Federal Policy Change Part of Coordinated Effort to ‘Limit Immigration’

Immigrant communities “should definitely be concerned” about a new guidance at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, one policy analyst told Rewire.News.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began implementing a new guidance this week for funneling immigrants into deportation proceedings, a policy the federal agency’s director said is intended to carry out President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

In a policy memorandum, the agency explained that under the new guidance USCIS will give “adequate notice” to individuals denied the immigration benefits for which they are applying, such as a green card, and upon denial, if the individual is no longer authorized to remain in the United States, or never had authorization, USCIS will issue a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA will instruct them to appear before an immigration judge, an indication that removal proceedings are underway.

Sarah Pierce, a former immigration attorney and a current policy analyst for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), told Rewire.News that immigrant communities “should definitely be concerned” and that USCIS’ new policy will likely hit already vulnerable, undocumented immigrants the hardest.

For example, undocumented immigrants seeking to adjust their immigration status through their U.S. citizen spouse or child must apply for a green card outside of the United States, but when they leave, it triggers either a three- or ten-year bar from the country, depending on how long they had lived in the United States without authorization. In these instances, the person seeking to adjust their status can apply for what’s called a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, which would essentially waive the requirement that bars them from the United States as they adjust their status. Pierce said “thousands and thousands” of people apply for this waiver each year, and under USCIS’ new policy, if the waiver request is denied, USCIS will now issue NTAs, the first step in the deportation process.

By Tina Vasquez for REWIRE NEWS
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