Of all the many great expressions of the human spirit that ancient India has given to the world, one of the greatest of all is the Lotus Sutra of Shakyamuni, one of the best known writings of Mahayana Buddhism. The Lotus Sutra has a chapter describing children who are playing inside a burning house, and the efforts of their father to persuade them to leave. The Sutra states (in the translation by the noted Columbia scholar, Burton Watson):

"At that time a fire suddenly broke out on all sides, spreading through the rooms of the house. The sons of the rich man, ten, twenty, perhaps thirty, were inside the house. When the rich man saw the huge flames leaping up on every side, he was greatly alarmed and fearful and thought to himself, I can escape to safety through the flaming gate, but my sons are inside the burning house enjoying themselves and playing games, unaware, unknowing, without alarm or fear. The fire is closing in on them, suffering and pain threaten them, yet their minds have no sense of loathing or peril and they do not think of trying to escape!"

There could not possibly be a better description of America's immigration system today. The house of US immigration has been set on fire, and the flames of the Trump administration's census rigging to exclude the counting of millions of Latino and other non-European immigrants; its abuse and distortion of the public charge rules, which were once used against Jewish immigrants who were trying to find safety in the US but wound up in Hitler's death camps instead; the administration's plans for indefinite detention of legitimate asylum seekers, and Trump's ongoing purge of top DHS officials to replace them with people who will be "tougher" on immigration, are just a few of the fires that threaten to burn down America's house of immigration and cause irrevocable hardship and suffering to millions of mainly non-European immigrants and their American family members, employers, co-worshipers, friends and human rights supporters - very possibly for decades to come.

In his discussion of Trump's plan to add a citizenship question on the 2020 census form to intimidate Latino and other minority immigrants - whom he calls "animals" and denies their humanity completely - from being counted in the census at all, former Attorney General Eric Holder writes:

"The Census Bureau's own analysis found that the question could result inn 6.5 million people not participating in the count. This effect is unsurprising, given the climate of fear created by the president's anti-immigrant rhetoric and inhuman immigration policies. Three federal courts have found that the citizenship question will lead to a grossly disproportionate undercount in certain states - including California, Illinois and New York - denying their residents the congressional and electoral-college representation that is their constitutional right."

See, Washington Post, April 25:

Eric Holder: The Supreme Court can't allow Trump to weaponize the census

As Holder points out in the same article, using the citizenship question in the census, which the Supreme Court majority, shamefully, seems ready to let Trump get away with, just as it turned a blind eye to Trump's agenda of hatred and bigotry motivating the Muslim Ban, could have a devastating effect, not only on immigration, but on America's democracy itself, for decades to come - long after Trump himself has left the scene..

Since there is no way to escape - as America has to have an immigration system - should not immigration supporters be trying to put out the fires of bigotry and prejudice to save our immigration system from being engulfed by the flames of 1924 -"Nordics-only" style white supremacy of the type that Trump and his supporters are obviously trying to bring back?

Isn't this more urgent than obsessing over the details of EB-5 attorney's compliance with the securities laws affecting regional center recommendations H-1B RFE's raising questions about specialty occupations (annoying, biased and unfair as they are - I have received many of them over the years) and many other such regulatory issues, important as they undoubtedly are?

These are not normal times for immigration. Business as usual is not the solution.

If our entire immigration system burns down, as Trump is threatening to do, is there any way that EB-5, H-1B, L-1, asylum, family immigration, or any of the forms of immigration whose details we as immigration practitioners are concerned with on a daily basis, will be able to withstand the flames?

Shouldn't the first and most urgent task for all of us be putting out the fires of Trump's threats to seal our borders and destroy our entire legal immigration system?

Then we can get back to concerning ourselves with the particularities of our individual specialties. If Donald Trump burns down the whole house of (non-European) immigration to America, as he is openly and obviously trying to do, which of our individual areas of immigration do we expect to survive?

The Lotus Sutra does not mention that there any rooms that can survive the flames of the burning house.

.Roger Algase
Attorney at Law