Jordan Moody 

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It didn't take long after Republicans retook the U.S. Senate in late 2014 for Idaho agribusinesses to call on Congress to enact immigration reform.

The lobbying efforts were in vain: Congress never agreed on a reform package and executive actions by President Barack Obama were challenged so vociferously in court they may never touch the millions of undocumented people they were designed to shield from deportation.

Jordan Moody sees it up close every day. A managing associate attorney at Boise-based Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC, he specializes in immigration law, and particularly family based, transactional and removal defense.

What are your insights on immigration reform from a voter's standpoint?

I've seen a sad lack of understanding of immigration law. Most people really seek to oversimplify it, and that's unfair. There are people saying, "It's really simple: They're here, and we just ask them to leave," and that takes out the entire human element. If people understood the issues as fully as they could, viewpoints would be drastically different from what they are currently.

How do executive actions on immigration affect attorneys like you on the ground?

[Immigration] forms ask for not only your information, but your family's information. People rightfully are apprehensive of an executive-level action. People would rather have Congress do something. They want to be able to receive a benefit and the outcome will be more predictable.

Some call for closer scrutiny of immigrants coming from the Muslim world.

An entire religion is not what we need to be careful of. It's people in that religion, and those can be vetted in less harsh and in more sympathetic ways. Seeing these people as humans with their own back story instead of putting a stamp on them.

Are some employers forced to circumvent immigration law in order to get access to labor in Idaho?

Employers have told me they have dozens of jobs they cannot fill with willing and able U.S. workers, and that they have immigrant labor that is ready and willing but not able, legally, to work for them. The laws are essentially prohibiting employers from getting the employees they need a lot of the time.

How would you characterize the disposition of immigration law toward immigrants?

Immigration law is notoriously about 20 years behind. We're stuck in our efforts of evolving out of our unfortunately racist past. Some of the questions immigration officials ask people in their interviews include whether they'll practice polygamy or are associated with the Communist Party.

How does that manifest here in Idaho?

You'll see things like people who have a U.S. citizen spouse here and children who have been here for 25 years or more, who by some emergency had to go to their home country. The person I just described, they have no option right now. I have the unfortunate job sometimes of having to break the bad news [that they can't return to the U.S.].

What are some of the moving parts of immigration law in Idaho versus other parts of the U.S.?

What comes up a lot of the time is driver's license accessibility. Most people need to drive, and when people find themselves without licenses, they end up with multiple tickets for driving without a license, and that's strictly based on immigration status.

What's the U-Visa program?

It's designed for victims of qualifying crimes that are helpful to law enforcement. If they work with police, they can receive a temporary visa. You can imagine the sort of incentive this creates. A lot of the time, they'll carry around a lot of cash, making them more vulnerable to being robbed. If you're robbed but undocumented, do you call the police? That's why the U-Visa was created.

How do you break the ice with people coming into your office seeking help?

If you're the victim of a crime, be sure to work with the police. People are being educated by the legal community to work with police because of the U-Visa program. It's been fulfilling the intent of that law and it's a beautiful thing.

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