A federal judge has blocked implementation of the latest Trump administration order intended to block the flow of asylum-seekers from Central America. Many people in Tennessee and across the country have raised alarm about the policy, which aimed to force asylum-seekers to stay in or return to Mexico to await processing of their claims. The administration pursued this policy against people seeking asylum despite the fact that these migrants are generally fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries.
Tennessee residents are generally entitled to due process if they are charged with a crime. However, immigrants who have been released from custody may be detained without a bond hearing. This may be true even if the immigrant was detained months or years after being released from custody. That was the decision that the Supreme Court made in a 5-4 vote favoring the federal government.
On March 12, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a new, beefed-up version of the DREAM Act. If passed, the new version of the bill would offer U.S. citizenship opportunities to a larger group of immigrants living in Tennessee and around the country than the original version did.
Some foreign employees of Tennessee companies may face hard choices after a regulation was proposed that could end employment authorization for the spouses of employees in the country on H-1B visas. The spouses of these visa holders are currently issued H-4 visas, which allow them to work as well. H-1B visa holders are highly skilled or technical workers who are sponsored to come to the United States by their employers, and they often pursue permanent residency in the United States. Their spouses can also work, a program that allows these families to support themselves.
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.