The results of the recent presidential elections have generated anxiety and
concern among the immigrant communities across United States. As America is about to take a turn to a destination that remains largely unknown, we would like to address some of the most pressing questions concerning the US immigration policy for individuals and businesses alike.
AS OF NOW, NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN OUR IMMIGRATION LAWS
As of now, it is very important to note that nothing in our immigration laws have changed. We encourage individuals, investors, and businesses to continue to pursue their respective cases or start new ones.
CHANGES EXPECTED TO COME AFTER THE PRESIDENT'S INAUGURATION
Following the president-elect inauguration on January 20, 2017, we expect the immigration landscape to align to the promises made during the campaign, many of which paint a grim picture particularly for undocumented immigrants. Immigration enforcement is likely to become the core of the new administration immigration policy for the next four years. The size and the scope of the enforcement could be unprecedented in American history and exorbitantly expensive. Broader immigration changes such as fortifying the US-Mexico border by building a wall and instituting mass-scale deportations of undocumented immigrants will require congressional action and are largely unpopular. While it remains to be seen if Mr. Trump will actually follow-through with his campaign promises, we highlight below some of what we anticipate to change in the US immigration policy:
1. Revocation of Executive Orders: We expect an immediate roll back of many of Obama's executive action programs that have shielded millions from deportation. Mr. Trump has promised to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival ("DACA"), a program that provides a tow-year stay of deportation and work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children, in the first 100 days of his presidency.
2. Increased Worksite Enforcement: Employers should expect an uptick in audits from USCIS and the Department of Labor. We also expect the number of worksite raids to dramatically increase. The enforcement will focus on ensuring employers are complying with US immigration laws. It is recommended employers of foreign national employees consult with an experienced immigration lawyer to review their personnel records and ensure their I-9 records are complete and accurate.
3. Visa Security: Mr. Trump has proposed a "extreme vetting" of individuals entering the United States to combat Islamic extremism. This likely refers to an intense screening process of citizens from countries with high Muslim population that are considered "high-risk". The proposed policy was vaguely explained but at the time it was announced called for establishing whether visa applicants share Western values. This ultimately means longer wait times for various immigration applications. Mr. Trump has also campaigned on promising to temporarily suspend immigration for nationals of countries with a history of terror.
4. Border Security: We expect the new administration to focus primarily on increasing the border security with more Border Patrol agents and adding new technological infrastructure. Mr. Trump has also proposed building a "physical wall" on the border with Mexico.
5. Temporary Work Visas: Preserving jobs for American workers was a central theme of Mr. Trump's campaign. It is anticipated that USCIS will increase the vetting and the requirements an employer must meet in order to petition for H , L, and other work visa categories for foreign workers.
6. Mandatory, Nationwide E-Verify: The current Employment Verification System (E-Verify) is an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. It is likely that legislation will be proposed to make E-Verify national and mandatory for all employers of any size.
7. Preparing for the Worst; Deportations and Detentions: Mr. Trump has recently reiterated his promise to deport millions of "criminal" undocumented immigrants, estimating the number could be between 2 to 3 million. While his exact definition of "criminal" is not clear, it is best that families with undocumented members prepare for the worst-case scenario. This applies to anyone without current lawful immigration status, including: those with prior, even minor criminal records; prior deportations; and or even those without any prior criminal or immigration proceedings at all. We recommend families consult with an experienced immigration attorney as part of a comprehensive deportation action plan.
8. Sanctuary Cities: The Trump administration along with the Republican Congress will look pass measures to defund sanctuary cities - cities and counties where local law enforcement decided not to cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement.
The immigration attorneys at Charlotte Immigration Law Firm will continue to closely monitor the transition period as well as Mr. Trump's first 100 days in the White House. We hope that the new administration will take a pragmatic approach to immigration that will balance the need for security with other key national interests.If changes to our immigration system do come, we will keep you informed and continue as always to provide the strongest advocacy and counsel for our clients.