Hassan Ahmad Profile picture
Aug 5, 2018 19 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
As a practicing immigration lawyer, I have grown weary of the comment, "So, business must be pretty good with Trump in office?"

Do oncologists get happy when the cancer rate spikes?
We're in the business of alleviating human suffering by providing a secure path to prosperity: lawful immigration status in a great country. For victims, families, entrepreneurs, workers...It should not be a minefield, but under Trump, that is exactly what it is becoming.
So what's it like practicing immigration law in this administration?
First, I want to be clear: it's nothing compared to what our clients are going through.

But that doesn't mean it's easy: there are rarely any routine cases anymore. We find ourselves saying “no, there's nothing we can do for you” more often.
Even if there is a way, clients are justifiably scared, even terrified. Will the legal basis for the asylum claim we've articulated remain good law? What happens if the law changes mid-process? Will there be a chance to refile before getting placed in deportation proceedings?
Will the government even follow the law, and if not, will we get a chance to take them to court?

Immigration lawyers have become quite accustomed to putting on “evil genius” hats to advise our clients.
We're seeing processing delays across the board, and I cannot tell my clients whether the advice I'm giving them will be nullified by tomorrow's 5 AM tweet. But besides processing times, the law itself turns into shifting sands.
I recently had to get a case I filed nearly 3 years ago continued because Sessions suddenly made it harder for Central American gang-based/domestic violence-based claims to succeed. Earlier this year, Sessions took away an immigration judge's ability to control her own docket.
What about clients who are in lawful status? Surely the administration isn't going after them? Think again. USCIS is planning to make it easier to deny cases, and then pump them into the overburdened immigration court system for deportation.
Just as we saw with the #MuslimBan, the administration is offensively using chaos: make the system unpredictable, and people will either not come, not apply for protection, or retreat into hiding for later apprehension and removal.
People seeking asylum relate tales of the law not working in their countries; police in bed with criminal gangs, bribery as standard operating procedure, and no chance to tell their story. Now, I see the same things happening here.
I was a volunteer lawyer at Washington-Dulles International Airport on the night of the first Muslim ban in January 2017. Despite having a court order in hand, we were barred from meeting any detained clients.
Since then, we've been inundated with the horrors of cruel, calculated family separation at the border, ramped up deportations without any sense of prioritization, denial of access to counsel, and deplorable, dehumanizing language from the highest offices in the land.
We are tasked with coaxing lawful status out of a system being reprogrammed into a deportation machine. Hateful rhetoric spews from Washington on a daily basis, finding its way into actual policy. Laws are interpreted to make it impossible for immigrants to become American.
When there is a way, ICE steps in to deport them before they get a chance. Our clients are criminalized, and then robbed of both access to counsel and the due process of law that all criminals get.
The federal bench is being stacked with judges who subscribe to this narrative, and in immigration court, judges are robbed of autonomy and pressured to order removals as fast as possible.
There is a well-organized, financed, and purposeful anti-immigrant movement in this country, and they've been at work for decades to ethnically purge the United States of America. We all need to understand this crucial point: these policies were not cooked up by the White House.
This movement – started by white nationalist Dr. John Tanton – has wrecked our immigration law. It's time we put the blame where it belongs. This administration has bought into the emboldened white nationalist narrative of fear of an immigrant “invasion.”
They fight against that which always made America great by closing their eyes to basic humanity.

So when someone asks me whether I'm rolling in money under Trump, I tell them the truth: I'm not.

Because I cannot imagine what this poisonous rhetoric will even begin to cost us.

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More from @HMAesq

Oct 4, 2018
@FAIRImmigration, founded by Dr. John Tanton, is a mouthpiece of white nationalist rhetoric. But it's more than that: it injects its foul ideology into actual policy.

One (latest) example: Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. Read what a federal judge found:

On p29 of the decision, the Court gives yet another example of Acting Secy Elaine Duke, who is supposed to make a dispassionate assessment of conditions on the ground in determining TPS eligibility, said "this conclusion [to end TPS] is the result of an America first view..."
Curious, because America was founded on ideals of welcoming the forcibly displaced. I'm not sure what "American first" has to do with terminating TPS.

If the White House is influencing the decision, we have a problem, because the White House has made A LOT of racist statements.
Read 13 tweets
Sep 28, 2018
Feeling drained after the #KavanaughHearings? I've been thinking about why. Objectively, there are far worse injustices going on even as Kavanaugh spoke.

Sure, there's the out of sight out of mind factor. Most injustice goes unreported; yesterday's hearing was not that.
But there was something distinctive about the hearing. It was a rare exposure of several different vectors of underreported injustice, concentrated into one episode.
We hear stories of sexual assault all the time. Or oppression. Abuser protection. Entitlement. Privilege. Character assassination. Lip service to the oppressed. Trauma. Legalized discrimination.

Rarely do we get to see it all in one day, before hundreds of millions of people
Read 10 tweets
Sep 25, 2018
This administration continues to target aspiring American communities, one by one. DACA revocation, TPS de-designation, changing asylum laws, the Muslim Ban...

What about Indians?... qz.com/india/1400398/…
Once again, the administration regurgitates rhetoric spewed by nativists, and with H-4 work permit revocation, they get an added "bonus" - getting to undo something Obama put in place. Yes, this is what they base their policies on.
But I also wanted to say something about the new public charge rule that greatly expands ineligibility grounds for green cards, which will also play into this attack on the Indian-American community.

This is an attempt to backdoor the RAISE Act into law.
Read 6 tweets
Sep 24, 2018
Well this is curious. Apparently @FAIRImmigration believes I am a paid operative of "state-owned propaganda outlet" @ajplus to meddle in 2018 midterm elections.

Why? For this video I did calling FAIR out as driven by white nationalism:

I'm paid? News to my wallet; I thought I was just doing a public service.

Here's FAIR's press release:

They accuse me of "spreading malicious disinformation in what is a clear attempt to influence the upcoming midterm election." I'm flattered they think so highly of me.

Entirely different, of course, from FAIR's statements influencing lawmakers here:

Read 11 tweets
Sep 24, 2018
There already is a wall, folks.

More effective than any physical barrier on the southern border. Keeps people out before they can even begin their journey.

You can't fly over it or tunnel underneath it. You can't sneak around it, either. And it's much, much harder to tear down.
It's the combined bureaucracy of several different agencies that keeps people out. Physical barriers are a small slice of the pie of exclusion.

But with due process, there is sometimes a way through. Perfectly legal, not unlike carving out a nice little door for yourself.
Today, a green card for our North African client was approved after a 4 year delay. He had been apart from his US citizen wife since 2013, and even though they followed the law to the T, repeatedly told they just needed "one more thing," the visa remained stuck.
Read 6 tweets
Sep 22, 2018
It's Saturday, but there's no day off of this administration's oppression of aspiring Americans... especially the poor.

Most immigrants have always had to prove they're not a public charge: it's been the law for over 100 years.
But the administration now wants to greatly expand what a public charge is...meaning the types of public funds an aspiring American can lawfully use.

And also be able to deny green cards based on an officer's belief of an immigrant's likelihood at becoming a public charge.
I gave this example in a piece I wrote for @qz:
Read 11 tweets

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