I promised myself that this year I would sleep in and not rush to my email and/or open my computer before I had my first cup of coffee. Sigh. At 6:45 a.m. on the first day of 2015 I had already broken my first resolution.
Resolutions are the bane of many an existence right about now. They are at the same time harbingers of hope and change and also the unwelcome reminders of good intentions forgotten or ignored.
Although our President did not call his recent statements and plans for changes to our immigration system “resolutions,” I am considering them such and I am resolved (Holman Resolution #2) to see that he keeps them.
Heck, I’m aiming big. Why not? Surely it is an easier resolution to keep than following some new-fangled diet or juice cleanse.
The President told us that business development in the U.S. and keeping families together are of paramount importance to him and necessary for the wellbeing of our country. I agree. We all agree. Lets make it so, now, in early 2015.
The President doesn’t need to wait for regulations to be written. If he and his administration take the following four easy steps we can and will start to immediately see some of the reform we desperately need.
- Direct the agencies responsible for immigration (USCIS, CBP, ICE, DOS) to follow the laws as written and with an eye towards inclusion rather than exclusion! We have lived with the preference for denial for too long. A bit of direction to the agencies in this area (i.e. returning to the long-followed definition of affiliation that permitted hospitals and medical facilities to employ the doctors they so desperately need, actually approving statutorily qualified L-1 petitions, recognizing that employees genuinely telecommute, recognizing the importance of foreign artists and athletes) would in just a few months make huge inroads in accomplishing what we need and what the President said he desires.
- Ensure that the agencies speak to and hear each other by hosting regular Interagency Stakeholder meetings. Since the dissolution of the INS and creation of separate agencies to accomplish what was once accomplished by one agency, adjudications have become wildly inconsistent. Needless to say the lack of consistency in adjudications has created havoc for businesses and is causing them to give up on the U.S. and take their money and innovations elsewhere. We tell our businesses that even if their petition has been approved another agency may decide not to honor the approval and may subsequently deny it. And to make matters worse, they won’t be told why.
- Remind the agencies that attorneys are an integral part of the process and encourage and require them to work meaningfully with counsel, both in liaision and as counsel to clients. I can’t count the amount of times I, my clients, and other AILA members related encounters with the government where attorney intervention, assistance or even input was not only denied, but worse disparaged. My favorite quote and the most often repeated in the past 8 years is this: “when we see an attorney’s letter or encounter their presence we assume that something is wrong.” Really? I hire an accountant not because I cheat at my taxes but because she ensures that what I file is done correctly. Our President is himself an attorney, he must get this.
- Stop the immoral and inhumane incarceration of kids and their moms fleeing danger and ensure that the laws we enacted to protect them are followed. Our President knows that denying bond and/or moving families without notice to their attorneys or relatives and without due process is wrong and harmful. He can stop it. He must stop it.
The President is lucky. He has two years to accomplish his resolutions and to fight tooth and nail for additional action on immigration through Congress and the executive branch. I thank him for his promises and resolve that we, AILA, will do what we can to guarantee his success. Here’s to, and cheers to, 2015.
Written by Leslie A. Holman, AILA President