Like many people, we followed the Presidential Election with great interest, and were surprised that Donald Trump has won the elections and will be sworn in as the new president of the United States in January. Many of the Trump supporters were fed up with the government in general, and do not necessarily align with the anti-immigrant sentiments he has expressed.
Many of our clients are legitimately concerned what would happen to them during the Trump presidency. The short answer is that we do not know yet and only time will tell what the changes will be. Remember that the President cannot change the law or enact new laws, only Congress can do so.
A few things that the Trump administration is likely to do is to expand the Family Detention and Detention of Undocumented Immigrants along the southern border leading to further crisis of immigrants from central America. Immigration enforcement and mass deportations are likely to increase under a Trump administration. DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - which was a discretionary mandate under President Obama may be over in a matter of days or weeks after Trump assumes office. People who are in the renewal process and get it before it gets cancelled are fairly safe. However new DACA applicants may be taking unnecessary risks as the current processing times for initial DACA applications are over 6 months. Whether to file an initial DACA application now is an evaluation that each individual needs to make with their attorney.
It remains to be seen whether Trump's speeches were campaign rhetoric or whether he will take action and do some of those things he promised. Many of the measures that he talked about cannot be cancelled quickly because they would have to go through the regulatory rule-making process like Provisional Waivers for spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, OPT extensions for graduates of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees. Trump also said he intends to cancel the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and if that happens it may restrict the ability of professional Canadian and Mexican citizens from extending their TN status so it is advisable to look at other options for people in TN status.
Putting further restrictions on Highly-Skilled Workers such as decreasing the number of H-1B visas further will require an act of Congress to do and is more difficult especially since businesses continue to urge Congress for more H-1B visas especially to cover the needs of technology workers. Trump also said that he intends to cancel the birthright citizenship - which will take a constitutional amendment to pass and is highly unlikely to happen.
We will continue to fight and advocate for our clients, both employers and individuals and will continue to support comprehensive immigration reform, to make sure our immigration law is brought to the 21
st century in this globalized and interconnected world.