A Wall is Already Being Built
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.
A wall separates people and that is specifically what the Trump Administration’s policies and executive actions have done. 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.
Trump’s administration has done this without most of us even noticing, using a variety of ways, including the five which will be discussed below, to form a virtual wall.
Longer Immigration Applications & Processing Times
The law defines who is eligible to receive an immigration 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 that are needed to process those forms. The Trump administration has more than doubled and in some cases tripled the amount of paperwork. 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) that was 7 pages became 18 pages long. It is now much harder, longer, and costly for immigrants to even obtain simple benefits for which they have a legal right.
This increase in paperwork has also caused a dramatic delay in the processing of the applications. While an I-765 (work authorization application) was routinely completed in 1-3 months, it now takes 7-9 months to complete in many occasions, 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 in order to obtain their employment Green Card, even though they have already been inspected and admitted to the United States.
The processing times for these applications has gone 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 scores of immigrants to obtain the legal permanent 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 renewals, extensions or transfers of H-1B visas require a two part adjudication causing delays, costs, and disruption to U.S. businesses and the lives of the visa holders.
…Another brick in the wall.
Elimination of Asylum for Domestic Violence Victims
Domestic violence is a scourge 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 could find no protection in their home country and were forced, often at great personal sacrifice, to come to the U.S. 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 accomplished 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 allowed immigrants who had been in the U.S. unlawfully, to obtain an I-601A waiver (pardon) if there was evidence 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 for the U.S. If a person was in removal / deportation proceedings, this regulation allowed those proceedings to be paused or stopped temporarily to allow the immigrant to obtain their green card 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 obtain 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 U.S. citizens and residents with special needs can place on our government would be reduced significantly, if their immigrant family members were allowed to obtain their residency and continue to support 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 on Asylum Proceedings, and the Detention of Immigrant Children, which effectively have redefined what Americans, in addition to judges and courts, view as reasonable.
By forcing so many atrocious 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, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, son of immigrants, issued a ruling last year that cleared a potential obstacle to Trump’s Wall, by finding that the administration has the authority to waive a host of environmental laws that would have prevented its construction.
…And the wall does not stop there.
Actions We Must All Take if we Truly want to Stop the Wall
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 place of origin, is treated fairly and with respect by all government officials.
Legal immigration is not only good for our country but a necessity if our economy is to experience a healthy growth. Our government needs to stop fighting about senseless physical walls which are a waste of resources and energy, and instead focus on reforming our immigration system, so that our country can benefit not only from the needed labor force and the additional taxes and social security contributions, but from all the creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and cultural richness that comes from diversity and the immigrant drive to make a better life.
The FitzGerald Law Company Team
Successful track record serving the Massachusetts Community for over 20 years with all their legal needs.