[lg policy] Starting today, legal immigrants face new hurdles to citizenship

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Sep 12 10:48:27 EDT 2018


Starting today, legal immigrants face new hurdles to citizenship
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<http://mynorthwest.com/1109246/legal-immigrants-hurdles-citizenship/#>
By Mike Lewis <http://mynorthwest.com/author/mlewis/>
September 11, 2018 at 11:00 am
Nitish Meena
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Set to take effect today, new changes to U.S. immigration policies appear
likely to block increasing numbers of legal immigrants from potential
citizenship by ratcheting up penalties for mistakes on applications and
then accelerating the process for deportation, according to immigration
experts.

*RELATED: Law that is like a garden that hasn’t been weeded in 40 years
<http://mynorthwest.com/1023226/ross-immigration-law/?>*

The new policy language
<https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-updates-policy-guidance-certain-requests-evidence-and-notices-intent-deny>
— written specifically to trigger on the anniversary of the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — gives broad authority to U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Service administrators to deny a legal immigrant’s application
for a green card or citizenship over simple clerical errors.

“The adjudicators (now) have the capability and, potentially, encouragement
to issue a denial whenever there is something missing,” said Xiao Wang,
co-founder of Seattle’s Boundless <https://www.boundless.com/> immigration
service. “This is a significant change.”

Previously, internal policy encouraged USCIS administrators to work with
applicants when requiring additional documents and requesting clarification
because the lengthy process is increasingly complicated and, often, English
isn’t the primary language of the applicants.

For example, Wang said, under the previous guidelines, if a person applied
for citizenship as a result of marrying a U.S. Citizen and he or she forgot
to include the required marriage certificate, the application’s
administrator would “reject” the application and request for additional
documents.

“The applicant was given a chance to fix the problem,” Wang said.

In 2016, eight million people applied for a green card or citizenship.
About 20 percent – 1.6 million – received requests for additional
documents, according to U.S. immigration service figures.

But under the new language, the reviewing officer, “has the ability to deny
the application,” outright, Wang said, not only ending the citizen
application process immediately but, as is the case in denials, also
keeping the $1,760 application fee.

“It is not a trivial amount of money. People save for months to afford
this.”

The federal government also added new policy language policy stating that
if the application is denied, “the alien is not lawfully present in the
United States” which then can trigger notification to immigration courts
and deportation hearings.

So, in the event of a mistake by the applicant or the government, the new
language has the capacity to eliminate the time to fix a mistake or add
information. And that can trigger a denial. When an application is denied,
the applicant is considered “out of status,” and is targeted for
deportation.

In effect, Wang said, the federal government’s effort to curb illegal
immigration also is sweeping up land blocking legal immigrants who chose to
follow the letter of the law when applying for green cards and U.S.
citizenship.

“These are people are willing to give up everything to make a great strides
in this country,” Wang said.

In fact, it was this sacrifice that led Wang to co-found Boundless in the
first place. Wang, 32, and his family fled to the United States from
China’s cultural revolution
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution> when he was three.
Eventually, his family settled in Bothell.

His parents gave up everything to move to the United States and risk
becoming U.S. Citizens. The process, even in pre-Sept. 11 attacks, was
complicated and financially difficult.

As an adult, Wang had the opportunity to create a low-cost service guide
legal immigrants
<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/technology/tech-roundup-2017.html>
through the process of becoming U.S. citizens. He said Boundless receives
5,000 queries each month for help.

But these immigration language changes, he said, do more harm to the United
States than good.

“We have prospered greatly as a nation by having immigrants bring in new
ideas,” he said. “It a core part of what has made us grow as a country.”

“What I worry about as someone who loves this country, this along with
other sets of immigration rules will reduce the overall appeal of coming to
the United States.”

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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