the courts have been less willing to address it, depriving immigrants and Americans of one of their last bastions of safety.
For example, US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a child of immigrants, issued a ruling last year that cleared a potential hurdle to Trump’s Wall, by finding that the administration has the authority to waive a number of environmental laws that would have prevented the wall’s construction.
… And the wall does not stop there.
Keeping Asylum Seekers in Custody and Charging Asylum Application Fees
On April 16, 2019, Trump’s Attorney General issued an administrative ruling in a case, Matter of M-S-, 27 I&N Dec. 509 (A.G. 2019), which virtually eliminates the authority of Immigration Courts to release asylum seekers from the confinement of a federal detention center while their claim is processed. Trump and his administration hope to deprive asylum seekers from access to the information, assistance, and resources which are necessary to win an asylum claim or simply to frustrate these individuals to a point where they will abandon their hope and their asylum claim.
On April 29, 2019, Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to have application filing fees charged to asylum seekers in order to process their claim for asylum. Only Iran, Russia and Fiji assess a fee to apply for asylum. This rule would be contrary to the intent of our asylum laws and will hopefully be overruled by a Federal court, but it stresses the anti-immigrant sentiment of this administration.
It is clear that for the remainder of his time in power, Trump plans to reject, deny, and obstruct Immigration petitions, applications, requests and claims, irrespective of their validity.
… Fight to destroy the wall
Rising Improper and Unsubstantiated Immigration Application Denials
We have also observed an increase in unsubstantiated and improper denials of immigration applications by the Trump administration. The administration will state that applications are incomplete or have been sent without the required supporting documentation when this is not the case; it will request additional documentation not required by law; or it will declare that the status of the applicant is different from what it actually is, in order to disqualify an otherwise eligible applicant.
These denials require businesses, immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members as well as their immigration attorneys to file responses, motions, appeals or Federal lawsuits, which inevitably take more time, money and resources to complete. It is critical that organizations, businesses, and individuals continue to support our immigrant community and continue to file for lawful immigration benefits with greater persistence than ever before.
We Must All Take Action if we Truly want to Stop the Wall
FitzGerald concludes the analysis stating that, “It is more important than ever to vote and make our voices heard. We need to proactively contact our political representatives to make sure they understand that our country needs laws that are respected by those charged with their administration, and that we will demand that everyone, no matter their race or place of origin, is treated fairly and respectfully by all government officials”
The Boston Immigration, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury Law Firm believes that legal immigration is not only positive for our country as many serious economic studies report, but it is also a necessity if our economy is to experience a healthy growth. “Our government needs to stop fighting about absurd physical walls which are a waste of resources and energy, and work instead on reforming our immigration system, so that our country can benefit not only from the needed labor force and the additional contributions in taxes and social security, but from all the creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and cultural richness that comes from diversity and the immigrant drive to make a better life,” concluded FitzGerald.
If you reside in the state of Massachusetts and would like to obtain information about filing an immigration petition, please contact us at: www.fitzgeraldlawcompany.com/contact/ or call 617-303-2600 (ext.0)
About Desmond P. FitzGerald:
Attorney Desmond P. FitzGerald is the Principal and Managing Director of FitzGerald & Company, LLC in Boston, MA. He is a criminal and immigration litigator and has successfully litigated hundreds of immigration cases in Federal court. He has more than 20 decisions published and many of them have created precedent. Attorney FitzGerald is admitted by the Bar to practice law in MA, NH, FL, and Washington D.C. and he is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). For more information visit: https://www.fitzgeraldlawcompany.com