U.S. immigration law is complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. Immigration law in the United States has been built upon the following principles: the reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, protecting refugees, and promoting diversity.
On November 20th - November 23rd, 2019, the San Antonio Council for International Visitors welcomed four international visitors for an IVLP program entitled “Administering an Immigration System and Adjudicating Requests for Immigration Benefits." The visitors’ objectives were to discuss best practices of migration policies and interviewing techniques, to observe data management systems that link all migration office sites, and to review training programs for personnel to enhance interviewing skills and fraud prevention measures.
On Thursday morning, our visitors met with representatives of the San Antonio Police Department, where they learnt about the Department’s relationship with immigrant population and federal immigration authorities. The Lithuanian participants also asked questions about the process of becoming a policeman which requires steps to be accepted into the Police Academy program. They also discussed the roles of police on the front lines of public safety and the importance of maintaining trust in the communities they serve.
Their next meeting was with a representative from the City of San Antonio’s Migrant Resource Center. Mr. Tino Gallegos explained how, since March 2019, the City’s Department of Human Services has coordinated the Migrant Resource Center to support migrants arriving in San Antonio as they continue their journeys to sponsors across the country. As an Immigration Liaison for the City of San Antonio, he presented his experience of data collecting and coordinating services provided by government entities, non-profit organizations, and interfaith organizations.
After lunch, the IVLP group met with representatives from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at their San Antonio Field Office. At this meeting, they discussed the process the Office uses to handle scheduled interviews on non-asylum related applications and how they provide information and applicant services to those seeking to immigrate to the United States. The representatives also talked about local realities and their coordination with national systems and databases.
Later on, Thursday evening, our guests from Lithuania were welcomed in homes of the SACIV members where they shared with hosts about their home country and leant from hosts about American culture and society.
On Friday morning, the visitors attended a Naturalization Ceremony, a public event in which new US citizens take the oath of allegiance, completing the process of becoming an American citizen. The Ceremony was quite solemn and included a welcome speech, a talk about the responsibilities of US citizenship, taking the naturalization oath, the pledge of allegiance and the singing of the national anthem.
Next, the delegation discussed the Sheriff’s Office role in addressing border security challenges on a local level at a meeting with officers of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. Our visitors were given a tour of a Bexar County Jail facilities. During the tour, they compared responsibilities and jurisdictions between the Sheriff’s office and other law enforcement agencies (including communication and systems for information sharing).
The last meeting on Friday was with an attorney of De Mott, McChesney, Curtright, & Armendariz, LLP who provided a brief review of the complex legal process of immigration and the required steps that are coordinated by immigration attorneys. The IVLP group learnt much about the administrative procedures for supporting clients through the immigration process. Additionally, they talked about the interview process and challenges that attorneys might face in fraud cases.
The San Antonio Council for International Visitors was honored to host the IVLP guests to study the best practices for migration policies. We hope these meetings helped Lithianian representatives to find their counterparts with whom they connect and can work together towards new solutions and ways to navigate through complex issues of migration. #ExchangeMatters