Articles Posted in Immigration Law (General)

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immigrantsSpeaking to the press in Capitol Hill, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced that “DREAMers,” or beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), would not be a priority for immigration even if Congress fails to come up with a legislative replacement to the program before its March 5 termination date.

DACA is an Obama era executive order that allows undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to apply for temporary protection against deportation. The program allows DREAMers (named after the DREAM Act, a failed bill with the same provisions as DACA) to apply for renewable work permits and even a driver’s license, making it possible for them to lead a normal life and contribute to society.

In September last year, President Trump announced he would rescind DACA on the basisof it being an overreach of the former president’s executive power. Trump, however, placed a 6-month delay for the program to end, giving Congress time to come up with a legislative solution in its place.

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high skilled workersWhile Congress continues to debate on a legislative replacement for DACA, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have presented the “I-Squared Bill,” a piece of legislation designed to reform immigration programs for high-skilled immigration workers, allowing the United States to maintain a skilled workforce and stay competitive in the global economy.

Established as an Obama executive order in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows immigrants who entered the United States as children (also known as DREAMers) to apply for temporary permits protecting them from deportation. In September last year, President Trump announced that his administration would repeal DACA, but would also give Congress six months to come up with a law to replace it.

And that’s exactly what Congress has been struggling to do these past few months. They have, so far, been unable to solve their primary legislative dilemma—arriving at a compromise between meeting the needs of DACA beneficiaries facing deportation and answering Trump’s demands for an end to chain immigration and the construction of his long-promised border wall.

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USCIS-Announces-Changes-to-Asylum-Application-System-to-Address-Backlog-300x166US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it will be making adjustments to its asylum application processing, tackling newer applications first before older filings to reduce the agency’s overwhelming asylum backlog.

Under the Trump administration, the agency will now be giving first priority to applications that were rescheduled by either the applicant or USCIS, and second priority to applications pending for no more than 21 days since filing. Additionally, newer filings will be placed at the top of the queue, reverting to the “last in first out” scheme previously observed by the agency.

USCIS oversees the country’s legal immigration system, which includes handling and deliberating asylum claims among others. At present, the agency faces a huge backlog of more than 311,000 pending asylum applications—a 1750 percent spike from the last five years that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This, according to the agency, may signify that the system of accepting asylees into the country could be fraught with fraud and abuse.

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Pile of CasesThe backlog of pending cases awaiting U.S. immigration courts reached a record of half a million this year. According to the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), there are a total of 502,976 immigration applications as of July 31, 2016. This essentially makes two years the average waiting time for an immigration court petitioner.

Half a Million Immigration Cases Waiting to Be Heard

Violence and gang warfare in Central America drove up border crossings in the recent years. From October 2013 to July 2015 alone, an estimated 100,000 unaccompanied minors arrived in the U.S. from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Strict border enforcement has also produced higher number of arrests, which in turn require adjudication.

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Statue of justiceThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking legal action on behalf of Glenwood Springs attorney Jennifer Smith who was told by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that she could not access her client’s file because the ICE deemed her client a “fugitive” non-U.S. citizen.

FOIA Lawsuit Against the ICE and USCIS

The ACLU and Smith slammed a lawsuit against the ICE and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) because of their refusal to respond to Smith’s request to access her client’s file under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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shutterstock_259685657S-300x200In a 28-page order, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ordered ethics courses for government lawyers who appear in any of the cases involving the 26 states that sued to block President Barack Obama’s immigration plan to give 4 million foreign nationals extended deportation reprieves and expanded work permits.

In addition, the judge also ordered the administration to produce a list of approximately 100,000 immigrants who are participating in a government plan that shields them from deportation.

Judge Accuses Lawyers of Being Intentionally Deceptive

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USA VISAA lawsuit was recently filed by the American Immigration Council (AIC) and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that questions the lottery process associated with the issuance of H-1B visas. Two companies have also filed a class action allegation complaint regarding the matter.

The H-1B Visa Lottery Process

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are facing lawsuits concerning the H-1B visa, which is the most commonly used work-authorized visa category. Companies use the H-1B process to employ immigrants who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree.

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shutterstock_214570486-300x200The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against immigration officials, claiming that they have denied access to documents requested by a lawyer who is representing a client in immigration court.

Violation of the Freedom of Information Act

ACLU filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, claiming that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by refusing to release 18 documents relevant to immigration proceedings.

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MurderThe murder trial of the man accused of killing Kathryn “Kate” Steinle – whose 2015 shooting on a San Francisco waterfront ignited a furious national debate over undocumented immigration and sanctuary city policies – will not go to trial until next year, long after the presidential election.

The Delayed Trial of Kate Steinle’s Shooting

On August 11, a court judge set December 2, 2016 as the date to assign the case for trial against Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a five-time deportee and seven-time convicted felon. The actual start of the trial, however, might only happen in 2017.

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licenseThe Driver Services Department of Georgia has stopped asking immigrants who have federal work permits and who have applied for permanent residence in the U.S. to submit their proof of legal admission, following the settlement of a lawsuit against the state.

A Federal Lawsuit over Driver’s Licenses

The Southern Poverty Law Center – headed by immigration attorney Justin Chaney – sued the State of Georgia in April on behalf of six immigrants who complained that the state illegally discriminated against them by denying them driver’s licenses.