Articles Posted in Central Americans

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It is not every day that one of our very own paralegals is honored for her work in immigration law, helping provide a voice to those who do not speak the English language. It is with great pride that we celebrate Kely Martell, for her recent feature in the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration (COI), profiling her work as an interpreter volunteer.

Ms. Kely Martell works as a case manager in the business department of our law office, but what you may not know is that for the past year and a half, she has also been dedicating her time as a volunteer Spanish language interpreter and translator for the Immigration Justice Project (IJP). There, she has been working closely with attorneys on pro bono defensive asylum cases, helping reduce barriers to justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Growing up in Lima, Peru, Kely immigrated to the United States at a young age with no knowledge of the English language. These struggles shaped her early interest in immigration law and her desire to make a difference in the lives of others. At the height of the asylum crisis when thousands of migrant caravans made their way to the United States, Kely was inspired to action and decided to volunteer as an interpreter for several immigration organizations. She immediately made a positive impression for going beyond what was expected of her, not only helping clients understand their legal rights, but also helping clients and their families navigate the complex intricacies of the immigrant detention system. She displayed an extraordinary commitment to handling these complexities with ease.

Kely first became involved with the ABA’s Immigration Justice Project after reaching out to Senior Staff Attorney and Pro Bono Coordinator Ambreen Walji and the rest was history. She describes her experience working for the Immigration Justice Project as being truly rewarding because of the opportunity she has helping detained immigrants on a day-to-day basis, which are some of the most underserved individuals that are most in need of translator services. Continue reading

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The nation awoke with a new President of the United States, and although President Joe Biden has been in office for less than one day, his administration is already planning sweeping immigration reforms and policy changes that will unfold throughout the coming months.

This is just the start of President Biden’s plan to reverse the numerous damaging policies and executive orders passed by the Trump administration during the past four years.

This morning, the White House issued a press release outlining President Biden’s commitment to modernize the U.S. immigration system by way of a legislative bill that will be introduced before Congress in a matter of days.

The new bill, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, proposes to overhaul the current immigration system to more effectively manage and secure our country’s border.

According to the Biden administration, the purpose of the bill is to “restore humanity and American values to our immigration system….” providing “hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship.”

The bill will prioritize family reunification, address root causes of mass migration from Central America, and among other things ensure that the United States remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution.

Most importantly is the bill’s commitment to create a path to citizenship for eligible undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers and essential workers who have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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On August 20, 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced “enhanced coordination” efforts to remove Guatemalan adults and families arriving at the border more quickly. These efforts have been implemented to discourage Central Americans from attempting to enter the United States illegally and to deter human smuggling.

Acting Associate Director of ICE ERO Timothy Robbins made the following statement regarding these enforcement actions, “Breaking U.S. laws by illegally entering the United States is an ineffective manner to petition to legally remain in the United States. Ultimately, if you have no basis to remain in the United States, you will be apprehended and returned to your home country.”

ICE has announced that since mid-July it has implemented a more streamlined process to expeditiously remove Guatemalans who have no basis to remain in the United States.

According to ICE, this process allows the US to repatriate these individuals, “without utilizing resources to house aliens or manage their cases while they await immigration or removal proceedings out of custody.”

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Facing mounting pressure from the American public, the President delivered his last-ditch effort offering what he termed a “compromise” to gain support for his controversial wall and put an end to what has been a long-drawn-out government shutdown.

In Saturday’s White House address, President Trump announced a plan that would extend the temporary protected status of TPS recipients for a three-year period and provide legislative relief to DACA recipients also for a three-year period.

In exchange, the President is asking Congress to grant him $800 million dollars in aid for humanitarian purposes, $800 million dollars to invest in drug detection technology to enhance border security, and $5.7 billion dollars for strategic deployment of physical steel barriers along the U.S./Mexico border.

Additionally, the President will use some of this money to hire 2,750 border agents and law enforcement professionals, 75 new immigration judges to reduce backlogs, and to implement a program that will protect migrant children from exploitation and abuse.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rejected the President’s proposal almost immediately.

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The immigrant caravan from Central America has now reached the Southwest border. Thousands of migrants are now waiting in Tijuana for an opportunity to apply for asylum at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, tensions begin to mount as members of the immigrant caravan rushed the border fence at the San Ysidro port of entry, attempting to enter the United States illegally. In response, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers shut down both south and northbound traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego for approximately six hours.

The decision to close the San Ysidro port of entry during the holiday weekend was unprecedented considering that the San Ysidro port of entry is one of the busiest land border crossings in the world with 70,000 northbound vehicles and 20,000 northbound pedestrians seeking to cross each day. Many Americans were left stranded in Mexico waiting for the port of entry to re-open to re-enter the country after Thanksgiving.

The saga unfolded on November 25, 2018 when San Diego MTS suspended trolley services at the San Ysidro Transit Center due to increased tensions at the border. Passengers seeking to cross into Mexico were forced to transfer to bus routes traveling to the Otay Mesa border. In similar fashion, Caltrans San Diego announced several closures.

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Several weeks ago, the President signed an executive order preventing undocumented immigrants from applying for asylum.

On Monday, a federal judge from San Francisco issued a nationwide injunction, forcing the government to continue to accept asylum claims by undocumented immigrants, regardless of where or how they entered the United States. As a result, the President’s executive order will be suspended until a decision is reached by the court in the lawsuit East Bay Sanctuary Covenant et al., v. Donald J. Trump, et al.,

The President hoped that his executive order would curb illegal immigration at the Southern border, ahead of the arrival of a large immigrant caravan from Central America.

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Photo by bbcworldservice

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has recently announced that in anticipation of the migrant caravan, lane closures will begin on November 13, 2018 at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

At least three northbound vehicle lanes at San Ysidro and one lane at Otay Mesa will be closed. CBP will be installing pre-position port hardening infrastructure equipment to increase security in preparation for the arrival of the caravan.

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The Washington Post recently reported that President Trump is expected to deliver a scathing speech on immigration this upcoming Tuesday October 30, 2018. The President’s speech will come just a week before the highly contested midterm elections, where more than 425 House seats are up for re-election.

Interestingly, the Post is reporting that President Trump is gearing up to invoke his executive power to prevent Central American migrants from applying for asylum at the Southwest border. Such a move would trigger constitutional challenges in federal court. However, as we know, the President and his administration have not shied away from controversy.

The President is eager to present his agenda to boost his approval ratings and encourage Republican voters to support GOP candidates in battleground states.

Earlier this month the President expressed his sentiments regarding an immigrant caravan consisting of more than 7,000 Central American migrants’ intent on reaching the U.S. border.

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On September 7, 2018, the government published a notice of proposed rule making in the federal register, entitled, “Apprehension, Processing, Care, and Custody of Alien Minors and Unaccompanied Alien Children.”

The proposed rule seeks to amend existing regulations relating to the apprehension, processing, care, custody, and release of alien juveniles in custody.

If the proposed rule is enforced, it will replace the Flores Settlement Agreement reached in 2001 in response to the class-action lawsuit Flores v. Reno. The Flores Settlement Agreement allows detained children the right to a bond hearing and affords them several important protections including:

  • the right to be represented by counsel;
  • the right to have detention assessed by an independent immigration judge, outside of the Office of Refugee Resettlement system;
  • the right to present evidence;
  • the right to examine and rebut the government’s evidence;
  • the right to build a record regarding their custody.

If the government has its way, children in detention will be stripped of these rights.

The government states that consistent with the Flores Settlement Agreement, the proposed rule would ensure that juveniles in government custody are treated with dignity and respect, with a special concern for the vulnerability of minors in custody.

The rule would create an “alternative” to the existing licensed program requirement for family residential centers, including the ability to detain family units together during the entirety of their immigration proceedings.

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Yesterday, Federal Judge Edward Chen, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a preliminary injunction temporarily stopping the United States government from rescinding the temporary protected status designation for immigrants from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

By court order, the government must maintain the TPS designation for the above-mentioned countries, and continue to allow beneficiaries of these countries, to apply for employment authorization, while a lawsuit challenging the rescission of TPS for these countries moves through the court system.

Before the preliminary injunction the TPS designations would officially terminate as follows:

  • Sudan, TPS Designation was to terminate on November 2, 2018
  • Nicaragua, TPS Designation was to terminate on January 5, 2019
  • Haiti, TPS Designation was to terminate on July 22, 2019
  • El Salvador, TPS Designation was to terminate on September 9, 2019

The preliminary injunction comes on the heels of a class-action lawsuit brought by immigrants from these countries over the rescission of the TPS designation for Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. The lead plaintiff named in the lawsuit Ramos v. Nielsen, is Crista Ramos, a 14-year old United States Citizen whose mother is a TPS holder from El Salvador. Ramos, along with other Plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that the government rescinded TPS protections for the above-mentioned countries, based on a predetermined political agenda in violation of the law.

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