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Articles Posted in DACA Renewals

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As we approach the end of the year, in this blog post, we look back at the major policy changes implemented by the Trump administration in the year 2019 that have had a profound impact on the way our immigration system functions today.

JANUARY 

Government Shutdown Woes

The start of 2019 began on a very somber note. From December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019 Americans experienced the longest government shutdown in American history (lasting a period fo 35 days) largely due to political differences between the Republican and Democratic parties on the issue of government funding to build a border wall along the U.S. Mexico border.

The government shutdown created a massive backlog for non-detained persons expecting to attend hearings in immigration court. Because of limited availability of federal workers, non-detained persons experienced postponements and were required to wait an indeterminate amount of time for those hearings to be re-scheduled.

To sway public opinion, 17 days into the government shutdown, the President delivered his first primetime address from the Oval office where he called on Democrats to pass a spending bill that would provide $5.7 billion in funding for border security, including the President’s border wall.

With no agreement in sight, on January 19, 2019, the President sought to appease Democrats by offering them a compromise solution. In exchange for funding his border wall and border security, the President announced a plan that would extend temporary protected status of TPS recipients for a three-year period and provide legislative relief to DACA recipients for a three-year period. The President’s proposal however did not provide a pathway to residency for Dreamers, and was quickly rejected by Democrats.

On January 25, 2019, with still no solution and pressure mounting, the President relented and passed a temporary bill reopening the government until February 15, 2019.

Meanwhile, immigration courts across the country were forced to postpone hundreds of immigration hearings, with Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky being the most deeply affected by the shutdown.

Changes to the H1B Visa Program

On January 30, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced proposed changes to the H-1B visa program including a mandatory electronic registration requirement for H1B petitioners filing cap-subject petitions beginning fiscal year 2020, and a reversal in the selection process for cap-subject petitions. The government outlined that it would first select H-1B registrations submitted on behalf of all H-1B beneficiaries (including regular cap and advanced degree exemption) and then if necessary select the remaining number of petitions from registrations filed for the advanced degree exemption. Moreover, only those registrations selected during fiscal year 2020 and on, would be eligible to file a paper H1B cap petition.

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In this blog post we cover where the top democratic presidential candidates stand on the issue of immigration. At the moment only three Republicans have announced their participation in the 2020 election, therefore we will focus on the democratic candidates until more Republican candidates have formally announced their presidential bids.

On the democratic front, over sixteen candidates have formally announced their participation in the 2020 Presidential election, with many more rumored to join their ranks in the coming months.

Over the last five months, presidential hopefuls, Former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, have battled one another taking part in debates across the country. Not surprisingly, the topic of interest in these debates has turned to immigration.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden is a familiar face to all Americans, having served as former Vice President during the Obama administration for 8 years, but Joe Biden’s performances in the latest democratic debates have been lackluster at best.

In a recent debate moderators criticized Joe Biden for being part of an administration that was responsible for deported 3 million people, the most in United States history. When asked if he did anything to prevent the deportations, Biden deflected stating that his own power was limited and that the former President “did the best that was able to be done.”

Joe Biden has appeared weak on immigration. Although he has acknowledged that the American immigration system is broken, he has provided few solutions on how to unify Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Joe Biden has also prioritized securing the South West border and publicly stated during debates that undocumented immigrants need to “get in line,” to obtain legalization like everyone else.  Like his predecessors Joe Biden’s immigration policy prioritizes the entry of highly skilled immigrant workers, and fails to offer solutions to the millions of undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States for decades.

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After a long and contentious battle in several courts across the nation, the fate of DACA now rests in the hands of nine Supreme Court justices.

On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the justices heard the first oral arguments in the lawsuit seeking to end DACA.

During opening arguments, the justices gave us a small glimpse into what might be in their hearts and minds.

When the Solicitor General proposed to the justices that the Supreme Court did not have the authority to decide the case on the merits because DACA was a discretionary program which began under the Obama administration, the liberal justices on the court pushed back.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the first to disagree. Justice Ginsburg pointed to a flaw in the Solicitor’s argument stating that the Solicitor General could not argue that on the one hand the DACA program could not be reviewed by the Court because it was created under Obama’s administration as a discretionary program, and on the other hand that the Obama administration had no discretion to authorize the program because it was illegal to do so.

Sonia Sotomayor further attacked the Solicitor’s arguments stating that the President himself has issued conflicting remarks about the legality of the DACA program, stating first that Dreamers would be “safe under him,” and later terminating the program altogether.

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On November 14, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase immigration fees for certain petitions. After publication, the proposal will be open for a 30-day comment period. After that point the agency will review public comments and draft the final rule. At this time there is no definitive date set out in the proposed rule for enforcement of these fees. Therefore, readers should note that these fee increases will likely not take effect until well into Fiscal Year 2020.

What does the rule propose?

The rule proposes the following fee increases by immigration benefit:

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Moreover, DHS proposes that fees for the following types of petitions be limited to a 5 percent increase above current fees:

  • Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
  • Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant.
  • Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
  • Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition
  • Form I-600A/I-600, Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A/I600.42
  • Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative.
  • Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.
  • Form I-800A, Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A

Changes to Fee Waiver Requests

DHS further proposes to limit fee waivers grants to individuals who have an annual household income of less than 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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Photo: Christian Leo Seno
Flickr

The United States Supreme Court has announced that it will decide the fate of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, during its next term, beginning in October, with a decision likely to be handed down by the Court in early 2020.

The Court’s decision to take up the issue of DACA will take place during a highly contentious political climate as Americans prepare to vote in the 2020 Presidential election.

Adding to the great divide among Americans about the future of DACA, is the Supreme Court’s current ideological split. At the moment, the Supreme Court is evenly split with 4 liberal justices and 4 conservative justices. Justice Alito, the “swing” voter is likely to cast the decisive vote.

As constitutional history has suggested, DACA is likely to find support among the liberal justices on the bench including Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer, while finding opposition from Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice Roberts.

This will not be the first time the Supreme Court hears a case involving the constitutionality of the DACA program.

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Photo: Molly Adams

On June 5, 2019, the House of Representatives unified to pass H.R. 6 better known as the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, offering Dreamers who meet certain requirements, a path to citizenship.

The bill must still pass through the Senate to become law.

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Flickr: mollyktadams

House Democrats are making a move to help Dreamers achieve permanent residence. A new bill dubbed HR 6, the Dream and Promise Act, seeks to provide undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, the opportunity to obtain permanent residence. In addition, the bill includes a proposal that would allow certain types of immigrants fleeing war or natural disasters the opportunity to apply for permanent residence.

The Dream and Promise Act would cancel the removal (also known as “deportation”) of and grant conditional permanent resident (CPR) status to a person who is inadmissible or deportable from the U.S. if the person:

  • has been continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least four years before the date of the bill’s enactment;
  • entered the U.S. before turning 18;
  • (a) has been admitted to a college, university or other higher educational institution; or (b) has earned a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent post-secondary education credential; or (c) is enrolled in a secondary school or education program that assists students in obtaining a high school diploma, GED or similar state-authorized exam, certificate or credential from a career or technical school providing education at the secondary level,or in obtaining a recognized post-secondary credential;
  • provides biometric and biographic data, with alternative procedures available for those with physical impairments;
  • passes a background check;
  • registered for military selective service if required to;
  • pays a fee no greater than $495, though fee exemptions may apply;

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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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This evening the President of the United States delivered his first primetime address from the Oval Office to gain support from the American people to build a border wall along the U.S./Mexico border.

The President’s speech comes 17 days into a partial government shutdown that has left thousands of federal government employees without a paycheck.

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The House Proposes to Extend the E-3 Program to Irish Nationals

On November 20, 2018, the House of Representatives introduced H.R. 7164, a bill proposing to add Ireland to the E-3 nonimmigrant visa program. Currently, the E-3 visa program is available to American employers seeking to hire Australian nationals to perform services in a specialty occupation for a temporary period of time.

The E-3 visa program functions much like the H-1B program. The program is governed by the same labor certification standards that apply to the H-1B visa program, and much of the same evidence is required. The E-3 visa classification is numerically limited, with a maximum of 10,500 visas available annually for Australian nationals.