Legal Immigration Needs a New Breed of Lawyers

If you have had any interest in the latest political divisions of the U.S., you will have noticed that the decades-old problem of immigration is still on the table. It is still sitting there waiting for some kind of attention that moves past a flurry of angry and divisive rhetoric. It waits for action that is fair and equitable to all. However, the shortest possible recap of the situation can be summed up in a few words: the legal immigration system is broken.

Rather than addressing the core problems, one solution has been to mass market the job potential for reactive response to illegal immigration. Court systems, holding facilities, resources organizations, and corrections departments are overwhelmed by the pressure and demand to address the situation. Let’s be honest. This problem didn’t originate with them, and despite their best efforts, they won’t be able to contain it. Besides those working in government, the only real hope for immigration is the efforts of a breed of lawyers that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and tackle the big problems that lie ahead. For this to happen, they need to thoroughly understand the areas where the immigration laws themselves are the problem.

Ill-Defined Immigration Quotas

It has been over 30 years since Congress has updated the quotas for legal immigration. Even though the population of the U.S. has grown almost 30% and the economy has exploded and doubled in size. However, the current system isn’t relative to the economy, which does a supreme disservice the thousands of qualified individuals who could potentially immigrate and continue to drive growth forward. The birthrate in the United States is the lowest on record, and the net immigration rate is on the bottom three of the countries in the world carrying the highest GDP per capita. This is a problem that can exponentially affect long-term economic stability. The quotas on nationalities further distort the ability to provide equality in immigration, as discrimination based on nationality has been revealed as a reality in the past few years.

Timelines for Approval

The current system can have individuals waiting in line for ten years or more to receive their green cards. Even if the system were overloaded, this is unacceptable. Wait times are longer for those countries that have filled their quotas, and with the backload of processing, those pursuing entrance from places like India might be waiting for more than 20 years. There is no guarantee of what will happen in such a span of time, making it difficult for lawyers to maintain control over the case and the process.

Selective Quota Categories

Even though the goal of quotas was to reduce rapid changes in labor force competition, the double-dipping against quotas for workers on H1-B temporary visas against employer-sponsored green cards doesn’t make sense. However, with those who are highly skilled, such as those with national or international acclaim in the arts, sciences, business, or education, there is a cap of 40,000 which includes spouses and children. In spite of the great additions they could make to a growing economy, there are over 50,000 individuals still waiting for immigration approval. There is also a quota of 5,000 for workers without college degrees, but the latest statistics are showing that illegal immigrants in the U.S. have topped almost 12 million and the majority of them and their families have no college education.

Application Restrictions and Loopholes

Many illegal immigrants in the U.S. are hoping to find sponsorship by their employer or family members to receive legal status, but employers have no incentive to issue such sponsorship. This turns temporary work status into an arrangement that can be years long, as the individual has no way to apply for permanent residency on their own. When sponsorship is achieved, it can be granted toward spouses and children, but it will be counted against the overall quotas already discussed. Children and spouses of temporary workers are allowed to join their spouse and can remain under the H1-B visa. However, children who turn 21 while waiting for approval are removed from the application queue and required to self-deport or seek another temporary status such as a student visa. The pattern continues if the student visa expires, as the individual is able to apply for a temporary work visa and then as an entrepreneur. The cycle is vicious and without resolution.

The system of immigration is an uphill battle that requires resolve, dedication, and no hesitation when it comes to getting involved. Legal opportunities will continue to increase the immigration debate rages on, but it will take a new breed of lawyers to navigate the muddy and controversial waters.

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