Trump Administration Targeting Immigrants Living in U.S. For Years: Says Research
The hostile anti-immigrant atmosphere is leading people to look north towards Canada.
With the Trump administration’s tough position on immigration, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have been picking up immigrants who have been living in the United States for years, revealed a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonpartisan research center, on April 19.
Nicholas Espíritu, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, pointed out that while the Obama administration only focused on “serious cases”, under the Trump administration, “everyone is a priority,” reported Mother Jones. “Government resources are being used to increasingly tear individuals from communities that they’re longstanding members of, potentially affecting more families, more mixed-status families, more people with deep ties to U.S. communities,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
According to the report, 43 per cent of new cases brought by the Department of Homeland Security to immigration court in 2018 were about people who were living in the country for two or more years. This number is shockingly high compared to 6 per cent in December 2016–when Barack Obama was the president. Furthermore, 72 per cent cases in December 2016 were about recent arrivals, only 10 per cent of March 2018 cases were about recent arrivals. Twenty per cent of immigration cases in March this year involved people who stayed in the United States for five or more years.
The ICE has also begun picking up people with deportation orders when they meet with immigration officials at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCCIS) to obtain legal status, Mother Jones had reported earlier.
These arrests make the USCIS policy allowing unauthorized immigrants to become legal residents of the country without going outside the United States debatable. As per the policy announced by USCIS in July 2016, unauthorized immigrants (usually married to a U.S. citizen), can receive a provisional waiver while living in the United Sates. It is unclear how many people have been arrested at USCIS interviews, as per the report.
“Individuals with a final order of removal have already been afforded full legal process in the nation’s immigration courts and must depart the country. If they choose to violate that judicial order, they could be subject to arrest, detention and removal. This does not reflect a change in policy. ICE is merely upholding the immigration laws of the United States,” said ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea, according to Mother Jones
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts had filed a lawsuit earlier in April to stop ICE from arresting people at these meetings. The hostile atmosphere, coupled with the long wait for Green Cards has caused skilled foreign workers to look towards Canada.
Canada has approved 4,400 applications until Dec. 31, 2017 under the Global Skill Strategy program that was launched on June 12 2017, according to data from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the agency that issues work permits to foreign nationals. Over a third of these applications were from Indian nationals, employed mainly in the field of information technology (IT), making India the single largest source country of foreign employees, followed by China. The continuing ambiguity over United States’ H-1B visa program has led to many, including Indians, especially those who have expertise in IT, heading to Canada.
The United States is not the only country coming down hard on immigrants, Australia recently introduced an increase in the earning threshold that would enable immigrants to sponsor their relatives’ visa applications. Put in effect from April 1 as per the policy, a couple in Australia will now have to earn combined $115,475 a year, as opposed to the previous figure of $45,185, to sponsor their parents’ visas. An individual will now need to earn $86,606 instead of $45,185.40. The figures are mandatory for some visa categories, such as parent, aged dependent, contributory parent and remaining relative visa.