Since taking office, President Donald Trump has taken on illegal immigration as one of his main issues. David Nachman of Nachman, Phulwani, Zimovcak Law Group came to Ramapo on Wednesday to lead a discussion on how Trump’s immigration rules and policies could affect international students. Nachman focused on immigration and nationality laws and also shared with international students what options they had to continue living in the U.S. legally after completing their degree.
“It’s been a wild and crazy ride for me since President Trump entered office because obviously the cornerstone of the Trump initiative has been to deal with illegal immigration,” said Nachman, who added that his office phones have been ringing almost constantly with questions regarding Trump’s policies.
“Everyone is in favor of legal immigration, we want to obey the laws, but immigration laws in the United States are extremely confusing and convoluted,” he continued.
Trump has expressed his interest in ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. The program allows illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to defer action for two years.
However, Nachman thinks that it is unlikely that Trump will follow through with ending the program because he would risk the support of the more than 750,000 people in the U.S. in the program.
“The political power of the DACA population and immigration advocates cannot be underestimated,” he said. “I think it would be political suicide for him because he knows how important the Hispanic vote is.”
Nachman does believe that Trump will follow through with his plan to build an “impenetrable physical wall on the southern border.”
“The Republican platform is to increase defense spending,” said Nachman. He added that he also believes the contract to build the wall will be given to a large company such as Boeing or BlackRock to “provide jobs and support trickle-down economics.”
Other parts of Trump’s immigration platform include ending catch and release, ending sanctuary cities and reforming legal immigration. Trump also wants to curb the jobs and benefits that he believes are attracting immigrants to come to the United States illegally.
“This point assumes that jobs are the only reason why foreign nationals come to the United States illegally,” Nachman said. “It leaves in the dust the fact that individuals also come to the United States to be reunited with their close family members.”
Nachman stressed that there is a large difference between illegal and legal immigrants and that, while difficult, there is a process for international students to remain in the country after graduation. Typically, international students have a student visa which is a type of nonimmigrant visa.
“Nonimmigrant means that you intend to leave the United States," said Nachman. “It means that you don’t have an intention to immigrate to the U.S.”
Other types of temporary, nonimmigrant visas include visitors, performing artists and religious workers. On the typical path to a green card, a student would transition from a student visa to an H-1B employment visa. An employment visa is another type of nonimmigrant visa, but it allows for students to have “dual intent,” in which they both intend to stay and leave. After this, they can apply for employment-based permanent residence.
However, there are only 65,000 employment visas given out to students each year. In 2016, this cap was met on the first day that filing opened when more than 240,000 people applied. Nachman shared that his law office often works with students and businesses to place the students in jobs to increase their chances of being granted an employment visa.
“It’s very tough right now because the large corporations that are H1-B dependent and that have concerns about how to deal with the future of their business are worried if they should even submit H1-Bs this year,” he said, referencing the businesses he works with that employ many workers on an H1-B employment visa.
However, Nachman added that they have yet to see a drop in interest from businesses in hiring students despite Trump’s tough immigration policies.