Did Immigration Advocates Help Create Donald Trump?

by Jason Dzubow on March 23, 2016

As Donald Trump marches (goose steps?) toward the Republican nomination, there’s been much hand wringing about the reasons for his rise. But if you listen to his supporters, there are a few themes that stand out.

Mr. Trump's real estate empire and his political campaign were both built using immigrants.

Mr. Trump’s real estate empire and his political campaign were both built using immigrants.

One big issue is immigration. Last June, Mr. Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and he has advocated banning all Muslims from entering the United States. Indeed, for a time, the only issue on the Trump campaign website was immigration (or maybe more accurately, anti-immigration).

There are many explanations for why Mr. Trump’s xenophobia has resonated with his supporters: Fear of terrorists and criminals, economic and cultural concerns, racism and white supremacism. In a way, these are not new. For most of our country’s history, U.S. immigration policies have reflected such sentiments, and at various times, all sorts of people have been blocked from entering the United States.

Here, however, I am interested in a different question: Whether the work of immigration advocates to help asylum seekers has contributed to the climate that produced Donald Trump.

Now wait just one gosh-darned second here, you say. Isn’t this like blaming Jews for the Holocaust or blaming African Americans for the KKK? I think there’s a difference. Allow me to explain–

Over the last 20 or so years, we’ve seen a marked expansion in the types of people who qualify for asylum. Some of this was Congressionally sanctioned–protecting victims of forced abortion, for example–but mostly, it was the result of creative lawyers pushing the boundaries of the law to protect their clients. Litigation has resulted in protection for victims of female genital mutilation, domestic violence, and forced marriage. To a more limited extent, victims of criminal gangs can also qualify for protection (sometimes), and many talented attorneys are working hard to improve asylum-case outcomes for such people, whose lives often are at risk.

Until about 2012 or 2013, the effort to broaden the categories of protection was somewhat theoretical. More people were eligible, but the number of asylum seekers actually applying remained relatively stable. But then things changed.

Between 2009 and 2012, increasing numbers of people–mostly Central American–began arriving at the Southern border to seek asylum (in FY 2009, there were about 5,500 such asylum seekers; in FY 2012, there were over 13,600). Since 2013, the numbers have skyrocketed. The most recent data shows that well over 6,000 people per month are requesting asylum at the border.

Most of the Central American applicants don’t easily fit within the traditional protected categories of asylum. They are fleeing criminal gangs and domestic violence, but given the expanded range of people who can qualify for protection, they now have a realistic possibility of receiving asylum.

As the number of migrants from Central America was on the upswing, activists for the DREAM Act began seeking asylum in order to highlight their own plight (the DREAM Act, which has been stalled in Congress, would grant residency to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children and who have lived their lives in the United States, but who currently have no lawful immigration status). The DREAM activists received a lot of attention in the media, and they demonstrated in a public way that asylum seekers could arrive at the Southern border, request protection, and be paroled into the country to pursue their cases.

It seems likely that these two events–changes in the law wrought by litigation and wide-spread publicity about asylum seekers gaining entry into the U.S. at the border–helped lead to the current spike in migration. This is not to say that people coming here for asylum are not also fleeing severe violence in their home countries–they are: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are three of the most dangerous places on Earth. But when you look at data about violent crime in those countries, there is little evidence correlating increased violence with increased migration. In other words, these countries had previously been very violent; something else seems to have spurred the current wave of migration. Quite possibly, that “something else” includes an improved legal climate and publicity about asylum.

Added to all this is the Obama Administration’s decision to allow an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in the U.S. at a time when fear of terrorism seems to be at an all-time high. This decision was not made in consultation with Congress; the President has the power to make such a decision and he did. A slew of Republicans weighed in against the move.

We now return to Donald Trump.

The idea that “liberal elites” are making decisions to encourage more immigration, and that ordinary Americans (i.e., Trump supporters) have no say in these decisions, fits neatly into Mr. Trump’s narrative. This world view is not unrelated to reality. Indeed, as we’ve seen, recent changes related to asylum and refugee policies likely have brought more immigrants to the United States, and these changes were not reached by consensus, or even by a democratic process. Rather, they were achieved through litigation and civil disobedience, or via executive action–all methods of choice for the “liberal elite.”

Should we–the liberal elite–have done things differently? I’m not sure, but I certainly won’t apologize for the work of advocates and activists to represent our clients and to expand the law. That is our job and our duty. The President’s decision to bring more Syrian refugees here was also the right choice, and–to me at least–represents a fairly tepid response to a massive crisis.

But obviously there is a problem. Many people feel left out of the decision-making process, and that is wrong. Immigration profoundly affects who we are as a country, and Americans–all Americans–have a right to participate in the policy debate on that topic. In taking action to protect our clients and save lives, we “elites” have, to a certain extent, trampled over the democratic process.

Perhaps this is all dust in the wind: People who support xenophobes like Mr. Trump aren’t likely to have their minds changed by refugee sob stories or even by evidence that immigration actually helps the country. The sad state of our national discourse has prevented the type of rational policy debate that we need to move towards a broader consensus. Against mounting evidence, the optimist in me still believes that democracy works. I’d like to see a little more of it in our national conversation about immigration.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Korlu December 18, 2016 at 8:41 pm

Hi Jason, i came to the USA 2014 doing the heat of the ebola in my country. I got so depressed at the time. lost lot of friend. and neighborh. While in the. US lost mom and other family. came on a visitor visa .can i go to Canada to make an asylum claim.

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Jason Dzubow December 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

You should talk to a Canadian immigration lawyer before you try that. Some people who go from the US to Canada get stopped at the border and returned to the US, where they are sometimes detained. It is better to talk to a lawyer in Canada to know whether you are eligible before you travel. Take care, Jason

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Victor van der Have June 1, 2016 at 10:07 am

Hey there. First of all, I am not a US citizen, so I am not quite up to speed on the specifics of the US case. But what I wanted to share is that Jason Dzubow’s article, especially the question he poses (what if…?) has actually been the political narrative in my country for the last 15-20 years. Media, political actors, everyday citizens. Everybody was convinced that it were the leftish liberal policymakers and hippy social rights advocates that opened the flood gates and let in all the migrants.

Only recently the question of how Dutch migration policy was formed was shed light on. The authors of the article showed that restrictive government policy making actually escalated the situation making migrants feel insecure, thus provoking them to try to settle on a permanent basis for want of security.

The point is that restrictive government policy making is something that was done mainly by people articulating danger. Danger for job security, danger of religious fanaticism. And what way better than to shove this rhetoric onto the opposition.

I’m just saying, coming back to your article, that it is very much a possibility. On the other hand, this is just the kind of framing that restrictionist policy makers love to use. So beware of it, and ask the question of how policy and law came into being. What where the precedents in society, who supported the decision making, and where did the money come from (or go to for that matter).

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Jason Dzubow June 2, 2016 at 6:11 am

Interesting point – Thank you. Anecdotally, what you are saying (restrictive policy leads to immigrant insecurity leads to immigrants making more efforts to obtain lawful status) makes sense. My article was more about analyzing the role of immigrant advocates (like myself) and what we might do to ameliorate the problem, but I agree with you that rightist policies at home – and especially abroad – have contributed to the problem. Take care, Jason

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Alex March 30, 2016 at 10:10 pm

I am currently in the usa on a J1 visa that expires October 2016. I have not formally applied for asylum as yet but I am planning to begin the process shortly . I understand from previous posts that It takes around 9 months from submitting the asylum application to receiving the actually EAD which would mean my current work authorization which is the J1 visa will expire before I receive the EAD.

I was wondering would I able to work legally in between the time my J1 visa expires and receiving the EAD .Since I already have a social security number, have been working previously will it take less time to receive the EAD.I am concerned about my j1 visa expiring then waiting months for EAD being unable to work in that time
Thanks

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Jason Dzubow March 31, 2016 at 6:24 am

With rare exceptions, 9 months is the longest you will wait, so hopefully you will get it before then. You can work legally without the EAD. I do not know if it is possible to extend your J-1. Also, if you work illegally during the “gap,” it will not affect your eligibility for asylum. Take care, Jason

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Daniel March 27, 2016 at 5:51 pm

The anti-immigration sentiment that Trump exploits isn’t centered around asylum. Asylum occasionally makes the news when someone like Dzhokar Tsarnaev murders a few people, and promptly disappears from the popular mind again within a few weeks. Trump’s screed on immigration on his website mentions asylum exactly once, all the way at the bottom, vaguely promising to make it tighter. It’s EWI’s that get Trump and his supporters all worked up, which is the problem the wall is supposed to solve.

So while I agree that asylum policy has been less than democratic, I don’t agree that it’s played any role in making Trump. Even if you substitute “immigration policy” for “asylum policy,” I don’t think you explain Trump. Trump or his fans are no happier with our democratically elected Congress’s immigration policy than with the courts’ policy. The fundamental problem is that our economy has been fragile ever since the 2008 financial meltdown, and it is popularly believed (I’m not sure how correctly) that real wages for the majority of Americans have stagnated for decades. Immigrants are Trump’s scapegoats for these troubles. We’re not going to get rid of Trump or Trumpism until we get economic growth for the majority of Americans restarted.

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Jason Dzubow March 27, 2016 at 10:40 pm

I’m not convinced by this. I think people are facing economic uncertainty, but I think the sentiments exploited by Trump are based on more than this. My impression is that people feel that immigrants are taking advantage of hard-working Americans, and the fact that decisions related to immigration and asylum are largely out of the hands of most Americans adds to this problem. I do agree that asylum is relatively under the radar, especially as compared to EWIs, but I think it is less under the radar than it was 3 or 4 years ago (thanks to the increased number of people at the border, publicity from the Dreamers, and the Syrian refugee debate) and I do think it is a factor that contributes to the feelings behind Trumpism. Thank you for the comment, Jason

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James Dan March 26, 2016 at 1:00 am

Jason,
I do think the actions of immigrant activists play a part in all this, because the general public sees that immigration laws are not enforced. I find the idea of a Central American escaping “poverty and/or gangs” as a particular social group (PSG) for asylum to be dubious at best, and unlike you, I don’t believe that there is a realistic possibility that most of them would qualify for asylum under that basis. Not that I don’t feel for these people, as the child of immigrants myself; still, it’s all very much a case of there but for the grace of God go I. But I do agree with you that attorneys will indeed try to “push the boundaries” as you say, in an attempt to include poverty/gangs as a valid PSG- if only because although they have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, it’s the only real potential basis they have (I know about the “domestic violence” PSG, but I personally find that basis as dubious as poverty/gangs).
The public gets angry about immigration because of lawsuits by activists, for example, that are trying to force the government (i.e. taxpayers) to pay for immigration attorneys for aliens. Of course, the activists are using the category of alien children or mentally ill/defect, the groups of aliens that MIGHT elicit public sympathy. If the courts were to rule that alien children/mental were entitled to taxpayer paid attorneys, I know that attorneys would, again, try to expand the category to almost all aliens (for example, by claiming their lack of education or English fluency prevents the alien from effectively participating in his/her own defense or by arguing that alien should be considered to have mental defects on those factors). That would be a case of the exception swallowing up the rule. People are angry that activists are trying to get taxpayer money, to pay for a lawyer, in order to stay in the country. From the polls I’ve read, the majority of people, right or wrong, are offended by that notion and against government provided attorneys.
Another criticism are the public protests by immigration activists for those Central Americans that HAD their day in immigration court, lost their case, were apprehended by ICE, and are currently in detention for deportation. You have these militant activists, with the occasional politician joining in, denouncing the ICE raids, and claiming that such aliens can’t be deported because Central America is still “unsafe”, “dangerous” or “their lives will be in danger”. Will the lives of these failed asylum seekers be in danger if deported to Central America? Perhaps, but no more in danger than everyone else living in that part of the world, and that’s the part that activists don’t, or won’t, understand or admit. The public sees aliens that filed asylum, had their day in court (activists will argue that’s not the case because aliens couldn’t afford an attorney [see above paragraph]), lost the case (probably because they tried to claim a poverty/gangs PSG), and now WON’T leave. The activists protests and have banners, demonstrations, etc… until the government decides to “review” the case or an immigration court grants a stay to “review evidence.” I personally believe that immigration activists would say, if they were honest, their ultimate end goal is that NO ONE, legitimate basis for asylum or not, should be deported. What is the public supposed to think when a person with orders of removal isn’t deported? When they see that immigration laws are not enforced? They get angry! They question why this is happening! Clinton has already said she won’t deport children, only criminals and terrorists. Does that mean these Central American failed asylum seekers will be allowed to stay? The public sees this as a failure of government and politicians to stand for the interests of Americans. Some go far as to accuse Obama, and Clinton, of treason.
For those disappointed from the left, the only person is the guy on the right- Trump, who says he will deport EVERYONE, even though the other Republican candidates position on immigration was pretty much the same. People are angry and they are scared, they are looking for someone they believe will deal with their problems, and as the presumptive Republican nominee, that’s Trump. The activity, protests, and policy positions from the militant advocates only reinforces the belief that only Trump can effectively represent them when Clinton is seen as pandering for the “latino” vote (which I personally find offensive because I don’t believe we can all be lumped together as simple minded, single issue voters).

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Jason Dzubow March 27, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Thank you for the comment. For me, the bottom line is this: Maybe we should help the people fleeing gangs, violence, and poverty, and maybe we should not help them, but either way, this should be an issue for the voters – not the courts – to decide. As an attorney, I will represent my clients to the best of my ability. If this involves novel PSGs, so be it. But when I think about policy, I feel our country would be far better served by making such decisions democratic and not through litigation. In my view, the lack of democratic decision-making has helped fuel anti-immigration sentiment. Take care, Jason

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Stephen March 25, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Happy Easter Jason,
God blessed you for your selfishness service.
Please my question is can one correct an omission after a grant of asylum, ?for instance a marriage certificate was recorded error. Instead April 14th,it’s recorded April 4th.
If it can be corrected what are the procedures to follow.?
Thank you

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Jason Dzubow March 25, 2016 at 2:18 pm

You can submit a corrected copy – that should not be a problem. They may ask you to explain how the error happened, but I do not see why this would be a problem for the case. Take care, Jason

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Stephen March 25, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Thank you Jason, I appreciate your response a lot.

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John Doe March 24, 2016 at 8:08 pm

There are a number of things that I find puzzling in this article.
(1) You state “they [DREAMers] demonstrated in a public way that asylum seekers could arrive at the Southern border, request protection, and be paroled into the country to pursue their cases.” I will try to stay civil for the rest of the comment but, what fucking universe are you living in? How do you protest in a way that conveys that much legalistic information? Also, how many people fleeing violence have time to tune in to CNN to watch these amazing protests that convey the legal assumptions you pulled out of your ass?
(2) You cite the CFR to back up your insane theory about “decreasing violence” in the northern triangle. This to me is puzzling? Let’s be honest, the CFR is a revolving door for not “liberal elites” but for people who are so well connected they have lunch with the president (and ex-presidents). The Co-Chairman’s are either presidential appointees or part of the Rockefeller family. So yea, they do not have a humanitarian perspective. From the CFR’s perspective the rise of Trump is bad, because restrictions on business immigration costs money.
(3) The violence in the Northern Triangle is directly correlated to US foreign policy. Following your logic, the democratic process should start here. The vast majority of us do not have a say in where the next military coup will be. The US should provide asylum for the mess they helped create. The US has done an excellent job of promoting human rights violations all over Latin America for a long time. Remember the Monroe Doctrine? How about the Panama Canal? The Mexican Revolution? The Banana Wars? The Good Neighbor Policy? The “Hemispheric Defense” Doctrine? The Cuban Revolution? El Salvador during the Regan years? Democratic process, give me a break. Democracy does not exist. We have countries that evolve and each is unique, but all are flawed. A lot of people laugh at socialists and communists but in reality democracy is the same. It is an idea. The reason Trump is popular is because he is using the Southern Strategy. Nothing new and nothing exciting. National conversations do not happen anymore. It is a gerrymandered fallacy.

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Jason Dzubow March 25, 2016 at 6:30 am

1. If you think that people in Central America are ignorant of the Dreamers’ political action, you are wrong – they clearly are aware, and the very purpose of the Dreamers’ action was to make a political point. They themselves publicized their activities. 2. I did not say there is decreasing violence in Central America, only that it does not correlate with the spike in migration to the US; Do you have any source that says something to the contrary? 3. Obviously the US has meddled in Central America and supported dictators and rebel groups. On this we agree. But of course, it has nothing to do with the point of my article. Take care, Jason

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Marcos March 26, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Jason, you are a great (and very patient) person.
Given the insulting comments of this John Doe (who of course use a pseudonym), I would have deleted his comment and completely banned his IP from my website.

John Doe, people come here to read the info Jason is very kind enough to provide us. If you do not agree, fine, he is willing to discuss. But do so with respect. After all, no one obliged to come to this website.

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Jason Dzubow March 27, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Meh – It really doesn’t bother me. I actually like the policy discussions, even if they can be a bit rough. I do appreciate your concern, though, so Thank you. Take care, Jason

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Asylee March 24, 2016 at 5:17 am

Regardless of the complicated Asylum and Immigration System that United States currently practice. Inspite of complexity at each and every step of Asylum case & Immigration there is an enough room & space available for everyone who lands here & Claims for an Asylum is given an opportunity to justify his claim Asylum whether the claim is weak or strong the individual is allowed to stay here for long till the time the case is brought to decision , he is allowed to work till that time. This gives any individual enough time to stay in US and rehabilitate whether the case is approved or not approved. with the Generosity of this US Asylum system it gives an opportunity to thousands of people who file Asylum just for Economic benefits and suffer from no persecution back at their home but from poverty and this is a perk of US Asylum system. This in turn gives US cheap labor who fills the gaps and fulfills the resource shortage for many jobs , This makes a whole economic cycle. I am sure the lawmakers and everyone are very well aware of all this and for some reason they have let it this way. The people of united states accepts these immigrants and it is because of their Acceptability that these immigrants are able to live in this society & culture for long long periods , Extremist like trump supporters prevail in every country and just represents a small percentage of population. Trump had no card with him except to say controversial statements to get the attention of that small percentage of population and so Trump like minded politicians will always play up on any Sensitive Hot Matter on the table whether its Mexicans , Muslims or anything .I even doubt that a businessman can even be a good person to lead any country , Businessman is a businessman he thinks and do stuff like a businessman and follows the agenda of this business but not the country. I may not be surprised if Trumps comes into power many things will go wrong in the whole system not just immigration , He will have to oblige people with wrong wishes in order to give benefit to his own business empire in US and out of the US this is very natural cannot be ignored. This is my view of looking at the things.

Immigration has been the foundation and a core reason for the Economic development and Success a very reason that US is the Financial Hub of the World. What if the Immigration Policies becomes rigid , what will happen? US will lose this advantage and it will have an impact on everything , the economy will get hurt US will become weak eventually and this in turn will affect the whole Eco – System which took centuries to come into the present shape. I think the lobby who takes the benefit of current spring of terrorism happening everywhere in the world & Targets the Immigration again and again is actually Targeting United States itself (Something to Think On)

People go and take Asylum where ? they prefer to take the Asylum in a country which is economically stable and provides them safety , security and a platform to progress. so if all goes wrong with rigid & hard policies against immigration what will happen . Nobody will come here for Asylum , or for any other form of immigration . In fact the brain drain will start in US , the skilled / intellectual / professional immigrants will start leaving US. US has been known as the importer of brain and which has actually contributed largely in almost everything which is in US . so it can go the opposite way.

Americans needs to ask these questions to themselves , this will give them an answer and an understanding they would be able to decide whether to support the policies of lobbies/people like Trump/Cruz . Are these lobbies and people well wisher of America? or are these people part of lobby who want to see the decline of US in a longer & Shorter run for whatever benefit those lobbies will get .

when millions of immigrants comes , some of them may not be skilled or good immigrants and this is very natural. Just like when you buy lot of tomatoes some of them will be rotten , unseen & Un Attended comes as a part & parcel. So Many Asylum Seekers would be genuine having a real fear of persecution and many may not be . The system should give a fair systematic change to justify which it is already giving an opportunity to do so . There are pros & cons in the system and it can make small improvements by giving weight age to very serious and genuine cases and accelerate / expedite them so that they can be relieved of pain & agony that they have gone through.

There can be many school of thoughts & philosophies on these Highly Important & Critical matters.

An important school of thought: Why Media only highlights & Give exposure to negative and bad sentiments and people associated with it like trump , cruz or anyone else ? Media is only developing & creating false awareness that Immigration is bad , Muslims are bad , Mexicans are bad and supports people like trump and showing it in such a way that that 20% population supporting these negative sentiments is 80% of population. Its all Media who is supporting these sentiments and not majority of the population of America . So why does media doesn’t support and create awareness about Goods & Benefits of Immigrants , and Muslims are not bad , Mexicans are not bad and lot of things why only Media supports “Negative” Concept. only a few though full individuals , groups put an effort to create the right awareness. This is a big question , are those lobbies and people so strong that they can direct media against america?

I have myself applied for an Asylum because i faced persecution back home and having a real danger , threats to persecute me again with all the concrete evidences . I applied for an Asylum in US because the law of US says so to protect such people and provide them with an environment of safety , security & a culture to rehabilitate mentally & Physically .

Regards

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Jason Dzubow March 24, 2016 at 6:08 am

These are all good points – Thank you. I do think you can find positive media images of immigrants and asylum seekers; the problem is that if you do not want to see such news, you can ignore it and only focus on the negative. I think people who support Trump and Cruz are a minority, though one of these men may become president anyway. I certainly hope not. Take care, Jason

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Mark March 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Hello Jason and thanks again for your wonderful works. I always look forward to your next post the same way I check the asylum scheduling bulletin for an update. At least I get hope when I read your updated. I’ve 2 questions that are a little different from the current post.
I filed for asylum a year ago in which I made mention and indicated my spouse and kids who are not in the US as I hope to bring them if my case is granted and currently I also have my EAD.
1. Now, if my spouse comes in with a B1/B2/F1 visa for example, can I go ahead and file for her EAD with reference to my case? Does she need to file her own case from start?
2. Now that my case is still pending, can I apply for a renewal of my EAC to include a combo option so that I may travel out/into the US but not back to my home country where in running away from persecution? If not, what other travel document can I use to travel out and back in to the US and how do I get that?
I hope I’m understood. Looking forward to your habitual in-depth response. God bless you.

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Jason Dzubow March 23, 2016 at 10:06 pm

1. If she is here in the US, you can join her to your case and then file for her EAD. You need to contact your local asylum office and they should explain how to add her to your case. Contact info for the office can be found if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator; 2. You can apply for an EAD (form I-765) and you can apply for a travel document for Advanced Parole (form I-131). They are two different applications and you need to pay for each separately. Take care, Jason

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Sami March 23, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Hi Mr Jason
I really appreciate your hard work on your blog which help we asylum seekers. Your weblog is the only place we come to get updates and it keeps us motivated. A big big thank you.
Now I am asylum seeker in san fracisco, hope to get the asylum interview during the current year, I filled for asylum on feb-2015. Since coming to USA I have not follow politics but recently the rise of Mr TRUMP once again make me to follow USA elections so closely, because the result from this elections effects my whole life in USA.
I and all other asylum seekers came to this country with big hopes. I believe that Americans will not let trump to be elected, but still I am very disappointed. You know sometimes I even think that if TRUMP is elected, I should go back to Afghanistan. I came here to make USA my own country, but when I feel like being a problem in USA for americans, then I would not feel comfortable and will suffer everyday. It is better to be killed by terrorists in my country in one day then to suffer everyday in USA. :((
I am muslim. There are 1.5 billion muslims in the world. Everyone with having very less logic knows that in the whole world there is just few thousand of these muslims are bad people, the remaining are good human beings. They want to live.
USA is a better place because of its great values, but TRUMP is destroying these values. I know people who following TRUMP are not bad people, I have talked to many of them and after discussions they changed their mind. The problem is that the most of TRUMP supporters dont know what is going on in the world. They are extremly under effect of terroristic actions highlited-linked to the whole muslims.
Hope to see a democrate president like Obama in next term. Tnx and god bless you Mr Jason. You are truely good human being. I wish I filled my asylum application there in DC.

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Jason Dzubow March 23, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Good luck with your case. I agree that the support Mr. Trump is receiving is a big disappointment. Keep in mind that this is the primary, and so he is basically receiving 40% of Republican votes, which probably translates to less than 20% of the general population. Nevertheless, it is pretty sad, especially since Ted Cruz, who is in second place, is really no better than Trump. Hopefully, they will lose in November and will re-assess their views. Take care, Jason

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Cefteldore March 23, 2016 at 2:32 pm

This post is reminiscent of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, another nativist bigot, being discovered to have hired undocumented immigrants in building his home. His excuse was that it wasn’t his decision because such workers were subcontractors of a company he hired.
By the way, Jason, is there a merit in hiring an asylum lawyer in the area one’s asylum office interview would be held? I suppose I can’t expect a lawyer from Seattle to go to San Francisco with me for my interview unless I pay him for the travel. So should I hire the lawyer where my asylum interview would be held, not where I live?

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Jason Dzubow March 23, 2016 at 9:59 pm

I think it is more convenient to hire a lawyer who is near your local office, but it is not really that important. If you can afford to have a lawyer travel to an interview at a distant office, you can hire that lawyer. Also, the lawyer’s attendance at the interview is the least important thing that the lawyer will do for you. In our office, we often prepare the case and practice with the client, but if the interview is far away, we find a local attorney to attend – this saves money for the client and does not make much difference in the case outcome. Most important, it is good to have a lawyer you trust and think will do a good job for you, whether he is close to the asylum office or far away. Take care, Jason

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AnonymousForAReason March 23, 2016 at 1:59 pm

The basic premise of connection is incorrect to me, in that we basically are seeing white dominance-based racism/cryptoracism being acted out by the Trump base. It would oppose all immigrants who do not code as white and basically Anglo, but basically as a strain of American culture based in nativism and majority superiority that goes back to before America’s founding. In that respect, we aren’t seeing something created by immigration advocate elites.

The critique that isn’t about Trump strikes a chord, however. Immigration law changes, particularly on asylum, do not comport with normal folks’ understanding of common sense. Most people don’t think asylum is for people who have been victims of domestic violence or similar categories that while obscure are being used to drive major policy changes through litigation. Not because the individuals involved aren’t sympathetic, but they just don’t think the word covers the situation. Americans don’t understand a set of legal processes that allows basically everyone who arrives at the border and raises their hand correctly a shot at living in the United States without having applied for a visa. A democratic process opens up people’s understanding of things like that in a way that litigation and executive action do not.

Americans are not going through the conversation they owe themselves about immigration and our relationships with our neighbors. It would be an ugly conversation, but we are not having it. Should we let every resident of San Pedro Sula not wealthy enough to live in a gated community live in the United States? Maybe. Should we let every domestic violence victim claim asylum, or should we come up with another term that justly states what the person’s real situation is, and make asylum a term of art for political prisoners and other victims of state terrorism rather than a catchall for visa-less residency for the victimized?

These things are trapped in the realm of litigation and advocacy before agencies rather than political discussions, and they need to move into that realm. In particular because we are actually facing a unique and changed immigration flow, which could be a new long term trend: a Mexican economic rise that is stanching unskilled immigrant flows somewhat and Central American states unable to adequately police themselves and their citizens.

Longer-term trends may be over the horizon. But Americans should be discussing what terms should be acceptable for admission of people experiencing difficulty in Central American countries, rather than advocates arguing that these countries’ nationals should get TPS. As if most Americans could figure out what TPS is.

Just a few thoughts.

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Jason Dzubow March 23, 2016 at 9:55 pm

Thank you – I think it is very difficult to understand the motivation of people who support Trump’s immigration policies, but I believe there are probably many different reasons, and some certainly are racist/white supremacist. As an advocate, I also think it is important to look at how my own actions affect the debate, and at any unintended consequences of those actions. Most of all, I wish we could have a civilized debate about the immigration issue (and other issues we are facing). I’m not optimistic that we’ll see that during the 2016 election, but here’s hoping. Take care, Jason

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