* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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walk-842535_640Executive orders passed down from President Obama will prevent an estimated 9.6 million undocumented immigrants from being deported, officials say.

Migrants to the United States live in constant fear of their status being discovered, so this decision has come as a beacon of hope to many people and families across the country.

The official amnesty, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), was first proposed back in November, and at the time it raised protest amongst anti-deportation advocates because it only provides safety to immigrants who have spent at least 5 years in the country, and have at least one American-born child in their care. Those immigrants who have foreign-born children, new arrivals, LGBT immigrants and any with criminal records are not eligible for protection. Steven A Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said after the announcement that the five-year minimum requirement was “arbitrary” and that it was hard to see how discrimination between a migrant who had been in the country with children for five years and someone without children who had been here nine could be possible.

However, Obama also issued orders for enforcement agents to not bother deporting any immigrants who didn’t meet the top priority levels for deportation. That is: convicted felons. This decision has reportedly caused a significant drop in deportation numbers for the 2015 fiscal year, with a shocking 117,181 migrants being deported in comparison to last year’s 157,365 in the same period – a difference of around three-quarters.

This drop has been directly credited to Obama’s enforcement priorities, and has raised questions about the legality of his amnesty proposal.

The amnesty itself, though, has not yet becomes official because almost immediately it was subject to a court battle that is predicted to be lengthy – perhaps even stretching into the last weeks of Obama’s term as President. Texas officials were joined in December by 25 other states in suing the administration against launching the program, and they recently went back to court again at the beginning of July for further debates.

So while the court proceedings continue to keep the amnesty from becoming a reality and leave many migrants with no option but to wait – these falling deportation numbers do provide hope to those who have previously felt their status was endangered. President Obama is committed to the cause, so much like his Dreamers campaign back in 2012 there is hope that it will be implemented successfully. Immigrants fill a lot of important roles in the US workforce, and the people with families face a lot of undue hardship if forced to separate, so the amnesty is an important step in preventing it.

If you or someone you know has any further questions about whether the amnesty or these enforcement priorities will affect you, or if you have any questions about immigration in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with an immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas. You can get in touch via the website or by calling 512-215-5225.

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gavelImmigrants who are facing removal proceedings could attempt to dodge deportation by invoking certain rights. One way for removal proceedings to be held in abeyance would be for a petitioner to invoke the Violence Against Women Act. Under the Violence Against Women Act, battered immigrants could petition for legal status without having to rely on their abusive U.S. spouse or relative to sponsor their Adjustment of Status applications. In spite of the label, the Violence Against Women Act is not exclusively limited to women. Men who have abusive spouses could also petition for legal resident status under the Violence Against Women Act.

One case involving a Nigerian citizen sees the Violence Against Women Act come into play during removal proceedings. Eugene Joseph entered the United States in 1991 and was placed under removal proceedings after he was convicted of theft in Illinois and committing bank fraud. During the proceedings, Joseph did admit to his undocumented status but sought to adjust it into a permanent legal resident status by stating that he was married to a U.S. citizen. During the legal proceedings, Joseph also asked for a waiver of inadmissibility in an attempt to address consequences that came as a result of his criminal activities. Joseph stated that deportation would cause his family to experience “extreme hardship.”

During the hearing, Joseph’s wife came forward and testified on his behalf. Joseph’s wife stated that his deportation would take a financial and emotional toll on their marriage as well as causing an undue amount of suffering to their asthmatic sons. The immigration judge that presided over Joseph’s case concluded that the suffering that would be brought about by his deportation would not be considered excessive when compared against the cases of children whose parents were to be deported from U.S. territory. The Board of Immigration appeals agreed with the immigration judge and upheld the decision.

Joseph went on to file 8 motions to reopen his case. Of the 8 motions, three of them cited the Violence Against Women Act. Joseph’s 8th petition was predicated on the Violence Against Women Act. During the instances when the Violence Against Women Act was invoked, Joseph alleged that his wife had been emotionally and physically abusive. He also claimed that his removal would cause hardship to fall on his children. Immigration authorities denied his petitions because of his failure to present evidence that would corroborate his claims of being a battered spouse. The authorities also stated that he failed to submit evidence that would demonstrate how his removal would cause unusual hardship to his children.

Cases related to immigration require the aid of a competent lawyer. Daniella Lyttle at the Lyttle Law Firm can help you with your legal challenges. Call Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC at 512-215-5225 or visit our website for more information.

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courtroom-144091_640Undocumented immigrants residing in the United States face difficult prospects if they are unable to adjust their status into that of a permanent legal resident. Some immigrants resort to attain permanent legal status by filing an I-30 visa petition. An I-30 visa petition or a petition for alien relative allows a United States citizen to establish their relationship with specific alien relatives who intend to immigrate to the U.S. One possible way that an immigrant can file an I-30 visa petition is to marry a U.S. resident. However, this move does not guarantee a smooth path to obtaining a permanent legal resident status.

One of the issues that immigration authorities can bring up to block an I-30 visa petition is marriage fraud. The case of Joel Njoroge Manguriu illustrates this perfectly. Manguriu is a native of Kenya who entered the United States on a student visa. Manguriu went over the allowed length of time that an immigrant can stay in the United States under a student visa. Eventually, he decided to marry a U.S. citizen in an attempt to adjust his status. Manguriu’s wife, Manuelita Lopez, filed an I-30 visa petition on his behalf. After the I-30 visa petition was filed, Manguriu applied for an adjustment of his immigrant status.

Immigration authorities reviewed Manguriu’s application. Manguriu’s request was denied on the grounds of marriage fraud. Manguriu’s case took a turn for the worst when the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against him. Manguriu sought to evade the proceedings by filing a petition through the Violence Against Women Act. Manguriu claimed that his spouse was abusive. The immigration judge presiding over his case decided to halt the removal proceedings and his VAWA petition was approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After the USCIS approved Manguriu’s VAWA petition, he asked the immigration judge to adjust his immigrant status to that of a permanent legal resident of the U.S.

While the immigration judge did find that Manguriu was eligible for an adjustment of status because of the approved VAWA petition, she still dismissed his request. The immigration judge cited marriage fraud, false testimony given by Manguriu during the removal proceedings, and a failure to pay income taxes as reasons to justify her decision. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the decision of the immigration judge and a petition for judicial review followed. Securing permanent legal resident status requires the expertise of a lawyer. Contact Daniella Lyttle at the Lytlle Law Firm by calling 512-215-5225 or visit our website for more information.

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gavelUndocumented immigrants residing in the United States have had to deal with a number of issues. The stance of U.S. authorities when it comes to immigration policy is a source of frustration for immigrants. Recently, immigrants in Texas are voicing out their frustrations with a policy that is effectively preventing their U.S. born offspring from gaining birth certificated. Under the 14th amendment, children who are born on U.S. soil qualify for citizenship status. Now, thanks to a policy that prevents these children from acquiring their birth certificates, the path to citizenship and the benefits associated with it are being shuttered.

The federal lawsuit filed by several Texas immigrant families identifies Kirk Cole, the Texas Department of State Health Service’s Vital Statistics Unit commissioner, and Geraldine Harris, the unit chief as the defendants in the case. The plaintiffs in the case claim that the defendants mentioned in the lawsuit have willfully discriminated against their Texas-born children by singling out their parents’ immigration status. In the past, immigrants were able to procure an ID called the “matrica consular” from the consulates of their own countries. This ID was used to fulfill a vital requirement to acquire birth certificates for U.S. born children of immigrants. Now, officials no longer accept the matrica consular as a valid ID to secure birth certificates. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit allege that the defendants in the case acted with malice and knew that the immigrants’ lack of access to other types of identification would effectively prevent their children from gaining birth certificates and U.S. citizenship.

Initially, the lawsuit only had four mothers as plaintiffs but other immigrant families have stepped up and joined the legal battle. The plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from the Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and the South Texas Civil Rights Project. The challengers in the lawsuit allege that a vital statistic officer admitted that the sudden shift in policy was made to purposefully increase the difficulty of obtaining citizenship status for U.S. born children of immigrants. The move has deprived these children of the benefits associated with citizenship which include considerable educational opportunities, health benefits, and even employment options. As the lawsuit continues to gain traction, more immigrant families are coming forward with stories that back up these claims.

The immigrant fight to secure birth certificates in Texas is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment.  Cases involving immigration issues require the presence of a capable legal representative Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC can help you with your legal issues. Contact Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC by calling 512-215-5225 to obtain a speedy resolution to your legal challenges.

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family-492891_640Undocumented immigrants who are caught in the thick of removal proceedings have to deal with a number of challenges. Recently, immigration authorities have had to deal with flak from immigrant supporters. The controversy stems from the practice of detaining immigrant families in detention centers. The family detention centers are located in Berks County, Pa., and Karnes City and Dilly, Texas. Various claims have been made about the treatment that immigrants receive from authorities while they are being detained. Reports involving suicide attempts by immigrants under lockup have added fueled the rising clamor from immigrant supporters pushing for the shutdown of these detention centers.

Now, authorities in the U.S. immigration system have come forward and released a statement addressing the controversial practice of detaining immigrant families. On Monday, immigration officials have officially stated that immigrants held in the South Texas detention centers will be released if they pass the first step in the asylum process. The decision is a victory for undocumented immigrants and their supporters. Weeks prior to the announcement, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that more than 2,000 immigrant women and children held in the Karnes County and Dilly detention centers were slated for release.

The Department of Homeland Security has gone on the record to state that there is a need to reconsider the practice of detaining immigrant families who have established a credible reason for seeking asylum. Many immigrants come to the United States each year to flee from cases of extreme poverty or persecution from their home countries. The sensitive case of housing these immigrant families has the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement examining each resident that is being housed at the agency’s family detention centers. The final word when it comes to the practice of detaining immigrant families is positive. Authorities of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency have gone on the record to state that they will no longer be detaining immigrant mothers and children who do not pose a clear threat to national security for as long as they are able to establish a credible reason to fear persecution if they were to be removed from U.S. territory. The decision to release these immigrants is also contingent the provision of a verifiable residential address.

It is critical for immigrants to be able to pass the credible and reasonable fear interview in the asylum process before they are released. Legal aid can help resolve immigration issues considerably. Contact aniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm, PLLc by calling 512-215-5225 to begin resolving your legal woes.

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landing-735299_1280In the United States, there are a number of issues that surround the topic of immigration. Undocumented immigrants constantly worry about scenarios that involve removal proceedings. Lately, the anxiety levels of the immigrant community in the United States have spiked. One of the forces that influence this growing sense of anxiety is the perceived negative portrayal of immigrants in the media. Criminal incidents that involve immigrants do nothing to improve the plight of the greater U.S. immigrant community. Recently, an incident involving an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco has immigrants in the U.S. bracing for a possible backlash from political pundits and media outlets.

The recent killing of Kati Steinle on San Francisco’s Pier 41 is bad enough but the incident takes on an added dimension given the involvement of an undocumented immigrant. Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez is an undocumented immigrant who had been removed from the country numerous times. Sanchez killed Steinle on San Francisco’s Pier 41 and the incident is adding fuel to the growing issues surrounding the U.S. immigrant’s plight. The conservative sector has been extremely vocal when it comes to the topic of establishing more stringent immigration policies. Donald Trump, in particular, has gained a great deal of media attention from some of his more recent statements concerning the issue of immigration.

Trump has leveraged the incident involving Sanchez to fuel his stance on enforcing stricter immigration policies. Trump’s opinions regarding the U.S. immigration community have been extremely controversial. Trump particularly singled out undocumented immigrants who hail from Mexico, calling them “rapists” and “killers.” Trump’s statements and considerable media presence have fueled the debacle on immigration policy to uncomfortable levels and immigrants are feeling the pressure. The biggest concern that immigrants harbor is that these incidents may push U.S. authorities to enforce a more aggressive approach towards deportations.

Immigrants have expressed that the opinion of the public towards them is growing more negative as the media trumpets violent incidents that involve undocumented immigrants. Deportation and safety issues are some of the biggest concerns of U.S. immigrants. Statistically, crime rates have fallen even as the U.S. immigration community grew within the 1990 – 2010 period. This fact does nothing to allay the fears of U.S. immigrants. While U.S. immigration officials are focusing on removing immigrants who have been convicted of crimes, immigrants everywhere are fearful of the possible consequences that recent incidents may bring.

If you or someone you know is grappling with immigration related issues, you need legal counsel. Daniella Lyttle at the Lytlle Law Firm can provide you with the representation that you need. Call Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC at 512-215-5225 or visit our website for more information.

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escalator-828621_640Immigrants who hail from different parts of the world come to the United States to pursue their idea of the American Dream. It isn’t difficult to encounter immigrant stories involving some form of persecution or extreme cases of poverty. For a lot of undocumented immigrants, residence in the United States can be the best way for them to carve out some form of reprieve from their challenging backgrounds. Tunde Wey joins the swarm of immigrants who come to the United States each year to realize their dreams. Wey’s story isn’t different from that of other immigrants but his experiences capture the challenges and unexpected rewards of being an undocumented immigrant in the United States.

Tunde Wey’s story starts in Nigeria. At the age of 16, Wey’s parents send him to the United States in hopes that Wey will become a doctor. Wey takes up science but the academic life proves to be far from rewarding for him. 15 years after he arrived in the United States and a string of college majors later, Wey realizes that his life’s calling is to be a cook. Wey abandons his academic career to pursue his ambitions of being a cook. Devoid of any formal training in the culinary arts, Wey begins to develop a cooking style culled from YouTube videos, experiences shared with his family in Nigeria, and a home grown gusto for well prepared Nigerian food.

Wey’s journey led him to a brief professional stint in a Detroit restaurant called Revolver. While his time in Revolver was fleeting, he was able to develop the idea of putting up a series of Nigerian pop-up eating events during his tenure. Emboldened by this idea, Wey hopped on a greyhound bus and began cooking his way through a good portion of the East Coast. The dinner events that Wey puts up in each place that he visits is named after his birthplace in Nigeria, Lagos. Wey began to gradually build a reputation in the various food circles of the East Coast. Now, each Lagos event is packed with diners eager to get a taste of Wey’s distinctive way of preparing West African dishes.

While Wey’s journey may seem like a dream come true, he has hit a few snags along the way. Wey was invited by celebrity chef Roy Choi to set up a Lagos event in Los Angeles but he was waylaid by immigration authorities outside of El Paso, Texas. At that point, Wey’s student visa had expired and he ended up being deposited in a Texas detention center for immigrants. Thankfully, Wey’s spotless record and established network of friends and family were enough for him to post bail. It was that and the backlog of cases in immigration courts that contributed to Wey’s escape from deportation.

Immigrants like Wey are lucky but removal proceedings can be harrowing for countless undocumented immigrants. Hiring the services of a lawyer is the best way for you to resolve issues involving removal proceedings. Contact Daniella Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC by calling 512-215-5225 if you need help related to immigration issues.

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handcuffs-219261_1280One of the more controversial immigration issues that continue to draw the attention of the American public is the detention procedures enacted by U.S. immigration authorities. Several areas of concern crop up whenever the subject of detention is mentioned. One of the areas of concern that immigrants and human rights advocates focus on revolves around the treatment of transgender detainees who are in immigration detention centers. In the past, authorities of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement have come under fire for the alleged treatment that transgender detainees were exposed to. Now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have come forward with an expressed commitment to safeguarding the rights of transgender detainees.

Recently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office has released updated guidelines that deal with detention procedures. A part of these guidelines explicitly cover concerns regarding the treatment of transgender detainees. The publicized guidelines include statements that prohibit against harassment and discrimination while the detainees are in detention centers. “Discrimination or harassment of any kind based on a detainee’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is strictly prohibited,” according to the new guidelines. One of the significant updates in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention guidelines covers the procedure involving transgender immigrants. The major additions include orders that officials should ask transgender immigrant detainees whether they would prefer to be detained with men or women.

The script used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials when they deal with transgender immigrants has been fashioned to draw out voluntary responses from the detainees. The decision to disclose one’s gender identity solely lies with the detainee. Officials of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office are also encouraged to ask transgender detainees about their requirements that surround medical issues, grooming requirements, preferred usage of pronouns, etc.

The published guidelines may be seen as a response to the demands of human rights groups who are concerned with the treatment that transgender immigrants are exposed to once they have been detained. Incidents surrounding rape and abuse have hounded transgender detainees. The previous response that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have taken when it comes to dealing with these detainees was to place them in solitary confinement. A study conducted in 2009 revealed that about 59 percent of transgender detainees were sexually assaulted in all – male prison centers. None of the respondents who participated in the study trusted the guards to protect them while they are being detained.

Cases involving immigrants and detention require the knowledge of a capable team of lawyers. If you or someone you know needs legal counsel regarding immigration issues, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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barbed-wire-482608_1280For undocumented immigrants, the consequences of removal proceedings can be harrowing. Several recorded cases of immigrants being deported back to their countries of origin have occurred as a result of a felony that they have committed while on U.S. soil. It is interesting to note that not all deportation cases carry a sense of finality about them. There may be instances when a deportation ruling may be reversed due to extenuating circumstances. A clear example of this case can be seen in Renato DeBartolo’s experience with removal proceedings. DeBartolo immigrated to the United States with the rest of his family when he was only one year old. Unlike the rest of his family members, DeBartolo opted not to apply for U.S. citizenship. DeBartolo ended up marrying an American citizen and sired children who bore U.S. citizenship as well.

DeBartolo has never been to Italy nor does he know how to speak Italian. By all accounts, DeBartolo was raised in an all American milieu for most of his life. DeBartolo’s problems started when he committed a number of serious felonies. DeBartolo resided in Indiana and owned a small construction company there from 2008 to 2010. In 1996, DeBartolo was sentenced to prison for distributing cocaine. As a result of this crime, DeBartolo was sentenced to Prison for 8 years. After 4 years of being incarcerated, DeBartolo was released. During DeBartolo’s first run-in with the law, removal proceedings were not initiated against him.

In 2011, DeBartolo committed another felony. This time, the accused was charged with possessing marijuana. The court found DeBartolo guilty of possessing the drug with intent to distribute. DeBartolo had more than 100 marijuana plants and was growing more than 100 other marijuana plants. DeBartolo pleaded guilty to the charges leveled against him. Given the circumstances, DeBartolo stood to serve a minimum prison sentence of 5 years.

DeBartolo managed to work his way around the prison sentence by opting to assist the government. The accused gave officials vital information regarding other drug dealers who were operating in his area. As a result of his cooperation, the court decided to whittle down his sentence to 25 months in prison. At the time, DeBartolo was not aware of the fact that deportation proceedings were being leveled against him. After he completed his prison sentence, DeBartolo was deported to Italy. DeBartolo managed to file a motion claiming that his legal counsel did not inform him about the possibility of being deported. The judge presiding over his case denied his petition but the Seventh Circuit reversed that decision with the justification that DeBartolo’s assistance and accomplished prison term were enough to exonerate him.

Cases involving removal proceedings require the knowledge of a capable team of lawyers. If you or someone you know needs legal counsel regarding immigration issues, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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fence-690578_640Undocumented immigrants residing in the United States face the very real possibility of being deported once they are found by immigration authorities. Every year, hordes of immigrants come to the United States in the hopes of fleeing some form of persecution or severe poverty from their countries of origin. If caught, these immigrants are placed under removal proceedings. If an immigrant is able to prove that he faces the possibility of persecution upon being deported back to his country, then the removal proceedings may be suspended. One of the controversial practices that President Obama’s administration has implemented is to detain immigrant mothers and their children who are going through removal proceedings. Recent developments have turned the tide in favor of immigrants who may be caught in this exact circumstance.

The Obama administration has formally announced its decision to abandon the practice of detaining immigrant mothers and their children. There are a number of reasons that may have influenced this decision. One possibility is the issue surrounding cost. Each immigrant family that is detained by authorities can result in costs that go all the way up to $342 a day. Authorities in the U.S. Homeland Security agency have stated that this cost prohibitive practice is an egregious waste of state resources.

The amount of controversy that the practice has attracted may also have influenced the decision to curtail it completely. Several cases involving the suicide attempts of immigrants who were held in immigrant detention facilities have attracted the ire of the supporters of the immigration cause. Currently there are three active detention centers in the United States. The family detention centers operate out of Berks County, Pa., and Karnes City and Dilly, Texas. While the practice of detaining immigrant families has been suspended indefinitely, the detention centers will not be shuttered. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has stated that the detention centers will remain open.

Secretary Johnson has outlined in detail Homeland Security’s plan to release the detained immigrant families. Johnson states that detained immigrants will be released through set bonds if they are able to establish a plausible fear of persecution should they be deported to their home countries. The bonds will be determined based on the family’s financial standing.

Cases involving immigrants and detention require the knowledge of a capable team of lawyers. If you or someone you know needs legal counsel regarding immigration issues, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website or calling us today at 512-215-5225.