Many changes to the immigration laws of the United States occurred last year with the passage of Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty of 1996 (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA). Many of the changes in the law went into effect on April 1, 1997 causing immigrants to panic. There is no need for immigrants to panic in this time of immigration law transition. Instead, immigrants need to concentrate their energy in planning out a strategy to legalize their status.
Rosemary Melville, District Director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service stated that INS received a substantial increase in family petitions due to panic in immigrant communities. Many immigrants incorrectly believed that they needed to marry a United States citizen and file their family petition prior to April 1, 1997 in order to remain eligible to adjust their status. INS officials state that because of this increase in applications by married couples, they have become suspicious of the merits of each marriage case. The panic will result in more careful scrutiny of each marriage petition. In addition, the panic will result in a longer wait for interviews as application numbers have doubled.
Instead of rushing off to file an application with INS in order to preserve some sort of immigration status, immigrants need to be carefully guided by immigration attorneys who specialize in immigration law. The law has become quite complicated. Procedures which used to be safe and common in immigration practice may now harm an immigrant. Therefore, planning has become key.
However, immigrants should beware of attorneys who offer a quick-fix or claim to deliver miracles for an exorbitant fee. There is no such thing as a miracle in immigration law. If you are promised a miracle, chances are that you will be very disappointed with the results. Good results are only obtained through careful planning and hard work. That is why our firm does not claim to perform miracles. We promise our clients that we will perform the best job we can within the scope of the law.
There is still hope for people who believe there is no hope left. Clinton’s recent visit to Mexico could result in positive changes in U.S. immigration law. President Clinton promised that he would meet with Congress to discuss the implementation of immigration law. If Clinton fulfills his promise to enforce the law with common sense and compassion, amelioration of the immigration laws could result. This immigration amelioration will benefit all immigrants.