High Praise From US Military Members and Immigration Advocates for 'Policy In Place'

October 20, 2014,

army.jpgLast November, a change in America's immigration policy was implemented by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director which allows the undocumented family members of US military personnel to escape deportation. The change in policy is essentially a policy in and of itself that carries the unconventionally lengthy title "Parole of Spouses, Children and Parents of Active Duty Members of the US Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and Former Members of the US Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and the Effect of Parole on Inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act ยง 212(a)(6)(A)(i)".

The short version of the policy title is "Parole in Place" and it is at its core a provision of parole status and authorization for those undocumented family members to be able to stay in the US and according to reports took three years from inception to the issuance of the policy. With the policy in place now for almost a full year, the US Department of Homeland Security now has the authority to grant entry to noncitizens temporarily and on a case-by -case basis. The decisions to grant parole for each individual case are to be based on "urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit."

What Parole Authority Entails

For Homeland Security, having the authority to grant parole involves authorization to allow undocumented citizens to come into the United States at a specific border station, airport, or other official point of entry. Additionally, DHS has the authority to confer parole status to undocumented individuals who are already living in the country illegally. The latter provision is the crux of the meaning of "parole in place".

From an historical standpoint, there have been several different kinds of situations in which parole has been implemented, particularly before the Refugee Act was passed. Prior to this, parole was effectively the means by which people who were fleeing persecution in their own countries could come into the United States. The purpose of the policy change that was implemented last November is to provide a much needed service for those current armed forces members as well as veterans who have "sacrificed for and served the country".

Policymakers have stated that servicemen and women who have undocumented family members living in the US experience a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress because of the status of those family members. As such, they say, military preparedness and ultimately execution of duty are significantly compromised and adversely affected when US Armed Forces personnel have to carry such a heavy burden of worry about their loved ones.

The idea that prompted the policy to begin its journey toward implementation in 2010 was that the Department of Homeland Security needed to identify "tools" that would allow it to assist those dependent upon certain military personnel to "secure permanent immigration status in the United States as soon as possible." According to the Department Secretary at the time, Parole in Place was identified as a means of minimizing the length of time that military personnel and their family members are separated from one another as well as to make a provision for adjusting the status of immigrants who are already living in the US and who have active or veteran family members.

Uncertainty About Parole in Place Among DHS Insiders

Despite the fact that those at the highest levels of Homeland Security have made the policy and its purpose clear, several offices within the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have expressed doubt about granting Policy in Place to family members of particular servicemen and women actively serving in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, in any branch of the Armed Forces, or veterans of the US military.

When the policy was granted to family members of military members and veterans, there were questions among individuals within the USCIS and other relevant departments about whether or not the DHS had the legal power to allow status to be adjusted for individuals based on the Policy in Place. This instability among officials within these offices resulted in inconsistencies in how the policy was executed and it was ultimately determined by the USCIS that clarification of the policy was necessary and that clarification should come in the form of a policy memorandum.

The problem with the clarification memorandum was that it was announced to the USCIS offices before it was actually issued. Subsequently, while the clarification was being drafted, most offices of the USCIS put applications for PIP-based status adjustments on hold until the final memorandum was issued. Since the announcement about the adjustment was made when the initial policy was implemented in 2010, several US service members and their loved ones have been waiting for the last several years to have their applications processed and to get word of their status.

Because so many applicants were forced to wait for so long for their status approval, many military personnel had their security clearances revoked and became unable to advance their respective military careers which also played a significant role in negatively impacting the morale of the service members and their "readiness to serve".

A Long Wait Comes to an End

With the passage of the policy clarification last November - which for all intents and purposes became a new policy in and of itself - the waiting for those service members and their families finally came to an end. That is not to say, of course, that all of the applicants have been approved for Policy in Place or that all of those who are still waiting will receive approval, but it does mean that the wheels of the approval process are back in motion. PIP has been confirmed by the USCIS as a "discretionary remedy" and that approvals essentially amount to a "cure" for those servicemen and women who have served the United States and needed the assurance of the citizenship status of their family members.

Several Undocumented Migrants in New Mexico Released from Detention Facility

October 15, 2014,

artesia.jpgDozens of undocumented migrants who were being held at a facility in New Mexico have been released, according to Philip Burch, the mayor of the city of Artesia. Burch recently told reporters that 68 of the nearly 500 detainees at the Artesia Family Residential Center were release last week with 14 of them being deported. Immigration officials working the facility said that there are still about 480 migrants being held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center - an annex of the Family Residential Center - with several more expected to arrive at the facility over the next few days.

Officials at the facility in Artesia were briefed by officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding the release of the detainees and the expected arrival of others in the coming days and weeks. A spokesperson for ICE said that since the Family Residential Center opened in Artesia back in August, more than 300 detainees have been sent back to their respective native Central American countries.

Facility to Remain Open Longer Than Intended

The facility in Artesia - which is an almost completely isolated desert town in Southern New Mexico - has become the subject of increasingly intense scrutiny over the past several weeks from sources both outside the facility as well as from within. It was originally intended and billed as a temporary facility for housing of women and children from Central America who are captured crossing the US-Mexico border into the United States illegally. There has been an influx of Central American migrants crossing the harsh Mexican desert and attempting to come into the US over the last 8 months that has become a topic of heated debate among both sides of the immigration debate.

Officials revealed recently, however, that while the facility was indeed only intended to be a temporary solution to the housing needs of the migrants, it will likely remain open to receive detainees well into next year, possibly until the end of next summer. One government official told immigration advocates during a confidential meeting that while "all of us would love to see the doors close in Artesia", the reality is that it will likely need to remain open until August or 2015, the end of what is known as "high season" for migrants crossing the southern border.

Frustration Mounting Among Detainees

Additionally, frustration has been mounting among detainees being held at the facility because they feel they are being kept there without any indication of when they may be released, particularly in light of the fact that migrants who had crossed the border shortly before they did have already been released. Those who were released previously received orders to contact immigration officials at a later date.

The facility in Artesia was opened this summer after it became apparent to federal officials that the thousands of migrants who had been caught since the beginning of the year and released with orders to meet with immigration officials had simply disappeared into the country. The vast majority of them never showed up for the scheduled meetings with ICE officials.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Obama Petitioned to Give Undocumented Immigrants Access to Affordable Healthcare

October 13, 2014,

obamacare.jpgLast week, leaders within the nation's Hispanic community formally requested that President Barack Obama allow certain undocumented migrants to have access to Obamacare. They say that the justification for such an allowance stems from the fact that certain "dreamers" who have been granted temporary work permits are paying taxes and therefore should be entitled to certain government benefits. "Dreamers" is a colloquialism for the several hundred thousand young adults who were granted temporary legal status by the President two years ago but who were brought into the country illegally as minors by their parents or other adult relatives. As such, they are still considered 'undocumented'.

A Lawful Presence

Current government policy dictates that undocumented migrant are not allowed to purchase insurance through Obamacare and roughly half of the states in the Union also have laws against them obtaining Medicaid benefits. According to the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, however, those migrants who are no longer in danger of being sent back to their home country should be considered "lawfully present" for essentially the same benefits that natural born citizens enjoy including government benefits and health care.

Well over a half million undocumented migrants had received approval for temporary legal status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which was passed in 2012. DACA status essentially means that those individuals will not be sent back to their native country for two years from the time the status is approved. Those with DACA status are also allowed to apply for renewal of their status every two years. Additionally, they have been issued temporary work permits and almost all states have allowed them to apply for a driver's license.

Immigration advocates have been asking the President for several months now to broaden his program for deferred action so that undocumented migrants who are parents of US citizen children and parents of "dreamers" can also be included and receive benefits and health care. If Obama does in fact allow such a policy expansion it would likely mean that millions more individuals would become eligible for health care under Obamacare.

American Taxpayers are the Deciding Factor

Immigration opponents, such as those with the anti-immigration organization known as NumbersUSA, say that US taxpayers should be the deciding factor in the determination about who should and should not be eligible for health care benefits that those taxpayers are funding. They say that the entire reason that Congress has not passed legislation that would allow undocumented workers and migrants to have those benefits is because taxpayers "are not in favor of that".

Earlier this year the President had announced his intention to take definitive action that would expand his policy for non-deportation but he has since backed off from that due to what his administration believed could cause a severe backlash from voters. According to White House officials, Obama is waiting until after the November elections so that any decision he makes in regard to immigration in general and to the expansion of deferred action in particular will not affect him or the Democratic Party because of voter reprisal.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Child Immigrants Facing Deportation In Desperate Need of Legal Counsel

October 8, 2014,

child immigrants.pngThere is a crisis that is playing out in immigration courts across the country, particularly in large metropolitan areas like New York City where children from Central America who crossed the southern border into the United States without adult accompaniment await their respective hearings. More than 66,000 Central American youths have crossed the US-Mexico illegally border over the last 12 months, many of them in an effort to get away from what they describe as rampant gang violence in countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua. It is estimated that in New York City alone there are upwards of 6,000 illegal immigrant children with the majority of them staying with relatives while they await their court hearings.

A Desperate Situation

The problem that is rearing its ugly head for these children is that according to the Legal Aid Society, nearly half of them do not have any manner of legal counsel to represent them in their hearings. And without legal representation, the likelihood that they will be sent back to their Central American homeland increases exponentially, a situation which immigration advocates call "desperate". One attorney with the Legal Aid Society's Immigration Law Unit stated that she and her colleagues are working 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to try and meet the demand but that it is virtually impossible to do so.

The New York City Immigration Court has been inundated with unaccompanied children from Central America for the last year in general and particularly since the Obama administration started increasing deportation hearings for migrant children this past summer. Since that time, attorney and volunteers from the Legal Aid Society have been utilizing whatever unused rooms the Immigration Court building has available on a day-to-day basis to connect migrant children - and in many cases their mothers or even entire families - with representatives from several areas of Social Services including homeless shelters and mental health counseling.

Overwhelming Caseloads

The caseloads for attorney, however, have become overwhelming with each counselor taking on as many as 60 cases or more. Joseph Landau, an associate law professor at Fordham University specializing in immigration, said that the crux of the problem for these children is that under current United States law they have no right to government appointed legal counsel. He added that deportation is often times a worse fate for foreign nationals than going to jail. The President's administration has estimated that it costs taxpayers more than $2 billion to either care for the children in these situations or to reunite them with their relatives already living in the United States.

According to the children who are in these situations as well as their mothers - the ones who crossed over with parental accompaniment - going back to their Central American homeland is the equivalent of a "death sentence" and immigration advocates say that many of those who come into the US from the region show signs of severe physical and emotional trauma. They are often victims of gang violence or rampant sexual assault and while those advocated admit that the children are in fact refugees in the country illegally, they are still children and "they cannot represent themselves".

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Frustration Among Immigrant Detainees Growing at Detention Center in New Mexico

October 6, 2014,

bunks.jpgThe small and isolated desert town of Artesia, New Mexico has recently become the home of a federal immigration detention center that includes such amenities as a soccer field, a basketball court, and video conferencing capabilities for detainees to have their cases heard by immigration judges in Denver, Colorado. The facility also included several trailers that have been put in place around the main building to serve as a makeshift school because the center itself is intended to serve as temporary housing specifically for women and children from Central American countries who have been crossing the Mexican desert and coming into the United States illegally.

Center Will Likely Stay Open Well Into 2015

According to Border Patrol officials, the detention center is likely to remain open at least until the summer of 2015. One official told reporters that while the majority of Americans and government officials would like to see the facility done away with, the ongoing influx of illegal immigrants from Central America is making it a necessity and as such it will probably be up and running through August of next year.

There have been reports recently that frustration among the detainees at the Artesia Family Residential Center has been mounting because they are beginning to feel as though their "incarceration" is indefinite. Those sentiments are compounded by the fact that migrants who crossed the border into the country prior to the facility being set up have already been released and have been ordered to make contact with immigration officials at a later date.

The facility was coordinated and set up in response to the overwhelming numbers of migrants from Central American countries who have been crossing the US-Mexico border over the last several months. Federal officials came to the realization that the majority of the individuals and families who crossed into the United States simply vanished into the country and failed to report for their scheduled meetings with officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There are no official numbers yet but one ICE agent estimated that as many as 70 percent of those who were released into the country have simply disappeared.

Facility Considered 'Effective and Humane'

The agent went on to explain that contrary to what many of the detainees at Artesia may think, their ongoing detention at the facility is not of a punitive nature and is not intended to be viewed as a deterrent for other Central American immigrants who might be considering coming into the United States illegally. According to the Citizenship and Immigration Service, fewer than 38 percent of the detainees at Artesia qualify for asylum which is a far cry from the national average of nearly 63 percent. Nevertheless, officials say that the frustration of the detainees is somewhat unwarranted because despite the fact that over 500 women and children are housed there at any given time, it is being run in an "effective and humane" manner, especially considering that there has been such an unprecedented and overwhelming influx of migrants crossing the southern border into the US.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Department of Defense Will Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Serve in the US Military

October 1, 2014,

march.jpgThe Department of Defense announced last week that it will allow a relatively small number of undocumented immigrants to serve in the US military. The new policy is the first of its kind in several decades and expands on a current program that allows military officials to recruit foreign nationals that possess specific skills that are in high demand such as certain health care skills and foreign language capabilities. Immigrants who came to the United States with their parents before their 16th birthday and who do not have proper documentation will be allowed an opportunity to join the program known as MAVNI, an acronym for the Military Accessions in the National Interest.

Service and Citizenship Under MAVNI and DACA

There has been some speculation among political officials since the announcement was made that the new policy may be an initial step by the federal government toward creating new ways for immigrants to become citizens. President Obama has expressed his displeasure with Congress over its lack of immigration policy reform and has made promises to use his executive powers to make changes to how those policies are implemented.

According to some estimates, there are between 1.2 million and 2.1 children and teenagers currently living in the United States illegally and who meet the criteria for either the MAVNI program or the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) which allows, with certain restrictions which differ from MAVNI, children under the age of 16 to live in the country with their relatives without documentation for a limited period of time.

Most Qualifying Immigrants Will Be Non-Latino

Currently the Department of Defense is allowed to recruit no more than 1,500 immigrants with DACA status but some of those may also end up being eligible under the MAVNI requirements as well and may include people who are in the country with either tourist or student visas. Interestingly, students who are recruited into the MAVNI program will more than likely not be those coming from Mexico or Central American countries but rather those who have language skills that would be beneficial to the DoD's national security efforts such as people who speak Chinese, Persian, or Arabic.

One of the problems with that, however, is that it is difficult to tell with any degree of accuracy how many immigrants from countries that speak those languages actually are proficient enough in those languages to be of service to the military. These are largely recruits who have been living in the US for most or all of their young lives and as such, despite being around family members who likely speak their native tongue, they may not be as adept at the languages as the military would need them to be.

Upon serving in the United States military, foreign nationals become eligible to have their citizenship expedited. Over the last 13 years, there have been more than 90,000 servicemen and women in the US military who were born somewhere other than the United States and who were granted citizenship during their service time.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Hiding in Churches Becoming Increasingly Common Among Undocumented Immigrants

September 29, 2014,

church-aguirre.jpgWith the recent influx of undocumented immigrants from Central American countries that has taken place over the last several months, one of the emerging trends among them is hiding from immigration authorities in local churches. One such immigrant from El Salvador did just that after having been in the United States for almost twenty years. Francisco Aguirre has been living as an undocumented immigrant in the US since 1995. He has two children who were born in the country during that time and who are, as a result, US citizens. Aguirre faces being deported, however, for the second time since he first arrived because of a conviction for drug trafficking several years ago that got him sent back to El Salvador. He spent the weekend last week hiding out in a church in Portland, Oregon.

Churches Providing Sanctuary

During the nearly two decades that Aguirre has been living illegally in the United States he has become ensconced in his community in Portland. He is the coordinator of a nonprofit organization called VOZ Workers' Right Education Project and has become a staple of the city's immigration activism scene. But Aguirre's situation is not unique. Over the last ten years there have been scores of undocumented immigrants hiding out in churches all over the US. Some estimates have as many as 300 of them claiming a willingness to receive immigrants with open arms because church administrators - and the immigrants themselves - know that Immigration officials typically refrain from making arrests inside places of worship.

Aguirre a Priority for ICE Officials

In the case of Francisco Aguirre, he has stated that he is prepared to remain inside the church in Portland until his immigration case is heard and he is currently being processed for what is known as a U-Visa - authorization for illegals who have been the victims of criminal acts and who have assisted law enforcement in prosecuting other cases.

Aguirre began his time in the United States working as a day laborer and helping to start the workers' rights project. He also works from his home running a computer repair business. According to immigration officials, though, he was convicted of drug trafficking in 200 and sent back to El Salvador. Shortly after being deported, Aguirre came back to the United States and entered illegally once again and has been living in Portland, Oregon ever since. He was arrested in August of this year for driving under the influence and has been a target for immigration officials for the last two months.

But Aguirre is more than just another target for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. He is a priority because of his drug trafficking conviction, his previous deportation, and his recent arrest. ICE considers him to be a threat to public safety and as such he is being sought with extra effort with the intent of being deported once again. He has maintained his innocence in the drug trafficking case for the last 14 years since his conviction but was told by his lawyer at the time to enter a plea of 'no contest'. He now says that he wishes he had not taken his attorney's advice at the time so that maybe he wouldn't feel the need to hide out in a church now.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Attorney General, Obama Administration at Odds Regarding Legal Representation for Migrants

September 24, 2014,

attorneygeneral.jpgThere are a number of issues that fall under the larger issue of immigration policy in the United States but one that has garnered a particularly divisive brand of attention over the last several months is that of unaccompanied children from Central American countries crossing the US-Mexico border. Attorney General Eric Holder has been making the argument for the provision of legal counsel for such minors and highlighted that argument in a speech he gave recently to the Hispanic National Bar Association. Holder stated, among other things, that while the constitution of the United States may not dictate that these children have a right to legal representation, we as a nation have a moral obligation to see that they get it.

Holder and the Rest of the Administration Not Seeing Eye to Eye

The statements in particular and Holder's stance on the issue in general come as something of a surprise to many political officials considering the fact that his department has made claims of support to the contrary. As recently as last week, Leon Fresco, Holder's Deputy Attorney General, make the statement to a federal judge that if the precedent for the provision of legal counsel for immigrant children who would otherwise be deported is set, then there is a strong likelihood that foreign nationals in Central American countries as well as in other regions will get the false impression that the United States has gone lax on its immigration enforcement and that illegals don't face deportation at all if they cross the border. He called it the creation of a "magnet effect" and argued that the numbers would increase of not only children but families and individuals of all ages trying to cross the Mexican desert and come into the US illegally.

The Obama administration appears to be at odds with the Attorney General's stance as to what rights these children have and do not have. But Holder is already making headway in the fight for greater accommodation by the US of immigrant children entering the country. He has talked about a program of nearly $2 million that would provide assistance to legal aid agencies for the specific purpose of representing unaccompanied minors in their immigration court cases. This has caused a great deal of confusion and frustration among immigration advocates who support the idea of legal assistance for the minors but who also don't understand why the rest of the Presidential administration is not onboard with Holder's efforts.

Entitled to Court Appearance but Not Representation

Over the course of the last 12 months there has been an influx of over 60,000 children crossing the US-Mexico border without adult accompaniment. Despite lower numbers of individuals crossing the border, there are higher numbers of illegal immigrants being allowed to stay in the United States which is making the backlog of cases in the nation's immigration courts even deeper. The current policy allows individuals who cross the border into the US, both adults and children, the opportunity to have their case heard in immigration court. They are not, however, guaranteed legal representation and that seems to be what Holder is trying to change at the behest of the rest of the administration.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Deportation Numbers Lowest in Seven Years

September 22, 2014,

homelandsec.jpgAccording to a report generated by the United States Department of Homeland Security, the number of illegal immigrants who have been deported has dropped by almost 20 percent since 2007. The news comes as President Obama continues to delay taking action on immigration reform and thereby allowing for deportation numbers to keep dropping. During the ten months between early October and late July, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deported just over 258,600 undocumented immigrants compared to just over 320,000 during the same period the year before. The year before that, there were 344,600 deportations. All of this points to a consistent decrease in the number of people being sent home after illegally entering this country or, perhaps more telling, an increase in the number of illegals who are being allowed to stay.

2 Million Deported Since 2009

During the first half of 2014, the President said he would be taking matters regarding immigration reform into his own hands and slow the number of deportations. Recently, however, he has said that he won't be taking any action on the matter until after the elections in November and more likely not until early 2015. For immigration advocates, this is good news but they still expect that when Obama finally does take action that it will be in such a way that the policy changes will allow for even fewer deportations. Since tenure began in 2009, the President has had over 2 million immigrants deported. But what exactly accounts for the consistently decreasing numbers of immigrants being deported over the last several years?

In 2011, President Obama made the decision to target for deportation mostly those immigrants who have serious criminal records or those who are considered to be a substantial threat to public safety or to national security. Additionally, illegals who overstayed their visas or who had simply crossed the border illegally could end up in the immigration court system for indefinite amounts of time. In August of 2014 there were more than 400,000 backlogged cases of illegal immigrants in the US federal immigration court system. Orders from a federal judge to issue a deportation order can take years which means that many immigrants will be able to stay for extended periods without documentation.

Central Americans Causing Big Problems

The influx of unprecedented numbers of illegals coming from Central American countries like Honduras and Nicaragua has also caused a problem for the US immigration court system. In addition to the sheer number of cases, the fact that these individuals are coming from farther away means that deporting them requires the US to provide air transportation back to their home country as opposed to just sending them back across the Mexican border as is done with Mexican nationals. As a result, holding facilities are becoming overcrowded and Homeland Security is left with little choice but to allow many Central Americans who have crossed over illegally to stay with relatives who are living in the country until their court appearance.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

California Voters Support Legalization for Undocumented Immigrants

September 17, 2014,

undocumented.jpgVoters in the state of California who participated in a survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California showed that they would adamantly support any measure that would provide the nation's 12 million undocumented immigrants a means of becoming legal citizens. That works out to almost three out of every four voters surveyed who favors a major overhaul of the current federal immigration policy that would favor unauthorized immigrants living in the United States.

Unaccompanied Children Still a Serious Issue

Despite the overwhelming support of legalization provisions for undocumented residents, however, there was significant disagreement among those polled over what should be done with the thousands of children who have been crossing the border coming from Central American countries and without any adult accompaniment. Almost half of the respondents favored the immediate deportation of unaccompanied children while a nearly equal number of respondents said that they should be able to remain in the country until their immigration court appearance.

The nearly even split represents the belief that the current presidential administration needs to not only take action on the matter but do so in such a way that won't lead to more foreign nationals having incentive to make an attempt at crossing the border illegally. Representatives from the polling agencies stated that the results also show that California voters have a very high level of compassion for individuals and families who are living in the US illegally. Nevertheless, they still feel that the problem of illegal border crossing needs to be addressed. According to the poll reps, voters are indeed compassionate but they do not advocate an open border.

Border Patrol Facilities Not Wanted

According to the poll results, both voters as well as the California state electorate have developed a significant tolerance for illegal immigrants over the years, particularly since legislators passed Proposition 187 which prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving services that are funded by taxpayers. But despite the fact that Proposition 187 was all but invalidated by the state courts after it was passed, more than 70 percent of the respondents in the poll believe that illegal immigration is a substantial problem for the state of California and for the United States. Additionally, there was very little disagreement on that particular point between those of different races, nationalities, income levels, or political affiliations.

The problem of unaccompanied children crossing the border has reached near-epidemic proportions despite decreasing numbers over the past few months. It has been the focal point of the current national debate on immigration and has been covered ad nauseum by the media. It has become so problematic, in fact, that residents in Murrieta, Texas this summer protested the lax policy by blocking federal busses that were transporting both adults and children who had crossed over illegally from Central American countries. The busses were carrying the immigrants a Border patrol facility. On this issue there was some discrepancy among races. Almost half of white respondent and 57 percent of black respondents would not want a Border Patrol facility in their community while only 41 percent of Latino respondents would not want one.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Immigration Reform is Stagnant as November Elections Approach

September 15, 2014,

Immigrationliberty.pngFor political officials as well as observers, immigration reform is likely to become a defining issue for the Republican Party in the near and distant future. This is particularly true in states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas as well as in non-border states like Colorado, all of which have a significant Hispanic population. But while that is certainly the conventional expectation, it has not proven to be the case during the current midterm cycle. Many state representatives claim that their constituents are far more likely to be concerned about other issues like the nation's economic woes or gun control than they are about immigration policy. According to those representatives this is even the case for constituents in largely Hispanic areas.

Politicians Getting Comfortable on the Fence

That's not to say that immigration reform is not still a key political issue because it obviously is. But it has become such that over the last several months it has generated such vehement debate that no one seems to want to address it in too much depth for fear of alienation or political fallout. Many politicians try to appease both sides and in so doing end up expressing little more than obscurity regarding their position and intent about immigration. In that regard, neither Republicans nor Democrats really have much of an edge on their opponents.

It has reached the point to where many political officials won't even broach the subject in a public forum unless they are specifically asked to by media reps or citizens. Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff of Colorado has stated that he doesn't hear about policy reform unless voters express their displeasure about Congress's lack of progress on it. To him, he says that it is as though Congress has all but withdrawn itself entirely from the issue of immigration reform and doesn't seem to want anything to do with it. And even with the November elections just around the corner, many political officials are steering clear of expressing any kind of firm stance on immigration in their campaigns for election or re-election.

Even Hispanics Have Other Priorities

Nevertheless, there is still a degree of mudslinging going on as Republicans accuse Democrats of being lax on immigration-related issues like border security. Conversely, Democrats are quick to point out the lack of reform progress on the part of Republicans. From the standpoint of the public, polls indicate that more Americans now feel that immigration is "the most important problem" in the United States than felt that way just a few months ago. Barely 3 percent of American polled in May felt that immigration reform should be the Obama administration's top priority but in August that number had jumped to more than 15 percent.

Surprisingly, even Hispanics in the United States tend to feel that there are more pressing issues facing the nation than immigration reform. Polls show that issues like jobs and the economic condition of the country are more important than immigration. Nevertheless, it is enough of a hot-button topic that it has caused unprecedented division in both political and social circles across the country.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Number of Families and Unaccompanied Children Crossing US-Mexico Border Declining

September 9, 2014,

US-Mexico-Border.jpgFor the better part of 2014 the southern border of the United States was being inundated with unaccompanied minors crossing over into the country, many of them having made the unimaginably long and arduous trek from Central American countries through the Mexican desert. But over the last two months there has been a gradual decline in their numbers, according to officials at the US Department of Homeland Security. The announcement, which came this week, stated that the number of youth immigrants who have crossed the US-Mexico border without adult accompaniment is the lowest it has been since February of 2013.

Lowest Number in 18 Months

Immigrant children have been crossing the border into the United States in record numbers over the last 18 months with the highest numbers coming in late Spring and early summer of this year. In May and June 10,580 and 10,622 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the southern border, respectively, while the month of August only saw 3,141 unaccompanied children trying to cross over. The number of families apprehended has also gone down with more than 16,000 being apprehended at the border in June and fewer than 3,300 being apprehended through the month of August.

There has been a tremendous amount of political mudslinging around the immigration issue with members of the Obama administration calling out Republicans for "exploiting" the situation of the influx of children and families crossing the border in record numbers. The President himself has stated that he will not be revealing any plans for immigration policy reform until after the November elections and likely until after the New Year. This comes literally one day after he promised to make a move in one direction or another "very soon". The broken promises on the part of Obama have frustrated immigration advocates to the point that many have issued threats that they will not vote in the elections unless the President follows through on his promises.

Latino Community Feels Betrayed

Meanwhile other members of the administration have stated that Obama will indeed act by the end of the year but the precedent that has been set in that regard to this point leaves immigrants and their advocates skeptical. The Latino community has expressed its frustration in the media and has said that their enthusiasm for voting in November is waning as a direct result of the President's waffling. Meanwhile, a rally is planned for next week by the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition and is scheduled to be held just outside the office of Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. The rally is, according the organizers, an attempt to "express the anger and disappointment" that the Latino community is feeling as a result of the Senate Democrats and their role requesting that the President put off taking executive action in favor of bipartisan politics.

The consensus is that President Obama has continued to lie his way around the immigration issue and policy reform and illegal immigrants in general and the Latino community in particular feel collectively and individually betrayed. To hear many advocacy group leaders tell it, the President has been filling their hearts and minds with "false hopes and false promises" long enough.

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving legal counsel for any immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Obama's Broken Immigration Reform Promises Frustrating Immigrants

September 7, 2014,

statue.jpgPresident Barack Obama has made no attempt to hide the fact that he is keen on delaying moving forward on immigration reform for the foreseeable future; at least until after the November elections and in all likelihood until 2015. Advocacy groups on both sides of the immigration argument have expressed their frustration with the delay but perhaps none have been more flustered than the immigrants themselves; those who are directly affected by his indecision. The lack of movement on reform indeed has an impact on every illegal immigrant in the United States but it particularly affects those who were saved from being deported by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an initiative that was passed into law under Obama in 2012.

Hopes for the Expansion of DACA

DACA, as it is commonly referred, gives illegals who were brought into the United States as children by their parents the privilege of staying in the country for up to two years without the possibility of being deported. Additionally these DACA immigrants can obtain work permits which many of them have done and are now working or going to college or both. Many immigrants have hoped that Obama would revise DACA so that it would include a provision for the parents of those children to also be allowed to stay in the country, if only for a specified period of time.

The fact that Obama has promised reform only to renege on that promise to the dismay of immigrants from coast to coast has left many of them feeling like they are caught in a political volley. They feel like they have been played for fools and the frustration within the immigrant community is mounting exponentially.

The announcement made to delay reform spread across social media channels like wildfire with immigration lawyer and advocates condemning the President's decision and many even going as far as to accuse him of secretly desiring deportation for immigrants. The consensus seemed to be that Obama was making politics a bigger priority than the lives of those illegal immigrants who have been hoping against hope that reform would come quickly and in their favor as well as ahead of the lives of those who have already been and continue to be deported on a daily basis.

More Disappointment

The President promised in June that by the end of the summer he would act on immigration of his own accord rather than work with Congressional leaders, this after a bipartisan immigration bill was not taken up by House Republicans after being passed by the Senate in 2013. If it has been, the majority of the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants would have had an unprecedented opportunity to obtain citizenship and legal status in the United States. Obama recently said that he would be deciding what his next course of action would be o the immigration front "fairly soon." Shortly after, however, the White House announced that plans would not be revealed until closer to the end of the year.

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving legal counsel for any immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

Deportation Settlement Gives Opportunity to Mexican Nationals

August 27, 2014,

flag-day-mexico.jpgNine migrants from Mexico who were sent back to their home country voluntarily from the United States have been informed that they will be given the opportunity to argue against their deportations in a US immigration court. The announcement comes as part of an agreement that was established this week involving the American Civil Liberties Union, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The migrants had their case argued for them by the ACLU who made allegations against officials from both immigration agencies that they were intimidated into consenting to what was referred to in the lawsuit as "unlawful coerced expulsion". They allege that officials neglected to inform migrants who were possibly going to be deported of the ramifications that were inherent to them agreeing to their "voluntary" deportation.

Stipulations of the Agreement

Migrant essentially forfeit their right to fight their deportation when they are deported voluntarily. They are typically sent back to their home country right away and have no recourse in any court, US or otherwise, after they have been removed. Under the agreement which was announced last week, ICE and CBP agents are mandated to provide migrants with detailed information regarding voluntary deportation and the process involved and are forbidden from pressuring them to accept a voluntary departure. The agreement also requires the implementation of a phone line that migrants can call in order to receive accurate information about voluntary deportation. Additionally, migrants will be allowed to make phone calls, they will be afforded up to two hours to make a decision regarding voluntary removal, they will be provided information on immigration-related legal provisions, and they will be allowed to speak with their legal representatives while in detention.

The Provision of Accurate Information for Migrants is Essential

All of these changes became effective immediately upon the agreement being reached last week. Technically speaking, voluntary deportation is used by immigration agencies as an alternative to the standard deportation process for undocumented individuals. A spokesperson for ICE stated that despite the provision, coercion and deception are unacceptable methods for obtaining agreement to the terms of voluntary removal. She also stated that the agreement was put in place in an effort to make certain that foreign nationals have a complete and thorough understanding of the potential ramifications should they decide to accept being removed voluntarily.

Mexican nationals who were deported between June of 2009 and August of 2014 have the opportunity under the agreement to return to the United States and make an appearance in immigration court to have their cases heard. However, while this class provision has received preliminary approval, it still requires court approval which may or may not be granted. Those who would be eligible for this provision include Mexican national who were deported but who has established residency in California and who have familial ties to the United States as well as youths who were brought into the country illegally by their parents.

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving legal counsel for any immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.

White House Delays on Immigration Won't Stop Supporter Efforts

August 25, 2014,

the-white-house-1413242-m.jpgPresident Obama has received an inordinate amount of pressure in recent weeks regarding what advocates feel is a much needed and long overdue immigration overhaul. Said advocates made promises last week to continue to pressure the White House to take decisive and definitive action to revamp immigration policy after indications were made by officials that deportation policy changes may be postponed until after the elections in November. Such sentiments have not gone over well with immigration supporters and many have made it clear that they want the President to "stop the deportation of our families" and that they plan to hold him to account until such changes are made.

Walking a Fine Line Between Congress and Immigration Advocates

For the President's part, he has s expressed his growing frustration with Congress's lack of forward progress on immigration and has stated that he is ready and willing to use his executive power to implement policy changes if he doesn't see movement soon. The White House, however, as well intentioned as it may actually be is struggling with a significant amount of legal and political problems inherent to making the kinds of significant changes that are needed in order to appease supporters and trying to do so without approval from Congress. As a result, Obama declared that he may actually push back the end-of-the-summer deadline that he imposed on reform so that he would have more time to do what he feels needs to be done.

The executive director of one immigration advocacy group in particular intimated that the expectations among supporters are unprecedentedly high. He also added that if there is indeed additional delay as the President has alluded to, the emotional upheaval and disappointment is almost certainly going to be "profound". Other advocate group representatives issued what essentially amounted to warnings that any delays will be a detriment to those individuals who are undocumented as well as to their families because they will not be able to remain together. On average, there are about one thousand deportations out of the United States every day.

A Plan That Would Appease Democrats in Republican States?

There is a proposal being discussed that would push decisions regarding several of the more controversial changes until after November. This plan would see Obama making an initial announcement regarding steps that the administration would take to more stringently enforce current immigration laws followed by delaying a decision about a more expansive and detailed reform package until closer to the end of the year, one which has the potential to prevent deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants. Such a plan would appease Democrats in Republican states who have stated that they are opposed to Obama's unilateral immigration plans and who believe the President should wait for Congressional legislation.

For now, Congress will be returning from recess after the Labor Day holiday and will be passing legislation for government funding, a task that is required to be completed by the end of September when the current law expires. What happens beyond that remains to be seen.

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving legal counsel for any immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas or call their offices at 512-215-5225.