Trump’s Plan to Punish, Caribbean Immigrants

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida - In Jan. 2019, Jamila moved to the United States from Jamaica to join her U.S. citizen spouse in Florida. Now she is stuck in limbo because of a backlog in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times for work permits.

The trained nurse cannot seek a job or apply for a Social Security card or a driver’s license because her work permit application, that should have been processed within 90 days, is now taking five to seven months.

And it is not just work authorization applications that are in backlog. All immigration applications are backlogged, according to USCIS, leaving millions of immigrants in limbo and threading a thin line between legal and undocumented.

Scenarios like this make the “get in line” statement right wingers love to throw out nothing but a fallacy, especially since the line is not only lengthy, it’s now stretching on forever for millions of immigrants.

FRUSTRATION

What many are feeling is a growing sense of frustration and also fear.

The USCIS’ own timeline shows that processing time for an Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status is taking about a year while a Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition is taking about 11 months. A petition for U Non-immigrant Status, which provides temporary immigration benefits to an immigrant who is a victim of qualifying criminal activity and their qualifying family, is now up to 43.9 months, up from 40. The time for a Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions is up to 31.7 months, from 27.1.

The immigration backlog also extends to U.S. citizenship applicants. Hundreds of thousands are waiting on applications to become U.S. citizens, a process that once typically took about six months.

Under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, the same processing has stretched to over a year in some places because of tighter scrutiny of applications and proposals that are making it more difficult and cumbersome for “green card” or permanent residence holders to qualify and complete the process.

SURGE

AILA, (The American Lawyers Association), has found that the overall average case processing time at USCIS surged by 46 percent over the past two fiscal years and 91 percent since FY 2014.

AILA also found that USCIS processed 94 percent of its form types – from green cards for family members to visas for human trafficking victims to petitions for immigrant workers – more slowly in FY 2018 than in FY 2014, while case processing times increased substantially in FY 2018 even as case receipt volume appeared to markedly decrease.

As AILA accurately summed it up: “Ballooning USCIS processing times leave families – including families with U.S. citizen spouses and children – in financial distress, expose vulnerable protection seekers to danger and threaten the viability of American companies.

“Yet rather than relieving the logjam, USCIS exacerbates it with policies that inhibit efficiency and prioritize immigration enforcement over the administration of legal immigration benefits. Such measures act as bricks in the Trump administration’s ‘invisible wall’ curbing legal immigration in the United States.”

This is all a part of the Trump strategy to scapegoat, punish and demonize immigrants who don’t fit into his ideal vision of “Make America Great Again”.

Felicia J. Persaud

The writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc. which owns the brands: NewsAmericasNow, Carib PRWire and InvestCaribbeanNow.

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