It’s a new year, and so many of us want to embrace new things – a new attitude, a new commitment to organization, a new diet or exercise plan, new immigration reform? Despite our desire to start fresh our elected leaders continue to give us more of the same. As a result, we carry many old problems into the New Year like a burdensome yoke.
One such problem is the continuing debate over a border wall. In the past, miles of border barrier and other security measures have garnered significant support on both sides of the aisle. Now, both sides have erected barriers that impede any progress on border security. Our leaders continue their standoff while our federal government remains partially shut down and we desperately hope for a real solution to a problem that has left migrant children dead in U.S. custody.
We also carry into the New Year a number of other immigration woes that lack resolution but receive little attention amidst the deafening battle cry for a border wall. These immigration woes include:
1. An increase in Requests for Evidence (RFE) and denials on immigration cases that are approvable and have been approvable for decades. The end results are an increase in employers’ cost of doing business in what is already a tough recruiting market, and a decrease in the security and certainty of H-1B and other temporary workers who have lived, contributed, and worked for their employers for years in the United States as they work their way through the lengthy permanent residency process.
2. Mandatory in-person interviews for employment-based applicants for permanent residency, though the risk associated with this category of applicants is low. The backlog of cases is growing, as is the length of time for approval, due to the additional burden on local CIS offices of scheduling and conducting these additional interviews. The result is a much longer wait for permanent residency by those who have followed the rules for years and are waiting for their “green card” in order to contribute more fully to the United States.
3. Continued failure to resolve the DACA dilemma, which continues to leave DACA recipients without long-term security as the matter continues to be subject to court challenges, appeals, and injunctions. The result is that many productive and talented youth and young adults are unable to participate more fully in society.
4. Failure to take up, debate, and reach comprehensive immigration reform that would revamp a system that everyone agrees is broken. The result is that we will likely see more patches, plugs, and duct tape through policy changes, regulations, and perhaps even piecemeal legislation, each of which would only add a new patch that doesn’t quite fix the problem and may even cause some new ones.
Legal immigration benefits the U.S. economy greatly, with 43% of Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. It’s about time we usher in the New Year demanding a better, workable immigration system and say goodbye to the old immigration woes.