* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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trump-2546104_1280-300x191The Trump Administration is presently looking into adopting a new policy aimed at simplifying the process of denying visa applications on “public charge” grounds. The administration has been gearing up for the change as early as last year. When President Trump made his first attempt at implementing an immigration ban on predominantly Muslim countries in January last year, a supplementary executive order was reportedly already in the works.

While this executive order was never signed or formally released, it was intended to follow through on the President’s immigration platform grounded on the idea that “households headed by aliens (legal and illegal) are much more likely than households headed by native-born citizens to use federal means-tested public benefits.”

The policy has drawn heavy criticism from New York legislators, with more than 70 of them led by Assemblyman Andrew D. Hevesi, collectively publishing an open letter addressed to President Trump where they expressed their opposition to the draft proposal.

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build-builder-carry-585419-300x200The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a list of proposed changes to ETA Form-9035, also known as the Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers (LCA), which could place added burdens on companies that hire and place migrant workers with H-1B visas (a program under the Immigration and Nationality Act.)

Under the current policies, petitioning employers are only required to note the addresses of end-user clients’ worksites they intend to place H-1B workers in. On the other hand, details such as the names of the clients associated with these worksites are unnecessary to the petition process.

The DOL’s proposed changes, however, expand the information requirements to include:

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international-2693129_1280-300x225The State Department recently announced that it had affirmed the termination of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Ecuador and the United States, set to take effect a year after the Ecuadorian government issued a notice of its termination. The termination of the BIT, however, also affects the availability of  E-2 treaty investor visas for Ecuadorian immigrant workers.

The E-2 investor visa allows certain individuals from countries the United States has a commerce and navigation treaty (such as the BIT) with to enter the country. In particular, only foreign nationals who have invested a “substantial amount of capital” in a U.S. business enterprise may avail of the visa as they are expected to develop and direct the operations of that enterprise throughout their stay in the country.

What happens after the termination of a BIT is unique to every treaty because each agreement follows an embedded set of post-termination guidelines. In the case of the U.S.-Ecuador BIT, Ecuadorian nationals with E-2 visas acquired on or before May 18, 2018 will remain entitled to their E-2 classification until May 18, 2028.

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migration-3130767_1280-300x200California’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) recently published the complete text of its “Regulations Regarding National Origin Discrimination,” clarifying how the term “national origin” is defined for purposes of implementing the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). In particular, the new regulations prohibit employers from inquiring into a job seeker or employee’s immigration status. An exception has been made, however, for instances where “the person seeking discovery or making the inquiry has shown by clear and convincing evidence that such inquiry is necessary to comply with federal immigration law.”

These changes take effect on July 1, 2018.

A “national origin group” is typically defined as a group of people who same the same place of origin, culture, ancestry, or language. The FEHC’s new regulations, however, expand the interpretation of nation origin in implementing the FEHA, adding all conceivable attributes of a national origin group categorized accordingly.

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apron-celebration-cute-763934-300x199Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released a statement declaring the addition of 15,000 H-2B temporary visas to be issued to non-agricultural foreign workers for Fiscal Year 2018.

While 66,000 working visas have already been issued this year, Homeland Security has determined that thousands more are required to keep U.S. businesses that depend on an increased workforce afloat for FY2018. After consulting with members of the Congress and business owners, Nielsen admits that there are not enough qualified U.S. workers available to work in non-agricultural fields, justifying the move.

“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses, it needs to be reformed,” Secretary Nielsen explains. “I call on Congress to pass much needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in statute. We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program. As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting US workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”

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child-crying-1735221_1920-300x169As the Trump administration deals with a dramatic increase in the number of child immigration cases, most of which are in a backlog of 8,378 pending cases spanning more than three years, a new zero-tolerance immigration policy imposed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions could cause this backlog to grow even more.

Sessions announced the policy shift in May, which would require Border Patrol agents to hand over all undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border to the Department of Justice for prosecution. This new policy also means that thousands of unaccompanied child aliens (UACs) will have to be separated from their parents as the latter go through the criminal justice system.

“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Sessions said at a conference last month.

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transport-3369756_1280-300x189Officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety apprehended dozens of undocumented immigrants packed in a truck trailer Tuesday night in South Texas, nearly 50 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. The officers counted 86 people, ranging from as young as 3-years old to 59; four were minors who crossed the border without guardians.

The immigrants were found in the refrigerated trailer of an 18-wheeler truck “packed like sardines,” as described by Frank Torres, emergency medical services manager for Willacy County.

Police began tailing the truck when it passed Donna, a border town a few miles north of the Rio Grande, after receiving a call that it likely contained undocumented immigrants and eventually made their move on the highway.

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adult-auto-automobile-558375-300x200US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Justice Department published a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last week to announce their joint effort to identify and eliminate fraud, abuse, and discrimination among employers that hire immigrant workers. Both agencies are set to make changes geared towards improving communication and cooperation in handling such cases.

The partnership expands on existing efforts to crack down on immigration-related labor abuses. At present, USCIS and the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division have the Protecting US Workers Initiative, which investigates and prosecutes employer discrimination and misuse of E-Verify. Both projects emerge from President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” anti-immigrant agenda.

“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, today’s partnership adds to the Civil Rights Division’s tools to stop employers from discriminating against US workers by favoring foreign visa workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “The Division looks forward to expanding its partnerships with USCIS to hold accountable employers that discriminate against US workers based on their citizenship status.”

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Arrested-Immigrant-300x225A federal judge accused the Department of Homeland Security of ignoring due process and targeting and detaining immigrants who are married or engaged to U.S. citizens without so much as telling them about their right to a hearing or notifying their attorneys.

According to U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf, who berated Justice Department attorney Mary Larakers in court, the DHS violated the law by blatantly ignoring their own rules.

Four immigrant couples brought a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government to federal court, insisting that they have been unjustly targeted by law enforcement. Police apprehended Lucimar de Souza, who would become a plaintiff in the class action suit, in January this year immediately after being interviewed for their I-130 petition (petitioning for alien relatives).

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usdhs-300x168As expected, Sec. Kirstjen M. Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security announced this month that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to Honduran immigrants would finally end by January 5, 2020.

After Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998, killing an estimated 10,000 people in Honduras alone, the United States government decided to open its doors to Honduran refugees, granting more than 57,000 Hondurans a designation known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Congress created the Temporary Protected Status designation in 1990 into an effort to aid people from countries afflicted by civil turmoil or severe destruction caused by natural disasters like Hurricane Mitch. In turn, the TPS designation has protected Honduran nationals, as well as Nicaraguans, in the country from deportation for decades.