If I Could Change One Thing About Immigration Policy

Three lawyers submit to direct questioning

Published in 2020 Washington Super Lawyers Magazine

Aliya Alishiva: The U.S. Congress has, throughout history and even to this day, discriminated against immigrants according to their countries of origin. While those who are knowledgeable of history may be aware of events like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned Chinese immigrants altogether and was later repealed, or Woodrow Wilson’s administration in the early 20th century emphasizing immigrants from Western European countries with Scandinavian or Germanic heritage and ignoring the rest of the world, many may not be aware that other discriminatory practices still take place.  Immigrants from a few specific countries—namely China, India, Mexico and the Philippines—must wait an incredibly long time to immigrate to the U.S. because of low quotas. Married adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens from Mexico, for example, have to wait more than two decades to obtain lawful permanent residence. This outrageous timeframe actually means there is a greater chance for those applying for their permanent residency to die before they even receive their green cards. I believe these extended wait times are simply ridiculous. Congress should not only cut these wait times in half, but cut them in half once again, so we can treat these immigrants fairly and get them properly processed. 

Ji Min Kim: It is my hope that immigration judges can be appointed for life, or elected just like state court judges, rather than simply being “at-will” employees of the Department of Justice. Judicial independence is critically needed to ensure due process. Furthermore, this will allow more judges with diverse backgrounds and understanding of different cultures to enter and make determinations of immigration law. After all, America is a diverse country of immigrants, so it should only be natural that immigration judges come from that culture of acceptance and respect for each unique individual.

Michele Carney: I would create an easier pathway for those who provide vital low-skilled labor to achieve temporary visas in the United States. There are many domestic workers, landscapers and agricultural workers who are living in the shadows. They are good people who provide vital services to individuals and businesses. While there are visas for unskilled or low-skilled workers, they are arduous, and many do not apply for them.  All levels of immigrants are important for economic growth. It is well known that the immigration system is broken. Blame is often assigned to those at the bottom when the entire system needs an overhaul. By providing an easier pathway for lower-skilled workers—and ultimately giving them options for achieving permanent resident status in the United States—we would see a decrease in unlawful immigration and an increase in helping immigrants come out of the shadows.

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