Trump’s Tweet: What does it mean for US immigration?

Trump’s Tweet: What does it mean for US immigration?

“Is this the end of US immigration?”

Last night, despite the many other things President Trump should focus on while thousands of my fellow US citizens are dying of COVID-19, he tweeted the following in the middle of the night EST:

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

So, this morning as an immigration lawyer, I’m wondering again is this the end of the world? Is this the end of helping people enter the US to contribute to the US economy or be with their US citizen spouses and children? But wait, to be clear, no order has been signed yet. To my clients, I say nothing has been signed yet but read on for my thoughts if the White House does issue another executive order.

Thankfully, we’ve had three years to adjust to these erratic announcements. I’ve learned that all they do is create chaos and do nothing to help the situation at hand which is that there are people dying in America due to the President’s mismanagement of this crisis because this administration ignored all the warning signs to something proactive. In short, this President is destroying the country that I love.

This President who is a supposed business genius, according to his supporters, has demonstrated an incredible inability to analyze or strategically solve problems. His only solution is to use a bludgeon to fix whatever issues his base believes is the problem. I imagine if there was a fly in his house he would get an anvil to destroy it to the detriment of his kitchen.

This morning, my inbox is filling with questions from my clients asking what is going to happen now? As we are living in uncertain times, I’m going to clarify what is actually happening now and what my best guess as to what will happen.

What is happening now?

The best way to determine what will happen in the future is to look at what is happening now and what are the patterns that have emerged in the past to guide us as to what is likely to happen. Currently, all immigration has already stopped due to COVID-19 Presidential proclamations barring first those who have been in China, then Iran, then Schengen zone and finally the United Kingdom and Ireland in the 14 days prior to entry to the US. Then most of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services offices and US Embassies and Consulates have been closed in response to COVID-19. Trump’s tweet is redundant and therefore of no use to anyone who is suffering right now or those who are worried about their loved ones at this time or those first responders and medical personnel who are on the frontlines of this pandemic.

What has happened in the past?

When Trump issued his first Executive Order on January 27, 2017 it was like a punch in the stomach. As his administration announced further changes and new policies trickled down through the agencies that provide US visa and immigration services I learned that the changes that were coming thick and fast, only created chaos. It did nothing for the economy, for example, it can’t fix the dying coal industry or offer hope of new kinds of jobs who will not work in that industry anymore. Instead, it was short term excitement for his followers at the expense of people and companies who have invested so much into the United States.

I’ve learned to hold steady as if on a ship in the throws of a hurricane in the night. I hold on tight with my fellow immigration lawyers, remembering that American was made of immigrants, including my grandparents, and as a lawyer, I made an oath to defend the US Constitution which sets out in Article I, Section 1, that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” US immigration law is grounded in legislation, the Immigration and Nationality Act or the “INA” enacted by Congress in 1952, which can only Congress can amend.

The INA is the bones of US immigration law and the rest of the body is made up of policies set by the various agencies in implementing the INA. This is where Trump has done most of his work but it will not change in the fundamentals of US visa and nationality law. What has been happening over the past few years for us immigration lawyers is a roller-coaster policy changes that have and will continue to make us stronger because we must quickly learn and adapt our practices to changes that often take effect at short notice.

What will happen in the future?

I only tempt fate in being too confident in prognosticating what will happen in the future but I will give you my best-educated guess as to what will happen in the future of US visa and nationality law. Trump’s tweet will likely at this moment have set his administration in a frenzy as to what to do. His aids and policymakers will come up with something to make it seem like Trump will be true to his word which he can’t keep. Then the world will keep moving and progressing despite, not because of, the current administration.

The benefit of working in the field of immigration law for over 20 years may appear to be a collection of gray hairs on my head and wrinkles on my face from sleepless nights worrying about my clients’ cases which are subject to the varied discretion of adjudicators and immigration officers but, on the inside, I’ve accumulated a bit of wisdom: If we hold steady and keep our focus on the amazing people who want to come to the US to make it a better place and do business, the often but not always, compassionate people who work within the agencies and consular posts around the world will let truth prevail and make immigration work to help solve the United States’ problems. 

Janice Flynn, Principal Lawyer of Janice Flynn & Associates