U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services is making it harder for both undocumented and documented immigrants to extend their stay in the country, thanks to new policies from the Trump administration. Correctable errors and missing information can now get someone’s application completely rejected, a harsh turn from the Obama administration’s policy.
Previously, notices were sent out to fix mistakes or provide missing information without any major hindrances to their applications. Now, however, immigrants must start from scratch, even if the difference is trivial. Around seven million people apply to become a U.S. citizen every year, affecting an already marginalized population in the country.
Although USCIS has the option to continue these applications despite mistakes, this new ruling gives them the power to reject any application they deem “frivolous” if they contain these small errors. With frivolity being defined this way, this process could potentially cost immigrants thousands of dollars in legal costs and set back their path to citizenship by years as they cannot intervene without being warned with official notices.
USCIS officials also have the authority to deport immigrants as soon as their visas expire, even if they are in the middle of renewing them. Subjectivity on the part of individual immigration officers means immigrants could get deported on the whim of one person’s desires in the moment. This expedient and overreaching expansion of power comes at a cost of set norms and regulations that help immigrants live in this country legally.
Immigration lawyers have termed these new regulations as the “invisible wall” of the Trump presidency. In lieu of a tangible border wall, the administration is seeking to build barricade around immigrants trying to get proper documentation to live in the United States.
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