Articles Posted in Family-Based Immigration

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gavel-3577254_640-300x165The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against threatening the Trump administration’s policy of keeping thousands of undocumented immigrant children in extended periods of detention despite having family in the country.

Over the last few months, the Trump administration has been detaining immigrant children caught illegally crossing the border, separating them from their guardians and using them as traps for family members who are unlawfully present in the U.S. who attempt to pick them up. This policy has already led to the arrest of several individuals who had only come forward to retrieve undocumented migrant children whom they were related to.

Becky Wolozin from the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) claims that this is the government’s way of carrying out a “backdoor family separation agenda,” keeping immigrant children apart from their families and using they as “bait” to lure their family members who have been living in the country for years, albeit without proper documentation.

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trump-1822121_640-300x213President Trump has disclosed his plans to revoke birthright citizenship to babies born on U.S. soil through an executive order—the latest in a string of moves to crack down on both lawful and unlawful immigration to the United States.

Children born in the United States, including those whose parents are foreign nationals, become U.S. citizens by default as provided by the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

President Trump, however, wants to rescind the 14th amendment through an executive order, a move that could trigger a constitutional crisis. In an interview with Axios, he argued that “It is ridiculous [how] we’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.”

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border-control-2474151_640-300x188On Monday, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), along with nine other immigrant rights advocacy groups, filed a lawsuit against US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over a massive backlog of citizenship applications.

As of this writing, USCIS faces a tremendous backlog of over 730,000 pending naturalization applications, which, according to California State Representative Judy Chu, represents an 87 percent increase since 2015.

And according to a letter signed by more than 50 Congressional members delivered to USCIS Director Lee Francis Cissna, processing times for citizenship applications have also increased, running for an average of 11 months compared to the previous six months.

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tic-tac-toe-1777859_640-300x200On September 22, 2018, the Trump administration, through the Department of Homeland Security, announced a proposed rule that would change how the government classifies an immigrant entering the country or applying for a green card as a public charge. If approved, the rule would also take into account an individual’s use of public benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and prohibit him or her from entering the US or applying for a green card.

Under longstanding immigration policy, the government requires immigrants applying for legal permanent resident status through a family member to prove that they will be self-sufficient once they become a permanent resident in the US. To meet this requirement, applicants usually showed proof of income that meets the threshold of 125% of the poverty guidelines, which is around $25,975 for a family of three. Immigrants who are unable to meet this threshold can combine the income of a joint sponsor with their own.

The Trump administration, however, is considering doing away with the joint sponsor solution and is proposing to allow agencies to do deeper background checks on green card applicants, taking into account factors such as age, education, health, credit score, and even the previous use of public benefits, which could be grounds for denial.

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laptop-2838921_640-300x178A federal judge ruled against the Trump administration’s plans to end the temporary protected status (TPS) designation for the over 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

Late last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intention to remove the TPS designation of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, claiming that the conditions that initially allowed for these countries to receive TPS designation, such as political unrest, extreme natural disasters, and gang-related violence, are no longer as prominent as they once were. And so, the federal government found it reasonable to require citizens from these countries in the United States to pack their bags and head home.

US District Judge Edward M. Chen of San Francisco, however, found that the government’s decision to end the legal status for these countries was problematic on several fronts.

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login-570317_640-300x196In an unexpected move after President Trump announced last year that he would eliminate the program, the US Department of State published instructions for the entry process to the Diversity Visa 2020 (DV-2020) immigration program.

A section in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for the issuance of a limited number of visas every fiscal year to a certain class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants”—foreign nationals from countries with usually low rates of immigration to the United States. The Diversity Visa program makes use of a lottery system in issuing 50,000 of such visas, all of which lead to lawful permanent resident status.

While registration to the program is free, those looking to apply have strict eligibility requirements to meet.

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letter-of-application-3685417_640-300x199US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that I-485 applications for adjustment of status will be open as soon as October 2018 in both the family-based and the employment-based categories according to the cutoff dates outlined in the “Dates for Filing” Chart of the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin.

Form I-485, or the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, offers lawful permanent residence to immigrants who entered the country legally and can prove their eligibility. An applicant must meet all the requirements in certain categories like family relationship or employment.

According to current immigration policy, employment-based I-485 applicants can only file their applications once they reach their priority date as dictated in the Visa Bulletin’s Final Action Chart. As such, the recent announcement that USCIS will be receiving applications before the priority date came as a pleasant surprise.

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children-63175_640-300x216Lawmakers and immigration enforcement officials gathered in a Senate Committee on Homeland Security hearing on Tuesday to discuss a proposal to change the policies surrounding the detention of undocumented immigrant children.

The Trump administration is presently working on revising the rules governing the detention of undocumented children. At present, a 1997 settlement known as the Flores Agreement (from Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292) limits a child’s detention to no more than 20 days. The proposed changes to the policy, however, would indefinitely extend the possible detention period for children and families caught unlawfully entering the country.

Those behind the revisions cite the tremendous case backlog in immigration courts and explain that the new detention policy would give courts the time they need to process and resolve the cases currently in pendency.

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book-1822474_640-300x206With the federal government detaining undocumented immigrant children at federal facilities across the country and, there have been an increasing number of reports of children being deprived of basic health services and due process. A group of detained immigrant children, many of whom came to the US to seek asylum, claimed in a complaint that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been blocking them from accessing legal counsel, giving them psychotropic drugs against their will, and discriminating against disabled children.

The lead plaintiff in the case is a 13-year-old Guatemalan child known only as Lucas R. He was brought to a detainment facility in Arizona upon his arrival at the border in February 2018. While he has family waiting for him in Los Angeles—a sister named Madelyn R.—he was later transferred to the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Texas. Lucas is currently waiting to be released to his sister.

Lucas’s experience at the Hacienda del Sol Facility in Youngtown, Arizona is a harrowing tale. The 58-page complaint claims that the child “became depressed, fearing that ORR would never release him to his family” during his confinement at the facility. Lucas told the staff about his condition. ORR staff responded by giving him psychotropic drugs to treat his “moderate” depression – a move made with familial consent.

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travel-2789166_640-300x200A federal judge has ruled against Texas state’s motion to put an immediate end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a move that took the state six years to bring to court. DACA is an Obama-era immigration program that protects undocumented immigrants brought into the US as minors from deportation. Through DACA, these young immigrants can apply for special work permits that allow them to legally work in the country, renewable every two years.

Texas had led a coalition composed of eight other Republican-controlled states and the Republican governors of Maine and Mississippi in suing the federal government, filing a case to permanently end the DACA program in May this year.

US District Judge Andrew Hanen presided over the case and agreed with the petitioners on a number of points. First, he agreed that immigrants under DACA may be taking jobs that would have gone to US citizens, and that the state would have to cover for their public school education and emergency medical services.