Friday, November 14, 2014

Immigration Rights | Supporting Immigration Reform

We are relieved President Obama is preparing to take executive action to make reasonable changes to our immigration system, even if the fix is temporary and may not go far enough. 

We support efforts to expand rights for young foreign nationals who entered the U.S. as children, more protections for parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and smarter security measures. The abysmal public approval rate of Congress shows that Americans are frustrated with Congress's inability to resolve urgent issues facing the country. 

Go for it, President Obama! Challenge and work with Congress to pass a better bill, but don't accept inaction.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Immigration Rights | DACA: Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals

Some of my favorite cases I do are for Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which awards a low level of immigration benefits for young people who have entered into the United States as children. Click here to learn more about DACA

If you have applied for DACA or wish to do so, it is a good idea to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer to understand your rights.

DACA approval enables a young person otherwise unlawfully present in the United States to gain work authorization, a social security card, narrow travel rights, and most importantly solidifies a favorable position of the subject to be on a path to U.S citizenship if comprehensive immigration reform were to pass. The subject must renew the status every two years, on the condition and strong likelihood that the U.S. government will continue extend the program. 

DACA comes from President Obama's executive order as a response to the Republican-controlled House's inability to pass the Democrat majority Senate's proposed immigration reform. When I attended a workshop for lawyers about DACA, every lawyer in the room raised their hands when asked if the lawyer would recommend the program to qualified candidates. As of the summer of 2014, only 55% of potential applicants have filed for this benefit. I encourage more candidates to apply for DACA because the chances of deportation are slim, it provides helpful immigration benefits, and it sends a message to the government to take DACA applicants seriously as potential future voters. 

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;  
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
  8. Also, anyone requesting DACA must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. You must also be at least 15 years or older to request DACA, unless you are currently in removal proceedings or have a final removal or voluntary departure order, as summarized in the table below:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Immigration Rights | Children Migration

Over the past year immigration enforcement has apprehended some 50,000 children, which President Obama has summarized as a humanitarian crisis. Many of these children are coming from Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The push and pull of increased gang violence and widespread poverty combined with a dream of a safer life with a better economy attracts youths to the U.S.

What are the children's legal rights once they enter the United States? There is no easy way for many of the children to remain in the United States if immigration police catch them. Many of the apprehended will apply for asylum. A large percentage of applicants will not have the proof, intellectual capacity, or resources to afford an immigration lawyer be able to articulate a winning case to an adjudicator, so they are deported. Other children may remain in the U.S. and live in the shadows without rights to travel outside the U.S., serve in the armed forces, vote, or receive various government benefits. 

Some children are held at detention facilities while others are released to live with relatives or guardians already living in the United States. Some of these children work rather than go to school, even though they have rights to attend classes but not permanently work. Asylum applicants wait for months and sometimes years before they are able to articulate their case before an immigration judge. 

Some parents smuggle their children into the U.S. at an early age. Parents who abandon, abuse, or neglect their children may lose legal custody over their children to the local government. Then these children may be able to apply for a green card if they remain unmarried and under 21. Other children, however, will not be eligible for a green card even if they are living with good-natured guardians in the U.S. In other words, children who enter illegally with abusive relatives have more legal options than children entering illegally who live with supportive guardians.