Alert – Legal Immigration Is in Jeopardy

By now everyone has been heard of the Muslim ban and the suspension of processing of refugee applications. On January 29th I presented a program on the Refugee Crisis at the Keys Jewish Community Center (KJCC) to members of the KJCC and the wider Keys Community. I started planning this program last summer but decided that I should present this after the election because I wanted to concentrate on the humanitarian, legal and religious aspects of the refugee crisis and steer away from the political aspects as much as possible. Little did I know that two days before the scheduled presentation that our President would suspend the processing of refugee applications and ban entry of citizens of seven Muslim majority countries (except for Christians.)

My presentation was revised the next day (Saturday) to include information about the executive orders issued late Friday.  By the time of the presentation on Sunday there was chaos in our country and around the world for people planning to enter the U.S. Several courts had weighed in on the executive orders and issued temporary stays of removal for some of the people affected by the orders. The fate of many others was uncertain. The doors to our country were slammed shut to people who had spent years displaced from their home and who had finally been granted refugee status. People with legal permanent residence (and no home other than the U.S.) were stranded outside of the U.S. Foreign Students, professors and research scientists were either stuck in the U.S. (afraid to leave to visit ailing family members) or they were stranded outside of the U.S. and unable to get back to their studies, their teaching and their research. I heard stories of U.S. permanent residents who had gone on a cruise out of Port Everglades and returned from the cruise to find out that they could not enter the country that was their home.

The legal issues and procedural problems related to these executive orders are evolving so quickly that they have probably changed during the time that I have taken to write this article. They certainly will have changed by the time you read this.

Out of respect for those who have differing opinions that differ from mine I try to be non-partisan in my public statements but it is clear that this new administration is targeting immigration and proposals are being discussed that significantly cut legal immigration in general – not just refugees and Muslims. Proposals include limiting and making drastic change to H visas (for professional employees), elimination of NAFTA (and the visas provided for in that agreement), reduction in immigration visa numbers and elimination of some family categories.

If you are a U.S. citizen you should contact your representatives and let them know that any assault on or reduction in legal immigration is detrimental to the best interests of all of us.  You might want to look at several of my blogs – In Celebration of the Economic Contributions of Immigrants written last June   and the blog I wrote in December – How would removing undocumented workers affect you financially?

If you are an employer and employ (or need to employ) essential foreign employees, you need to contact your representatives and let them know that you need the foreign talent to be globally competitive.

Immigration attorneys (including myself) are urging clients and prospective clients to act now – do not delay- in applying for or renewing any visas that need renewing, filing applications for green cards or filing citizenship applications.

Linda M Kaplan