Articles Posted in Immigration Law (General)

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industry-406905_640-300x200In August this year, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided a trailer manufacturing plant in Tigertown, Texas, in what would launch a series of immigration enforcement operations against employers that knowingly hire immigrants without work authorization.

Load Trail LLC CEO Kevin Hiebert describes the raid – which occurred on the morning of August 28 at the Load Trail plant two hours northeast of Dallas – as looking like something out of a movie, involving a helicopter and 300 armed ICE agents. The agency took more than 150 Load Trail employees into custody, booked them for working in the country without authorization, and proceeded with a criminal investigation of the company that hired them.

Load Trail, however, was only the first of several similar encounters that ensued shortly after. In this year alone, ICE agents have raided a number of 7-Eleven stores, dairy and vegetable farms, a feedlot, and a meatpacking plant.

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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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justice-471885_640-300x225A ruling by a federal judge on October 5 may have put a categorical end to the Trump administration’s policy of denying federal grants to “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement policies—such cities include California, San Francisco, and Austin among others.

US District Judge William Orrick III ruled that the Justice Department cannot place immigration-related conditions on federal grants, affirming similar rulings from judges in Chicago and Philadelphia. He also ruled that an immigration law, Section 1373 of Title 8 of the US Code of Laws, is unconstitutional.

Section 1373 demands the complete and uninhibited communication between a federal, state, or local government entity and the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the disclosure of an individual’s immigration status.

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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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bus-690508_640-300x200The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a new regulation that would change the way the government evaluates whether an applying immigrant is “not likely to be a public charge,” making it even more difficult for foreigners trying to enter the United States or obtain a green card.

The Trump administration expressed its plans to broaden the definition of “public charge,” arguing that its current scope has allowed countless immigration applications to go through. The proposed definition would mandate a deep-dive into a would-be immigrant’s history and economic circumstances to determine whether they are likely to end up a state liability once on US soil.

The new regulation revolves around the government’s current take on the public benefits that immigrants may likely avail of. At present, regulations only include cash benefits, which not even 5 percent of immigrants use. The proposed definition will, however, include Medicaid, food stamps, housing benefits, and subsidies for low-income earners in Medicare Part D.

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corte-suprema-di-cassazione-3682663_640-300x200Recent decisions by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions may place heavier limitations on immigration courts and impact their treatment of unlawfully present immigrants, signifying a change in the way immigration courts may start handling certain types of cases and the way immigration law is enforced in the US.

The first is a ruling wherein Sessions declares that an immigration judge’s discretion is not enough to dismiss a case.

“The authority to dismiss or terminate proceedings is not a free-floating power an immigration judge may invoke whenever he or she believes that a case no longer merits space on the docket,” Session wrote in the 7-page ruling.

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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.