Immigration is once again front and center in the national debate. Approximately 65,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the United States after the Taliban took control of Kabul. An estimated 10,000 migrants clustered just south of Del Rio, Texas, this fall, hoping to enter the U.S.; many of these migrants are Haitians. U.S. law allows for temporary protective status (TPS), which President Biden extended to Haiti, says the Law School’s Fernando Chang-Muy. But would-be immigrants from Haiti can only claim TPS from Haiti, which doesn’t help migrants who went to Central America to find jobs before coming to the U.S. “You can’t claim TPS if you’re in Tijuana,” Chang-Muy says.
Immigration is extremely complicated, says Chang-Muy, who teaches courses on immigration in the Law School as well as the School of Social Policy & Practice. “It’s been said that the immigration code competes with the tax code in complexity and craziness,” he says. “So, when people say that we need to overhaul immigration law—agreed; but we need to talk about it in segments and break it up into parts. Like which part? The way that we bring in families? The way that employers can bring in foreign employees? The ways we give asylum?”
People can come into the U.S. for a short-term, for example as international students at Penn, or for a long-term period (either sponsored by family or work), with refugee status, or they can “come in winning the lottery,” Chang-Muy says. “The analogy I like to make is that to come into a room, you need a door and a key. To come into this country, you need a passport from your country of origin, and you need a visa.”