“So, business must be pretty good with Trump in office?” As a practicing immigration lawyer, I get this question constantly.
Do oncologists get happy when the cancer rate spikes?
US immigration lawyers are in the business of alleviating human suffering by providing a secure path to prosperity: lawful immigration status in a great country. That path could save a victim of persecution, bring a family together, or lead to new opportunities for an entrepreneur or worker. It should not wind through a minefield—but under Trump, that is exactly what it is doing.
Practicing immigration law in the Trump era
The stress of working as an immigration lawyer is nothing compared to what our clients are going through, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
We’re seeing processing delays across the board, and I cannot tell my clients whether the advice I’m giving them will be nullified by tomorrow’s 5 AM tweet.
There are rarely any routine cases anymore. We find ourselves saying “no, there’s nothing we can do for you” more often. Even if there is a way, clients are justifiably scared, even terrified. Will the legal basis for the asylum claim we’ve articulated remain good law? What happens if the law changes mid-process? Will there be a chance to refile before getting placed in deportation proceedings?
For people who entered the US illegally, is it still worth it to “come onto the grid?” Will the government even follow the law? If the government does not follow the law, will we get a chance to take them to court?
The law itself is turning into shifting sands. I recently had to get a case I filed nearly three years ago delayed for another year because attorney general Jeff Sessions suddenly made it harder for Central Americans to qualify for asylum based on gang or domestic violence. Earlier this year, Sessions took away an immigration judge’s ability to control her own docket.
By Hassan Ahmad for Q U A R T Z
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