It seems obvious, doesn’t it? When the first boats from Europe came to the shores of what became colonies and then eventually the United States of America, the only native “Americans” were the Indians, the only people who can claim this territory as their own, at least for the last 10,000 years or so, the descendants of the Indians who migrated from Siberia into Alaska and down into what is now the Americas. So why has the Trump administration lost all sight of the fact that the USA is a country which would not exist if it were not for the efforts, blood, sweat, and tears of people from somewhere else?
I came from Argentina at the age of 5, the son of native New York artist Joan Maggi, and went through the growing pains that immigrant children go through, no matter where they are from when they move to a different country with a completely different language. Because of a strange quirk in the law, I was ineligible for a US passport abroad, and so I went through a nine-year odyssey to eventually become a U.S. citizen. I grew up in Spanish Harlem, where most folks were African-American or Hispanic and went to high school downtown, where the majority of the students were of Asian descent. I played basketball games and tennis tournaments that took me all over the city and exposed me to New York City’s 150+ countries of origin. New York was truly the city of immigrants, built on their shoulders.
I thought this was America and then I lived in the Midwest and the South and learned that things were radically different, with many fewer immigrants and foreign cultures. I realized that there were many sides to the U.S. and it was a shock to me. In some places, I saw only black or white faces, and I realized that they had no idea what immigrants were, being immersed in the painful aftermath of slavery, Jim Crow and the race-based injustice which still pervades our nation. Since those days, immigrants have made a much more visible impact on the face of America. Almost anywhere you go, there are immigrants, and they make a positive impact. So logically our Commander In Chief, who has married two foreign nationals, whose mother was born in Wales, and who has employed thousands of immigrants for his construction projects, his modeling agency, and his hotels, should be pro-immigrant, right?
In case you have been doing a Rip Van Winkle impersonation since January 2018, you know the answer is a vehement and resounding “No.” Mr. Trump is currently launching a two-fold attack on immigrants:
- Removing as many as possible
- Expelling all the immigrants he can: Increased raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and subsequent deportations are aimed at any immigrants, not just illegal immigrants, but any who have been arbitrarily denied on visa extensions, change of employer petitions, family adjustments.
- End of the due process starting September 11 on all petitions filed with USCIS: Cases will no longer receive requests for evidence if anything is deemed to be insufficient, giving the government carte balance to deny petitions which may leave people without status (USCIS Announces Alarming Changes in Immigration Petition Adjudications)
- Arbitrary denial of cases incorrectly citing the law or applying it incorrectly to the facts, which leads people to be out of status and have to leave, as in flood of H-1B petitions being denied.
- Separating detained families and leaving children in detention centers (When the Children Cry)
- Keep new immigrants from entering the U.S.
- Travel Ban – This was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, so citizens from Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Chad, and North Korea essentially cannot get visas to enter the U.S.
- The number of visa denials for all temporary visas, most notable visas for training, work and study is sharply rising, regardless of country of origin, financial status, etc. This can cripple the U.S. economy, depriving U.S. companies of hiring valuable employees, Multinationals who need to transfer managers and executives to the U.S., universities and educational and vocational institutions from filling their seats and covering their operating costs.
- Customs and Border Protection, which controls admission to the U.S. has also sent more people home for arbitrary reasons than ever before. Most of these individuals are coming for temporary pleasure or business purposes, which means a diminishing amount of money being contributed to local economies.
As countries such as Germany and Australia open their doors to immigrants, including the many highly-educated professionals which the U.S. is turning away, the U.S. will fall further and further behind its rivals on a global scale. The message being sent based on the above policy and practices is sending the wrong message to people from somewhere else.
I became a U.S. immigration lawyer because I followed the immigrant path to realize my version of the American Dream: to help others from different countries achieve their version of that dream. Our nation was built on the backs of immigrants, and they became this country’s backbone. Expelling many of them and not letting new ones add to our diverse melting pot is a mistake which will take the U.S. many years to undo, and it is an insult to our history and to the unique, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic background that makes the United States unique and great. President Trump’s policy serves no purpose other to undermine and betray this.