Last evening, President Trump delivered his State of the Union Address, which touched on many aspects of immigration. The President’s plan consists of four pillars, summarized below:
1.) Path to Citizenship for 1.8 million “illegal” immigrants (often referred to as Dreamers) who were brought here by their parents at a young age. President Trump claimed that this number covers almost three times more people than the previous administration (under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)). Under the Trump plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States. President Trump did not indicate any specific details how this plan would be enacted but he has made past comments that the path to citizenship would take over a decade.
2) Building of the border wall with Mexico, hiring more federal agents and ending “catch and release” which the President called dangerous. President Trump’s plan to end “catch and release” would require much more bed space to hold detained immigrants and doesn’t acknowledge the fact that those who are released are non-violent individuals with terms of release, much like the criminal probation/bond system.
3) Ending the visa lottery. President Trump claimed that the program randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. He indicated that a merit-based immigration system should be adopted. President Trump indicated that this merit based system would admit people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country. President Trump’s language suggests that those who enter on visa lottery do not meet these characteristics, which is contrary to the program’s purpose of creating diversity.
4) Ending what the President calls “chain migration”. President Trump claimed that a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. His plan would limit sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This term which many people consider derogatory would end U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents being able to re-unite with family members and would do away with sponsorships for parents of U.S. Citizens, siblings of U.S. Citizens, among others. President Trump also does not indicate the long wait times associated with visa availability which often make it difficult to sponsor family members.
Should a person have questions regarding how the pillars may impact their case or sponsorships for family members, now would be the time to contact an immigration lawyer to discuss the person’s eligibility to file the appropriate applications.