US Election Triggers Spike in Activity for Immigration Lawyers
Surprised as so many others were by the outcome of last week’s US presidential election, those interested in immigration benefits have suddenly found they have no choice but to act now to seek benefits they may be eligible for. Newly elected presidents from both parties have a history of acting on immigration early into their first terms. For example, George W. Bush pushed for and signed the LIFE Act which allowed many undocumented immigrants an opportunity to gain legal status if they had been in the US for a certain period of time and had already filed for limited immigration benefits in the past that prior to the Act would not have offered a path to legalization. President Obama tried and failed to get comprehensive immigration reform passed. The Senate approved a comprehensive bill that the House of Representatives refused to even consider. Thus, many immigrants and their families, including undocumented individuals, were waiting to take any action–waiting to see if Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would be elected, and to see if the makeup of Congress would change the dynamics of immigration reform. Everyone hoping for reasoned solutions to what all agree is an untenable situation.
The election results certainly did change the dynamics of immigration reform. At this point, no one taking power in January is talking about reforming the law to advance legal immigration. Virtually all of President-elect Trump’s rhetoric has been focused on enforcement or restrictions on immigration (such as the “extreme vetting” of those from countries that have connections to terrorism). In this light, many affected by immigration policy are afraid. This atmosphere of fear is driving many to take action. Family members of US citizens are coming forward in droves to pursue existing paths toward regularizing their status, while others, like long-time permanent residents, are deciding now is the time to apply for citizenship.
Immigration is a funny thing. Regardless of the outcome of the election, immigration business was likely to boom. The only question was would it boom in the direction of increased legal immigration or would it boom in the direction of a crackdown. With the latter virtually inevitable, people are no longer waiting for a better option–they know nothing better will be coming along for a long time. Even though many do have legal paths toward regularizing their status; millions of others do not. They are the most vulnerable at this point.
Many current benefits (mostly those based on Executive Orders signed by President Obama) are likely to go away soon after President Trump takes office. One such example is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. When the DREAMERS Act failed to pass, this was the solution offered by President Obama for the children of those whose parents brought them to the US when they were very young and had no choice in the matter. The program has allowed many such children to get work permits, driver’s licenses, open bank accounts, and attend school. This may all change if President Trump carries through with his promise to rescind all of the President Obama’s executive orders.
If you or someone you know is in need of regularizing their status or just getting solid advice at this turbulent time, contact an experienced immigration lawyer now.