Friday, November 21, 2014

Obama's Executive Action on Immigration

Important notice: These initiatives have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available. You could become a victim of an immigration scam.

Please call our office at 716-854-1541 to schedule a conference to speak to a lawyer if you have any questions.

On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

These initiatives include:
  • Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to young people who came to this country before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years
  • Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the country since January 1, 2010, to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, provided they pass required background checks
  • Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
  • Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs
  • Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents and providing an option for naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee
  • Important notice: These initiatives have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available. You could become a victim of an immigration scam. Subscribe to this page to get updates when new information is posted.
Next steps
USCIS and other agencies and offices are responsible for implementing these initiatives as soon as possible. Some initiatives will be implemented over the next several months and some will take longer.

Over the coming months, USCIS will produce detailed explanations, instructions, regulations and forms as necessary. The brief summaries provided below offer basic information about each initiative.

While USCIS is not accepting requests or applications at this time, if you believe you may be eligible for one of the initiatives listed above, you can prepare by gathering documents that establish your:
  • Identity;
  • Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
  • Continuous residence in the United States over the last five years or more.
Below are summaries of major planned initiatives by USCIS, including:
  • Who is eligible
  • What the initiative will do
  • When you can begin to make a request
  • How to make a request
1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program


Current DACA recipients seeking renewal and new applicants, including individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, who meet all other DACA guidelines.

Allows individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA (removing the upper age restriction) provided they meet all other guidelines.
Requires continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007.
Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.

Approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

Go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page for instructions which will be updated over the next several months. Subscribe to this page to receive updates by email.

2. Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents

An undocumented individual living in the United States who, on the date of the announcement, is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who meets the guidelines listed below.

Allows parents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they:
  • Have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010;
  • Are the parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014; and
  • Are not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States, pursuant to the November 20, 2014, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum.
Notes: USCIS will consider each request for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) on a case-by-case basis. Enforcement priorities include (but are not limited to) national security and public safety threats.

Approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.

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3. Provisional waivers of unlawful presence

Undocumented individuals who have resided unlawfully in the United States for at least 180 days and who are:
  • The sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and
  • The spouse and sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents.
Expands the provisional waiver program announced in 2013 by allowing the spouses, sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents and sons and daughters of U.S. citizens to get a waiver if a visa is available. There may be instances when the qualifying relative is not the petitioner.

Clarifies the meaning of the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain a waiver.

Notes: Currently, only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens are allowed to apply to obtain a provisional waiver if a visa is available. For more information about the waivers program, go to the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers page which will be updated over the next several months.

Upon issuing of new guidelines and regulations.

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4. Modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs

U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.

USCIS will:
  • Work with the Department of State to develop a method to allocate immigrant visas to ensure that all immigrant visas authorized by Congress are issued to eligible individuals when there is sufficient demand for such visas.
  • Work with the Department of State to modify the Visa Bulletin system to more simply and reliably make determinations of visa availability.
  • Provide clarity on adjustment portability to remove unnecessary restrictions on natural career progression and general job mobility to provide relief to workers facing lengthy adjustment delays.
  • Clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver may be granted to foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the U.S economy.
  • Authorize parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but who:
    Have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing; or Otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.
  • Finalize a rule to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are on the path to lawful permanent resident status.
  • Work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop regulations for notice and comment to expand and extend the use of optional practical training (OPT) for foreign students, consistent with existing law.
  • Provide clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” to bring greater clarity and integrity to the L-1B program, improve consistency in adjudications, and enhance companies’ confidence in the program.
Upon issuing necessary guidance and regulations.

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5. Promote the naturalization process

Lawful permanent residents eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship

  • Promote citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents.
  • Allow naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee.
  • Assess potential for partial fee waivers in the next biennial fee study.
Notes: Go to the U.S. Citizenship page to learn about the naturalization process and visit the Citizenship Resource Center to find naturalization test preparation resources. You can also visit the N-400, Application for Naturalization, page.

During 2015

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Key Questions and Answers
Q1: When will USCIS begin accepting applications related to these executive initiatives?
A1:  While USCIS is not accepting applications at this time, individuals who think they may be eligible for one or more of the new initiatives may prepare now by gathering documentation that establishes their:
  • Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
  • Continuous residence in the United States over the last five years or more.
  • USCIS expects to begin accepting applications for the: Expanded DACA program approximately 90 days after the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement; and Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability) approximately 180 days after the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.
Others programs will be implemented after new guidance and regulations are issued.

Q2: How many individuals does USCIS expect will apply?
A2: Preliminary estimates show that roughly 4.9 million individuals may be eligible for the initiatives announced by the President. However, there is no way to predict with certainty how many individuals will apply. USCIS will decide applications on a case-by-case basis and encourages as many people as possible to consider these new initiatives. During the first two years of DACA, approximately 60 percent of potentially eligible individuals came forward. However, given differences among the population eligible for these initiatives and DACA, actual participation rates may vary.

Q3: Will there be a cutoff date for individuals to apply?
A3: The initiatives do not include deadlines. Nevertheless, USCIS encourages all eligible individuals to carefully review each initiative and, once the initiative becomes available, make a decision as soon as possible about whether to apply.

Q4: How long will applicants have to wait for a decision on their application?
A4: The timeframe for completing this new pending workload depends on a variety of factors. USCIS will be working to process applications as expeditiously as possible while maintaining program integrity and customer service. Our aim is to complete all applications received by the end of next year before the end of 2016, consistent with our target processing time of completing review of applications within approximately one year of receipt. In addition, USCIS will provide each applicant with notification of receipt of their application within 60 days of receiving it.

Q5: Will USCIS need to expand its workforce and/or seek appropriated funds to implement these new initiatives?
A5: USCIS will need to adjust its staffing to sufficiently address this new workload. Any hiring will be funded through application fees rather than appropriated funds.

Q6: Will the processing of other applications and petitions (such as family-based petitions and green card applications) be delayed?
A6: USCIS is working hard to build capacity and increase staffing to begin accepting requests and applications for the initiatives. We will monitor resources and capacity very closely, and we will keep the public and all of our stakeholders informed as this process develops over the course of the coming months.

Q7: What security checks and anti-fraud efforts will USCIS conduct to identify individuals requesting deferred action who have criminal backgrounds or who otherwise pose a public safety threat or national security risk?
A7: USCIS is committed to maintaining the security and integrity of the immigration system. Individuals seeking deferred action relief under these new initiatives will undergo thorough background checks, including but not limited to 10-print fingerprint, primary name, and alias name checks against databases maintained by DHS and other federal government agencies. These checks are designed to identify individuals who may pose a national security or public safety threat, have a criminal background, have perpetrated fraud, or who may be otherwise ineligible to request deferred action. No individual will be granted relief without passing these background checks.

In addition, USCIS will conduct an individual review of each case. USCIS officers are trained to identify indicators of fraud, including fraudulent documents. As with other immigration requests, all applicants will be warned that knowingly misrepresenting or failing to disclose facts will subject them to criminal prosecution and possible removal from the United States.

Q8: What if someone’s case is denied or they fail to pass a background check?
A8: Individuals who knowingly make a misrepresentation, or knowingly fail to disclose facts, in an effort to obtain deferred action or work authorization through this process will not receive favorable consideration for deferred action. In addition, USCIS will apply its current policy governing the referral of individual cases to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the issuance of Notices to Appear before an immigration judge. If the background check or other information uncovered during the review of a request for deferred action indicates that an individual’s presence in the United States threatens public safety or national security, USCIS will deny the request and refer the matter for criminal investigation and possible removal by ICE, consistent with existing processes.

Q9: If I currently have DACA, will I need to do anything to receive the third year of deferred action and work authorization provided by the executive initiatives?
A9: The new three-year work authorization timeframe will be applied for applications currently pending and those received after the President’s announcement. Work authorizations already issued for a two-year period under the current guidelines will continue to be valid through the validity period indicated on the card. USCIS is exploring means to extend previously issued two-year work authorization renewals to the new three-year period.

Q10: Will the information I share in my request for consideration of deferred action be used for immigration enforcement purposes?
A10: Information provided in your request is protected from disclosure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless you meet the criteria for the issuance of a Notice to Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS’ Notice to Appear guidance. Individuals who are granted deferred action will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:
  • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request;
  • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims;
  • For national security purposes; or
  • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

Q11: What is USCIS doing to assist dependents of U.S. armed services personnel?
A11: USCIS is working with the Department of Defense to determine how to expand parole authorization to dependents of certain individuals enlisting or enlisted in the U.S. armed services. For information on the existing parole-in-place policy for military personnel, please read this policy memorandum.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/20/2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why Isn’t President Obama Protecting Refugee Children With A Stroke Of His Pen?

Originally published on Fox News Latino:
The humanitarian crisis on the southern border is the center of a political firestorm in Washington. At issue is the bipartisan 2000 anti-trafficking law, signed by President Bush and re-authorized in 2008, that requires the Obama Administration to institute immigration court proceedings against unaccompanied children from Central American countries rather than deporting them without a hearing like children from Mexico. 
Both the President and Republicans have expressed a keen interest in stripping those provisions to enable the Administration to expeditiously deport children without the full panoply of due process protections. For the obvious reasons, most Democrats and immigrant rights advocates oppose the proposed change.
Given the confines of the law, like many Republicans, President Obama has expressed a desire to “eliminate delays in deporting children” that his Administration unilaterally determines have no legal option to stay in the United States. Unfortunately for the children, President Obama has neglected to acknowledge that there is a distinct legal option available to each refugee child fleeing violence in Central America, and it is within the President’s sole discretionary authority to exercise it. 
The Immigration and Nationality Act specifically provides that under 8 U.S. Code § 1157, INA § 207(b) the President maintains the express power to grant refugee status to groups of individuals in the presence of “grave humanitarian concerns,” or if it is otherwise in the national interest. If tens of thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing violence doesn't constitute a grave humanitarian concern, I don’t know what on Earth does.
To add insult to injury, not only is the President declining to exercise his authority to protect refugee children, his Administration is fast-tracking deportation proceedings, and children are being removed without the benefit of legal representation. This reflects a distinct policy shift by the Administration calculated to discourage children from fleeing violence in their home countries and an unconscionable decision to deport them back to an almost certain death.
The American Civil Liberties Union and American Immigration Council have filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of refugee children challenging the Administration’s failure to afford children an opportunity to obtain counsel as the law requires. The lawsuit begs the court to provide more time for children to find a lawyer, or to be provided representation at government expense if the Administration elects to proceed against them on an expedited basis.
Ahilan Arulanantham, Deputy Legal Director at the ACLU of Southern California and a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, commented that the children named in the lawsuit are fleeing violence in their home countries and “are now under imminent threat of being deported, potentially to their death, because of the Administration’s misguided ‘rocket docket’ policy for child refugees.” He remarked that “To force them to defend themselves against a trained prosecutor without legal assistance violates due process and our most basic values as a nation.”
But it gets worse. 
A recent release of a Freedom of Information Act request reveals that despite a 2010 policy against it, the Obama administration is detaining hundreds of pregnant women in detention facilities across the United States. The ignored policy provides that “absent extraordinary circumstances or the requirements of mandatory detention” women who are pregnant, nursing, or demonstrate that they are primary caretakers of children or an infirm person, should not be detained.
If only it stopped at detaining pregnant women. There are credible reports of expecting mothers being underfed, and being fed maggot infested food, while being denied gynecological exams and adequate prenatal care during pregnancy, in addition to being housed in unsanitary conditions in extreme temperatures.
It simply shocks the conscience that the most vulnerable among us, children, and detained pregnant mothers, are being treated as a political inconvenience to be disposed of like yesterday’s polling numbers, which incidentally are not good for the President. An Associated Press - GFK Public Affairs poll just released reveals that disapproval of the President’s immigration policy has jumped 18 points to 57 percent. Given the President’s handling of the current crisis, it is easy to understand why.
Democrats have been understandably quick to shame Republicans for their lack of compassion for children fleeing violence. Considering recent events, maybe it is time they start pointing fingers at the leader of their own party.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

President Obama’s Immigration Wait And See Looks To Maximize Political Impact

President Obama’s latest Rose Garden immigration announcement has left reform advocates scratching their heads while exhaling a heavy sigh of disappointment. The President spent most of his speech blaming Republicans for not passing immigration reform. When he was done finger pointing, he revealed that he has ordered the transition of interior immigration enforcement resources to the southern border, and that he has requested recommendations by the end of summer on what unilateral steps he can take to stem the tide of his record deportations. In sum, he merely promised to think about what he may do to stop deportations at some unspecified date in the future. 
The question becomes, why does the President need the rest of the summer to determine what actions he may take that are constitutionally permissible? Over the past two years he has been provided numerous suggestions from a crowd of sources including immigration lawyers, think tanks, reform advocates, members of his own party, and from undocumented immigrants themselves. So why does he need more time before taking action, and more importantly what has he been doing the last month since postponing the deportation review other than wasting time?  
The answer to me is clear: President Obama is delaying the expansion of prosecutorial discretion initiatives to time their announcement as close to the midterm elections as possible to maximize their political impact. In the meantime, while we wait for the President’s next Rose Garden press conference, tens of thousands of immigrants that could potentially benefit will be deported. What adds to the frustration is that the President spent the better part of his presidency claiming he does not maintain the constitutional authority to stop the deportation carnage, which he clearly does, as evidenced by the previous steps he has taken to provide both temporary and permanent deportation relief to specific classes of individuals.
To compound matters, this all comes on the heels of the President’s request for two billion dollars of additional resources to enable his administration to quickly and expeditiously deport the wave of unaccompanied children from Central America that have flooded the border. 
The response to this request has been swift and harsh.
Recently installed American Immigration Lawyers Association President Leslie Holman called the president’s decision “unconscionable” explaining that “rapid deportations without any meaningful hearing for children who are rightly afraid of the violence and turmoil from which they fled is wrong, and contradicts the fundamental values of this nation.”
On social media, former Board of Immigration Appeals judge Lory Diana Rosenberg expressed shock and outrage stating that “the efforts being made to ignore our protection obligations and to eliminate the due process rights of children from Central America - to have a credible fear examination, to be considered for humanitarian parole, to be reunited with parents and family in the U.S. is abominable, cruel and inhumane.”
Unfortunately, the President’s desire to rapidly deport children without due process isn't the only thing his administration is doing that is cruel and inhumane. A complaint has recently been filed on behalf of 116 unaccompanied immigrant children ages five to seventeen alleging torture, abuse, and mistreatment by agents of the Obama administration while being held in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Examples cited include physical abuse and beatings, sexual assault, racist and sexist insults, death threats, denial of urgent medical care and medication, theft, prolonged sleep deprivation, extended exposure to excessively cold temperatures, and the employment of tight metal restraints to inflict pain into wrists and ankles, as well as the denial of adequate food and water. This is the Obama administration's Abu Ghraib, only the abuses are on U.S. soil, and the tortured are children.
Suffice it to say the president doesn't need Republicans to act on immigration reform to clean up the mess in his own house, and he certainly doesn't need the rest of the summer to ensure the abuses are eliminated, and the abusers prosecuted.
The bottom line is that this President has been dragging his feet to provide deportation relief under the pretext that he was allowing the Republicans to act, when it has become blatantly obvious that they never had any intention to pass immigration reform. Betting on them was as much political folly as it is political suicide because unless the President enacts bold measures that provide deportation relief to the majority of the undocumented population you can rest assured that the Hispanic electorate will not come out to support his party this fall. 
What Mr. Obama doesn't seem to comprehend is that Latinos have long figured out that immigration has always been about politics to this President, and they simply are tired of waiting while their communities are destroyed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Untenable Cost Of Doing Nothing On Immigration Reform

The following was originally published on Fox News Latino:

This past week House Democrats introduced a discharge petition, which if successful would force a vote on previously stalled immigration reform legislation. Most acknowledge that the strategy has been employed for the singular purpose of shaming House Republicans for their inaction on immigration reform, and has virtually no chance of success. In sum, Democrats are engaging in thinly veiled political gamesmanship motivated by the desire to score points in advance of the midterm elections. Most see through the charade.

Cristina Jiménez, Managing Director of, the nation’s first and largest national immigrant youth-led organization, has outspokenly scolded House Democrats for chasing rainbows while refusing to press President Obama to stop his record deportations. Ms. Jiménez observed that this is nothing more than a distraction, stating “political maneuvers like the House Democrats' discharge petition are just getting in the way.” 

Immigrant activist Erica Andiola of the DRM Action Coalition agrees, commenting that it is unconscionable to use the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants for political gain. Both agree that President Obama’s two million deportations have created a human rights crisis of epic proportions, demanding immediate action by the Executive Branch. They explain that the immigrant community can no longer wait for the Republicans in Congress to get their act together.

The Immigration Policy Center’s Walter A. Ewing brings credence to their argument, acknowledging the hypocrisy of the Obama Presidency in a report tracking the growth of the U.S. deportation machine. He points to the administration’s conscious expansion of detention and deportation as a major point of contention, reflecting that "rather than putting the brakes on this non-stop drive to deport more and more people, the administration chose to add fuel to the fire."

The Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project has also chimed in releasing a report that found that the deportation machine has been fed by a vast increase in federal criminal prosecutions for immigration related crimes, which has changed the landscape for Federal prosecutors. It did not go unnoticed that at 48 percent, Hispanics make up the bulk of those prosecutions. 

Meanwhile, Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) sifted through the numbers finding that in 2013 there were nearly 100,000 prosecutions for immigration related crimes, an all-time high. TRAC determined that new prosecutions were filed against 97,384 defendants, a 5.9 percent increase from 2012, and a 22.6 percent increase over the past 5 years, resulting in a 76 percent increase in federal criminal prosecutions for illegal reentry since President Obama took office. 

What this translates to is that the Obama administration has made a strategic decision to turn an unprecedented number of immigrants into convicted criminals when their only criminal infraction stems from an immigration law violation. In sum, they have been found guilty for doing everything in their power to try to get back to their family. This policy change has resulted in a padding of the criminal removal statistics that the administration touts in an effort to deflect scrutiny from their 2 million deportations. And at what cost?

Customs and Border Protections’ Fiscal Year 2013 budget was $11.9 billion. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s budget was increased to $5.9 billion. Another $2.9 billion was spent by Enforcement and Removal Operations in FY 2012. That’s not pocket change.

It is time to acknowledge that tax paying American citizens can no longer afford to continue writing checks to fund an out of control deportation machine that is disproportionately targeting people of color. Especially since passing immigration reform will actually save the country money. The Congressional Budget Office determined that immigration reform will result in almost a trillion dollar reduction of the nation’s deficit during the next two decades in addition to yielding long term benefits to American workers and the economy. Now we are speaking a language that even the most partisan Republican can understand.

Case in point, perennial budget hawk Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has recently acknowledged the inevitability of immigration reform stating reform is a question of when, not if. The problem he notes is that there aren’t enough Republican votes to reach a consensus on the issue. The clock is ticking, Congressman.

In fact, the time has long passed for hyper-partisans on both sides of the aisle to put down their midterm elections swords. Americans are tired of excuses and gamesmanship. Doing nothing to address our immigration crisis to score political points is simply an untenable strategy that is emptying our nation’s coffers while destroying families. It is a strategy that must be abandoned in favor of the adoption of common sense solutions. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Activists: We Want An Emancipator, Not A 'Deporter In Chief'

Via NPR:

"Activists who support an overhaul of the immigration system are angry and frustrated. The immigration bill that passed in the Senate in June is stalled out. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is on pace to deport some 2 million illegal immigrants since taking office six years ago."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Advocate at White House Immigration Meeting: Obama didn't listen to us

On Friday, President Obama met with 17 immigration reform advocates at the White House to discuss the fact that he has recently been the object of public derision and shame over his indefensible deportation record. The meeting was described as "sometimes tense but mostly cordial," with the President talking down to the participants. From one unnamed attendee: "It had the feel of him schooling us, but it didn't have the feel of him listening to us."

The attendee further explained that the meeting was more about Obama challenging advocates by demanding a shift of political strategy back to blaming the Republicans than about what steps the President can actually take to do something to stop his deportation machine from needlessly destroying millions of families. 

Anyone surprised?

Here is the full list of the attendees:

Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security
John Podesta, Counselor to the President
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
Cecilia Munoz, Director of Domestic Policy Council
Katie Beirne Fallon, Director of Legislative Affairs
Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change
Angie Kelley, Center for American Progress
Marielena Hincapie, National Immigration Law Center
Eliseo Medina, Fast for Families
Frank Sharry, America’s Voice
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO
Ali Noorani, National Immigration Forum
Arturo Rodriguez, United Farm Workers
Mee Moua, Asian American Justice Center
Gustavo Torres, Casa de Maryland
Gabriel Salguero, NALEC
Angelica Salas, CHIRLA
Mary Kay Henry, SEIU
Karen Narasaki, CAMBIO
Lorella Praeli, United We Dream
Janet Murguía, National Council of La Raza
Eddie Carmona, PICO

Click here for the original source of this article.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bowing to Pressure from Advocates Obama Calls for Review on Deportations

President Obama for months has repeatedly stated that he is powerless to curb his record deportations by further expanding prosecutorial discretion initiatives such as deferred action or parole in place.  It appears he found his powers again after meeting with three leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the fact that he is getting slammed in the press and on social media over his deportation record.

The strategy of pressuring the White House has clearly weakened the President's resolve, as he has flip-flopped again stating his willingness to review deportation policies to ensure that people are deported as humanly as possible, because when you are destroying a family with deportation you want to make sure that it is done humanely.  Apparently, Obama is only powerless when the focus is solely on the GOP's failure to move reform legislation through the House.

Keep the pressure up, as it is Kryptonite to this President.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jeh Johnson already Mischaracterizing the Nature of Obama's Deportations

It has been reported that newly coined Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had the following to say about the administration's deportation priorities:

We are enforcing the law. We are enforcing the law vigorously and effectively, which results in the removal of over 300,000 people a year over the last several years. We are using the resources Congress gave us to remove those we believe are threats to national security, public safety and border security. And they result in the numbers that you see.

I guess he didn't read the latest press release from the Immigration Policy Center that shows that most immigrants deported by ICE in 2013 were a threat to no one

From the press release:

Despite claims by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that it prioritizes the apprehension of terrorists, violent criminals, and gang members, the agency’s own deportation statistics do not bear this out. Rather, most of the individuals being swept up by ICE and dropped into the U.S. deportation machine committed relatively minor, non-violent crimes or have no criminal histories at all.


Secretary Johnson also claims that recent deportation numbers mostly consist of individuals apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the border, attempting to enter illegally.

Or maybe not.

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has concluded that immigrants apprehended by CBP that have been living and working within the interior of the country for years are lumped into the "border crossers" statistic. The IPC explains that the distinction between “border removals” and “interior removals” is not "clear-cut" because border removal statistics include all removals of individuals taken into custody by CBP. CBP statistics include arrests of individuals generated by roving patrols “near” the border. CBP also generates arrest from checkpoints set up in the interior of the country. Moreover, the definition of “recent border crossers” includes individuals that entered the United States within the last three years. 

The more things "Change" the more they stay the same.

Click here if you want to see the actual facts about the nature of the Obama administration's recent deportations.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Debunking the "Permanent Subclass" Argument

The New York Times reported yesterday that a potential House GOP immigration reform solution may result in 6.5 million undocumented people obtaining lawful status. The article references a study issued by the National Foundation for American Policy, which is based on information articulated by Representative Robert W. Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The GOP's solution looks surprisingly familiar to something readers of this blog have already seen.

From public information, the GOP appears willing to offer a compromise that brings people out of the shadows, and once out provide them employment and travel authorization. The solution stops short of creating a special path to a Green Card and citizenship. This doesn't mean the GOP intends to prohibit people from ever applying for a Green Card and ultimately citizenship. It simply means that those receiving status will have to apply just like everyone else. Only under the GOP plan the undocumented can apply from inside the United States without the threat of deportation hanging over their head. 

For example, if you are married to a United States citizen or have a child that is over 21 the moment you receive the new hypothetical documented status you will become eligible for a Green Card. You could also be sponsored by an employer if they want to hire you for a job where there is a shortage of willing United States citizens so long as a visa number is available. These are just a couple examples of many, and according to the estimate there will be many. Mind you, not everyone will qualify for the new documented status. You can rest assured that individuals with serious criminal convictions will be excluded for example, but these people weren't going to qualify under the Senate version of reform either so take that out of the equation. 

Detractors are already issuing talking points calling this a "half loaf" solution that will create a permanent underclass. This is a non sequitur being advanced to cast blame on the GOP merely because their solution does not create a new special path to citizenship to the undocumented. Do not be fooled by it. If the GOP compromise becomes law everyone eligible for legalization would also be eligible to apply for a Green Card if they have a sponsor available. And remember, Green Card holders can't vote, and there is nothing in the law that requires a Green Card holder to ever apply for citizenship at some point after they receive their status so that they can vote. In fact, many chose not to. Is there anyone out there that thinks that a Green Card holder who declines the opportunity to apply for citizenship is part of a permanent subclass of society? I think not.

As for the issue of citizenship itself, this is all about a fight for new voters, which is also a non-issue. I say this because as of January 2012 there were 13.3 million Green Card holders in the United States, 5.4 million of which from MexicoTwo-thirds of all Green Card holders from Mexico never apply for citizenship. Why is this important? Because it is believed that more than half of the 11.1 million undocumented people in the U.S. are from Mexico, who apply for citizenship at rates significantly lower than nationals from other countries. The point being, if you just give a Green Card to every single undocumented person in this country statistically only a relatively small percentage will ever apply for citizenship, and vote in an election. 

So here is the bottom line: a legalization program that stops deportation, provides employment authorization and the ability to travel, while not preventing an individual from applying for a Green Card and ultimately citizenship is a deal worth taking. Those most impacted by this debate, the ones getting deported in record numbers, are asking for an opportunity to lead normal lives and to be able to apply for a Green Card just like everyone else.

Maybe it is time that we listen to them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rep. Gutierrez: Obama Has 'Responsibility' to Reduce Deportations

In an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D - Ill.) has stated that President Obama has a “responsibility” to reduce the number of deportations.

He stated that “Democrats think all they need to do is to simply blame Republicans. You know what? We control the White House and we control the deportation apparatus, we have a responsibility to act.” Congressman Gutierrez also stated that the President can do more to put an end to the destruction of thousand of families in this country.

Thank you Congressman Gutierrez for your continued fight on behalf of United States citizens that are in danger of losing their relatives to a draconian and outdated immigration law.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

An Immigration Reform Solution that Makes Sense

It has just been reported that House Speaker John Boehner is drafting GOP principles on immigration reform legislation, and that he will soon release them in an effort to push his members to vote for it. Nearly everyone sees this as a positive sign that reform may actually happen in 2014.

So the question becomes, what will immigration reform look like in the hands of the GOP? The major sticking point has been whether reform should include a separate and distinct pathway to citizenship for individuals that are undocumented. The people most effected by this issue see through the politics. Some now acknowledge that the GOP isn't solely to blame realizing many Democrats are using a "pathway to citizenship" as a wedge issue to win elections. In sum, politicians playing politics rather than solving problems.

A recent poll reveals that Hispanics and Asian Americans see deportation relief as more important than a pathway to citizenship. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., agrees stating that: "...citizenship is important, but I don't think it is a big deal breaker either," "Right now we have to stop the deportations that are breaking up families. And if we do not get citizenship this year, we will be back next year and the year after that." Given these revelations, it is clear that there is room for compromise. 

Moreover, from what I have seen a reboot on immigration reform isn't necessarily a bad thing as the pathway to citizenship in the Senate Bill is illusory at best. It has been estimated that under the Senate Bill many/most of the undocumented population will never achieve "Green Card" status let alone full citizenship. Most importantly, a large percentage would face deportation again should they fail to meet the strict requirements of registered provisional immigrant status.

As I have previously written, there is a much more practical way to achieve both an end to deportations for the deserving, as well as provide a pathway to citizenship for immediate relatives of United States citizens and other immigrants that have visas available to them through family members and offers of employment. A way that won't require undocumented immigrants to endure the Bataan Death March of immigration reform as set forth in S.744.

The solution would immediately provide legal status to the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. A solution that creates a temporary renewable status that brings people out of the shadows, protects them from deportation, and also provides employment and travel authorization so that people can lead normal lives. The new status could be renewed indefinitely in the absence of disqualifying criminal grounds of removal, and would require a one-time payment of a penalty fee, and a substantially lower filing fee for renewals, which would be required every ten years. 

Although there would be no independent pathway to citizenship baked in, you would not be precluded from obtaining a Green Card and ultimately citizenship through the normal channels. This solution would allow undocumented immediate relatives of United States citizens to immediately apply for a Green Card the moment they receive their status. Spouses of United States citizens would be eligible to apply for citizenship three years after they get their Green Card. 

It is a real path to citizenship. 

For this solution to work properly we need more immigrant visa numbers as well as a robust skilled and guest worker program to afford future immigrants an opportunity to come to this country legally. I have already articulated this solution to several GOP members of Congress.

Let's just hope they were listening.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When a "Publicity Stunt" Becomes "Astounding"

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance's infiltration of the El Paso detention center has resulted in both the discovery, and the Obama administration's confession that ICE locked up 13 pregnant women in immigration detention in Texas between August and November of 2013.  

Because of a lack of transparency there is no way of knowing how many pregnant women are currently being held in ICE custody nationwide despite the administration's policy against it.

There is another interesting and ironic twist to this story.  Remember David Leopold?  He is the guy that spent the better part of last summer calling the DREAM 9 protest a misguided publicity stunt.  This is the movement that is ultimately responsible for uncovering the very abuses now being reported.  Well, he has been quoted in another article about this most recent incident calling it "astounding" that so many pregnant women have been detained.

What is actually "astounding" is that Leopold is quoted in the article at all given his previous statements of record.  Recall last summer when Leopold notoriously, and incorrectly, questioned whether DREAMers were held in solitary confinement. Go to the 12:18 mark:

Apparently, when an immigration reform protest results in uncovering the detention of 13 pregnant women during a four month period in 2013 it loses its "publicity stunt" status.  

And I'm not the only one that sees the irony in it:

Others haven't been as amused by Leopold's antics:

I guess some people will say anything to secure their invitation to the White House Holiday Reception.