Top Immigration Issues to Watch in 2020
2019 was a whirlwind. Immigration stories dominated the headlines and breaking news seemed to be a daily occurrence. But the year is over and it is time to look forward. Some of the biggest immigration stories of 2019 are set for big moments in 2020 and the beginnings of major battles are taking shape (ex: will there be a citizenship question on the 2020 Census?). With that in mind, here are the top immigration stories to watch in the new year.
Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly referred to as “Remain in Mexico” is a program that returns asylum seekers to Mexico while they await hearings in the US. This was a large shift from the previous US policy of allowing those who could reasonably argue that they were fleeing persecution to remain in the US for the duration of their court proceedings.
In April 2019, the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments challenging the policy and the case is still under review. The federal appeals court decision will likely lead to a Supreme Court challenge sometime in 2020.
The Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly referred to as “DACA”, made it to the Supreme Court in November 2019. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments and decided not to stay any of the lower court orders. A final decision from the Supreme Court on DACA is expected by June 2020. The decision will impact the nearly 700,000 immigrants who use the program.
The results of the upcoming 2020 Census can have major implications for the allocation of seats in the US House of Representatives and the allocation of federal funding. The Trump Administration has made it clear that it wants to have a citizenship question on the Census. That position was met with fierce opposition. The controversy made its way to the Supreme Court and in June 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 Census.
However, in late December 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be sharing information with the Census Bureau to gather data about the US citizenship status of every person in the US.
These developments can have major implications regarding the makeup of the government in the coming years and should be followed closely.
It will be interesting to see how the remaining 2020 candidates plan to tackle major immigration issues as they emerge during the campaign. Candidates will likely need to respond to DACA, Remain-in-Mexico, H-1B changes and the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (which would eliminate per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants and increase the per-country numerical limitation for family sponsored immigrants). Immigration was at the forefront of the last presidential election and there is nothing to indicate that it will be any less important this time around. In the last weeks of 2019, Mayor Pete finally released his immigration plan. In his plan he wants to expand the Conrad 30 visa waiver program (which would bring more doctors to the US), created a local Community Renewal visa (for those who will help build the economy in rural America) and create a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented people living in the US. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders released their immigration plans earlier in the year.
There are plans to make changes to the popular OPT program which allows students to remain in the US to work for a year after they have completed their studies. In addition, in May 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina issued an injunction halting a USCIS policy that altered the way unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors is calculated. There should be some movement on these issues in the new year.
Perhaps the most anticipated change to the immigration system is the new electronic system for the H-1B lottery. The system will be implemented for the first time in the 2020 cap season. The new system aims to make it easier and cheaper to enter the lottery, however whether the system will be able to handle the large amount of traffic is unclear. As with all new systems and technological advances, you can expect some hiccups.
There is also a push by the current Administration to remove H-4 Dependent spouses from the classes of aliens eligible for Employment Authorization. If this goes through, it will mean that spouses of H-1B Visa holders will no longer be able to secure an EAD and will need an independent basis for securing work authorization.
The future of the immigration landscape will begin to take shape as we enter the new decade. Expect the upcoming Supreme Court decisions and the 2020 Census citizenship question to play major roles and look out for how the 2020 candidates react to newsworthy immigration stories. You can also expect that President Trump will continue to fight for more funding and construction of the border wall. 2020 is sure to be another busy year in the world of immigration.
As always, Silver Immigration will be monitoring all major stories, trends and developments and report back to our readers.