The H-1B visa program allows employers in Tennessee and around the country to temporarily hire foreign workers to fill highly specialized positions when suitably qualified American candidates cannot be found. Individuals issued an H-1B visa are permitted to remain in the United States for three years, but they can only work for the company that sponsored their application. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services grants 85,000 H-1B visas each year, but 20,000 of them are reserved for applicants who have earned an advanced degree from an American university.
For people in Tennessee dealing with the immigration system, reports of the rapidly changing and widely publicized migration policies of the Trump administration may give many people cause for concern. According to the Department of Homeland Security, rather than allowing asylum-seekers to remain in the country while waiting for a hearing, the administration is planning to send some back across the southern border to wait in Mexico for the adjudication of their cases. This policy will apply to people who try to enter at San Ysidro, a crossing to California from Tijuana. Thousands of asylum seekers are already waiting there, including people originally from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
In what has been described as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the Trump administration has been having deleterious effects on several important governmental functions, one of which is the legal immigration system. Citizens of Tennessee might be interested to learn that every week the government remains shut down, approximately 20,000 cases are added to the immigration court case backlogs.
For many people in Tennessee who are dealing with the immigration system, reports about the Trump administration's crackdown on border security may be concerning. The potential of significant changes to a long-established system can be confusing and worrying. One such policy change provoking confusion is the administration's announced plans to keep Central American asylum seekers in Mexico after they present themselves to border officials at a port of entry.
On Dec. 19, a federal judge ruled that new Justice Department policies designed to make it harder for immigrants to claim asylum violated federal laws. The decision, which could affect immigrants in Tennessee and the rest of the United States, was handed down in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Tennessee residents are likely aware that several thousand immigrants from Central America have gathered at the Mexican border. President Trump vowed to prevent the immigrants from entering the United States illegally and has taken steps to prevent them from making asylum claims if they do. The president says that strong measures are necessary to secure the southern border and deter further migrants from making the dangerous journey north, but advocacy groups like Human Rights First say that his policies are placing people who are fleeing violence and poverty in danger.
Tennessee residents may have heard that President Donald Trump wanted to issue a ban on asylum applications from immigrants who cross the southern border illegally. However, as soon as an order was made to issue such a ban, a lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A restraining order was issued on Nov. 19 by a judge who heard arguments in the case in San Francisco.
Tennessee residents have likely heard of the migrant caravan traveling through Mexico. While some may have dreams of reaching the United States, the Trump administration has said that it wants to stop the asylum process to prevent this from happening. However, this process is enshrined in both American and international law. The United States immigration laws are entrenched in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, and its subsequent revisions, outlining the asylum process. The U.S. is also party to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention.
For many Tennessee employers and skilled workers, the H-1B visa can be essential. This visa allows professionals to work in the United States when they are sponsored by an employer. The employer handles the visa paperwork and extension applications. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' policy is making the process difficult and unpredictable for employers and skilled workers alike. Companies have reported increasing numbers of problems with visa approvals and the length of extensions.
Some immigrants who are living in Tennessee may be reluctant to seek out government programs they are entitled to in the wake of a Trump administration announcement that green cards will be limited based on what benefits immigrants received. Attorneys report that they are counseling worried immigrants who are considering not applying for or pulling out of programs they are entitled to, and in some cases, those actions put the health and well-being of them and their families at risk.