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Immigration is not a game.


By Maria L. Santos - Posted on 16 July 2015

Immigration is again a hot topic in the news.  Donald Trump, of all people, is one the primary reasons.    He is forcing the GOP to react either by telling him to cool off on his inflammatory comments or, in some cases, to agree with the Trump outbursts on immigration.  Speaker Boehner has chosen the usual tactic of blaming the whole immigration debacle on President Obama and his recent executive actions on immigration.

Meanwhile, there are over 11 million “undocumented” immigrants in the USA.  Legal immigration is in a mess too.  There are not enough immigrant visas available for the individuals who are here legally and are working legally in the USA.  There also are not a sufficient number of non-immigrant visas available to allow companies to fill their open positions in many sectors of the economy.  

Congressional inaction is pitting individual against individual, company against company and states against the federal government.  This is an area of law that needs Federal policy and leadership.  Why are we leaving places like San Francisco, California and Cambridge, Massachusetts (just to name two cities) to declare themselves havens for the undocumented?  Why put these places in a situation where they have to circumvent the federal law in order to be fully-functional as cities?  These are two very wealthy cities that recognize that they need the undocumented come to work and keep their economies going. 

I have been practicing immigration law for well over 20 years.  Earlier in my career, I was very skeptical when I would read about immigration policy as a game.  Now I know better.  Here is how one part of the game typically works. The USA economy is strong and needs more cheap labor.  So, policy shifts to make it easier for the consular officer to grant visitor visas for the average South American, Latin American, Greek, Portuguese or other person seeking a better life to come to the USA and “visit Disney” for two weeks when we know that many of these people will never return home.  After thousands are allowed to enter and remain in the USA to provide the labor the USA needs, public opinion shifts and consular policy on visa issuance becomes much more restrictive in its interpretation of the very same laws.   Leaving those who’d previously entered as the undocumented scapegoats for politicians and wannabe politicians to point to as the reason for crime, poverty, or any other societal ill which they are completely unprepared to address in any meaningful way. 

It’s time that our elected leaders and our “would be” elected leaders stopped playing games with people’s lives and really got to work on creating sound, workable immigration policies and laws.