Articles Tagged with Undocumented Immigrants

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law-1063249_640In a significant victory for immigration activists in the United States, the en banc First Circuit Court has ruled that the federal government cannot use a mandatory” immigration detention law to indefinitely hold undocumented immigrants for prior criminal charges.

Praising the decision of the federal appeals court in Boston, the American Civil Liberties Union notes the ruling effectively allows more than a hundred wrongly detained immigrants to challenge their imprisonment in Massachusetts’ jails.

The ruling comes thanks to the two habeas petitions filed by Leiticia Castaneda and Clayton Gordon, immigrants held without bond because of separate drug charges incurred in 2008. Citing those offenses, immigration officials detained Casteneda and Gordon, even if their priors were from 5 years ago. The plaintiffs were denied bail under mandatory-detention provisions, supposedly designed to capture what the federal government refers to as “criminal aliens.

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driving-691751_640A group of undocumented Mexican immigrants is filing a lawsuit against Oregon, requesting the state repeal a 2014 ballot measure that prevents them from applying for driver’s licenses. The lawsuit, filed by five foreign nationals, comes in the heels of Oregon voters defeating Measure 88 in 2014. Two-thirds of voters voted to deny the initiative. Out of thirty-six counties in Oregon, thirty-five were in favor of denying licenses to undocumented immigrants. All congressional districts, represented mostly by Democrats, also voted to withhold licenses to undocumented immigrants, suggesting a strong bipartisan backing of the issue.

Measure 88 Unconstitutional

The only problem is that the rejection of Measure 88 can be deemed as unconstitutional, as it arbitrarily denies driving privileges “to Plaintiffs and others based on their membership in a disfavored minority group.”

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flag-677901_640Ever since the Cold War, immigrants from Cuba have only had to step on US soil to begin the journey to legal residency here, due to an agreement between the two countries that used to protect refugees fleeing the communist regime.

However, now that Cuba and the United States have started repairing ties, potential Cuban immigrants are worried that they will be treated like every other undocumented person who tries to cross the border, so they’re starting to come in droves in order to avoid the risk of being turned away.

The Cuban Adjustment Act, as the agreement is called, has started to face mounting pressure from Congress, with members like Arizona representative Paul Gosar attempting to introduce bills to repeal it. Said Gosar, “If President Obama has normalized relations with Cuba, why would we treat illegal immigrants from that nation any different than those from other countries?”

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2H43Z0W1PSLegislation proposed to create harsher punishments for undocumented immigrants was blocked on Wednesday by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid.

The legislation was put forward by Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who tried to get unanimous consent on its passing, saying that Congress needs “leadership” on the issue. Cruz’s proposed legislation targets immigrants who re-enter the United States after being deported, and it has been referred to as “Kate’s Law” – after Kathryn Steinle, the San Francisco woman who was shot and killed by a man recently released from jail, and who had allegedly re-entered the US five times.

Under the law, undocumented immigrants would face additional prison time if they were caught re-entering the US after deportation, as well as a minimum five-year sentence if they were previously convicted of an aggravated felony or of illegally re-entering the country twice.

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handcuffs-219261_640The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday October 20 unanimously agreed to reaffirm the city’s sanctuary laws regarding undocumented immigrants.

For 25 years, San Francisco has had a policy that prevents local law enforcement from turning in undocumented immigrants arrested for nonviolent crimes to federal agents, even at agents’ requests. However, four months ago it came under scrutiny when Kathryn Stienle, a San Francisco resident, was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant who had just been released from custody under the sanctuary city law.

This event didn’t deter the Board of Supervisors, though, as they were not ready to let one event change the shape of a policy that had been in place for 25 years.

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construction-worker-569149_640Some developments involving the Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy carries considerable consequences for groups of immigrants residing in the United States. A recall involving the three year DACA work authorization permits has been disseminated. Immigrants who received the three year DACA work authorization permits on February 16, 2015 need to verify their status or risk having their DACA authorizations and related employment authorizations terminated. If you or anyone you know has received a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services involving the recall of the DACA permits or your Employment Authorization Document it is urgent that you comply with the instructions immediately.

The DACA immigration policy received extensive changes after President Obama’s actions on 2014. President Obama’s decision expanded the reach of the policy to include illegal immigrants who entered the United States before 2010. The President also changed the DACA’s requirements by eliminating the need for applicants to be younger than 31 years old and lengthened the renewable deferral period by two years. The purpose of the DACA program is to allow undocumented immigrants to receive work permits that would allow them access to expanded employment opportunities and avoid deportation. The issued two-year work permits are renewable but do not give the eligible candidates a guaranteed path to citizenship or legal permanent resident status.

The recall of the DACA permits issued by President Obama’s administration comes hot on the heels of an injunction issued by a federal judge. Obama’s attempts to implement extensive immigration reform have not gained widespread support. Political representatives who oppose the President’s initiatives were instrumental in passing the injunction. The recall involving DACA permits issued after the February 16, 2015 court order was passed does not affect every DACA recipient. Only some individuals who received a card after February 16 are affected. If you received notice regarding the recall from USCIS, you need to return your card to your local USCIS office before July 31, 2015.

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walk-842535_640Executive orders passed down from President Obama will prevent an estimated 9.6 million undocumented immigrants from being deported, officials say.

Migrants to the United States live in constant fear of their status being discovered, so this decision has come as a beacon of hope to many people and families across the country.

The official amnesty, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), was first proposed back in November, and at the time it raised protest amongst anti-deportation advocates because it only provides safety to immigrants who have spent at least 5 years in the country, and have at least one American-born child in their care. Those immigrants who have foreign-born children, new arrivals, LGBT immigrants and any with criminal records are not eligible for protection. Steven A Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said after the announcement that the five-year minimum requirement was “arbitrary” and that it was hard to see how discrimination between a migrant who had been in the country with children for five years and someone without children who had been here nine could be possible.

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courtroom-144091_640Undocumented immigrants residing in the United States face difficult prospects if they are unable to adjust their status into that of a permanent legal resident. Some immigrants resort to attain permanent legal status by filing an I-30 visa petition. An I-30 visa petition or a petition for alien relative allows a United States citizen to establish their relationship with specific alien relatives who intend to immigrate to the U.S. One possible way that an immigrant can file an I-30 visa petition is to marry a U.S. resident. However, this move does not guarantee a smooth path to obtaining a permanent legal resident status.

One of the issues that immigration authorities can bring up to block an I-30 visa petition is marriage fraud. The case of Joel Njoroge Manguriu illustrates this perfectly. Manguriu is a native of Kenya who entered the United States on a student visa. Manguriu went over the allowed length of time that an immigrant can stay in the United States under a student visa. Eventually, he decided to marry a U.S. citizen in an attempt to adjust his status. Manguriu’s wife, Manuelita Lopez, filed an I-30 visa petition on his behalf. After the I-30 visa petition was filed, Manguriu applied for an adjustment of his immigrant status.

Immigration authorities reviewed Manguriu’s application. Manguriu’s request was denied on the grounds of marriage fraud. Manguriu’s case took a turn for the worst when the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against him. Manguriu sought to evade the proceedings by filing a petition through the Violence Against Women Act. Manguriu claimed that his spouse was abusive. The immigration judge presiding over his case decided to halt the removal proceedings and his VAWA petition was approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After the USCIS approved Manguriu’s VAWA petition, he asked the immigration judge to adjust his immigrant status to that of a permanent legal resident of the U.S.

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gavelUndocumented immigrants residing in the United States have had to deal with a number of issues. The stance of U.S. authorities when it comes to immigration policy is a source of frustration for immigrants. Recently, immigrants in Texas are voicing out their frustrations with a policy that is effectively preventing their U.S. born offspring from gaining birth certificated. Under the 14th amendment, children who are born on U.S. soil qualify for citizenship status. Now, thanks to a policy that prevents these children from acquiring their birth certificates, the path to citizenship and the benefits associated with it are being shuttered.

The federal lawsuit filed by several Texas immigrant families identifies Kirk Cole, the Texas Department of State Health Service’s Vital Statistics Unit commissioner, and Geraldine Harris, the unit chief as the defendants in the case. The plaintiffs in the case claim that the defendants mentioned in the lawsuit have willfully discriminated against their Texas-born children by singling out their parents’ immigration status. In the past, immigrants were able to procure an ID called the “matrica consular” from the consulates of their own countries. This ID was used to fulfill a vital requirement to acquire birth certificates for U.S. born children of immigrants. Now, officials no longer accept the matrica consular as a valid ID to secure birth certificates. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit allege that the defendants in the case acted with malice and knew that the immigrants’ lack of access to other types of identification would effectively prevent their children from gaining birth certificates and U.S. citizenship.

Initially, the lawsuit only had four mothers as plaintiffs but other immigrant families have stepped up and joined the legal battle. The plaintiffs are being represented by lawyers from the Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and the South Texas Civil Rights Project. The challengers in the lawsuit allege that a vital statistic officer admitted that the sudden shift in policy was made to purposefully increase the difficulty of obtaining citizenship status for U.S. born children of immigrants. The move has deprived these children of the benefits associated with citizenship which include considerable educational opportunities, health benefits, and even employment options. As the lawsuit continues to gain traction, more immigrant families are coming forward with stories that back up these claims.

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family-492891_640Undocumented immigrants who are caught in the thick of removal proceedings have to deal with a number of challenges. Recently, immigration authorities have had to deal with flak from immigrant supporters. The controversy stems from the practice of detaining immigrant families in detention centers. The family detention centers are located in Berks County, Pa., and Karnes City and Dilly, Texas. Various claims have been made about the treatment that immigrants receive from authorities while they are being detained. Reports involving suicide attempts by immigrants under lockup have added fueled the rising clamor from immigrant supporters pushing for the shutdown of these detention centers.

Now, authorities in the U.S. immigration system have come forward and released a statement addressing the controversial practice of detaining immigrant families. On Monday, immigration officials have officially stated that immigrants held in the South Texas detention centers will be released if they pass the first step in the asylum process. The decision is a victory for undocumented immigrants and their supporters. Weeks prior to the announcement, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that more than 2,000 immigrant women and children held in the Karnes County and Dilly detention centers were slated for release.

The Department of Homeland Security has gone on the record to state that there is a need to reconsider the practice of detaining immigrant families who have established a credible reason for seeking asylum. Many immigrants come to the United States each year to flee from cases of extreme poverty or persecution from their home countries. The sensitive case of housing these immigrant families has the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement examining each resident that is being housed at the agency’s family detention centers. The final word when it comes to the practice of detaining immigrant families is positive. Authorities of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency have gone on the record to state that they will no longer be detaining immigrant mothers and children who do not pose a clear threat to national security for as long as they are able to establish a credible reason to fear persecution if they were to be removed from U.S. territory. The decision to release these immigrants is also contingent the provision of a verifiable residential address.