Articles Posted in Immigration Law (General)

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President Trump’s shutdown of the federal government has further delayed the resolution of thousands of immigration cases—a backlog that the Justice Department and immigration courts across the country have been struggling with.

Several U.S. immigration courts around the country remain closed as the government shutdown enters its third week, putting on hold the already unmanageable backlog of tens of thousands of immigration cases, many of which involve asylum application and other immigration claims.

The migrants involved, which the records office at the University of Syracuse puts at 800,000 in number, have no choice but to wait for the Congress and the Trump administration to arrive at a bipartisan deal that will finally fund government operations.

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The Trump administration has reportedly been rejecting lawful residence status applications to a startling number of immigrant youth, many of whom have left their home countries to flee abusive environments, because the government believes they are too old.

Young immigrants escaping abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent are legally allowed to seek a court-appointed guardian and green card to stay in the U.S., as provided by an immigration program that has been in effect since 1990. While the program clearly states that applicants must file paperwork before they reach the age of 21, the Trump administration insists that applicants beyond 18 are too old to qualify. As such, the government saw it fit to send out denial notices throughout the past year to applicants in California, New York, Texas, and New Jersey.

Immigrant rights advocates have since filed lawsuits against the government in courts in New York and California, arguing about the impact such a policy implementation would have on disenfranchised immigrant youth.

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U.S. and Vietnam officials gathered last Monday to discuss the fate of a repatriation agreement protecting certain Vietnamese nationals from deportation, as reported by immigrants’ rights groups and several media outlets.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by both countries in 2008, defers the immediate deportation of Vietnamese immigrants who came to the United States before diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored in July 12, 1995. Should either country choose to forego renewing the agreement in January 2019, at least 8,000 Vietnamese immigrants stand to face deportation as they become subject to standard immigration law.

A large number of Vietnamese nationals who came to the U.S. during the time period covered by the agreement did so to escape the war in their home country. Doing away with the agreement, lawyers and advocates argue, would have a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of people who sought safety in the U.S.

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A U.S. District Court Judge shot down the Trump administration’s plan to implement a system that would speed up its efforts to deport immigrants seeking asylum, a ruling the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lauded.

In his 107-page ruling, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan explained that it was unlawful for the United States government to deport foreign nationals coming to the border to seek asylum without first assessing their asylum claims and determining whether they truly face a credible fear of persecution in their home country.

Sullivan pointed out that the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) mandates the process of thoroughly evaluating the legitimacy of asylum claims, thus, the government lacks the legal basis for banning certain types of asylum claims. This, he stressed, emphasizes the authority of Congress in determining the standard for expedited removal and the fact that immigration policies should not bow to the whims of the executive.

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USCIS recently published a policy memorandum to clarify the ambiguous “one continuous year out of three years” requirement for L-1 category visas, explaining that the clause refers to the period of time before an individual’s filing.

The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to move a noncitizen executive or manager from one of the company’s affiliated foreign offices to an office on American soil. L-1 visa holders may stay for a period of three months (for Iranian nationals) to up to five years (for Indian, Japanese, and German nationals) with a maximum stay of seven years, should one apply for ample extension.

L-1 visas are typically only offered to employees who provide service in an executive or managerial capacity to multinational companies. Such organizations must have physical offices both in the U.S. and abroad to qualify for L-1 application. As such, these are used mostly for intra-company transfers, to the benefit of several Indian technology services companies.

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Former state and federal judges banded together to write a public letter addressed to federal immigration authorities, urging them to end the practice of waiting for and arresting immigrants at courthouses, published Wednesday.

The judges called out Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for carrying out enforcement activities like apprehensions, arrests, interviews, surveillance, and searches at courthouses, pointing out that courthouses should be added to the agency’s list of “sensitive locations.”

ICE has an established list of sensitive locations where agents are instructed to avoid conducting enforcement activities at unless “exigent circumstances” are present. At present, the list discourages making arrests at education institutions like schools and even daycares, health care facilities, places of worship, religious or civil ceremonies, and during public demonstrations.

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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued announced plans to bring back a modified version of a 2011 proposal that uses an electronic pre-registration system for H-1B visa petitions subject to the cap, as published in the Federal Register on Monday.

The H-1B visa, provided by the Immigration and Nationality Act, is reserved for foreign skilled workers in highly specialized fields including, but not limited to, medicine, biotechnology, physiotherapy, and engineering among several others. At present, only a Bachelor’s degree is necessary to prove one’s expertise in a specific field. USCIS’s proposed rule, however, seeks to increase the number of H-1B recipients with Master’s or higher degrees acquired specifically from a U.S. higher education institution (HEI).

Existing laws state that the issuance of new H-1B visas must be capped at 65,000 annually for those possessing only Bachelor’s degrees (Regular cap) and an additional cap of 20,000 new visas for those with higher degrees from U.S. HEIs (U.S. Masters cap).

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The Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday that encouraging undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States is protected by free speech rights, striking down part of a proposed federal law that criminalized the act

Under the law, it is a felony to “encourage” or “induce” a foreign national to either enter or stay in the US while knowing or recklessly disregarding that it would be illegal for that foreigner to do so.

The court, however, pointed out that statements to that effect mostly come from the family members of foreigners. To criminalize these statements, the court claims, would be tantamount to criminalizing “a substantial amount of constitutionally-protected expression” under the First Amendment.

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The 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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Immigrants facing removal proceedings for misdemeanor charges can now have their cases decided in jury trials after the New York Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 on Tuesday. The ruling stems from the case of Saylor Suazo, a noncitizen who stayed in the United States even after his visa had already expired. He faced trial for several charges of assault and harassment against the mother of his children, whom he threw to the floor, choked, and beat.

These charges were reduced to class-B misdemeanors, which are punishable by 90-day sentences and can usually be tried without a jury. Suazo, however, still faced deportation—a factor the trial judge did not feel entitled him to a jury trial.

Suazo was found guilty of the assault charge in 2012, a decision that was later affirmed by an appellate panel and then reversed 5-2 at the New York Court of Appeals.

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