George Fishman

Senior Legal Fellow

George Fishman serves as Senior Legal Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. He comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he had served until the end of the Trump Administration as a Deputy General Counsel (with responsibility for the immigration portfolio) and the Acting Chief Counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. While at DHS, George co-drafted regulations and Federal Register notices including ones making aliens ineligible for asylum where there are reasonable grounds for regarding them as dangers to the security of the United States (based on emergency public health concerns caused by communicable diseases); implementing Safe Third Country Agreements between the United States and foreign countries under which certain aliens are barred from applying for asylum in the U.S. but rather removed to those foreign countries to seek asylum; and expanding the geographic and temporal scope of expedited removal authority for inadmissible aliens. He also co-conceived the legal structure of the Migrant Protection Protocols (under which aliens apprehended crossing the border from Mexico may be required to wait in Mexico pending the initiation and completion of their removal proceedings in U.S. immigration court) and helped develop the legal rationale for the use of Title 42 authority to expel aliens apprehended at the border during the COVID-19 pandemic. While at DHS, Mr. Fishman was also detailed to the White House's Office of American Innovation to draft the legal immigration reform provisions of Jared Kushner’s proposed immigration reform legislation. Prior to the beginning of the Administration, George had served on the Immigration Policy team in the Trump Transition Office.

Before joining the Executive Branch, Mr. Fishman served for two decades as the Republican Chief Counsel for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee with jurisdiction over immigration, working at the invitation of Chairmen Henry J. Hyde, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Lamar Smith, and Bob Goodlatte. In 2013, the National Journal stated that George was “an essential figure in the immigration debate [and] one of only a handful of staffers on the Hill who understands immigration law thoroughly and the political mazes it creates” and in 2005 that he was “the linchpin of immigration policy in the House." While on the Committee, Mr. Fishman was a key figure in the enactment of almost all major changes to our immigration laws since 1996, including 2005's “REAL ID Act”; the provisions of 2002's “Homeland Security Act” which transferred the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s functions to the newly-created Department of Homeland Security, based upon Chairman Sensenbrenner’s House-passed legislation he had co-drafted to abolish the INS and establish separate immigration enforcement and immigration services/adjudication agencies; and provisions of the “USA PATRIOT ACT” to enhance the United States’ ability to detain and remove alien terrorists (in all three cases, together with Andrew Arthur, now CIS's Resident Fellow in Law and Policy). In 1996, Mr. Fishman drafted a number of provisions (including what is now the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program) in “The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act," Lamar Smith's and Senator Alan Simpson's omnibus immigration enforcement legislation.

Since leaving government service, Mr. Fishman has published op-eds in the Arizona Republic and Newsday. He received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.A. in economics and philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.