Many people in California have been following developments regarding the Trump Administration's policy plans to require asylum-seekers from Central America to wait in Mexico for their cases to be processed inside the United States. A federal judge acted on April 8 to block implementation of the order, saying that the Department of Homeland Security was exceeding its authority under immigration law. The judge ordered the plaintiffs who had brought the case, including migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, to enter the United States in the coming two days.
California residents may be interested in hearing how President Donald Trump doubled down on his threat to close the United States' border with Mexico. Through tweets, he reiterated his thought that fixing the immigration laws would be easy and placed blame for what he considered "stupid immigration laws" on Democrats.
Companies in California and across the country, especially in the tech sector, are working to adjust to a sudden change announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On March 19, less than two weeks before the April 1 deadline for H-1B applications, USCIS declared a new procedure for premium processing of some of these applications. The H-1B process involves companies looking to hire highly skilled international workers. In many cases, the workers involved are recent or soon-to-be graduates of U.S. universities with advanced scientific skills and technical training. Successful H-1B visa applicants are chosen under a lottery process that restricts the number of visas available for qualified workers.
The U.S. Supreme Court voted along ideological lines on March 19 when it ruled that immigrants in California and around the country who have spent time behind bars can be detained without a bond hearing, even if they are picked up years after being released. In a case brought on behalf of a group of lawful permanent residents, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that an ICE detention without a bond hearing violates constitutional protections unless it takes place immediately after an immigrant is released from custody.
People in California from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua may be pleased to learn about the extension of temporary protected status, or TPS, for these four countries by the Department of Homeland Security. TPS protects citizens of countries that are suffering from natural or human-caused disasters, allowing them to remain in the United States and receive work permits even if they would otherwise face difficulties staying in the country. The program is meant to provide temporary protection until the affected people's home nations recover.
The spouses of California workers with H-1B visas may be vulnerable to losing their rights to work in the United States. Legislation has been proposed that will end the abilities of spouses of H-1B workers to get employment authorization documents. The H-1B visa program and the rights of spouses to work can be important for those who are waiting for years to get a green card.
Companies in California who want to hire skilled professionals from outside the United States may need to act urgently. The H-1B visa program allows businesses inside the U.S. to hire workers from abroad with specialized knowledge, and it is frequently used in the technology, medical and other scientific industries. However, the filing season for H-1B visas in 2020 begins on April 1, 2019, and the slots tend to fill up quickly. These applications are for sponsoring full-time H-1B employees during the coming fiscal year, which will run from October 2019 through September 2020.
According to a study from the Pew Research Center, the United States has more highly-educated immigrants than any other country in the world. In states like California, these immigrants attend universities and have prestigious positions at tech companies in Silicon Valley. Surveys suggest that a majority of the American people want even more highly educated immigrants to come to the country. There are a few pathways these individuals have to get to the U.S.
Beginning in late January 2019, the U.S. government will start sending some asylum seekers who show up at the border entry point in San Ysidro, California, back to Mexico as their asylum claims are being processed. They will only be allowed to enter the country for their court appearances for the duration of the asylum process. Certain parties, such as those with fear of being in Mexico and families with young children, will still be allowed to stay in the U.S. during the process.
According to the Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), there have been 42,726 immigration court hearings canceled because of the U.S. government shutdown. Immigrants in California and throughout the country have waited as long as four years to have those hearings. There will likely be another long wait for a hearing as there are more than 800,000 cases waiting to be heard. It's unclear if this will be a good or bad thing for those individuals.