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ThanksgivingIt seems the news is all bad in terms of immigration – stories about closing our borders, or denying the admission of Syrian refugees, or talk of eliminating birthright citizenship.  With this kind of news, it seems that the situation is hopeless for immigrants. It does seam bleak.  Nevertheless, I decided to focus on the positive this Thanksgiving and have come up with a list of programs/visas/strategies for which we can give thanks.

  • The refugee program continues to exist

I do not know what will happen with the Syrian refugees and I hope it will be resolved so that everyone feels secure but nevertheless we should be glad that we have a refugee program at all.  We have admitted people into the United States from all corners of the world. Right now the topic of the day is Syrian refugees, but in our recent past, we have allowed people to enter as refugees from Viet Nam, the former Soviet Union, and Cuba.  We have a tradition, and indeed a responsibility, to admit people into the United States who have been persecuted abroad.  Although there is controversy with the current situation, we should be thankful that we remain in a position to admit refugees.

  • Immigrants have strong advocates who are involved litigation throughout the country on their behalf

Advocates have tirelessly worked on litigation relating to the Flores v. Reno settlement which regulates the treatment and conditions of unaccompanied minors in federal immigration custody.  Litigation is also pending concerning the visa bulletin and the State Department’s counting of available visas.  People are calling this litigation “Visagate.”  Finally, there is ongoing litigation about DAPA  ( Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and an expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Action).  By Executive Action, President Obama was seeking to the defer the deportation of certain parents of US Citizens and permanent residents.  He also sought to expand the number of children eligible for DACA.  The State of Texas filed and obtained an injunction against the government in implementing these programs.  Currently the government has filed a Petition for a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the injunction blocking DAPA and expanded DACA.  Despite the setbacks, it is nice to know that we have such strong advocates working on these issues.

  • The USCIS website is much improved

I know that it may seem silly to give thanks to a website but it has not always been the case that USCIS had a website that had accurate, current information on it.  In preparation for this blog post, I was able to go to their website and easily find the material I needed.  Over time the website has become easier to use and has been made to include timely and relevant information.  This is not true for all government agencies.  Of course there are still problems with USCIS and the use of electronic technology but at least the website is working well as a place from which to obtain general information.

  • We have visas that are issued for humanitarian cases

Humanitarian visas have not been around that long.  U visas, for victims of certain crimes and who have been helpful to law enforcement, have only been around since 2000.  The same is true for the T visa, issued for victims of Human Trafficking.  We are fortunate that our government has recognized these victims and that the law allows them to apply for temporary status, leading to a permanent status. These visas are used a lot now but there was a time, when we did not have them.  They help people remain safely in the United States who would, in most cases, not otherwise have had a way of legally remaining here.

We have a great deal for which to be thankful.  Have a nice Thanksgiving.