Outstanding reporting by Tanvi Misra in Roll Call last week uncovered memos that state that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service has “stopped” processing applications for residence. While we have not seen the memos at issue, we are going to try to piece together what it means. In our opinion, it is not as nefarious as it seems, though it sure is bad. Let’s start with this basic premise: this administration is resolutely and completely anti-immigrant.
Last month, after I posted about the Attorney General (AG)’s decision in Matter of A-B-, I went home, stood on the roof of my building, and just yelled for a while. It felt good to vocalize some of the horror that this administration makes me feel. Of course, yelling isn’t a solution. If it was, we’d long since be out of this mess. Instead, we have seen the administration make even bolder attempts to limit legal immigration over the last month (leading to, you guessed it, more yelling).
It has been four months since the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (CIS) began stateside adjudication of I-601A Applications for Provisional Waivers of inadmissibility due to unlawful presence. In those four months, we have learned a few things about how U.S. CIS is implementing this new program. Initially, the U.S. CIS has received over 7,000 I-601A provisional waiver applications. Many have been already been decided and CIS states that it has a six month processing goal.
The day before the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the most significant piece of immigration legislation since 1996, the “President of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, the union representing 12,000 United States Citizenship & Immigration Services adjudications officers and staff” sent a letter to Members of the United States Senate in opposition to the immigration reform bill under review in the Senate. Despite claiming to be the “backbone of our nation’s immigration system,” the Union leadership complains that they were not consulted over the proposed immigration reform.
As predicted by many in the profession, the H-1B filing cap was reached today. On one hand, this is good news because reaching the H-1B cap this early into the season is an indicator that the economy is rebounding. This has been the shortest application period to date in the past five years. However, this means that all applications filed through today will be subject to a lottery– a computer generated random selection process for all applications that were received through today, as in April 5, 2013.
On the same day that the immigration world was abuzz with news that the President would unveil his immigration reform plan next week, the administration filed a brief to preserve the unnecessary family separation caused by its cramped understanding of the Child Status Protection Act reflected in the Board of Immigration Appeals decision in Matter of Wang. The juxtaposition of the prospect of common sense immigration reform with the wholly unnecessary appeal of the U.S.
Over the last few weeks we have answered dozens of questions about the provisional waiver. One group of questions keeps appearing- questions about how people in removal proceedings or with a removal order can qualify for the provisional waiver. Whereas, the initial rule announced by the Department of Homeland Security indicated that the provisional waiver would be unavailable to people in removal proceedings, the final rule is somewhat more forgiving.
It is very true that the immigration laws need a wholesale revision. Congress needs to make substantial changes, regulations need to be re-written, precedent decisions scrapped and new guidance forthcoming. But another change is needed and this change may the hardest of all. It is a change of attitude within the agencies. We have written in this space on multiple occasions about the hostility that elements within ICE have for their political leadership and the “culture of no” within CIS has been well-documented.
The House of Representatives is moving quickly to give the appearance that they have changed their tune on immigration. The House is scheduled to vote this week on the STEM Jobs Act, sponsored by the anti-immigrant Lamar Smith (R-TX). The STEM Jobs Act would provide 55,000 additional visas for foreign nationals receiving advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Supporters of the STEM Jobs Act argue that it addresses an acknowledged problem area in U.S.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas and other senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials held a stakeholder conference call on Tuesday, August 14 at 1:00 pm (Eastern) to discuss Secretary Janet Napolitano’s June 15 memorandum. In accordance with the Secretary’s memorandum, USCIS will begin accepting requests for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals on August 15, 2012. During the teleconference, Director Mayorkas provided an overview of the process by which certain young people who came to the United States as children may request deferred action, provided details on the forms to be submitted, and answered questions from interested parties.