We often write and speak about the value immigrants add to the United States. Not just our clients (who we love), but all immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking the American Dream. From entrepreneurs, to software developers, to newly married couples, to parents joining their children, each individual adds to the rich diversity, economy, and spirit of the U.S. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the added value immigrants bring to our country, we have seen the current administration rail against immigrants from the beginning. Beyond chants to build a wall, the Trump administration has taken active steps to slow and deter legal immigration, which has already had measurable effects on U.S. immigration, creating an invisible wall.
In the context of family-based immigration, families are forced to remain separated for long periods of time due to new vetting policies and procedures that divert resources away from family-based applications. The result has been ever-growing wait times for legally filed applications to be processed. Applications that may have previously taken only 5 months to adjudicate are now taking upwards of 10 months, causing family separation for the extended period in the meantime. Employment-based applicants face similar issues. The business community has seen unprecedented scrutiny of nonimmigrant petitions for skilled workers, managers, executives, and others. We have seen a dramatic increase in Requests for Evidence, new interview requirements, and proposals to eliminate work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B workers. All of these practices serve to discourage U.S. employers from recruiting foreign workers (who are much needed).
To see the impact these actions have already had, look no further than the decline in the number of H-1B applicants (for the first time in five years), international student enrollment, and tourism to the U.S. in 2017. These declines not only run counter to our American values, but also have a measurable impact on our economy. The policies the administration has introduced have created an invisible wall, making legal immigration more difficult than ever, separating families and discouraging valuable foreign workers from coming to the United States.