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Articles Posted in Dream Act

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In this article, we will discuss how the upcoming Presidential election could impact immigration for years to come.

On November 3, 2020 Americans will head to the polls to cast their votes for the next President of the United States. While the upcoming presidential election seems far into the future, Americans must now begin to consider how their votes could impact the future of immigration.

During the 2016 election, the topic of immigration took center stage and has continued to remain a prominent topic of contention among Democrats in Republicans. In part immigration was catapulted to mainstream media by then Presidential nominee Donald Trump, who made the topic of immigration a central issue of his campaign, by means of his campaign logo “Make America Great Again,” to highlight the discontent that many Americans felt regarding illegal immigration, the availability of jobs in the United States, and the country’s general loss of “status” in relation to other countries. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump consistently made pledges to his supporters with respect to immigration, including a promise to build a wall and ensuring Mexico pay for it, ending birthright citizenship, ending “mass” migration of Syrian refugees, removing undocumented immigrants from the United States, and limiting legal immigration, to name a few of his campaign promises. The President also vowed to serve the interests of America and its workers, calling them “the forgotten people.” This rhetoric proved to be successful as disenchanted Americans across the country began to rally in support of Donald Trump helping him win the Presidency.

The President’s strategy was so successful, that other Republicans have taken a page out of Donald Trump’ s playbook, using the same rhetoric to gain the support of rural Americans.

This same anti-immigrant rhetoric is expected to take center stage during the upcoming presidential election. Republicans have remained united on the issue of immigration and have consistently supported Trump’s policies even where courts have struck down the President’s orders with respect to ending DACA.

Today, Americans remain largely divided on the issue of immigration, making the outcome of the Presidential election all the more unpredictable. The President’s current impeachment proceedings have also thrown a wrench into the process, creating deep divisions among party lines.

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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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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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Immigration Raids Cancelled for Two Weeks

In a new turn of events, President Trump announced on Saturday, June 22, 2019, that he would delay the immigration raids that were set to begin on June 23, 2019, for a period of two weeks to give Congress more time to make changes to existing asylum law.

On the eve of the immigration raids, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi brokered a deal in which she asked the President to cancel the planned immigration raids. On Saturday the President tweeted that at the request of the Democrats, the raids would be pushed back for two weeks giving both parties time to roll out proposals regarding immigration reform.

For the time being the immigration raids will not be going forward as originally planned.

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Digitized FOIA System

USCIS has announced that its FOIA System is now digitized. Users will now be able to submit, track, and receive FOIA requests digitally. This is great news because this option will speed up the process of requesting a FOIA and also speed up the form of delivery. Previously, applicants were required to submit a request by mail and would receive the results of the FOIA request by mail in compact disc form. Now, applicants will be able to access their documents digitally.

Applicants will simply need to create a USCIS online account to take advantage of this new and improved system.

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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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