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What is going on with Immigration?

January 30, 2018

How does the immigration plan affect non-immigrant visa holders, potential immigrants and “Dreamers?

Since the government shutdown and subsequent restart, Donald Trump has outlined his goals for comprehensive immigration reform (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/white-house-framework-immigration-reform-border-security/). What does this outline mean for non-immigrant visa holders, potential immigrants and the “Dreamers?”

First, regarding the first provision of the outline dealing with border security, the White House is requesting $25 billion to build a “wall” and enhance border security. In reality, there are very few experts who believe the administration will build an actual wall. It is widely considered impossible to construct an actual physical wall along the entire length of the border considering the terrain is too difficult along many areas of the border. In any event, if the administration receives $25 billion to enhance border security, it is safe to assume that crossing the border into the United States legally or illegally will become much harder.

Second, regarding the second provision of the outline dealing with DACA legalization, the President introduced two new concepts to the DACA debate: 1) the White House is not only offering to legalize the status of DACA recipients, but he is also offering to provide them with a path to Citizenship; and 2) his outline includes DACA eligible immigrants, which could be over a million more immigrants than those who have registered under DACA. What makes an immigrant eligible for DACA is that the immigrant entered into the US illegally when they were a minor. This provision for DACA eligible immigrants opens the door to significant fraud, as there is no way the government can know when an illegal immigrant entered the country, unless they are illegal because they overstayed their visas.

Third, regarding the third provision of the outline dealing with protecting the nuclear family, the President intends to limit family sponsored immigration to sponsorships of immediate spouses and minors. This will dramatically reduce the number of eligible petitions, essentially limiting family-based sponsorships to spouses, as very few people have legally migrated to the US and left behind their children. Essentially, typical family based petitioners will need to find an employment based sponsorship or otherwise not be eligible for any other immigrant petition. The provision also proposes to eliminate the backlog for family sponsored visas. This would be a very positive as the backlog has grown due to slower processing which seems to have started at the beginning of this administration’s term in office.

Fourth, regarding the fourth provision of the outline dealing with the visa lottery, the President intends to eliminate the visa lottery and use the lottery’s allocation of visa to further reduce the family-based sponsorship visa processing backlog. This provision would force immigrants relying on the visa lottery to pursue an alternative legal approach to immigration, which would be either Family Based (not likely if the changes above are approved) on or Employment Based sponsorship. It would also reduce the backlog for family-based sponsorship visas.