* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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aircraft-3507043_640-300x190After reports surfaced that undocumented immigrants were being arrested in a questionable manner in “sensitive locations,” a group of senators have introduced the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act, strengthening existing immigration enforcement policies and providing greater protections to these individuals.

The bill comes as US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents continue to detain undocumented immigrants as they seek medical care or accompany family members in healthcare facilities, despite existing policies protecting these facilities from such enforcement activities.

ICE and CPB classify hospitals, along with other medical facilities, churches, schools, and courthouses, as “sensitive locations,” which means that for all intents and purposes, they should be off-limits to immigration enforcement activities without prior approval or pressing circumstances.

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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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pass-2530813_640-300x200US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 28, 2018 that it will extend the temporary suspension of premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap, as well as expand the suspension’s coverage to include other H-1B petitions.

About the H-1B

The H-1B program allows foreign workers in highly specialized fields to enter and work in the United States, as provided by section 101(a)(17)(H) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The visa is available to workers who are experts in technology, accounting, academic research, and other fields “requiring specific theoretical and technical expertise.”

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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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visa-3109800_640-300x169The Visa Control and Reporting Division of the US Department of State (DOS) announced last week that it will be cutting back on processing immigrant visas for certain “priority workers” due to their unmanageable worldwide demand.

Priority workers, also known as “EB-1” (employment-based first preference workers), include “persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, arts or sports; outstanding professors and researchers; and multinational executives and managers.”

In light of this announcement, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the DOS have, since August 1 of this year, ceased issuing both immigrant visas and lawful permanent residence status to at least 137,000 highly in-demand workers.

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trump-1822121_640-300x213With the Trump administration having terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for migrants from three countries in 2017 alone, it seems to be setting its sights on six more countries with TPS protections.

TPS is granted to foreign nationals who are in the United States seeking refuge from the conditions in their home countries. As the USCIS page on TPS notes: “The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”

Unsuitable conditions include civil unrest and natural disasters like major earthquakes and storms. Immigrants with TPS can stay and work in the country without fear of deportation.

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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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despaired-2261021_640-300x200U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has published guide questions surrounding its workplace inspections and Form I-9 audits, which the agency has been conducting with increasing frequency in the past year.

Employment Eligibility Verification, more commonly known as “Form I-9,” is issued by the federal government and used by employers to verify that an individual has authorization to work in the US. ICE recently disclosed that its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit opened investigations on at least 6,093 worksites between October 1, 2017, and July 20, 2018, more than tripling the total number of investigations made the year before.

A recent operation saw the HSI serving more than 5,200 notices of inspection (NOI), forcing employers across the country to present their I-9 forms along with other documents that need to be produced during ICE audits. HSI issued more than 2,700 NOIs and arrested 32 people between July 16 and July 20, 2018 alone.