Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

2020 Election and U.S. Immigration

By Chris M. Ingram, LL.M., ESQ

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As an experienced immigration practitioner of nearly 20 years standing, covering three Presidents, you can say that I’ve seen a thing or two in the practice of U.S. Immigration law and how it functions both politically and administratively. Indeed, because of my experience, I’m asked all kinds of questions covering a wide range of topics. So, I’d like to use this article to cover some of the most frequently asked questions and concerns many of you have reported.

Immigration Between Now And Election Day

In short, only Congress can pass any laws in America. The House of Representatives (one chamber of Congress) has to draft a Bill, or the Senate (the other chamber of Congress) has to draft and Bill. A Bill has to be placed on the floor of each chamber for a vote by the head of that chamber, presently Nancy Pelosi for the House and Mitch McConnell for the Senate.

If the Bill passes one chamber, it must then be sent to the other chamber for consideration. The respective Bills can then be discussed and refined until one final reconciled Bill is voted upon and passed by both chambers. After this, the Bill is sent to the President to sign into law or it can be vetoed by the President if he/she so chose.

Right now, the House and the Senate are trying to reconcile a new stimulus package to provide Americans with financial relief due to the Coronavirus. Both Bills are very different and so neither will pass in their current form and it’s possible that nothing will get passed into law if they cannot settle their differences. However, given the nature of the crisis and the political consequences of not reaching an agreement, everyone is counting on them agreeing to something that both chambers can pass, and the President will sign into law.

The reason why I’ve outlined this process that when it comes to changes to Immigration Law, the President cannot pass any laws or change any laws on his own by way of an Executive Order. Laws must go through the above process if drafting a Bill and then having it passed by both chambers.

The Senate and the House have diametrically opposing views on how best to move immigration forward. Moreover, there is no compelling reason for them to do anything about reforming U.S. Immigration law before the next election because it’s so politically sensitive. So, between now and election day there will be no changes to U.S. Immigration law.

However, the President can tinker with U.S. Immigration law by issuing new Executive Orders that can place a “pause” on various aspects of U.S. Immigration law, for example, by way of extending or ending Travel Bans, or by extending or ending the release of green cards currently placed on hold. The President can pause certain classes of visas too. The President cannot grant legal status to undocumented aliens, but he can direct federal resources to deport them, which would be politically charged and potentially damaging to his re-election hopes depending on one’s point of view. 

What Will Happen if Trump Wins the Next Election?

If President Trump wins the next election, he still cannot make any changes to U.S. Immigration law. Again, he can tinker around the edges as outlined above, but he cannot change the law. Nevertheless, this tinkering, by way of issuing new Executive Orders can be very disruptive indeed.

USCIS in Financial Trouble – An unintended consequence of Trump’s recent  “pauses”, USCIS has had to Petition Congress for additional funds because petitions (visa applications) have dropped by 61%. The bulk of USCIS workers involved in the administration of issuing green cards have no work at all and as a result, 13,000 Americans have lost their jobs or have been furloughed. Moreover, USCIS is now considering adding a surcharge to the Petition fees to keep them afloat financially and downsizing departments to balance their books.

In essence, there is an entire government ecosystem that is dependent on high volume immigration and our President has thrown a wrench in the works and this is hurting Americans. Americans, in particular government employees, are losing their jobs,  and American companies dependent on the admission of foreign workers are unable to secure the skilled workers they need, and this is hurting the U.S. economy.

What Will Happen if Biden Wins?

If Biden wins, he has promised to reverse all of Trump’s immigration Executives Order within his first 100 days in office. e.g., by April 2021. However, like Trump, Biden cannot make any new laws on anything unilaterally. What Biden can do is champion the cause of U.S. Immigration in order to try and sway both Chambers (the House and the Senate) to come up with pro-immigration Bills, including providing a pathway to U.S. Citizenship for undocumented aliens as Regan did in 1986 under the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Indeed, Bush II was pushing for comprehensive immigration reform right up to 9/11 and then the whole tone of immigration changed to that of being anti-immigrant.

If both chambers are led by Democrats; who are pro-immigration, then we can expect major positive immigration reform in 2021. However, if only one chamber goes Democrat, as is the case now, with the House being majority Democrat and the Senate being majority Republican, then once again no new U.S. immigration laws can be passed. Remember, both sides have to agree on a Bill, and both sides have been on opposite sides of U.S. Immigration policy for over a decade. Even when Obama had a democratic majority in both chambers, he focused on using his political capital to prevent the U.S. economy from falling into the economic abyss as of the 2007-2010 recession. By the time Obama was ready to fight for U.S. Immigration reform, he had lost his majority in the Senate to the republicans who were and are still anti-immigration and thus no new Immigration laws could be passed.

The Future of U.S. Immigration

Despite the challenges outlined above, we do have many immigration pathways to the U.S. For example, most of the various pathways to obtaining green card status remain unaffected for the most part. The E-2 Investment visa has remained unaffected, indeed countries like Israel and New Zealand have been added to the E-2 treaty countries, but we have lost Iran.

Immigrants by definition are very determined and very resilient people, and so as long as there is a pathway, they will find it and take full advantage of it, and we’ll be right there to help them every step of the way. America needs all of the talents it can get in order to remain competitive globally. 

U.S. Immigrants are by definition are American; all Americans are immigrants. All of the values and strength of America comes from immigrants. The Founding Fathers of America were themselves, immigrants. Unless, you are an ancestor of one of the Native American Tribes (who would not consider themselves American, as that is not their given name), all Americans are by definition immigrants hence the reason why we use terms like African-American, Irish-American, or Italian-American. We have these terms because we are not Native Americans but immigrants from other countries who have chosen (or forced through slavery or indentured servitude) to re-start our lives afresh in the “New World” we call America.

If America has any “greatness” at all, which in my view is certainly does, it derives this greatness from the strength and resilience of immigrants from all over the world. Each new generation of immigrants brings fresh ideas and talents from around the world that will be used to boost America’s prospects. Let’s hope that the politicians who govern this amazing country never permanently lose sight of this inalienable fact: Immigrants Have Made America Great.

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
[Cross Streets 4th and Wilshire]
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 310 496 4292

Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide free consultations for our prospective clients.

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Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa, and O1 Visa, and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.

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