How Congressional Representatives Can Help with Immigration Cases
Many people don’t know that US Senators and Representatives can assist with immigration cases. In fact, members of Congress usually have one or more staffers liaising with the federal agencies that are responsible for immigration processing and enforcement, including US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), and the US Department of State (“DOS”). Although the Congressional members cannot force the agencies to make a particular decision or reverse a denial, they can put a spotlight on a case by their involvement.
At a meeting with immigration lawyers in San Francisco on January 17, 2019, local Congressional staffers from the offices of Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Representatives DeSaulnier, Lofgren, Lee, Pelosi, and Swalwell encouraged constituents to reach out to their offices for support with immigration matters where there were major delays or hardship. Senator Harris’ office also recommended that families include her office in any planning for a possible ICE pick-up or deportation by having privacy release forms signed and ready at her office to facilitate a rapid response.
The staffers reported that a large portion of constituent requests involved the Travel Ban and that they were having trouble getting any meaningful replies from the agencies responsible for adjudicating waivers. In their experience, only very serious medical conditions justified waivers. The staffers talked generally about how much harder it seemed to qualify for any kind of expedite request even though the criteria were still the same and that their relationships with the agencies had weakened.
They advised constituents to avoid reaching out to more than one representative because doing so causes unnecessary delay. They also emphasized that email is the optimal way to communicate with their offices unless there was a dire emergency in which case a phone call is best.
If you would like to find out who your Congressional representative is, you can use this link.
This alert is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. If you would like to discuss this option further, please contact us.