Articles Posted in Family-Based Immigration

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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.

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writing-1149962_640-300x200In a recent court filing, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reaffirmed its intention to rescind the H-4 rule, which provides employment authorization to spouses of certain migrant H-1B visa holders who are legally living in the United States and are on the path to acquiring a green card. The DHS declared that its “intention to proceed” with the rescission rule proposed last year “remains unchanged.”

The H-1B visa is issued to foreign workers in specialty fields like chemistry, technology, and medicine among others, allowing them to work and stay in the country for as long as they remain employed. A number of H-1B holders have spouses and children who are often unable to move to the United States on their own merit. These immediate relatives can follow the H-1B holder to the U.S. through the H4 visa, a dependent and nonimmigrant visa issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

However, the DHS announced in December of 2017 that it would be rescinding the H-4 rule in an effort to align itself with the priorities outlined in the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order signed by President Trump in April last year. The DHS was supposed to publish its proposal to rescind the H-4 as soon as February of 2018, but this was since postponed twice.

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woman-792162_640-300x200U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a final immigration memorandum updating its newly implemented unlawful presence policy, which changed how USCIS determined whether foreign students and participants of student exchange programs were lawfully in the country.

According to the memo, F- and M-visa holders will not be deemed as being in the country unlawfully while waiting for their visas to be reinstated, so long as they file their reinstatement applications no longer than five months after their status expires.

If, however, their reinstatement application is denied, they will automatically begin accruing unlawful presence the day after being notified of their denial. Likewise, J-1 visa holders with reinstatement applications that are approved will not accrue unlawful presence.

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baby-1151351_640-300x225Amy and Marco Becerra, the adoptive parents of a young orphaned Peruvian girl, received welcome news after weeks of worrying: they will not have to see their 4-year-old child deported back to her country of origin. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) oversaw the couple’s case and broke the news that, as of his last meeting with immigration officials, their child will be allowed to go through the processes to acquire U.S. citizenship.

The Becerras, both U.S. citizens and government employees, were based in Peru in 2014 when they met the young girl they would adopt and name Angela. The Peruvian child was only 12 days old during their first encounter. After some time fostering the child, the couple decided to make it a permanent deal and were granted a provisional adoption in October 2014, which would not be finalized until July 2017.

“We complied with the laws in both countries,” Amy Becerra claims.

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father-656734_640-300x195The Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a selective enforcement claim to halt the removal of an immigrant father, citing that it also lacks the subject-matter jurisdiction to conduct a judicial review of the claim.

Martin Duron Esparza moved to Mississippi from Mexico as an undocumented immigrant and has been a valued member of the community for over 20 years. He filed an application for cancellation of removal in 2011, proving that he had the good moral character, lack of a criminal record, and that his removal would cause tremendous hardship for his remaining relatives – many of whom are US citizens.

An immigration judge, however, found that Esparza failed to meet the criterion of having a 10-year continuous presence in the country, and subsequently ordered his removal to Mexico. Esparza appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), but his appeal was dismissed in 2013.

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statue-of-liberty-1210001_640-300x200A federal class action filed by the attorneys representing the child immigrants separated from their parents at the border accuses the government of deporting reunified immigrant families while and forcing them to forego their asylum claims.

Justin Bernick, who represents the six lead plaintiffs in the case, argues that immigration officials have made a practice of coercing immigrant parents to waive their children’s rights to pursue asylum claims. He claims that ICE officials have been specifically targeting vulnerable parents, or those who face expedited removal orders, forcing them to make the uninformed decision of choosing to either leave the country with their children or be deported without them. His case drew information from the revelations in the California class action Ms. L v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“The forms do not recognize that the children have independent rights to seek asylum, and a right to be accompanied by their parent(s) pending the outcome of those proceedings,” the complaint states.

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indian-1158807_640-300x200Over 300,000 immigrant children whose lawful presence in the United States depend on visas nearing termination face forced removal from the country as the clogged immigration system fails to process their applications for other visas on time. This includes children of skilled Indian immigrants in the country on a variety of visas.

The issue dates as far back as 2002, with Congress recognizing that thousands of families would be torn apart as thousands of children grow past the age limitation for their respective visas and cannot acquire green cards on time due to setbacks in the application system.

In response to the problem, then-president George W. Bush enacted the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), giving the affected children time to receive their green cards or seek other viable visas to remain in the country. While the CSPA brought some relief to immigrant families, it was not a perfect solution. As many immigration rights advocates note, the CSPA may have prevent some families from being separated, but some families were definitely not as fortunate.

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prison-370112_1280-300x199The Department of Justice on Thursday appealed to a federal judge to permit the extension of detention periods for immigrant families that entered the country unlawfully, explaining that detaining families for longer than 20 days “would allow immigrant children to stay with their parents.’’

The Justice Department announced earlier this month that it would fully comply with a federal judge’s order to reunite families separated at the border as a result of a new policy that files criminal charges against those who caught crossing the border illegally. Trump sealed the deal with an order effectively ending the practice.

But, in what has been taken to be an attempt to both detain parents and keep immigrant families together, the Department of Justice promptly followed with a request to extend detention for such families beyond the current limit of 20 days.