US Immigration Policy: Adventures in Fantasyland


Robert S. Groban, Jr., Member of the Firm and National Chairperson of the firm’s Immigration Law Group (ILG), Kimberly N. Grant, Senior Counsel in the Labor and Employment practice, and Jennifer L. Taler, Associate in the Immigration Law Group, in the firm’s New York office, authored an article in the inaugural issue of Immigration Law360, titled “US Immigration Policy: Adventures in Fantasyland.” (Read the full version — subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Several themes have run throughout U.S. immigration laws in modern history, including family unity and reunification, the exclusion or removal of those deemed a risk to society, and the enhancement of our economic goals by targeting highly skilled immigrants. These themes have risen and ebbed in prominence over the years, but there can be little doubt that national security, and the identification and exclusion of individuals who pose a security risk, have dominated the 21st century landscape. This focus is with good reason given the state of world events. However, this myopic focus does not serve our collective interest, including our national security interest. By focusing only on the status of aliens and the process and criteria for removing them, we equate all those here unlawfully and thus run the considerable risk of losing the most dangerous in the sea of the millions of others whose only crime is seeking a better life. Through the shrill tone of the debate, we weaken the national fabric by scaring away those foreign nationals who come to create new jobs and opportunities, and invest in the United States. By creating lengthy backlogs in immigrant processing, we vastly increase the number of individuals living in this country who have not undergone the more extensive security checks that accompany the permanent residence process. As the proverbial haystack grows, it makes locating the individual of concern, the needle in that haystack, that much more challenging. Instead, we should clear up the backlogs in processing the most dangerous aliens to reduce the size of the population on whom we need to focus, thereby enhancing our national security and bolstering our economy. We should search for and adopt solutions that will bring our immigration laws more in line with the economic, competitive and national security issues this country needs to address and resolve to maintain its role as a leading superpower.