Immigration lawyers see caseloads surge as anxious clients brace for Trump

A naturalized U.S. citizen from West Africa is worried about whether the “extreme vetting” promised by President-elect Donald Trump may prevent his Muslim wife from receiving a visa, his District-based attorney said.

In Virginia, a college professor with a green card has applied for U.S. citizenship because he’s worried it might soon be harder to do so — especially as a married gay man.

And a Hispanic couple in the Washington suburbs — one in the country legally, the other not — is debating whether to apply for a provisional waiver, which means the undocumented spouse would have to leave the United States for an immigration hearing and could be stuck south of the border if the waiver request is denied.

“There’s absolutely a risk,” said Ricky Malick, the couple’s Manassas-based attorney. “But doing nothing doesn’t feel like a good option anymore.”

Immigration attorneys in the Washington area and across the country say they have seen a surge in calls, consultations and clients since Election Day, a growth fueled by Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric and the across-the-board gains of Republicans with hard-line views on border issues.

Trump’s vow to create a “deportation task force” and launch “extreme vetting” of immigrants from Muslim countries has alarmed both immigrants and advocates, who say they haven’t seen this level of fear — among people born in Europe and Asia, as well as those from Africa and Latin America — since the period immediately after Sept. 11, 2001.

“I would call it enhanced trepidation, an amplified anxiety,” said Cynthia Rosenberg, a Baltimore immigration attorney. Her caseload since the election has doubled, she said, with six naturalization interviews scheduled on a single day this past week.

By Patricia Sullivan for The Washington Post
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