Yesterday was the American Immigration Lawyers Association National Day of Action. Immigration attorneys from across the country (including me) gathered in Washington, D.C. to meet with their congressional representatives and discuss immigration law and policy. My Southern California colleagues and I met with aides for more than half a dozen Southern California representatives and both senators from our state. We spoke to them about the benefits of the pending I-Squared bill (introduced by two Republican senators) which would, among other things, raise the number of H-1B visas available. We also expressed the concerns that many immigration attorneys have about the ambiguous terminology used in the November 2014 enforcement priority memo and the lack of uniformity in the way the memo has been interpreted. We discussed the horrors of family detention and the waste of valuable judicial and economic resources that have been expended by classifying unaccompanied minors as an enforcement priority. One concrete example we discussed several times is that this prioritization has forced the asylum offices to allocate a large number of their interviews to the minors, forcing tens of thousands of other applicants (including 14,000 cases in the Southern California area) to wait in a backlog of unadjudicated applications.
I was pleased at the interest some of the representatives (both Democrat and Republican) showed in our concerns, and I was interested to hear from the congressional staffers what immigration issues were of greatest interest to them and the representatives and senators for whom they work. I hope we continue to cultivate these relationships with the local district offices, and perhaps we can again build momentum for immigration reform.