Many people in California are deeply concerned about changes to immigration law proposed by the Trump administration. According to reports, the administration has drafted a 620-page immigration reform bill and secured 10 Republican senators to introduce the legislation.
California participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could benefit from legislation passed in the House of Representatives, but the Senate is unlikely to approve it. The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 received votes from all 230 Democrats and seven Republicans.
California residents may have the right to work for companies that produce or sell marijuana products. However, if those individuals are not currently citizens, working in the legal marijuana industry could complicate the process of becoming a naturalized citizen. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS), those who are involved with marijuana may be considered to lack good moral character. This is because marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law.
Economic activity on both sides of the border between California and Mexico could suffer costly disruptions if President Trump goes forward with threats to close the border. In the eyes of business leaders, the president's concerns about illegal immigration would not warrant closing the country's southern border. The nation's largest business lobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reached out to the White House to express its concerns about the economic cost of a border closure.
Whenever an American employer in California wants to hire a foreign worker with a higher education degree, they must file for an H-1B visa application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Accordingly, USCIS will discern whether the potential employee meets certain credentials before putting them in a lottery. Only 65,000 H-1B visas in total are issued in this lottery. Additionally, USCIS issues an extra 20,000 visas for employees with a U.S. master's degree. The spouses and children of H-1B workers can also come to the U.S. if they apply for H-4 status.
Employers in California and around the country often turn to the H-1B visa program when they need workers who possess specialized skills and Americans with the required qualifications cannot be found. Each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issues 65,000 H-1B visas to individuals possessing a bachelor's degree or higher and specialized knowledge or skills and a further 20,000 visas to individuals who have graduated from a U.S. university with an advanced degree. However, the agency generally stops accepting petitions just days after the H-1B filing season begins.
Many people in California involved with the immigration system may worry every time a new tweet from President Donald Trump appears on his Twitter account. The president has announced significant policy plans regarding changes to immigration law through this decidedly unofficial channel, so the coming repercussions might be serious. On Jan. 11, 2019, another Trump tweet came as a surprise, as he announced that "changes are coming soon" for people with H-1B professional work visas. Since Trump took office, many visa holders have experienced issues, including limited approval times and lengthy delays.
Immigrant youth in California and across the country are facing serious concerns when attempting to regularize their statuses. Since 1990, the U.S. government has allowed immigrant youth who were abused or abandoned by their parents to seek a green card with the assistance of a court-appointed guardian, allowing them to stay in the country. Under the law, people seeking to access the protections provided by this program must apply before their 21st birthday. However, the Trump administration has begun to claim that some applicants are too old to access the program after the age of 18.
California residents have likely been paying close attention to events taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border. Several thousand migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have gathered in Tijuana and say that they plan to apply for asylum in the United States, but their attempts to cross the border illegally have largely been thwarted and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Dec. 20 that new rules had been put into place to deter fraudulent asylum claims.
A national poll conducted in November 2018 indicates that a growing number of Americans see immigration as the most important problem facing the country. People in California who are pursuing residency or citizenship may be affected by policy changes related to changing national perceptions. In October 2018, 13 percent of Americans said immigration was the top problem in the country. By the time of the November poll, that number increased to 21 percent.