President Obama stated recently that immigration reform, which he called “a priority” must wait until 2010 because of other pressing concerns. He must not know what is going on in the “trenches” of the immigration practice. I have clients who are arrested for nothing, and people who are declared inadmissible for life, because of non-violent crimes committed 30 years ago. Incredibly stupid things are continuing to happen in immigration, and they are now happening on your watch, Mr. President.
Top 5 things that must change in immigration:
1. Bond must be available to all non-criminal detainees. It serves no one to keep non-criminal aliens in custody (and costs the US money). This no brainer should have happened already.
2. The term “drug trafficking” needs to be redefined, so that a drug felony does not make one inadmissible for life. It makes sense to penalize drug traffickers, and who can be against that? But as it is defined now, drug trafficking includes nearly every felony drug crime, and that is incredibly stupid. And how about a time limit?
True fact: Murder someone and you may apply for permanent residency. Get convicted of possession with intent to sell one vicodin, and you may never apply. I have a client convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to sell in 1975. He cannot ever gain permanent residence in the US, because he is a “drug trafficker.”
3. More visas need to be allocated to those awaiting permanent residence based on a family preference petition. Do you know that if you are a permanent resident who wishes to have your wife and child join you here, currently you must wait six years before they will be able to come here (unless you are from Mexico, where the wait is 18 (18!) years. You politicos say you want people to come legally. How about making it possible and making the wait less arduous and long.
True fact: If you are here with a work visa, your wife appears at the US Embassy and gets her visa and comes to join you immediately (two to four weeks). If you are a permanent resident, then you wait six years. If you are a US citizen, you apply for your wife and she will be here in 1 to 1 1/2 years. Crazy.
4. Create a retirement visa. It is insane that wealthy foreigners cannot come in here to spend their money without working, unless they want to do it for six months per year. Let them come in and spend, so long as the agree to summary removal if their stay in the US costs the government any money at all, and they provide proof of insurance.
5. Give permanent residence to any alien who has a Masters degree. The European Union currently does this, and they are attracting the best and brightest over there. The US will not maintain its position atop the world based on number of people (China), resources (Russia) and we are currently hard pressed to do it based on education and technology (India). Why not use the thing we have that everyone wants, residency, and use it to get the best and brightest here? This would allow us to poach the best brains from around the world, and allow us to maintain our supremacy abroad.