The Effect of Policy on Immigration
The most significant impact of recent policies is that the H-1B limit for the year has already been reached. Applications for 2018 were first accepted on April 3rd, 2017; less than four days later the cap of 65,000 had been reached. Additionally, the master’s cap of 20,000 has also been reached.
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Because these limits have been reached, individuals wishing to immigrate to the United States over the coming year will need to pursue other visa options as it appears unlikely that legislators will extend the number of visas that USCIS can grant under the H-1B program. Other options may include L-1 Transferees, J-1 for physicians, H-1C visas for nurses, if congress reauthorizes the H-1C program, E-3 visas for citizens for Australia, TN visas for individuals from Canada or Mexico, F-1 visas for students, or E-2 visas for investors.
Mounting pressure from Washington has not swayed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s commitment to keep Chicago an open and welcoming community for immigrants. The mayor has made it clear that the city will remain a sanctuary city as long as he is in office. Recent events where immigrants have been detained and deported prior to scheduled immigration hearings have strengthened his resolve and highlighted the need for realistic immigration reforms throughout the country.
The “Welcoming City” Ordinance
Chicago has been a sanctuary city since 1985 when Mayor Washington prohibited city agencies from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status. In 2012, the alderman on Chicago’s City Council made the policy law when they passed the “Welcoming City Ordinance.” This ordinance protects immigrants rights to access and utilize city services. It also prohibits law enforcement officers from detaining individuals based solely on their immigration status. Similar ordinances have been passed in both Urbana and Evanston, Illinois.
Arrests While Applying for Green Cards & Change of Status
ICE agents have arrested and initiated deportation proceedings for individuals who have overstayed their visas and are seeking a change of status. In many cases, these are individuals who are married, have children, own businesses, and their only offense is having overstayed their visa. These arrests have raised a considerable public outcry, however, officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement are standing by their actions.
ICE and DHS agents are under federal orders to detain and deport immigrants who have overstayed their visas. As such, it is advisable for people in this situation to seek the advice of an Illinois immigration lawyer prior to scheduling and attending change of status hearings.