American Immigration Lawyers Association's (AILA) Director of Government Relations Betsy Lawrence highlights details from AILA's latest report, Deconstructing the Invisible Wall: How Policy Changes by the Trump Administration are Slowing and Restricting Legal Immigration.
In this report, AILA sheds light on the invisible wall that is harming U.S. businesses, American families, and the U.S. economy. Highlighted by real-life case examples, AILA’s report breaks down the administration’s policies and procedures into six broad categories:
- Travel bans and extreme vetting directives that halt or delay immigration, without any justification beyond unsubstantiated national security claims;
- Policies that restrict the admission of skilled workers and entrepreneurs to the United States, at the expense of U.S. businesses and our nation’s economic growth;
- The termination of programs for compelling populations, sowing fear and uncertainty among thousands of people who have resided in the U.S. for decades;
- Hurdles to naturalization for foreign-born soldiers, which are unnecessary and ignore the needs of our military;
- The growing backlog of immigration applications, increasing processing times, and increasing fees; and,
- A decreasing focus on stakeholder input and customer service by federal agencies, adding up to major problems, given the complexities inherent in the immigration system.
Taken together, these policies are slowing and restricting legal immigration to the United States, at the expense of U.S. businesses, American families, local communities, and our national economy.
Among the real-life stories described in AILA’s report is the story of Nazanin (name changed for privacy), an Iranian neuroscientist and expert in aging and dementia, who dreams of pursuing a career in the U.S. alongside other prominent researchers.
In 2017, she filed a national interest waiver immigrant petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), based on her internationally recognized expertise as a neuroscientist and a leader and specialist in dementia. While she awaits a decision on her application from USCIS, she is concerned that even if her application is approved, she will be denied a waiver to come to the U.S., which she requires as a national of a country subject to the travel ban.
As a precaution, Nazanin is currently researching her options to immigrate to other countries that may be more welcoming and interested in benefiting from her research. Given how many of us have family members suffering from aging and dementia-related challenges, it boggles the mind that the U.S. wouldn’t welcome her and her expertise with open arms.
Nazanin’s story is just one of the many compelling stories documented in Deconstructing the Invisible Wall that demonstrate the real-world impact that the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies are having on immigrants and why we cannot afford to close our doors to legal immigration.
As reflected in the report, immigrants living and working in the U.S. based on employer sponsorship, family ties, and humanitarian protection help make our nation stronger, better, and more vibrant by driving innovation and economic growth, building stronger communities, and enriching our nation’s cultural diversity. The “invisible wall” that is being built by the administration is harmful to the U.S. and needs to be dismantled. Through its report, AILA has highlighted the bricks in the wall, and the administration only wants to build it higher. But Congress, the courts, and public opinion need to demolish the wall. Our shared prosperity and our nation’s legacy as a nation of immigrants depend on it.
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