ONE of the main talking points of Republicans is that they are not “anti-immigration,” but instead are “anti-illegal immigration.”  They speak about how it is unfair that people come to the U.S. by crossing the border or overstay, break our immigration laws, and expect to be rewarded with legalization.  They emphasize that the people who “play by the rules,” wait their turn in line, etc., are the ones who are deserving of legalization.

What I have found is that even when people follow the rules, the USCIS has several policies and procedures reflecting a bias against legal immigration and those trying to follow the rules.

For example, when a person has already obtained an approval of an H-1B visa, and files for an extension, there is no assurance the extension will be approved, even if the person fully complied with the terms of his visa.  Officers have been instructed to dig and investigate, sometimes serving requests for evidence (RFE) that are several pages long, requiring a mountain of documents and other proof, even though the original H-1B petition had already been approved.

In other situations, when a person is applying for a green card, and the case is denied for some reason, even on a technicality such as a missing document that was inadvertently left out, the case could be denied without an RFE, and USCIS could already place the person in deportation/removal by issuing a notice to appear (NTA).

A person who is a mere overstay and is seeking to legalize his or her status, is now considered an “enforcement priority,” along with felons, gang members, terrorists, etc.  So, it appears everyone is an enforcement priority.

Many years ago, the mission statement of INS was to try to find ways to approve cases.  Since USCIS took over INS’ functions, the attitude seems to be to suspect and investigate, and look for ways to deny cases if possible.  That is hardly a “pro-immigration” attitude.

Immigration judges have been instructed to quickly process deportation/removal cases.  Their performance reviews are based on quotas for the number of cases they can process.  Judges are instructed to not continue cases (even if a person may be seeking a continuance because an immigration benefit is in process, and if approved, the person could get a green card), or they should reopen cases that had been previously administratively closed. 

That is why it is important that whenever a person is applying for an immigration benefit, they should seek the advice of an attorney, who can evaluate their case and situation, and possibly assist them in applying for benefits, because even though we’re being told the administration is pro-legal immigration, it appears they are tough with both those who are illegal as well as those trying to get legal.

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Michael J. Gurfinkel has been an attorney for over 35 years and is licensed, and an active member of the State Bars of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different and results may depend on the facts of the particular case. The information and opinions contained herein (including testimonials, “Success Stories”, endorsements and re-enactments) are of a general nature, and are not intended to apply to any particular case, and do not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.

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