After promising immediate action to halt deportations President Obama has succumbed to political pressure. He is taking the advice of his staffers to defer his plans for tinkering with the immigration system until after the mid-term elections. Sensing a real vulnerability in a few close senate races, Democrats are afraid that bold action by the President on immigration before November will translate into voter backlash at the polls. Meanwhile, immigrant advocacy groups are none too pleased with the President’s recent backpedaling. So if and when President Obama’s much ballyhooed fixes finally do arrive, what might they look like?
If the recommendations outlined in a letter from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council are any indication, President Obama might try making the following DIY improvements:
- Expansion of Deferred Action to parents of U.S. citizens and DACA-eligible persons and to persons with long-term residence in the United States;
- Subtracting family derivatives from the overall visa quotas to reduce employment-based and family-based immigrant visa backlogs;
- Expansion of the use of Parole-in-Place allowing temporary parole of persons into the United States beyond noncitizen family members of military personnel;
- Pre-registration of individual with approved immigrant visa petitions for adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent resident;
- Broadening the definition of “extreme hardship” for waiver purposes and establishing a presumption of extreme hardship for persons who meet certain criteria;
- Permitting nation-wide adjustment of status for persons who have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) upon the approval of an immigrant visa petition;
- Creating a policy on inadmissibility and adjustment of status of persons who travel and reenter the United States pursuant to a grant of advance parole after accruing long periods of unlawful presence;
- Reducing “employer-employee” roadblocks to H-1B visa issuance for entrepreneurs and elevating their eligibility for O-1 nonimmigrant visas and I-140 National Interest Waivers;
- Broadening H-1B cap exemptions by amending the relevant definition of “affiliated or related” to provide greater access to H-1B visas;
- Streamlining adjudication of nonimmigrant visa extension petitions by precluding USCIS’s readjudication of undisputed facts established in the course of previous petitions involving the same employer and employee;
- Making premium processing available for more employment-based visa petition types; and
- Limiting USCIS’s consideration of a petitioner or beneficiary’s nationality in the adjudication of employment-based visa petitions except in cases where nationality is a relevant criterion for visa eligibility.
That’s a pretty ambitious list. President Obama will no doubt have time to think about it. But action is a different matter. The patient that’s been lying not so patiently on the gurney can’t wait to hear news of his fate.
Timothy D. Widman is a Immigration Attorney and the owner of the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman, with offices in San Jose and Cupertino.