Modernizing Immigration: Real Solutions for Structural Change

Comprised of more than 16,000 immigration professionals representing people and businesses in every part of our country and in every area of immigration law, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) offers unparalleled expertise to lawmakers searching for commonsense solutions.

We call on Congress to put aside partisan divisions and advance the following solutions that serve American communities. As a nonpartisan association, AILA stands ready to assist any member of Congress committed to reform.

Relieve Backlogs

For decades, the immigration system has been unable to meet the needs of America’s rapidly changing economy. Immigration agencies suffer from crisis-level delays that have resulted in lost jobs, prolonged family separation, and impaired travel for foreign visitors, students, and workers. Millions of individuals on the path to permanent residency are stuck in green card backlogs that have left their lives and their family and employer’s future in limbo. Congress needs to relieve these severe backlogs by properly funding agencies to ensure sufficient staffing and efficient operations and by providing relief to individuals stuck in green card backlogs to move our immigration system and economy forward.

What Congress Can Do

  • Congress should fund USCIS, DOS, and DOL backlog reduction efforts, including appropriations to reduce processing delays and implement innovative and efficient adjudication methods to save resources without sacrificing integrity.
  • Congress needs to provide relief to individuals stuck in green card backlogs by passing legislation to recapture unused visas, exempt certain individuals from visa caps, increase the number of visas, protect children from aging out, and eliminate per country caps. Reintroducing and passing bills such as the Jumpstart Act, Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act, the U.S. Citizenship Act, and the Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act is vital.
  • Congress should pass H.R. 1325, Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act of 2023. This bill will improve the work authorization process to allow asylum seekers to access work faster and will in turn relieve backlogs at USCIS. It will also help businesses hire and maintain much-needed workers, boost local economies, and free up taxpayer dollars in states and localities.

Additional Resources

Ensure Fair Processing

Creating a fair, orderly, and humane enforcement system is not only possible—it’s necessary. Congress needs to work with the Administration to modernize border processing and ensure meaningful access to asylum. Within our borders, Congress needs to create an independent immigration court system to make sure judges can work through cases efficiently and fairly. Instead of relying on detention—which is inhumane and expensive—Congress should fund community-based case management programs to ensure people understand the legal system and attend their court proceedings.

What Congress Can Do

  • To ensure lasting and meaningful change at the border, border security reforms must happen in tandem with other improvements to the immigration system. Read more about what steps Congress and the Administration need to take in AILA’s Policy Brief: What Does a Secure Border Look Like?
  • Congress should decrease detention funding and fund community-based case management programs as a humane, effective alternative to physical detention.
  • Congress should create an independent Immigration Court by passing the Real Courts, Rule of Law Act and fund reforms that fix flaws in the court system that make it unfair and inefficient.
  • Congress should fund legal representation for people who cannot afford counsel.

Additional Resources

Provide a Pathway to Permanence

Immigrants have lived in the United States for years, investing in their communities and families, building businesses, and contributing billions to the economy. Congress should pass legislation that legalizes people who are undocumented and provides permanent legal status to those whose status is temporary.

What Congress Can Do

  • Congress should reintroduce and pass the American Dream and Promise Act in order to provide a pathway to permanent status for Dreamers and TPS/DED recipients.
  • Congress should reintroduce and pass the Afghan Adjustment Act to ensure that individuals fleeing the Taliban have a pathway to permanent legal status.

Additional Resources

AILA’s Government Relations Staff

Gregory Z. Chen, Esq., Senior Director, Government Relations
Jennifer Coberly, Esq., Business Immigration Litigation Attorney
Sharvari (Shev) Dalal-Dheini, Esq., Director, Government Relations
Michael Turansick, Esq., Supervisory Policy and Practice Counsel
Amy Grenier, Esq., Policy and Practice Counsel
Joy Hardy, Government Relations Assistant
Blanca Hernandez, Liaison Coordinator
Jennifer Ibañez Whitlock, Esq., Supervisory Policy and Practice Counsel
Sofia Rosales-Zeledon, Grassroots Advocacy Associate
Paul Stern, Policy Associate
Jonathan Valdez, Liaison Coordinator

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 23041804.