Just when it seems like life couldn’t get any more difficult for immigrants wanting to make a better life for themselves in the U.S., the news cycle keeps churning out the hits.
Last week’s big headlines brought frustrating revelations about funding for the border wall along the Mexico-U.S. border, as well as renewed discussions about enhanced restrictions on legal immigration.
Though it may seem like things are getting worse on the immigration front, but there’s still hope that a light at the end of the tunnel remains.
Bad News, Good News
Talk of building a massive border wall was a central subject to President Donald Trump’s campaign. In fact, it is probably one of the key promises that helped him to get elected. This despite the fact that a large wall already exists on the border and is patrolled by a highly militarized police force. For whatever reason, building a new one is incredibly important to Trump’s administration and his supporters.
Last week, the house appropriations committee released a bill that would allocate $1.6 billion to begin construction of a barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico.
While the bill still has to go through the standard legislative process before construction can begin, it is tied to a larger spending bill to provide funding to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to the Hill, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows said that Trump would not sign a spending measure if the wall were not funded.
But there are plenty of highly public reasons to suggest that the Trump administration won’t succeed with its plans to move forward with the wall as described. For starters, a poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post gave President Trump the lowest six-month approval rating of any president in the past seven decades. According to the poll, only 36 percent of Americans approve of his performance. The only president to come close to this was Gerald Ford, who in 1979, scored higher at 39 percent.
While this may mean little to those who would bemoan or dismiss the opinions of mainstream media and so called “fake news,” it could potentially affect Trump’s standing with his own party, and hinder his ability to pass legislation.
This is evident in the difficulties the Republican Party is having with its passage of a healthcare bill to replace Obamacare, another core promise of the Trump campaign. On Tuesday it was announced that two Senate Republicans had withdrawn support for the bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, leaving it without enough votes to pass.
Additionally, with the intensification of the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for even moderate Republicans to defend and support his policies.
Even if construction on a new wall is approved, it’s quite possible the finished product will be far smaller than what Trump originally promised.
But those of us who practice immigration law, while concerned with Trump’s rhetoric on the border wall and the message of exclusion it sends to immigrants, are probably more concerned with the power his administration has to make changes to rules governing legal immigration.
On Friday, CNN.com reported that Trump’s White House is working with two republican Senators, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, to develop new restrictions to legal immigration. The bill is expected to limit the family members who can be sponsored to come to the U.S. to primarily spouses and minor children. The bill also seeks to eliminate the diversity visa lottery.
Sanity Has Left the Building
There are times when it seems that the loudest voices are the least likely to listen to reason. On the issue of immigration, the policies being floated in the halls of power seem to be completely lacking any sense of practicality or reason.
To wit, a recent Los Angeles Times article focused on the town of Grand Island in Nebraska, and a series of immigration raids that occurred there 10 years ago.
In 2006, with anti-immigration politicians complaining that undocumented workers were taking local jobs, federal agents conducted a series of raids, storming a large meatpacking plant in town, and detaining thousands of suspected illegal workers. Deportations ensued, theoretically clearing a path for American-born workers to find employment. But over the following decade, Somali, Latino and Cuban workers filled the vacant jobs.
And yet despite stories like these, calls to ramp up immigration blockades continue.
Keep Hope Alive
If you’re an immigrant who’s struggling with a legal issue, or worried about the future of an immigrant family member or friend, keep the faith. In some cases, a qualified immigration attorney can assess your circumstances and help you find a solution to your problem. In other cases, it’s a matter of trudging ahead despite the negativity. While the situation might seem dire, there’s still reason to believe that things could change, for the better.