While businesses and organizations across the country are beginning to cautiously reopen, the immigration system is still heavily encumbered by shutdowns and recent policies. According to a report by NPR, immigration is largely at a standstill, and these restrictions may not lift any time soon.
At the Border
The Trump administration extended closures of the Canadian and Mexican borders for at least another month, which affects all nonessential travel—namely, asylum seekers. Some families have sent their children to cross the border alone, but even these children are being immediately deported, despite the U.S. asylum laws that protect them. Backed by the CDC, the administration has said it is circumventing the rights of asylum-seekers because the coronavirus takes priority as a public health crisis.
Additionally, the 60-day ban is in effect until June 21st, preventing prospective immigrants from entering the U.S. as permanent residents.
International Travel Restrictions
Currently, foreign nationals who have visited China, Iran, or virtually any European nations within the last two weeks cannot enter the U.S. More restrictions may be coming soon.
Within the U.S.
Immigration processing systems in the United States have stalled, not just because of recent office closures but due to restrictive policies put in place even before the pandemic. Overall, applications for permanent residency and naturalization have substantially decreased, and the administration has discussed restricting temporary worker visas as well—despite opposition from U.S. employers.
While planning to reopen offices on June 4th, USCIS itself may be on the brink of insolvency because it is primarily funded by application fees. It has asked Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency relief and has proposed a steep increase in fees.
Reactions from Experts & Immigrant Communities
Many believe the administration has used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to further restrict immigration. According to former USCIS chief counsel Ur Jaddou, who is now working with the nonprofit DHS Watch in Washington, the administration has attacked immigration in a variety of ways since 2016. COVID-19 is now arguably a pretext.
Due to this underlying motivation, many advocates fear that the temporary restrictions may soon become permanent. They accomplish the administration’s overarching goals of shutting down asylum and slowing legal immigration.
While the future of immigration feels bleak, many individuals and families can still accomplish their goals with adequate support. Offices will soon reopen, which means now is the time to move forward with an application. We may not be able to fully predict what obstacles will arise in the coming months and years, but beginning your case now may allow you to complete your process before additional restrictions take effect.
At Kanu & Associates, P.C., we are in this fight with you. We are staying on top of all changes and new policies within the immigration system, which allows us to provide every client with fully informed counsel and strategic guidance. Currently, immigration is perhaps the most encumbered legal system in the United States, which is why you need and deserve the highest possible level of support.