Articles Posted in Dreamers

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During the last few days, the Supreme Court has been very busy taking up the issue of immigration. On Tuesday in a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court handed down a controversial ruling strengthening the power of the Trump administration to detain undocumented immigrants facing deportation proceedings for extended periods of time. The Court rejected the opinion of federal judges in California who had previously ruled that detained immigrants facing removal proceedings have a right to a bail hearing after six months in jail.

Today, the Court emphatically disagreed, ruling in the case Jennings v. Rodriguez, that those who face deportation will remain detained while their cases are being considered by an immigration judge. Justice Samuel Alito speaking for the Court said that federal immigration law does not require bail hearings, and that the Ninth Circuit Court has no authority to allow for such hearings.

The Court handed down this ruling after immigrants’ rights activists brought a class action suit representing thousands of non-citizens who had been arrested and held for deportation. Many of these individuals sought asylum in the United States based on a credible fear of persecution. Although the majority of these individuals eventually went on to win their cases in immigration court, they were detained for a year or longer while their cases remained pending. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal had previously ruled that such individuals should have a right to a bail hearing after 6 months, and a right to be released from detention provided they could prove to the Court that they are not a danger to the community or a flight risk.

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Last week, the United States Senate began much-anticipated debates to reach a deal on immigration before the March 5th deadline imposed by the President. Debates in the Senate last week however were unavailing with both parties blaming one another for their inability to come up with a solution that would protect thousands of DACA recipients from deportation. To make matters worse the President issued a firestorm of tweets attacking leaders of the Democratic party and criticizing sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. Should Congress fail to enact legislation to shield Dreamers from deportation by March 5th, thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children will begin to lose their protection from deportation and the ability to work legally in the United States.

In the weeks ahead, Congress must also focus their efforts to pass a spending bill to permanently fund the government. Currently, the government is running on a short-term spending bill which expires midnight on March 23rd. Failure to pass a spending bill that permanently funds the government would mean yet another government shutdown. This urgent need to pass a spending bill may present an opportunity for Congress to finally reach a solution on top immigration priorities and seal the future of DACA recipients. Top immigration priorities for Republicans include building a wall between the United States and Mexico, beefing up the presence of border patrol agents and law enforcement, ending “Chain-Migration,” the diversity visa lottery program, while Democrats remain focused on creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and strongly oppose ending “Chain-Migration.” However, it would not be surprising if Congress fails to safeguard the status of DACA recipients given that members of Congress have on previous occasions failed to come up with a bipartisan solution.

Since October, approximately 122 young undocumented immigrants have had their DACA-permits expire on a daily basis, which is expected to add up to 22,000 immigrants by March 5th. Approximately 668,000 immigrants have been issued work permits under DACA that will not expire until March 5th or later.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: On February 14, 2018 USCIS announced that due to federal court orders issued on January 9, 2018 and February 13, 2018, USCIS will resume accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the DACA program. Please read our post below to determine whether you qualify for a renewal request. 

File Your DACA Renewal Request Immediately

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In this post, we will discuss the limited circumstances in which applicants may request a fee exemption for Form I-765 filed in connection with a renewal request for consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

In most cases the filing fee to request a renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals cannot be waived, but fee exemptions are available in the following limited circumstances:

  • Applicants under 18 years of age who are homeless, in foster care, or otherwise lack parental or other familial support, with income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may seek a fee exemption
  • Applicants who cannot care for themselves because of a serious chronic disability with an income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may claim a fee exemption
  • Applicants, who at the time of their request, have accumulated $10,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months, as the result of unreimbursed medical expenses for themselves or family members, receiving an income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may claim an exemption of the filing fee

To determine whether your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level please reference the chart below:

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In order to be considered for a fee exemption, applicants must submit a letter and supporting documentation demonstrating that they fall into one of the above-mentioned categories. Applicants must first file a request for a fee exemption and receive an approved fee exemption, before filing a request for consideration of deferred action on Form I-821D.  Applicants may not submit Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS without a record that a fee exemption has been approved.

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This week the President of the United States delivered his much-anticipated State of the Union to unite the Democratic and Republican parties on a range of contentious issues still unresolved in Congress. One of those hot-button issues has been immigration. As you may recall the President has given Congress until March 5, 2018 to pass legislation protecting Dreamers from deportation.

Ahead of the President’s speech the White House unveiled an immigration framework thought to gain support from Democrats in Congress, however the Democratic response in the room to the President’s remarks on immigration was somber.

While the President’s speech focused largely on improving the economy and helping small American businesses, the President also touched on immigration. President Trump opened his remarks on immigration by calling for immigration policies that will put American workers and their families first.

To highlight the importance of border security and implementing tougher immigration policies the President recounted the tragic story of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, two close friends that were brutally murdered by adolescent gang members of MS-13, who the President said took advantage of the country’s loopholes to gain entrance into the country as unaccompanied minors. The parents of Kayla and Nisa Mickens stood tearfully to receive applause from members of Congress in the room.  The President called on members of Congress to “close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13 and other criminals” to enter into the country. The President touted that his administration has proposed new legislation to fix the country’s immigration laws and support ICE and Border Patrol Agents in their efforts to apprehend dangerous criminals.

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450171693_de7e193cd1_zYesterday January 25, 2018, the White House unveiled a framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security outlining the Trump administration’s proposals on immigration. As we previously reported, members of Congress have 16 days to hash out their disagreements, and come up with a piece of legislation that would protect more than 700,000 Dreamers from deportation. As part of that deal, the Trump administration has unveiled a framework containing their wish list for what the administration would like to see incorporated into legislation proposed by Congress.

Dreamers

The White House framework openly supports a 10 to 12-year pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible immigrants, legalizing a population of approximately 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. In order to be eligible, DACA recipients would be required to fulfill requirements for work, education, and good moral character. Under the proposal, an individual’s legal status could be subject to revocation for criminal conduct, public safety and national security concerns, public charge violations, fraud, etc.

Border Security

In exchange for supporting a path to citizenship for Dreamers, the administration is asking Congress for $25 billion in funding to construct a border wall, secure United States ports of entry and exit, and beef up security in the northern border. The administration also seeks to expedite the deportation of criminals, gang members, violent offenders, aggravated felons, and those who have overstayed their visas.

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As you may know, Republicans and Democrats have been engaged in heated discussions regarding the future of DACA during the last few days, with Democrats threatening to send the country into a government shutdown if Republicans refused to resolve key issues regarding immigration. The debates came on the heels of the President’s deadline, giving members of Congress until March 5th to come with a plan to protect Dreamers from deportation.

The government shutdown however has been averted, but with no clear plan regarding what the Republican-led Congress plans to do to meet the President’s March 5th deadline to protect Dreamers from deportation.

On Monday, members of Congress voted to pass a measure to fund the federal government through February 8th following a brief three-day government shutdown, in which Democrats refused to vote in favor of a funding bill without Republican support for a bill that would shield Dreamers from deportation. Ultimately Democrats gave in with a majority voting for the measure largely after receiving assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that an immigration bill would be brought before Congress to protect more than 700,000 Dreamers from deportation.

Although the federal government is now back in business, the fight for Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reform has just begun. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer explained that in exchange for Democratic support of the funding bill, the Republican-led Congress has 16 days to work with Democrats to write a bill that would receive at least 60 votes in the Senate to survive, and prevent Dreamers from being at risk for deportation. At the same time Congress will have to vote on a long-term funding plan, which will not be easy given that immigration has been a hot button issue and Democrats have already shown their resistance.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: On February 14, 2018 USCIS announced that due to federal court orders issued on January 9, 2018 and February 13, 2018, USCIS will resume accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the DACA program. Please read this post to determine whether you qualify. 

On January 13, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a statement for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in response to a federal court order that resurrected certain provisions of the program.

USCIS has announced that they will resume accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action for individuals who have received benefits under the DACA program. According to the statement, the DACA policy that was in effect before the program was rescinded by the Trump administration on September 5, 2017, will continue to be implemented on the same terms as it was before. It is important to note that although USCIS will begin accepting renewal requests for individuals who have received DACA benefits in the past, USCIS will NOT be accepting initial DACA requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under the DACA program.

In addition, USCIS is NOT accepting applications for advance parole from recipients of DACA. Before the program was rescinded, individuals receiving DACA benefits could apply for an advance parole document (travel permit) allowing them to safely re-enter the United States after temporary foreign travel. This will no longer be the case. Although by federal court order USCIS may consider applications for advance parole on a case-by-case basis if it so chooses, the agency has definitively decided against accepting any such requests.

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As Congress begins negotiations to enact legislation that would give young undocumented immigrants known as ” Dreamers” the opportunity to continue to live and work in the United States, three former secretaries from the Department of Homeland Security have come forward to pressure lawmakers to come up with a legislative solution by the March 5th deadline proposed by President Donald Trump. As previously reported, the President has given Congress until March 5th to act before the majority of work permits issued under the now defunct Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will begin to expire. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program during September of last year.

On January 3rd, Michael Chertoff, the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, Janet Napolitano, and Jeh Johnson, former secretaries under President Barack Obama, fired off a powerful 2-page letter warning members of Congress that time is quickly running out for Congress to enact a legislative solution to the DACA problem in a responsible and realistic manner. The letter emphasizes that Congress must act swiftly, much before the March 5th deadline, to give the Department of Homeland Security enough time to “meet the significant administrative requirements” that would be necessary for implementation of any legislative solution proposed by Congress.

The letter also affirms that swift legislative solution would ensure certainty for American companies and small business owners employing young recipients of DACA. In order to meet the objectives for implementation, the former secretaries urge that “the realistic deadline for successfully establishing a Dreamers program in time to prevent large scale loss of work authorization and deportation protection is only weeks away,” placing that deadline in the middle of January.

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