Immigration Policy and the Immigrant Communities

January 4 2009 - By Shahzad Ahmed with NeJame Law

~Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists! ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States

FDR's inspiring words encourage a sensitive and humane policy toward immigrants; a policy serving to unite American citizens and immigrants alike.

However, during economically and politically challenging times, our government faces the task of observing this principal while preserving the nation's welfare. Instead of pursuing "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" as the main immigration strategy, the government has focused on strict enforcement.

How can the Immigrant communities navigate turbulent waters of the immigration process in such difficult times? The answer: Be informed, be involved! Specifically, be aware of the current laws, the enforcement policies, and your rights. Also, work with your local community service organizations to take a position on any pending legislation.

With respect to the existing laws and policies, it is important to know not only the laws but the remedies. For example, a delay in the adjudication of your case may be simply because of a failure to provide some pertinent documentation. Consult with an immigration professional and he or she may facilitate your case by submitting the necessary documentation. Or there may be a legal issue which the attorney may address to convince the US CIS. Last but not least, an unreasonable delay may be addressed by filing a claim with the District Court.

As far as any new legislation is concerned, remember that the devil is in the details. What may be presented as “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” may actually undermine your important values, such as family unity.  Minority groups, mainly Latin Americans, and immigrant advocacy groups ,strongly opposed the immigration “reform” proposed in 2007. The reason: Although the bill provided a guest worker program to benefit the big corporations, it sought to eliminate certain family-based categories, i.e. parents and siblings of U.S. citizens. Therefore, the immigration communities must work with local immigrant advocacy groups to know what “reform” is being proposed, and then mobilize to either support the legislation, or work constructively to have it amended.

In sum, be informed, be involved! Despite the challenging climate for Immigrants, the community can take constructive steps to address the issues in existing cases, and to promote even-handed legislation for the future.