Immigration attorneys learn to navigate through changing policies

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Immigration attorneys learn to navigate through changing policies

by: Jeremiah Wilcox / KVEO Digital Staff

Posted: May 13, 2021 / 03:37 PM CDT
Updated: May 13, 2021 / 3:48 p.m. CDT

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – President Joe Biden signed several immigration-related executive measures that would potentially pave the way for citizenship for many. Immigration lawyers say the legal process for immigration can be stressful and difficult.

Immigration attorney Ana Villegas says she has been on a mission to help for six years.

“I fell in love with immigration law,” she said. “I knew that was my calling there.”

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In recent years, Villegas has seen a shift in casework. She said she saw fewer deportation negotiations and more people applying for green cards and citizenship.

“Because of Title 42, they give rules of order,” said Villegas. “They are speeding up orders to anyone who shows up at the river. I’ll send them back in a moment. ”

Title 42 is an emergency rule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that enables U.S. immigration authorities to deport those detained at the border for unauthorized entry as quickly as possible.

Immigration attorney Charlene D’cruz, who was part of the immigration system at one point in her life, said the process was difficult for anyone.

“I speak English fluently, have an education and yet it was difficult” said D’Cruz. “Imagine people fleeing for their lives and not speaking the language. It’s more difficult.”

D’Cruz has spent decades on the front lines helping minorities in Minnesota and California. Since 2019 she has also been commuting to Mexico to provide legal services.

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“Went across the border and opened an office in Matamoros in an old dentist’s office right next to the warehouse and started doing casework,” D’Cruz said.

D’Cruz said the change in management made it difficult to have a streamlined process.

“They changed with the Trump administration, it changes with our congressional seats,” said immigration attorney Jorge De La Fuente.

“One day you may tell a prospect that you qualify for this process,” said Villegas. “Literally call her the next day and say we woke up to this new policy and you are no longer qualifying and breaking people’s hopes and dreams.”

D’cruz said the pandemic has also slowed processing for people seeking citizenship and asylum.

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“The pandemic not only stopped the asylum, it also made it dry,” D’cruz said. “The people are desperate and try all possible means to mediate.”

The Biden administration has reversed some of former President Trump’s policies. President Biden ordered a review of asylum processing on the US-Mexico border and the immigration system.

“I understand it could take a few years but we are hopeful,” said De La Fuente.

“It didn’t go far enough,” said Villegas. “We still hope that it will go on and that some kind of reform will be passed, but I hope something comes,” said Villegas.

Some lawyers are working to help people who want to call America home, and they are also working to avoid being overwhelmed by despair.

“We help each other and look out for each other,” said ProBar Belia Pena Supervising Attorney. “We practice self-care.”

For those seeking asylum or citizenship, it is important to consult an immigration lawyer.

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