Published July 16, 2020
By: Richard Hanus, Esq.
In my 25+ years as an immigration lawyer, my area of practice has never been as important or relevant as it is today. This Administration has made it this way, bringing U.S. immigration law into the spotlight as one of the bedrock issues of its campaign and presidency. Whether it really merits this level of attention is questionable, given other more pressing problems plaguing this nation. Loud, news attracting immigration policies are released every other day, and whether their legality is held up in court seems to be beside the point. The policies touch on illegal immigration as well as ways to further restrict legal immigration. The actual substance of these policies seems irrelevant, as long as the Administration presents itself as active, potent and restrictionist to its target audience.
From the start, the focus has never wavered, with an agenda featuring Muslim bans, immigrants as free loaders and oddly, at the same time, job stealers. This Administration’s portrayal focuses on immigrants as criminals, terrorists, invaders, and infested asylum seekers. These days as we inch closer to November, and with the pandemic as a pretext, the Administration has in grand fashion proceeded with the same go-to recipe, and most notably, with initiatives to restrict legal immigration. Below are among the most significant of the 10 years worth of immigration news this Administration has packed into the past 90 days. There is no reason to believe the trend will be any different in the coming 90 days.
International Students: Several weeks ago, the Administration announced a policy prohibiting international students in the U.S. from attending classes online and that if they failed to appear for in classroom instruction they would be considered out of status and deportable. Prompted by the impossible choice left for these students (health vs. immigration status) seeking to continue to study in the U.S., dozens of lawsuits by universities and states were filed. After a short court hearing on the universities/states’ request for a preliminary injunction, the Administration announced their reversal of the policy.
Presidential proclamations ending overseas visa issuance: Consular processing of U.S. immigrant visas for practically all categories of family and employment based immigrants, will keep hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals eligible for legal immigration outside the U.S. until the end of the year and perhaps indefinitely. Many lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality and logic of these Executive actions and calling into question whether the pandemic is truly this Administration’s motivating factor in placing these restrictions.
Refugees and Asylum: It is is quite well known that factions within this Administration have publicly backed the notion of completely cutting off admission into the U.S. of refugees fleeing for their lives from other nations. The Administration has in fact come close to that aspiration by significantly slashing the number of refugees allowed entry. Further, it has placed unprecedented barriers for individuals seeking refugee status here, making it next to impossible for an applicant for asylum at our border or within the U.S. to succeed. Lawsuits challenging these prohibitive measures have been filed.
Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA): How our nation deals with 12 million undocumented individuals has been a question plaguing administrations for more than 25 years. The subtopic of how we deal with 800,000 of those undocumented, who were brought to the U.S. as children, has been a particularly sensitive and sensational political football. Back in 2012, President Obama through DACA executive action conferred legal status for them in 2 year, renewable increments. President Trump ran on a platform of looking to deport all of our nation’s undocumented and end DACA. To this point, as expected, he has not come anywhere close to deporting all of our nation’s undocumented, but he has indeed followed through in rescinding Obama’s DACA program. After a long legal challenge, the U.S. Supreme Court last month ruled that while it was indeed within this President’s power to rescind DACA, it must be done in conformity with specific regulatory rules. According to the ruling, the Administration failed to abide by these rules and needed to restart the rescission process. Within days of saying that this is exactly what he would do, the President surprisingly advised that he is now going to save and “take care of DACA” with a component of merit based immigration principles. Up to this point, talk about saving DACA or implementing a merit based immigration policy has been mainly, if not completely, empty.
PUBLISHED July 16, 2020– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2020, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois