APRIL 2019
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Immigration

Dilip Patel

By DILIP PATEL

The ‘Invisible Wall’ – PART I

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recently analyzed published USCIS data for fiscal years 2014 through 2018 and found a crisis-level of delays in the agency’s processing of applications and petitions for immigration benefits under the Trump Administration. While perhaps no real surprise to foreign nationals and their lawyers waiting for cases to be decided, this evidence-based report reveals an agency that is laying brick after brick in the Trump Administration’s “invisible wall,” a wall that is curbing legal immigration in the United States. Moreover, these delays are harming families, vulnerable populations, and U.S. businesses that depend on timely adjudications. Here are some of AILA’s findings:

Other agency data lay bare a USCIS “net backlog” exceeding 2.3 million delayed cases at the end of FY 2017. This total amounts to more than a 100 percent increase over the span of one year, despite only a 4 percent rise in case receipts during that period.

In addition to processing delays, over the past two years USCIS (and other agencies) have introduced numerous changes that also have functioned as “bricks” in the Trump Administration’s growing “invisible wall.” In its April 2018 report, AILA highlighted dramatic changes in policy and practice by USCIS that increasingly have shifted its focus toward immigration enforcement. These new policies and practices slow and decrease legal immigration to and in the United States, fuel case backlogs, and contravene Congress’s intent that USCIS function as a service-oriented immigration benefits agency. Some examples are:

Moreover, in February 2018, USCIS stripped the phrase “nation of immigrants,” as well as the reference to applicants and petitioners as “customers” from the agency’s mission statement, further signaling its shift from a service-oriented to an enforcement-oriented agency. Other changes in 2018 also were implemented, including:

To be continued …

Dilip Patel of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 222-1120 or email dilip.patel@bipc.com

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