For Episode 8 of The American Dream in The Eyes of Immigrants podcast, I spoke with immigration attorney Chris Acklin to provide information on some of the processes migrants go through to achieve legal status in the United States.
Before recording this episode, I asked my followers on social media which questions they would ask an immigration attorney, and those were the questions I asked Chris.
The episode starts with Chris providing background information about him and how he got into immigration law. He began by helping another attorney with her immigration cases, they had a few wins, and then he continued with immigration.
The most significant impact on his job is the policy changes that presidential administrations put in place. Migrants could have valid visas, but if a policy is changed, it could overturn the visas changing the legal status of the migrant.
One thing that blew my mind in our conversation is that he mentioned an application can be valid for four years (because the process can take this long), and finally, when the judge hears the application, it may no longer be valid because of policy changes.
We talked about the four main ways (there are more) people can come legally to the United States, which are:
- Family Member Petition
- Work Visas
- Visa Lottery
Before getting involved with this immigration podcast, I had no idea there was a visa lottery. Chris explained that it’s a Diversity Visa lottery, and the applicant fills out a form and waits until they receive notice. They then go to the Department of State and go through the process of getting their visa. He believes right now, they are only issuing about 50,000 of these per year. And the idea behind it is to allow immigrants residency from countries where immigrants don’t usually come from. The selection is completely random – a computer chooses, according to Boundless.com.
Chris informed that there are certain legal protections that undocumented migrants have; for example, they should be able to call the police if they feel threatened. Although he does mention that, unfortunately, some police departments will report undocumented migrants; however, it shouldn’t be like that.
Second is workplace laws that protect them, such as workplace safety and wages. Many employers think that because a worker is undocumented, they don’t have to pay them, but that is incorrect.
Chris also mentioned the issues that accruing unlawful presence causes. This is when someone comes with a valid visa but stays in the country after their visa expires. They can be barred from coming to the United States for 3 to 10 years.
We ended the episode with Chris clearing up one last misconception about immigration. He states that people don’t really understand how damaging some of the immigration policies really are. For example, DACA recipients don’t have a set solution, and it’s up in the air. These people don’t deserve to live like this; there’s currently no protection for them.
If you want to listen to the full episode, you can do so here.
With Love, Heidy
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