Think Immigration: Reflecting on AILA’s 2024 National Day of Action

5/15/24 AILA Doc. No. 24051503.
AILA New England Chapter NDA Event

The AILA New England Chapter spans multiple states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Each state has unique immigration needs based on population and local economies/industries. While Massachusetts is home to most of our members, our northernmost state, Maine, has seen a flurry of media attention. Recent articles about Maine have highlighted the positive benefits of immigrants in the state’s workforce at every level from lobstering to technical roles. Moreover, the state recently created The Office of New Americans to address local immigration issues in a productive manner. Immigration is not just a border state issue or an urban issue. Our federal laws and policies have a direct local impact throughout the country.

AILA New England Chapter NDA Event

During this past National Day of Action, our chapter sent 20 members who met with 19 different offices from our five states, among them were the offices of Senator Edward Markey, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Katherine Clark (MA-05) and Representative Seth Moulton (MA-06). AILA New England has established great partnerships with these offices, who turn to us for insights on legal developments. Our members also reach out to their district offices for assistance with their clients’ problem cases. As such, our meetings are collaborative, and we are able to focus on moving the ball forward on immigration. Most importantly, staffers at these offices are keenly aware how our immigration system needs modernization.

Addressing solutions to immigration in the United States is a challenge. The humanitarian situation at the border is just one part of our larger immigration system and cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The border is not the sole immigration issue facing the U.S. Immigrants compose over 13% of the U.S. population, have paid $524.7 billion in taxes, and have $1.4 trillion in spending power.

You might be surprised, but as business immigration practitioners, how we respond to the border directly impacts our clients. Without proper funding, the government reallocates resources from other areas, thereby increasing longer processing or delays and backlogs. Similarly, U.S. employers now pay more for work visas. The recent fee increases from the government mandated an asylum fee to employer-sponsored work visas (up to $600 for some employers) to offset the costs of the increased need for asylum officers. While the extra funds may help the asylum program, the new fees in turn negatively impact amateur athletes, artists, small employers, startups, investors, and rising costs impact production schedules for entertainers.

AILA New England Chapter NDA Event

During National Day of Action, we met with our elected officials to advance bipartisan solutions that (1) promote the nation’s economic growth and prosperity; (2) ensure the orderly, efficient, and fair processing of migrants at the U.S. southern border; (3) adequately resource immigration agencies to decide matters in a timely and fair manner and to ensure safe and humane compliance with immigration law; and (4) expand legal pathways to meet the needs of American families and businesses.

Each of the points discussed at National Day of Action will not be solved all at once, especially with immigration being such a polarizing topic. However, small changes will have an impact at a state level. As echoed by the congressional offices that we met with, small or targeted changes can be a place to start. Streamlined processing of work permits would stimulate local economies by providing an influx of talent to dwindling labor pools in some states.

Moreover, expanding legal pathways to meet the needs of American families and businesses has widespread support. For example, a simple change, such as increasing the number of green cards available each year would have a tremendous impact on our nation’s ability to retain highly skilled professionals.

While National Day of Action has passed, by no means should we end the discussion of practical immigration solutions. We look forward to continuing the conversations throughout the year. Small changes add up over time. We know our country needs broader immigration reform but in the meantime, let’s embrace the incremental changes that will make a difference to businesses, families, and communities across the nation.

About the Author:

Firm WR Immigration
Location Boston, Massachusetts USA
Law School Boston College
Chapters New England, Rome District, Asia Pacific, Texas, Connecticut
Join Date 11/8/10
Languages Japanese
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