Immigration Seminar: “Mass Deportations Unlikely under Donald Trump”


By Pramod Kulkarni

HOUSTON: The unexpected election of Donald Trump has exacerbated tensions felt among South Asians, who are dealing with complex paperwork processes associated with obtaining a green card and permanent citizenship. Trump has talked about building a wall to keep out Mexican illegals, mass deportation of undocumented workers, and putting barriers against outsourcing.

To provide a realistic perspective in light of such fears, India House teamed up with the law firm of Willy, Nanayakkara & Associates to present an Immigration Seminar on Wednesday, Nov. 30 evening. More than 200 people of diverse South Asian origin attended the presentation. India House President Manish Rungta welcomed the gathering and recalled his own trials and tribulations with the citizenship process.

Six members of the Willy & Nanayakkara law firm served as the panelists. These were George R. Willy, Founder & Principal Attorney; Chiranjaya “Chiro” Nanayakkara, Managing Attorney; Jimmie L. Benton, fourmer Judge, Immigration Court; Roger Piper, former Immigration District Director of Houston; James Parker, Associate Attorney; and Ahmad Baeg Chughtai; Associate Attorney.

Attorney Willy introduced the panel and made introductory remarks. “There has been heightened interest in immigration matters after the election of Donald Trump,” explained Willy. “I think Trump is a smart businessman and a pragmatist. I don’t think there will be mass deportations. However, those who are out of status have a reason to worry. A president can only do so much. We are governed by laws and there are three branches of government. We do, however, have to exercise vigilence and guard against excesses.”

Experienced with numerous changes of administrations in Washington DC, Roger Piper said, “Under a new administration, things actually slow down. Rounding up criminal aliens has been already underway under the Obama administration. That process could actually slow down as the field agents await new policies.”

Judge Benton provided a judicial background. “Right now, there are 373 immigration judges who have a backlog of 510,000 cases. That backlog could be erased by 2022 if the Trump administration hires 300 additional judges. With Trump’s emphasis on reducing the size of the government, that is not likely.”

“What Donald Trump can do through executive actions is withdraw the DACA provision and delay or prevent employment authorizations and drivers licenses.”

“There’s good news and bad news on the employment-based program (EBS) said “Chiro” Nanayakarra, “New rules introduced by the Obama administration will go into effect on January 17. The investment requirements will go up from $1 million to $1,5 million in general and $800K to $1 million for rural areas.”

On the other hand, applicants under the I140 program can continue to work while their employment authorization document (EAD) remains pending. Under the I480 program, applications will be able to change jobs.

During the Q&A session, Attorney Willy said that even under the Trump administration, the US government will continue to look favorably upon college graduates, particularly those with STEM majors.

While some members of the audience left to partake dinner catered by Madras Pavilion, a long line formed to ask the panelists specific questions about their immigration situation.

With such strong interest in immigration issues, India House will be well advised to hold such immigration seminars on a period basis.