Happy New Year and welcome to the blog!
2021 brought about many changes in Immigration Law, due in part to President Biden’s orders attempting to repair much of the regressive and damaging policies instituted by the former Trump Administration, as well as recent court decisions that have also aided in reversing some of the prior Administration´s laws. Some orders have been successful, yet others haven’t.
So, what does this mean for immigration in 2022? It’s a coin toss!
No, this isn’t me trying to be cynical. The reality is that immigration law tends to change from month to month or even sooner than that. It is just the nature of the beast.
For now, the following are the main issues affecting the general immigration process for the foreseeable future:
- Massive delays on applications, specifically work permits – there used to be a time when I could tell a client an approximation of the time their case would take based on the process they were seeking. Mind you, we are talking about a few years back, and there were always complications even then, but the truth is I had a good idea of when to expect an approval. For instance, it used to be a given that if you were applying for a work permit because you were adjusting your status, then you would get that work permit anywhere between 2 to 4 months. Now, I have no clue. Even renewals for work permits, especially for asylees, are taking more than 6 months. And the problem there is that while asylees make it an automatic extension of six months for their work permits, they still aren’t getting any approvals in time. What happens then? They lose their jobs. It’s safe to say that pretty much everything is backlogged.
- MPP is back – the Biden Administration has been forced to restart this program. What is it, exactly? Basically, immigrant who present themselves at the southern border, weather at the bridge or by the river, are briefly interviewed, and then sent back to Mexico with paperwork and told to wait till their court date. On that date they are supposed to present themselves back at the bridge where they will be transported somewhere to see an immigration judge and present their case. MPP was started by the Trump Administration and it was an absolute fiasco as well as cruel. Immigrants with legitimate Asylum claims we’re returned to Mexico where they were persecuted by the cartels. Many were kidnapped, raped, and even killed because there was literally no one in Mexico there to protect them. Many times, people were returned even though they were trafficking victims. Trafficking victims were supposed to be protected and allowed into the country to apply for Asylum or whatever other process they qualified for, yet this wasn’t done. Furthermore, because there is no right to have a lawyer appointed to your case and immigration, finding legal representation was next to impossible. I could go on and on and on, but the reality is that this program has been started up again and we still don’t know what will be different this time. The Biden Administration says it wants to be as humane as possible with this process, but there is nothing humane or legal about having to wait in another country in order to claim asylum. It is not illegal to claim asylum, and the MPP program is just another way to stop people from claiming that right.
- Misinformation in the news and social media – what do news programs do? They report the news. What they don’t tell you is how the latest news on immigration will affect your case. Every case is different, and just because you hear something on the news, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it applies to you. Social media makes this even worse. Facebook has been known to spread false information. Are friends on Facebook have also spread false information. Why? Because they found it on Facebook! It’s been happening for the last few years and it is still happening, and it’s not just friends and family who contribute to this. News programs, and even attorneys have been known to exaggerate things, or promise things that aren’t necessarily true. It is something I expect to continue over the next few months especially as we get closer and closer to midterm elections. So, what should you do to find the right information? If you have an attorney, then they are the best source for getting the right information. Otherwise, double check the source. This is where my friend Google comes into play. (Although, you can use any other search engine that you want.) The key is to do a search and see if there are other sources that are reporting the same thing or go into greater detail. For instance, it used to be that asylum applicants could apply for a work permit 150 days after they filed their asylum applications. Well, in August of 2020 that all changed. The new standard has raised the time period to a year and has added some limitations. However, there is an exception and it only applies to a certain group of people. Whether the exception applies is done on a case-by-case basis, however, that hasn’t stopped people from claiming that they know for a fact that everyone can get a work permit at 6 months. A good attorney will tell their client under what category they qualify. If you go to a notary, there is a good chance they won’t know. Not to mention that they are not authorized to practice immigration law. Friends and family can also say that they know all the answers because they qualified, but again, every case is different. So before you share a post on Facebook or Instagram, do the research just to be sure.
So, here’s to 2022. Hopefully it will be a good year for immigration. And if it isn’t, I will still talk about it here and wherever else I can.
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PS. I just realized our contact form isn’t working so I am in the process a fixing it.