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Biden Reboots U.S. Immigration

When Donald Trump took office 4 years ago, one thing was clear: illegal immigration was in his gun sights. Tapping into a divided America, the border wall became his top priority, children were separated from their parents at the U.S. border, and immigrants of color and other religions were banned from the U.S. As inconsistent as these policies were with the history of our great nation, they played well to an increasingly xenophobic, disaffected minority of Americans who erroneously blamed their economic woes not on Wall Street but on immigrants.

To the dismay of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and most of America’s leading employers, Trump’s predictable attacks against immigration turned more insidious, targeting LEGAL immigration in all its forms. In the past 4 years:

  • Family immigration processing – when U.S. citizens or residents apply for their loved one’s U.S. residency – crawled to the slowest past in year.
  • Despite federal law, the U.S. began forcing Central American migrants fleeing violence to await their U.S. asylum applications in Mexico, where many women and children were subject to abuse.
  • Finally, Trump set his eyes on business and investment-based immigration, issuing executive orders effectively shutting down business-driven visa categories like the H-1B and L visas, falsely claiming that this was to protect American jobs.
  • Most remarkably, despite dramatic fee increases, we saw EB-5 processing crawl to a near halt , resulting in an jaw-dropping average of 3 EB-5 cases processed per year based on the total of USCIS employees in the EB-5 unit

The inauguration of President Biden on January 20th, thankfully, launched with a massive reboot to right the ship that Mr. Trump has toppled and restore our U.S. immigration processes to their original and noble intentions. Initially focusing his first days in office on humanitarian issues such as DACA, discriminatory bans, and policies put in place to punish bona fide international students, his appointment of Alejandro Mayorkas as Director of Homeland Security – Mr. Mayorkas, a Cuban-American immigrant like myself, was President Obama’s USCIS Chief from 2009-2012 — reflects the beginning of the end of the artificial obstacles and impediments the Trump administration placed on lawful investment-based immigration.

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Trump Issuing Executive Order Limiting Work Visas

As his poll number continue to drop and reelection hopes dim, Donald Trump is again weaponizing US immigration policy to energize his most aggressive, anti-immigrant voter base.  He is expected to sign an executive order on Monday that would suspend temporary visas for foreign workers until the end of 2020, infuriating US business and industry groups who rely on foreign talent.  The freeze will apply to H-1B visas designed for high-skilled workers, particularly in the tech industry, and H-2B visas used by seasonal workers, such as in the construction and hospitality industries.

AS THE US ECONOMY FALTERS, THE CRACKS IN BIG EB-5 EMERGE

Last week, one of the EB-5 program’s biggest players announced that they were stopping payments due to EB-5 investors because of volatility caused by the pandemic.  Citing “extremely challenging conditions” in the residential condo market, that was that, leaving its investors wondering about their investments, their EB-5 process, and a lot more.  While we see no need to name this giant company, they are hardly alone:  hundreds of US developers relying on EB-5 capital raised via fraudulent TEAs are lurching as the economy falters and the house of cards they have built with EB-5 investor funds comes tumbling down.