NOI 40: U.S. Immigration in 2020

Today we discuss what to expect in U.S. immigration in the coming year. We'll round out our discussion by touching on the potential economic impact of current U.S. immigration policy.

Jacob Tingen: This is the first ever episode that we have recorded in January of 2020, and so I’m excited to give you an overview of what we can expect when it comes to immigration. We’ve also upgraded some equipment here and I’m learning some things, so please forgive me if you’re watching the video, but check this out. We’ve got a new camera angle, so that’s neat. But what we’re going to be talking about today is just what’s coming, what to expect and hopefully we’ll have a good year talking about the issue of immigration in the United States and how things are going. And hopefully we can have a good year in immigration as well, helping a lot of people, seeing some actions that will be taking. Like I’ve discussed, we’ve got some litigation that we plan to file here during this year and we’ll be talking about a host of immigration issues. It’s good to see you and we’ll be back after the intro.

Announcer: You’re listening to Nation of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

Announcer: A podcast about US immigration law, with your host, Jacob Tingen.

Jacob Tingen: Okay, so as I mentioned, we would be talking about a number of issues that we can expect here in the immigration front, US immigration for the coming year. And so a lot of this comes from an article that I read, The Outlook on Immigration in 2020, and it brings up some of these issues that we’re currently seeing in our office and a continuation of just these Trump administration immigration policies and how they’re impacting US immigration and visa. So the first thing that this article starts off with, it’s called The Outlook on Immigration in 2020. It’s on Forbes, talks about H-1B and L-1 visas and about how there’s been a very, very high denial rate for these visa types and L-1 visas in particular in the past year. And so there hasn’t been any significant change in stance there, so we wouldn’t expect any change when it comes to how these visas are being adjudicated.

Jacob Tingen: Employment visas are being targeted just alongside humanitarian visas and family based visas, and so there is a lot of action going on there in terms of denials. And so companies and law firms are having to adapt and come up with unique strategies for immigration and how to manage this. I read here is that some of the companies have actually just gone ahead and sued the government and that that has changed the administration’s approach to their H-1B visas. Not every company has the wherewithal or the firing power I guess to litigate against the government about H-1B adjudications, but if you’re that kind of company, maybe that’s something that you could look at in this year.

Jacob Tingen: Also related to the H-1B issue is if you’ve got an H-1B visa, then your spouse and children can come with you while you work and live in the US. And so typically, H-4 visas are given to the spouses of H-1Bs and then they’ve been able to get a work authorization document based on that status. And so there’ve been some changes and some posture changes about whether or not work authorization would be given to those spouses, and so we’re seeing some push back against the idea that these spouses should also have the opportunity to work, which is problematic. I know clients in these situations who, if due to immigration glitches will lose half of the income they have together, they might both need to leave. And the whole point of the H-1B visas that we don’t have these skilled qualified workers already in our workforce, we need these people. So that’s also impacting the entire H-1B outlook.

Jacob Tingen: Also on the table for 2020 is DACA. So the Supreme Court is looking closely at this. All those cases have been appealed and the Supreme Court heard all arguments, so a decision should issue in the coming year on the issue of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, whether or not the Trump administration can actually cancel that out. There’s good news and bad news here, and basically from everybody that I’ve spoken with. So the good news is potentially if the Supreme Court says, “Okay, well, Trump can resend DACA if he wants, then there won’t be DACA, and so presumably, our Congress would work to create a solution for all the people who have received DACA and provide a way an out a legal way of getting some kind of status for these kids, many of whom are now adults and contributing to society in a lot of ways, as we’ve talked about on this show.

Jacob Tingen: But the other problem is that these are intensely political issues, and so there is a problem here in that with a presidential election coming, how brave are our politicians? And I think if impeachment has taught us anything, it’s taught us that politicians aren’t very brave at all. And so that causes problems on a host of issues when it comes to the issue of immigration, especially if a lot of people with DACA status suddenly lose it and then don’t have any safety net and don’t have any legislative solution on the horizon. That’s disastrous. That’s the worst scenario outcome. And so we’ll see what the Supreme Court has to say later on in the year, but that’s one of the things that we’re going to be looking at.

Jacob Tingen: There’ve been some new restrictions on international students that have been imposed and it looks like the administration is also looking at OPT. We’ve done some interesting things with OPT and making sure that people get the maximum period that they have Optional Practical Training that they can get, but I’m not surprised to see that the administration is trying to restrict that as well. And then finally one of those just heart wrenching issues, in the last year of the Obama administration, our country had a commitment to bring in 110,000 refugees, and then last year, we had a historically low annual refugee admissions ceiling of 18,000 individuals.

Jacob Tingen: So that’s just really low. And admittedly, that doesn’t include all the people that are coming across our Southern border and applying for asylum, this is talking about refugees applying from around the world. But still just that’s the posture of this administration is it needs to be as low as possible. We want as few immigrants as possible. And so obviously we’re going to see a lot of action on the asylum arena. I expect that because it is a political hot button issue for Trump and for the people who voted for him, that he might double down on some of these policies because they don’t seem to be anchoring his base. So we might see some very intense rules on refugee and asylum policies. I’ve read articles ranging from everywhere that they might try to reinstate family separation at the border again, but currently, they’re using this kind of migrant protection protocols, the Remain in Mexico program, to try to keep people out.

Jacob Tingen: We’re still seeing people coming from Central America, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, but recently I’ve read that there’s been a recent influx of people coming from Mexico itself because Mexico is not safe. Over the last couple of years there’ve been reports of cartel violence and tourist destinations. Obviously not great for the Mexican economy but not great also just for the Mexican security situation. And so that’s problematic that now we have a stream of people from Mexico who are also coming to apply for asylum while we’re keeping other Central Americans asylum seekers in Mexico and telling them they have to stay there. It’s safe enough for you there, whilst other people from Mexico directly apply for asylum.

Jacob Tingen: I read an article and maybe we’ll comment on it in the future that they’re looking at sending some of these Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala to apply for asylum. I don’t see how that’s going to make them any safer and it how it meets just our international duty to interview these people and give them due process. So yeah, there’s going to be a lot of interesting things happening in the area of asylum and we’ll continue to talk about that here. Now, public charge has been one of the most popular items that I’ve talked about in 2019, and it’s going to continue to be one of those things we talk about in 2020 because there’s still more action or there’ve been some items that have remained unfinished from last year. So we mentioned how three courts had put in a nationwide injunction preventing the Trump administration’s public charge rule from going into effect, and then two of those injunctions were revoked on appeal and I believe the third one in New York is still on appeal.

Jacob Tingen: Hopefully that injunction remains in place, but if it’s withdrawn, that’s going to cause problems. That is going to have the biggest effect on legal immigration in the United States of all the policies. And here it says, interestingly, a permanent reduction in the flow of legal immigrants would reduce the longterm rate of economic growth in America. So I wanted to talk a bit about that as I round out this discussion. So we’re going to keep looking at what’s to come in 2020 but then talk about the potential impact of all of this lowering of immigration.

Jacob Tingen: So TPS is one of those things that we might see some action on. There’s currently pending litigation that’s protecting the revocation of TPS for places like El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaraguan Haiti and Sudan, and so those things are still pending and depending on the outcome of those cases, we might see TPS stick around for those countries. We might see it revoked and it’s really just up in the air. Another area where immigration enforcement has increased is just workplace enforcement. So penalties for employers as well as employees, employers who are taking advantage of undocumented immigrant labor. So that’s an interesting area. I do think there should be… Well, first of all, I don’t think that we shouldn’t be punishing immigrants because employers here in the US decide to controvert the law or pay their employees less or those kinds of things, but there should definitely be parity in terms of punishments for employers and employees if we’re going to do this.

Jacob Tingen: So I’m actually okay that there’s more workplace enforcement as long as that leads to, like I said, parity between consequences for people involved here. And currently, I read an article last week about how a lot of times the business owners get off without any consequences at all. That it’s just the immigrants that are being punished and deported and removed from the country with virtually no consequences for these employers who many times treat their employees in terrible way and do this kind of thing intentionally.

Jacob Tingen: And then finally, there’s fee increases all around. So immigration fees are already high. One of the things that people don’t understand frequently is they’ll say, “Well, but my taxes pay for all of this.” No, they don’t. Immigration is fee based, and so people pay money for the vast majority of the immigration processes that are in place. What’s interesting is I’ve only been practicing immigration law for about seven years and I have seen in my time a doubling of the permanent residency application fee, a doubling of the citizenship fee, and we’re going to keep seeing those fees increase again this coming year and it’s incredible how quickly those fees have gone up, which would price citizenship out for a lot of people who want to become citizens and would price immigration out. Again, the whole point of a lot of these rules has been to say, “Oh, well this is reasonable.” But in reality that’s calculated to prevent people from immigrating to our country.

Jacob Tingen: So that’s what we’re looking at generally in 2020 on the immigration landscape, and I’m sure that there are other issues that might come up and other things we can talk about. There’s always the wall and a number of political considerations, but I think what is really important is we need to take a look at how these policies are actually affecting the United States of America, and the idea or the justification behind all of this stuff is that, well, this is going to be good for the American worker. This is going to… Immigrants are taking our jobs and we’ve debunked that one on this show before. We know that that’s not true and it’s definitely not necessarily the case, but what is the overall impact of this?

Jacob Tingen: And so what it really comes down to is this, there’s a growing consensus and a growing number of articles that at least that I’m reading, that this is actually causing harm to our economy. So this is from an article from Deseret and it’s called what do fewer immigrants coming to the US mean for our economy and workforce? I also read in addition, another article about how Canada has a better economic outlook than the US even though it’s much smaller and is looking at much more growth just due to population growth due to open immigration policies. So a reduction in the number of immigrants coming to the United States, both legally and illegally, could have significant implications for the US economy.

Jacob Tingen: Specifically as fertility rates in the US continue to decline and baby boomers age out of the workforce, the US will need to address the problem of workers missing from the labor force. Immigration will be a safety valve in helping bolster both labor force growth and population growth in an aging society. So it’s important for people to think about the economic impacts. There could be longterm detriment to the US if we don’t look at how we’re going to handle immigration in frankly a more positive way. And I’ve always said this from the beginning and I will continue to say it, but when it comes to the issue of immigration and economics, I don’t claim to be an expert, but anytime I talk to the experts they say, “Well, immigration is overwhelmingly good for the US. Undocumented immigrants, documented immigrants, it doesn’t seem to matter much. It tends out to be a net benefit for us in the end.”

Jacob Tingen: And so that to me is the big deal here. What are we doing? All of these policies are meant to limit immigrants and none of them are meant to actually open immigration up for our country and secure an economic future for us. It’s all meant to stem diversity and stem immigration without thought for the longterm consequences on our country. So these are some things that we’re going to be talking about in 2020. This is what we have to look forward to. And here on Nation of Immigrants, I’m going to keep talking and advocating for immigrants and talking about how immigration is good for our economy and no, people are not taking your jobs. And then also many, many of these immigrants, at least a lot of the ones that I deal with, are fleeing for their lives.

Jacob Tingen: They’re trying to make a better future for themselves here in the US, and frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. So thank you once again for coming and listening to Nation of Immigrants. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the show. I hope that we can work out some of these technical issues that have come up, but I’m excited to keep having these conversations with you and I hope that you enjoy the information that’s presented. I hope you enjoy this perspective and I’m happy to debate these immigration issues into the new year and figure out where we as a nation need to go. This is a conversation that we have to have as a community, as a group of neighbors, as a group of people. What are we going to do in the area of immigration because it impacts so many lives?

Jacob Tingen: And a lot of times when we think about immigration, we think, “Oh, well, I’m not an immigrant.” But when we talk about these longterm economic impacts, we begin to recognize, “Oh, this does affect me in a very real way.” So that’s it for Nation of Immigrants. As always, you can follow us here on YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, Twitter. You can follow me on You can subscribe to the podcast. Don’t forget to donate and help support. We’re going to be sending that money to pay for immigrants legal bills, and it’s just exciting to be with you again and hope to see you back in the near future. Thanks again.

Announcer: Thank you for listening to Nation of Immigrants.

President Obama: America is a nation of immigrants.

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