As our immigration system continues to be front-page news, I’ve been watching the entire system literally melt down. As a Board Certified Immigration Lawyer, it is my job to come up with solutions as roadblock after roadblock is placed before my individual and business clients. In this recent article in Playboy magazine, I was quoted in connection with the revocation of TPS and work permits for over 200,000 people from El Salvador in the U.S.
No, these 200,000 people are not MS-13 gang members, rather they have been fully vetted and passed all security checks. As the president and his appointees revoke program after program and shut down paths to immigration, regular citizens are fighting back. As I mention in the article above, there are solutions available for Salvadorans, but none will be as easy as simply renewing their TPS status and work permits as they have done for over a decade.
With regard to Dreamers, this issue has been causing the threat of government shutdowns. Of course, the whole issue was created when our president revoked Dreamer status (DACA) for the hundreds of thousands of young people who came out of the shadows to apply for this government benefit, with the promise of work permits for registering themselves. Unlike TPS, this Houston immigration lawyer and immigration lawyer reports that there was nothing “temporary” about the DACA program. It was established by an executive order of President Obama, which the current president has revoked, thus creating a DACA problem.
It is not my job to criticize the president, so let me point out that I do agree with him that there should be a permanent solution to DACA, but revoking and canceling the program may have not been the best way to reach that permanent solution. On the other hand, perhaps the president viewed it as a way to put pressure on Congress to deal with the issue, albeit at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of people who have to worry daily about their immigration status.
Finally, there is the notion of chain migration, a phrase that I never heard before in my decades of experience as a Houston immigration lawyer. Perhaps I should start saying that I specialize in chain migration, together with my other immigration specialties, but truth be told, that phrase exists nowhere in the law. As a Board Certified Immigration Lawyer, I have no idea what chain migration is.
According to some of the president’s speeches, it apparently refers to our system of family-based immigration. Under our laws, there are two main ways to immigrate to America, namely business-based immigration and family-based immigration. There are other ways too, such as refugees, etc, but these are the two main ways to come here.
Family-based immigration is our legal system where U.S. citizens can bring over their spouse, parents and/or children. A U.S. citizen can also sponsor a brother or sister, but that category of immigration typically takes 15 to 25 years, depending on country of origin. So, by chain migration, does the current regime seek to stop a U.S. citizen from sponsoring their foreign-born husband or wife from living with them in the U.S. ? Do they seek to stop foreign-born step-children or the grandparents who often babysit, from coming to the U.S. ? This is an open question left up to anyone’s guess.
Since the “chain migration” phrase does not exist in the law, maybe it means to revoke all family-based immigration, or maybe it is a developing concept to revoke as many laws as possible that allow family-based immigration. I will note that the same family-based laws that allow my clients from Norway to sponsor their parents or children to come to America, are the same exact laws that allow my Haitian and Filipino clients to sponsor their spouse and children and parents to come to the U.S.
I hope this article helps in understanding the current immigration debate. It is important to know exactly what the law and federal regulations actually say, rather than to generalize and claim that all illegal border crossers are drug dealers and MS-13 gang members (couldn’t be further from the truth!), or that all immigrants (or a large percentage) are criminals. I’m sure that the same small percentage of the immigration population that is criminal, matches (or is even less than) the percentage of native born Americans who are criminals. You will notice that those who seek to stop legal immigration to this country do not cite to any valid studies or statistics, rather they cite to a car accident here or a murder there that was committed by an immigrant, while thousands of similar incidents, sadly, are committed by local born Americans every day.
Finally, I promised to mention the “meltdown.” As the current regime cancels immigration programs and seeks new laws to deport as many people as possible, they are also slowing down and fighting the approval of legal immigration cases across the country. For businesses with approved foreign workers, the government has announced they will re-visit those approvals and in many cases, they are claiming errors in approvals and canceling work permits or revoking them. This is seen across the country with those on valid H-1B and L-1 work permits. At our law firm, thankfully, we have generally been successful in fighting back and keeping our foreign worker clients legitimately employed, but it is not easy and it is expensive. On other cases, huge backlogs have been created for legal immigration, while at the same time, the government has insisted on expediting deportation cases.