There was a push for law and order.
Mr. Trump described himself as a law and order candidate, and there has been a huge emphasis on coming to the United States legally. So much so, that I believe the discussion has failed to include other significant issues that we face as a country due to failures in our immigration system.
But that’s another subject. I am writing today to note a distinction that I am not sure has been made to the general public.
A Pathway to Citizenship
I am an immigration lawyer in Houston. I’ve bene doing it over 9 years – when George W Bush was still President. And while I support comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals who do not pose a danger to our country, I think it’s worth mentioning that I’m one of many lawyers who are serious about practicing immigration law because it is a way to bring someone into legal compliance.
I haven’t been asked to speak for everyone who practices immigration law, and some would disagree with my view. But at least for me, assisting people with their immigration cases is not about trying to bring people into the U.S. or keep them here in violation of law – it’s about working within the legal system to help people get here or stay here.
That includes helping people who entered without authorization (or used false documentation to come here) who nonetheless have a legal avenue to request permission to remain here. It also includes people affected by changes in the law (such as pulling out of NAFTA, which would affect the legal status of anyone holding a TN Nafta Visa or changing the requirements for obtaining an H-1B Visa).
Entering the U.S. Without Authorization
It might be hard to understand how someone who came to the United States without permission could possibly make a claim to stay here – to understand this, a person needs to know that while entering the U.S. without authorization may eliminate some options for a person to obtain legal status, it does not eliminate all of them.
There are reasons for these exceptions (and there are several – too much to explain here). I suppose if there is one point, it’s that doing things “the right way” or “legally” in the immigration system is not simple, fast or straightforward.
When a problem arises, there may not be a quick fix or a simple way to deal with it. That’s why the work of a skilled immigration attorney is about navigating a complicated set of laws, policies and procedures, anticipating the response of a human being who will ultimately make a decision about what happens, be it an immigration officer or a judge.
Since the options to deal with the undocumented population are limited and Mr. Trump does not appear to place reform of our immigration system to address some of these problems as a priority, lawyers like myself will continue work within the legal avenues we have.
Immigrants are a Vital Part of Our Civic Society
In an interview with Steve Bannon on November 2, 2015, Mr. Trump discussed some immigration issues, including our system’s failure to retain top talent, which in my opinion is a major issue we need to address. Regarding graduates from some of the country’s top universities, Mr. Trump said “…we have to keep our talented people in this country.”
When asked if he agreed, Bannon responded: “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think…A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.” There was no discussion of any specific examples of Silicon Valley CEOs undermining our civil society that followed.
I couldn’t disagree more with the underlying notion that Bannon, who Trump has now named as his Chief of Staff, was asserting – that people of a non-European lineage somehow don’t fit into our civic society or subscribe to our system of government.
However, I agree with the plain meaning of the statement that we are a civic society. We are a country based on rule of law, and part of the rule of law is the protection from unreasonable searches and seizers and the protection of our right to due process of law.
And that’s why I’ll continue working in immigration law regardless of whether anything I say makes a good sound byte and regardless of how some might view the work. The fact is, I believe in our legal system and in working within it. So do my clients, regardless of where they come from.
If you have a question about your immigration status or would like to schedule a consultation with the Law Office of Kathryn N. Karam, P.C., an immigration lawyer in Houston, please write us a message here:
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