President Trump has substantially expanded the leeway federal immigration officers have to aggressively enforce the country’s immigration laws. The Obama administration deported some 2.7 million people over an eight-year period, but then the focus was on recent immigrants detained at the border and undocumented individuals who were convicted of serious crimes. The previous administration generally left alone undocumented immigrants living their lives in peace.
The tide has turned with the current administration’s policies. The Trump administration is pursuing its immigration policies with intensity. Trump has banned travel from several majority Muslim nations, increased the number of arrests for undocumented immigrant arrests, and pushed toward the eventual construction of a border wall.
Within one week of taking office, Trump signed an executive order giving government agencies the authority to remove any person who has committed a “chargeable criminal offense.” This means that an individual who crossed the border without a visa is subject to removal regardless of whether he or she poses any danger or whether he or she is productive and doing well.
Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst with the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute observed, “The Obama administration worked really hard to narrow who they were focusing immigration laws against.” Unauthorized migrants who lived in the U.S. for some period of time could live in relative comfort. “The Trump administration has blown up that comfort.”
The current administration, with its different priorities and expanded focus, has eliminated previous protections that many undocumented immigrants have relied upon in the past.
Additional targets for arrest
ICE agents still perform the work they performed in the previous eight years, targeting known criminals during raids of homes and workplaces. With the expanded immigration enforcement authority under the Trump administration, undocumented immigrants are increasingly subject to being arrested in raids by ICE or otherwise.
A particularly publicized case involves a mother of two children born in the United States, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. She lived in the country for more than two decades. She was recently detained at her annual required check-in and swiftly deported to Mexico the very next day.
The legal immigration slowdown
New hurdles are placing challenges in the way for people seeking visas to visit the U.S. on business as well as American companies seeking to recruit these individuals. State Department and immigration officials are examining more closely requests for visas and extensions of stays by employers for foreign workers already in the country.
The goal of the administration with these new policies reflects Trump’s values as reflected in executive orders issued by the President. They claim to protect the nation from terrorism and U.S. workers from foreign competition. Many observers however claim that a primary reason for this increased immigration enforcement is prejudice against immigrants.
Every year, the U.S. makes available thousands of certain visas for foreign skilled workers. These visas are applicable for three to six years. When the economy is humming, demand for these vases outstrips supply. Therefore, the government holds a lottery to issue these visas for the benefit of companies. This part of the legal immigration picture is now drawing additional scrutiny.
The immigration process has slowed in many instances with the requirement of applicants to provide additional work history and education information. As well, employers are required to provide more documentation than in the past.
According to statistics from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the number of “requests for evidence” regarding H-1B visas from January to August 2017 increased by 44 percent compared to the same seven month period the previous year. The administration is still letting through the majority of H-1B applications that make it past the lottery stage. However, the rate of approval is gradually declining.
Nashville immigration lawyer Perry A. Craft has extensive experience serving the legal needs of immigrants facing serious issues with ICE and law enforcement. If you have any question about your current situation, or need legal support, call the Law Office of Perry A. Craft today at 615-953-3808 or complete our contact form.