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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Vega-Anguiano v. Bar

A federal appellate court has jurisdiction to review a reinstatement order, and some collateral attack is permitted on an underlying removal order during review of a reinstatement order if the petitioner can show that he suffered a gross miscarriage of justice in the initial deportation proceeding; a gross miscarriage of justice occurs when a deportation or removal order had no legal basis at the time of its issuance or at the time of its execution; the gross miscarriage of justice standard does not include a diligence component that bars a collateral challenge to a prior order when a reinstatement order is timely challenged on the ground that the prior order, on which the new order is based, is invalid. An order of removal in 8 U.S.C. §1252(b)(1) covers both removal and reinstatement orders such that, in cases where the petitioner seeks review of a reinstatement order, §1252(b)(1) requires only that the reinstatement order be challenged within 30 days of becoming final.

Vega-Anguiano v. Barr - filed Nov. 19, 2019
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 15-72999

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

USCIS Issues Further Guidance on Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification

On Oct. 11, USCIS issued three adopted Administrative Appeals Office decisions to clarify requirements for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. USCIS is now updating the USCIS Policy Manual to reflect those clarifications.

This update reaffirms and clarifies that:

The petitioner must have been a juvenile under relevant state law when the juvenile court order was issued;
USCIS requires evidence of a court’s intervention to provide relief from abuse, neglect, or abandonment beyond a statement that the juvenile is dependent on the court; and
USCIS will no longer require evidence that a state court had the authority to place a petitioner in the custody of an unfit parent in order to make a qualifying determination regarding parental reunification for purposes of SIJ classification.

Public Event Announcement USCIS District 43 Stakeholders Forum Quarterly Engagement Meeting December 10, 2019

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is announcing the District 43 Stakeholders Forum. This meeting will address USCIS topics for the following District 43 offices:

Los Angeles County Field Office (LAC)

Los Angeles Field Office (LOS)

San Fernando Valley Field Office (SFV)

The purpose of this meeting is to promote open and transparent communication between District 43 and external stakeholders, as well as to disseminate public messaging to the broadest extent possible.

USCIS is pleased to extend an invitation for you to join us for our quarterly District 43 Stakeholders Forum.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

9:30 AM to 11:00 AM *

300 North Los Angeles St, Rm. 1001

(* Please allow sufficient time to process through the security screening, as this will be a busy day.)

Agenda Topics/Discussion Issues:

As the agenda will be based on your interests, your questions/topics must be submitted by email to ceflosangeles@uscis.dhs.gov by 5:00 PM on December 3rd, 2019.  Please note, the purpose of this meeting is to discuss USCIS topics related to the Los Angeles District. Topics that are national in scope or involve other DHS or government entities should be directed to USCIS HQ or the specific agency.

To Register:

Please send your RSVP to ceflosangeles@uscis.dhs.gov by 5:00 PM December 3rd, 2019.  Include the following information:

1.     The first and last name of the attendee(s)
2.     Position/title of the attendee(s)
3.     Organization/agency name

Please note that due to limited space, it would be appreciated if each entity could limit the attendees to two representatives, if possible. We kindly suggest early registration as seating will be limited. Once capacity is reached, additional RSVPs will not be accepted. Therefore, you are encouraged to register early.

We look forward to your participation!


Monday, November 18, 2019

THIRD SAFE NEGOTIATIONS

As part of the Trump administration’s new migration accords with Central American countries, it was reported that asylum seekers rejected by the U.S. could be sent to a remote airport in a jungle in Guatemala. However, on Saturday the administration said it had no plans to do this, Sofia Menchu and Ted Hesson report in Reuters. “Incoming [Guatemalan] president [Alejandro] Giammattei criticized the lack of transparency around how the deal is being finalized and told reporters at a press conference on Saturday that his government would evaluate any agreement that was struck by his predecessor.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

50 YEARS LATER

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer has lived in the U.S. for nearly 50 years and has served in five separate U.S. Navy deployments — but he now faces deportation, Kat Tenbarge reports at Insider. While Raul Rodriguez was helping his brother immigrate to the U.S., Raul discovered something he didn’t know: He was born in Mexico. “Rodriguez said had never seen the birth certificate before, but once the OIG began a criminal investigation into whether his brother's immigration application had been falsified on Rodriguez's part, his father admitted that he actually had been born in Mexico.” Now, facing deportation, Rodriguez has lost his job — and “is on the watch for Border Patrol agents — the same people he used to work with.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

25 YEARS LATER

For the 25th anniversary of Proposition 187 — the ballot measure targeting undocumented immigrants in California which sought to deny public services to those without legal status, and is often credited with the GOP’s decline in California — Gustavo Arellano reflects on his recent interview with former California Governor Pete Wilson in the Los Angeles Times. “After our initial exchange, Wilson walked the same well-worn road he’s carved out over the last quarter-century when reporters have asked him about Proposition 187. His campaign against illegal immigration wasn’t racist. Allegations that he was a bigot were ‘evil’ and a ‘lie.’”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

USCIS Releases Report on Arrest Histories of Illegal Aliens who Request DACA

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated data on arrests and apprehensions of illegal aliens who requested Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  

The release of this report reflects the agency’s ongoing focus on transparency. The report provides updated information on known arrests and apprehensions of DACA requestors. The data may include arrests that did not result in convictions or where the charges were dropped or otherwise dismissed. 

Among the findings of the release are the following:  

-Nearly 110,000 DACA requestors out of nearly 889,000 (12%) had arrest records. Offenses in these arrest records include assault, battery, rape, murder and driving under the influence. 
-Of approved DACA requestors with an arrest, 85% (67,861) of them were arrested or apprehended before their most recent DACA approval.
-Of approved DACA requestors with an arrest, more than 31% (24,898) of them had more than one arrest.  
-Of all DACA requestors, 218 had more than 10 arrests. Of those, 54 had a DACA case status of “approved” as of October 2019. 

“As DACA continues to be the subject of both public discourse and ongoing litigation, USCIS remains committed to ensuring transparency and that the American people are informed about those receiving DACA,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “This agency is obligated to continue accepting DACA requests from illegal aliens as a direct result of the previous administration’s decision to circumvent the laws as passed by Congress. We hope this data provides a better sense of the reality of those granted the privilege of a temporary deferral of removal action and work authorization under DACA.”   

Under current DACA guidelines, illegal aliens may be considered for DACA if they have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more “non-significant” misdemeanors not arising out of the same act, omission or scheme of misconduct, and they do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. The number of arrests illegal aliens have do not necessarily disqualify them from receiving DACA as a matter of discretion.   

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Friday, November 15, 2019

Modernizing Recruitment Requirements for the Temporary Employment of H-2B Foreign Workers in the United States

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) (collectively, the Departments), are jointly issuing this final rule to amend the regulations governing DOL's certification of nonagricultural labor or services to be performed by temporary foreign workers in H-2B nonimmigrant status (H-2B workers). Pursuant to Section 214(c)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), this certification serves as DHS's consultation with DOL regarding whether a qualified United States (U.S.) worker is available to fill the petitioning H-2B employer's job opportunity, and whether a foreign worker's employment in the job opportunity will adversely affect the wages or working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. This final rule modernizes and improves the labor market test that DOL uses to assess whether qualified U.S. workers are available by: Rescinding the requirement that an employer advertise its job opportunity in a print newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment, and expanding and enhancing DOL's electronic job registry to disseminate available job opportunities to the widest audience possible.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

USCIS announced a proposed rule to deny some asylum seekers work authorization

On Wednesday, USCIS announced a proposed rule that would deny work authorization to asylum seekers who entered the U.S. outside of a port of entry. The proposed rule also seeks to automatically end work authorization for asylum seekers whose application is denied and administratively final. Additionally, all asylum seekers who did not file asylum applications within 1 year of their last entry into the U.S. are ineligible for work authorization. The rule also clarifies that if an asylum seeker fails to appear for their appointment, their asylum application or work authorization can be denied. Last, any asylum seeker who was convicted of a felony or certain public safety offenses is ineligible for work authorization. The rule also gives discretion to officers to deny employment authorization for “unresolved arrests or pending charges.” The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register and is open for comment until January 13, 2020.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Reuters: U.S. Judge Rules Suspicionless Searches of Travelers' Digital Devices Unconstitutional

Reuters reports that yesterday, a federal judge ruled that U.S. border agents need "reasonable suspicion" but not a warrant to search travelers' smartphones and laptops at airports and other U.S. ports of entry. The ruling sets a higher standard than the one CBP and ICE agents must apply to conduct routine searches of electronic devices under current policies. The number of electronic device searches at the border has ballooned during the Trump administration, rising from about 8,500 in FY2015 to more than 30,000 in FY2018.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Call for Examples: Asylum Offices' Failure to Contact Counsel with G‑28s on File for Credible and/or Reasonable Fear Interviews

Various practitioners have reported that asylum offices across the country are failing to contact counsel with G‑28s on file for credible or reasonable fear interviews for detained clients where counsel cannot attend in person. If you have attempted to represent a client in a credible or reasonable fear interview and the asylum office has interviewed your client without attempting to contact you so that you can be present by phone for representation, please submit your case example to AILA.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Cuenca v. Barr

The language of 8 U.S.C. §1231(a)(5) unambiguously and permanently bars reopening a reinstated prior removal order; §1231(a)(5) also provides that an alien forfeits the right to file a motion to reopen by reentering the country illegally.

Cuenca v. Barr - filed Nov. 13, 2019
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 16-72378

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Monday, November 11, 2019

NEW FEES

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Friday that it will impose significant new fees on immigrants seeking to stay and work in the United States — including asylum seekers, Camilo Montoya-Galvez reports for CBS News. “The proposal would impose a $50 application fee for affirmative asylum applications and a $490 work permit fee for all asylum seekers. Fees for citizenship petitions would also increase from $750 to $1,170, and the amount could be higher for some immigrants.” The U.S. will join just three other countries — Iran, Fiji and Australia — that charge fees to asylum seekers.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

CATHOLIC LEADERSHIP

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, an immigrant from Mexico, is poised to make history as the first Hispanic president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reports David Crary at the Associated Press. “In terms of doctrine, Gomez is considered a practical-minded conservative, but he is an outspoken advocate of a welcoming immigration policy that would include a path to citizenship for many immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

FORGOTTEN FILIPINO VETERANS

Stef Kight at Axios outlines the administration’s treatment of foreign-born service members and veterans, pointing out that 17.3% of immigrant veterans were born in the Philippines — second only to Mexico at 17.5%. Meanwhile, Tony Taguba, a retired U.S. Army major general and chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, calls on the White House to halt its plans to eliminate the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program in an op-ed for The Hill. “The policy enabled elderly Filipino World War II veterans to have their family members join them in the United States to provide care and support, and it has had a profound impact on the veterans and their families who are now together and able to care for one another and provide support on a daily basis.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Friday, November 08, 2019

USCIS Proposes to Adjust Fees to Meet Operational Needs

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register to adjust the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Immigration Examinations Fee Account fee schedule.

Fees collected and deposited into the IEFA fund nearly 96% of USCIS’ budget. Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee-funded. Federal law requires USCIS to conduct biennial fee reviews and recommend necessary fee adjustments to ensure recovery of the full cost of administering the nation’s immigration laws, adjudicating applications and petitions, and providing the necessary infrastructure to support those activities.

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimizes subsidies from an already over-extended system,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS. “Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request.”    

The rule proposes adjusting USCIS IEFA fee schedules by a weighted average increase of 21% to ensure full cost recovery. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by approximately $1.3 billion per year.

The proposed fee rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners, and beneficiaries.

USCIS last updated its fee structure in FY 2017, by a weighted average increase of 21%.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

STEPS TOWARDS HEALTH

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the government “must provide mental health services to thousands of migrant parents and children who experienced psychological harm as a result of the Trump administration’s practice of separating families,” Miriam Jordan reports for The New York Times. The decision is a rare instance of the administration being held legally accountable for its policies – “in this case, border security measures that locked thousands of migrant parents in detention while their children were placed in government shelters or foster homes.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

REMAIN REMAINS PROBLEMATIC

There are roughly 55,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. who are waiting in Mexico as a result of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy – and they continue to face violence, Elliot Spagat writes for the Associated Press. One Salvadoran woman seeking asylum was beaten by two men “after she spent four months in captivity in Mexico, kidnapped into prostitution during her journey toward the U.S.” While the Trump administration insists the program is safe, critics argue that “the administration’s policy denies asylum seekers like the Salvadoran woman fair and humane treatment, forcing them to wait in a country plagued by drug-fueled violence — illustrated this week by the slaughter near the U.S. border of six children and three women.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

DACA AND HEALTHCARE

With the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on DACA next week, Dr. David J. Skorton writes in an op-ed for The Washington Post that as “a physician, I’m deeply concerned about the impact this decision will have on the health of the nation.” DACA recipients, Skorton argues, play a key role in America’s healthcare system – and excluding these people from the workforce makes it harder for other Americans to access quality health care. “Today there are approximately 27,000 doctors, nurses, dentists, physician assistants and other health-care workers whose DACA status allows them to work and contribute to patient care. The program also is enabling nearly 200 current medical students and medical residents to pursue careers in medicine.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Last Chance to Comment on USCIS Proposed Rule Removing the 30-Day Processing Provision for Asylum EADs

Tomorrow, November 8, is the last day to submit comments on USCIS's proposed rule removing the 30-day processing provision for initial employment authorization applications for those with pending asylum applications. Read more about the mounting opposition to the rule in this Immigration Impact blog post, and use the template and sample arguments offered by members of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law to submit your comment today.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

USCIS Implements $10 Fee for H-1B Visa Registration

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a final rule that will require a $10 non-refundable fee for each H-1B registration submitted by petitioning employers, once it implements the electronic registration system. The registration fee is part of an agency-wide effort to modernize and more efficiently process applications to live or work in the United States.

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.

Upon implementation of the electronic registration system, petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, will first have to electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period, unless the requirement is suspended.

“This effort will help implement a more efficient and effective H-1B cap selection process,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “The electronic registration system is part of an agency-wide initiative to modernize our immigration system while deterring fraud, improving vetting procedures and strengthening program integrity.”

The final rule, Registration Fee Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap-Subject Aliens, is effective Dec. 9, 2019, and the fee will be required when registrations are submitted. USCIS is fee-funded, and this non-refundable fee will support the new electronic registration system to make the H-1B cap selection process more efficient for both petitioners and the agency.

USCIS is slated to implement the registration process for the fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap selection process, pending completed testing of the system. The agency will announce the implementation timeframe and initial registration period in the Federal Register once a formal decision has been made, and USCIS will offer ample notice to the public in advance of implementing the registration requirement.

USCIS published a notice of proposed rulemaking highlighting a registration fee on Sept. 4, 2019, which included a 30-day public comment period. USCIS received only 22 comments during that time, and has considered all submissions and offered public responses ahead of announcing the final rule, which is effective on Dec. 9.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Policy Update Notice on EB-5 Modernization Final Rule

USCIS is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization Final Rule, published on July 24, 2019, and effective Nov. 21, 2019.

We are updating the USCIS Policy Manual to conform with the final rule’s provisions, which include:

Priority date retention for certain EB-5 immigrants;
An increase in minimum investment amounts;
Reforms to targeted employment area designations; and
Clarification of USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Family Says Suspect in Acid Attack Is Veteran, Suffered PTSD

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police arrested a man suspected of throwing battery acid on a Hispanic man who says his attacker asked him, "Why did you come here and invade my country?"

Police said Monday they arrested a 61-year-old white man suspected in Friday night's attack and were investigating the case as a hate crime. They refused to release his name pending charges, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel identified him as Clifton A. Blackwell, a military veteran whose mother said had struggled with post-traumatic stress.

Mahud Villalaz suffered second-degree burns to his face. He said the attack happened after a man confronted him about how he had parked his car and accused him of being in the U.S. illegally. Villalaz, 42, is a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Peru.

The attack comes amid a spike in hate crimes directed at immigrants that researchers and experts on extremism say is tied to mainstream political rhetoric.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett expressed shock at the attack and blamed President Donald Trump for inciting hatred against minorities. The president has repeatedly referred to migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border as an "invasion."

"To single out someone because they're from a Hispanic origin is simply wrong. And we know what's happening," Barrett, a Democrat, said. "Everybody knows what's happening. It's because the president is talking about it on a daily basis that people feel they have license to go after Hispanic people. And it's wrong."

White House spokesman Judd Deere said the Trump administration has "repeatedly condemned racism, bigotry and violence."

"The only person responsible for this heinous act is the person who committed it, and it's disgusting the mayor of Milwaukee would rather point the finger at the president of the United States for political reasons instead (of) responsibly confronting the violence in his own community," Deere said in a statement.

Jacqueline P. Blackwell, of California, told the Journal Sentinel that her son had moved to Milwaukee seeking to get help. She said she had not been in touch with him recently and had not heard of his arrest.

"I was comfortable that he was getting good care with the VA," she told the paper.

Blackwell's brother, 63-year-old Arthur Blackwell of Evergreen, Colorado, told The Associated Press on Monday that Blackwell "was not a confrontational person." He says his brother served nearly four years in the U.S. Marines.

State court records show Blackwell was convicted in a 2006 Rusk County case of false imprisonment and pointing a gun at a person. Details aren't available online, but the Journal Sentinel reported the case involved Blackwell confronting men who had come onto his farm property tracking a deer.

Surveillance video shows the confrontation but does not include audio.

Villalaz told reporters on Saturday that he was headed into a Mexican restaurant for dinner when a man approached him and told him, "You cannot park here. You are doing something illegal." He said the man also accused him of being in the U.S. illegally and of invading the country.

He said he ignored the man and moved his truck to another block. But when he returned to the restaurant, the man was waiting for him with an open bottle, Villalaz said.

The man again accused him of being in the U.S. illegally, Villalaz said. He then told the man that he was a citizen and that "everybody came from somewhere else here," Villalaz said.

That's when he says the man tossed acid at him. Villalaz turned his head, and the liquid hit the left side of his face.

Villalaz's sister told The Associated Press on Monday that her brother believes the man was prepared and wanted to attack someone.

"He's in shock. He says he can't conceive how someone would be intent on harming someone like that," Villalaz said in Spanish.

She said her brother is recovering. She said the doctor who treated him said it helped that he immediately washed his face several times inside a restaurant. His family created a GoFundMe page to cover his medical expenses.

A report last year by the Anti-Defamation League said extreme anti-immigrant views have become part of the political mainstream in recent years through sharp rhetoric by anti-immigration groups and politicians, including Trump.

Data collected by the FBI showed a 17% increase in hate crimes across the U.S. in 2017, the third annual increase in a row. Anti-Hispanic incidents increased 24%, from 344 in 2016 to 427 in 2017, according to the FBI data. Of crimes motivated by hatred over race, ethnicity or ancestry, nearly half involved African Americans, while about 11% were classified as anti-Hispanic bias.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, released a study in July that found a 9% increase in hate crimes reported to police in major U.S. cities in 2018. Levin found a modest decrease in bias crimes against Hispanic or Latino people — from 103 in 2017 to 100 in 2018 — in 10 major cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. However, Levin has said the totals likely would have increased last year if not for an unexplained drop in anti-Hispanic bias crimes reported for Phoenix, from 25 in 2017 to 10 in 2018.

Associated Press writers Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee, Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis and Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland, contributed to this report.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Inside the Trump Administration's Fight to End Nationwide Injunctions

BY TESSA BERENSON 

Over the weekend, a federal judge in Oregon temporarily blocked a Trump administration rule requiring immigrants to prove they can pay for medical care in order to get visas. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham shot back with a statement: “It is wrong and unfair for a single district court judge to thwart the policies that the President determined would best protect the United States healthcare system,” she said.

But this fight is about more than just one judge and one policy. It is just the latest example of an increasingly high-stakes battleground in the war between the Trump administration and the courts: nationwide injunctions.

Members of the Trump administration have made it a mission at the highest levels of the White House and the Justice Department to put an end to nationwide injunctions. People in top positions in the government are using their platforms to publicly call for an end to the practice, and inside the Justice Department, there is a concerted effort to leverage litigation about Trump policies ranging from the transgender military ban to the asylum rule to get the issue before the Supreme Court.

“This is a priority across the board,” a senior Justice Department official tells TIME.

The potential ramifications of this argument go beyond any individual Trump administration policy. It’s another attempt to renegotiate of the balance of power between Trump’s White House and the other branches of government that check the executive, with a president at the top who has both harshly criticized the judiciary as he has stocked it with conservative judges. The results of the Trump administration’s efforts to end nationwide injunctions will tilt the scales of power either to the courts, for whom nationwide injunctions can be a last line of defense against a controversial White House, or to the executive, whose policies are being stymied across the country.

Nationwide injunctions allow judges to issue relief to parties beyond the plaintiffs in a case. Think, for example, of environmental laws— it wouldn’t make much sense for a judge to decide in favor of a single plaintiff who the judge finds is harmed by a law that fails to prevent lead in drinking water. With a nationwide injunction, the judge could grant relief to everyone harmed by this law, not just the individuals named in the case. This power is “essential to keep the government in line,” argues Amanda Frost, professor at American University’s Washington College of Law. “There will be times when the government acts at the 11th hour to affect millions of people, most of whom cannot get to court. And if the government knew the only relief would be to the handful of plaintiffs that actually managed to get to court, then the government would be much freer to violate all of our rights.”

But the Trump administration counters that judges are leaning on nationwide injunctions more than ever before to “inject themselves directly into the political process,” says the senior Justice Department official, with an eye towards policy outcomes more than legal ones.

Some data support the administration’s complaints. There have been 42 nationwide injunctions issued under Trump so far, according to the Justice Department. Compare that to 20 issued in the entirety of President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, according to Attorney General William Barr, or an average of just 1.5 per year against residents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, according to Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams. Members of the Trump Administration say they feel hamstrung by the increasingly muscular use of this power by federal judges.

“Nationwide injunctions undermine our entire immigration system and other systems,” Trump said in remarks before the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago on Oct. 28. “It’s not the job of judges to impose their own political views.”

But advocates of nationwide injunctions under Trump argue that the increased numbers may not be because judges are getting trigger happy; that confuses cause and effect, they say, and the increasing use is instead because Trump is putting forth more extreme policies than previous presidents. “It may not be because courts are now going out of bounds and doing these things that are wild and crazy,” says Frost. “It may partly be in response to unilateral executive orders changing enormous aspects of U.S. policy.” Frost notes that President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy belongs in this category too, which was temporarily blocked by a judge in Texas in 2015. “You could say, well, the court didn’t need to do that, that court was out of control,” Frost says. “Or maybe you could take a step back and say our executive branch is now— particularly in the realm of immigration— issuing sweeping executive orders changing the status and situation for millions of people in a way that lends itself to the remedy of nationwide injunctions.”

Judges have issued nationwide injunctions against numerous Trump policies, including the travel ban, the asylum rule and the transgender military ban. One judge in California, Jon Tigar, issued two nationwide injunctions on asylum rules himself, leading the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board to declare in a September headline, “President Tigar Strikes Again.” District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in D.C. explicitly pushed back against the Trump administration’s efforts on nationwide injunctions in a September decision blocking a Trump administration policy to fast-track deportations. “It reeks of bad faith, demonstrates contempt for the authority that the Constitution’s Framers have vested in the judicial branch, and, ultimately, deprives successful plaintiffs of the full measure of the remedy to which they are entitled,” Jackson wrote.

Which gets to another fraught dynamic in the use of nationwide injunctions: venue shopping. The Trump administration has run into trouble in courts in California and Washington, D.C., two liberal outposts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Obama’s policies, by contrast, were often blocked by courts in Texas, a Republican state. No judge would ever admit to being political in his or her decision, but there’s a strategy for lawyers in where they decide to bring cases. The senior Justice Department official describes the difficulty for the administration this way: when they enact a policy, those challenging the policy can take it to 500 judges, looking for sympathetic venues, and they only need to convince one to get it stopped in its tracks. The administration, however, needs to win all 500 for the policy to go into effect.

There have been a few small wins for the administration on this issue so far. The 9th Circuit has limited nationwide injunctions in some decisions, including in a case about a sanctuary city and another in one about exemptions from employer-covered birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

But there hasn’t been a decisive ruling on nationwide injunctions as a practice, and neither Trump nor Barr has the power to simply declare an end to them. There are three primary options for the administration to curtail this power of the third branch of government. One would be to pass legislation through Congress. Congressman Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, and Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, introduced a bill in September to end nationwide injunctions and “restore the appropriate role of district court judges by prohibiting them from issuing nationwide injunctions broader than the parties to the case or the geographic boundaries of the federal district in which the judge presides,” according to a press release about the bill. But any effort to curb judges’ power under Trump would be unlikely to pass, especially as Congress remains mired in an impeachment fight.

Another avenue is for the Justice Department to raise the issue in court cases in hopes it will get elevated to the Supreme Court to make a final decision about nationwide injunctions, a strategy Vice President Mike Pence touted this spring. “In the days ahead, our administration will seek opportunities to put this very question before the Supreme Court to ensure that decisions affecting every American are made either by those elected to represent the American people or by the highest court in the land,” Pence said in a speech to the Federalist Society in May. At least one justice has already signaled openness to reining in the power: conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion in 2018 that nationwide injunctions “are legally and historically dubious.”

There’s a catch-22 in this court-based approach for the administration. In any case in which an administration policy has been halted by a nationwide injunction, if the court were to rule in favor of the underlying policy, they wouldn’t get to answer the question of the injunction. In other words, to get a win on nationwide injunctions, the administration would need to lose the case on the merits.

Still, the Justice Department is pressing forward trying to find the right cases to present the issue, though for now there isn’t currently a case pending before the Supreme Court with a clean shot at curbing nationwide injunctions.

The final leverage the administration has on this issue is publicity. Barr has only published one op-ed since he was confirmed to be attorney general, and it was a call in the Wall Street Journal to curb nationwide injunctions, which he calls “a practice that embitters the political life of the nation, flouts constitutional principles, and stultifies sound judicial administration, all at the cost of public confidence in our institutions.” Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the government’s lawyer in charge of arguing cases before the Supreme Court, joked at a speech in 2018 that “the lower courts have issued decisions on a number of significant issues that could come before the [Supreme] Court, including… my favorite topic, the propriety of nationwide injunctions.”

And the president continues to weigh in himself, telling reporters on September 9 that one judge issuing a nationwide injunction is “very unfair. “I don’t think it should be allowed,” Trump said.

Now the rest of his administration is figuring out how to make that a reality.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

USCIS to Permanently Close Frankfurt Field Office

USCIS announced that it will permanently close its field office in Frankfurt, Germany, on January 31, 2020. Track USCIS international field office closures, and see AILA's practice alert for information on how these closures will impact applications, petitions, and forms typically processed by USCIS field offices overseas.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com/

Friday, November 01, 2019

“Deleting Records”

Immigration court data released by the Justice Department contains “‘gross irregularities’ and the agency appears to have ‘silently but systematically’ deleted nearly a million records,” according to the nonpartisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. Claire Hansen in U.S. News & World Report writes that TRAC – which is well-respected among policymakers and researchers – “determined that it appeared the agency was both unintentionally and intentionally deleting records from the data releases.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Cause For Concern

The mental health crisis is more acute among U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, who have a rate of suicide almost 28% higher than at any other law enforcement agency – 115 CBP employees have died by suicide since 2007, Justin Rohrlich reports for Quartz. And yet, despite this serious and real problem, “sources with knowledge of CBP’s efforts to address mental health told Quartz that the agency isn’t doing enough and, in fact, has fostered a culture where seeking help is not only discouraged but punished.” There’s a sensible solution: Christian Penichet-Paul, the Forum’s policy and advocacy manager, “called on the Trump administration—which is spending somewhere between $25 million and $1 billion for each mile of border wall—to redirect some of that money toward proper counseling and other psychological support services for border officers.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

“We're Not Well”

In August, more than 600 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents across seven Mississippi cities conducted “the largest single-state immigration-enforcement operation” in American history. One of those cities was Morton, Mississippi, which Charles Bethea profiles in a powerful New Yorker piece. On one hand, the First United Methodist Church in Morton has “helped disburse more than a hundred thousand dollars for more than two hundred local families” to pay utility bills. On the other hand, Cristina, a small business owner from Nicaragua who has lived in Mississippi for 18 years, told Bethea: “Look at how they come to kill Hispanics. I’m afraid to go to Walmart. I’m afraid to go to the mall. To the movies. We’re not well. Not well. This has affected us so much. We can’t work. Every day, every day, I pray to God that my husband comes home. Because immigration is everywhere.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

DHS Extends TPS Documentation for Six Countries

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a Federal Register notice extending the validity of TPS-related documentation for beneficiaries under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan through Jan. 4, 2021. 

The notice automatically extends the validity of Employment Authorization Documents; Forms I-797, Notice of Action; and Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Record (collectively, TPS-related documentation). 

DHS is extending the TPS documentation in compliance with the preliminary injunctions of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Ramos, et al. v. Nielsen, et. al. and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Saget, et. al., v. Trump, et. al., and with the order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to stay proceedings in Bhattarai v. Nielsen.

Should the government prevail in its challenge to the Ramos preliminary injunction, the secretary’s determination to terminate TPS for Nicaragua and Sudan will take effect no earlier than 120 days from the issuance of any appellate mandate to the district court. The secretary’s determination to terminate TPS for El Salvador will take effect no earlier than 365 days from the issuance of any appellate mandate to the Ramos district court to allow for an orderly transition for affected TPS beneficiaries. 

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Thursday, October 31, 2019

DACA recipient faces deportation because of new ICE policy

TUCSON – A local DACA recipient is concerned as she could face deportation because of the latest policy changes from the Trump administration.

The latest change could mean immigration courts could get a heavy increase of cases just like hers.

Zoila Pelayo is a mother of four. She moved to Tucson from Mexico when she was six years old.

Pelayo attended Flowing Wells High School and is now a special education teacher there.

“In the morning, I get one kid and then the second hour, I get two,” said Pelayo.

Despite the challenges that come with being a full-time teacher and mother, Pelayo said she had to overcome her disability. She is legally blind and has trouble reading and writing.

“I feel like I’ve been here long enough to be an American citizen,” said Pelayo. “I came here so I don’t. I don’t know I’m scared to go back to Mexico because like I said I don’t know nobody.”

In 2012, Pelayo faced deportation because of a traffic violation. The case was dismissed and she became a DACA recipient.

Now with the latest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policies, she is facing deportation again.

ICE notified Pelayo that they plan to re-calendar her case.

“Any case that got administratively closed under Barack Obama and his presidency are now being, what they cal, l re-calendared,” said Mo Goldman, an immigration attorney. “Or their filing requests to the court to re-calendar them and that’s because we’ve had a drastic shift in policy.”

Pelayo’s biggest fear is leaving her family.

“If they stop me, I think I’m going to be scared,” Pelayo said. “I just want to stay here and everything like that because it’s scary.”

Pelayo is not alone. Goldman said he is starting to see more cases like Pelayo’s.

“We still have a Supreme Court case about the constitutionality about the program the DACA program and that’s still pending,” said Goldman. “We have people who actually have this legitimately authorized documents that say they’re allowed to be here in the United States and allow them to work in the U.S. Now, another prong of the Department of Homeland Security is telling these individuals no your not supposed to be here we want to deport you.”

News 4 Tucson reached out to ICE about Pelayo’s case and the current policies, but have not yet received a statement back.

Pelayo is still waiting for a court date to be set in her immigration case.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Top Trump Official Regrets Immigrant Medical Relief Decision

BOSTON — A top federal immigration official is taking responsibility for his agency's now rescinded decision to stop considering requests from immigrants seeking to defer deportation for medical treatment and other hardships.

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said in congressional testimony Wednesday that he was solely responsible for the widely criticized Aug. 7 policy change.

He said "it was a mistake" how the initial decision was rolled out, but defended its rationale, citing his agency's heavy caseload.

Cuccinelli also stressed he didn't foresee further changes to the policy.

The former Virginia Attorney General is on Trump's shortlist to succeed outgoing Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

McAleenan had reversed Cuccinelli's decision last month after Boston civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit and the House Oversight Committee held a contentious hearing .

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

US sued over health insurance rule for immigrant families

A lawsuit Wednesday accused the Trump administration of preventing Americans from bringing their foreign spouses and parents to live with them in the United States by requiring those immigrants to prove they can afford health care before they get visas.

Seven U.S. citizens and a nonprofit organization filed the federal lawsuit in Portland, Oregon, over the rule that’s set to take effect Sunday. It applies to people seeking immigrant visas from abroad, not those already in the country, and doesn’t affect asylum seekers, refugees or children.

“Congress makes laws, the president executes them. This is an egregious attempt to supercede and overturn congressional will, not only in the immigration realm but in the health care realm,” said Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation at the American Immigration Lawyers Association who helped file the case.

Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The rule is the Trump administration’s latest effort to limit immigrant access to public programs while trying to move the country away from a family-based immigration system and into a merit-based system.

Earlier this year, the administration made sweeping changes to regulations that would deny green cards to immigrants who use some forms of public assistance, but the courts have blocked that measure.

Under the government’s visa rule, the required insurance can be bought individually or provided by an employer and it can be short-term coverage or catastrophic.

Medicaid doesn’t count, and an immigrant can’t get a visa if using the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies when buying insurance. The federal government pays for those subsidies.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status and to block the rule from taking effect.

The rule is a problem for Iris Angelina Castro, an American citizen from Springfield, Illinois. The former teacher has applied for her husband, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, to obtain an immigrant visa to join her in the United States.

He’s been preparing paperwork for a consular interview, but now they doubt he will qualify because she quit her job after her son got sick and now has state health insurance, according to the complaint.

She is pregnant with her second child and wants her husband to be there for the birth of their daughter.

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are trying to bring their spouses to live with them from Mexico and Germany. One woman is trying to bring her parents from Nicaragua and hasn’t been able to find them reasonable health insurance.

“It’s an impossibility,” said Bless, the attorney. “There’s been no standards provided to show: ‘How much money do I need to show that I can pay for my own care?’”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

USCIS Makes Another Form Available for Online Filing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that petitioners can now complete and file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, online. Online filing allows aliens to submit forms electronically, check the status of their case, and receive notices from USCIS.

“Form I-130 is one of the most widely filed USCIS forms,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “As we continue our transition to paperless operations, petitioners can now experience the convenience of filing electronically. USCIS is increasing the number of forms available for online filing to make our agency more effective and efficient.”

With today’s addition, individuals can now file eight USCIS forms online:

Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539 is the first online application filing that uses USCIS’ eProcessing strategy. Check your eligibility for online filing of this form at uscis.gov/i539online.)
Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA)
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document
Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship
Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322
To file these forms online, individuals must first create a USCIS online account at myaccount.uscis.dhs.gov. This free account allows them to:

Submit and track the status of their forms;
Pay their fees;
Track the status of their case;
Communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox; and
Respond to requests for evidence.
USCIS still accepts the latest paper version of all forms by mail.

USCIS is using innovation and technology to meet the needs of applicants, petitioners, employees, and stakeholders. Regardless of the paper or electronic format of an application or petition, USCIS is committed to ensuring a secure and efficient process for all.

“I Need to Work”

While the Southern California Getty Fire continues to rage, Brittny Mejia at the Los Angeles Times spoke to immigrants who seemed to be heading to work as normal — even in neighborhoods facing mandatory evacuation orders. Mejia met and assisted several housekeepers and gardeners who were either unaware of the blaze due to the language barrier or who had not yet been told by their bosses to leave. A few were simply determined to finish the day’s work: “If they say I have to evacuate, I will,” said Chon Ortiz, a gardener. “But I need to work.”

USCIS Adjusting Premium Processing Fee

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced beginning on Nov. 29, it is adjusting the fee to request premium processing for certain employment-based petitions.

The premium processing fee will increase to $1,440 from the current fee of $1,410 for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This increase, which is done in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, reflects the full amount of inflation from the implementation of the premium processing fee in June 2001 through August 2019 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U). USCIS last increased the fee in 2018.

Premium processing is an optional service currently authorized for certain petitioners filing Forms I-129 or I-140. The system allows petitioners to request 15-day processing of these forms if they pay an extra fee. The premium processing fee is paid in addition to the base filing fee and any other applicable fees. It cannot be waived.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

AILA Relaunches Consumer Website to Combat Notario Fraud

AILA has long worked to educate immigrants on the dangers of trusting a notary or immigration consultant and the benefits of engaging an immigration attorney to help them achieve their American dream. To this end, we are excited to officially relaunch the Stop Notario Fraud website, redesigned to be more informative and user friendly. Share it with your community today!

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Facilities Part II

Migrants detained by ICE in a Georgia detention facility have filed a lawsuit against the agency for violating their human rights, reports Nick Wooten in the Ledger-Enquirer. The lawsuit, written by the detained men, was filed with the help of Project South, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Detention Watch Network, and Georgia Detention Watch. “We are desperate,” The complaint reads. “Many of us came in search of freedom, fleeing persecution and torture by dictators in countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. And we find all these abuses that cause us to suffer even more.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Facilities Part I

Homestead, once the nation’s largest for-profit detention center for unaccompanied migrant children, will be closing on Nov. 30, Lisette Voytko reports in Forbes. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will not renew the Florida-based Homestead’s federal contract once recommended for closure by Amnesty International. In addition, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has requested an internal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation into the conditions at Otero County Processing Center in southern New Mexico, reports theAssociated Press.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Monday, October 28, 2019

Exclusive: Texas immigration center guard accused of assaulting boy, five

A private prison guard physically assaulted a five-year-old boy at an immigration detention center in Texas, according to a complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Advocates for the boy and his mother expect the family to be deported on Friday and asked the US government to halt the deportation to investigate the alleged assault. The advocates also said the family, who are anonymous for safety reasons, face imminent harm or death in their home country of Honduras.

The alleged assault occurred in late September, when the boy was playing with a guard employed by the private prison company CoreCivic who had played with the boy before.

The five-year-old tried to give the guard a high-five, but accidentally hit him instead, angering the guard, according to a complaint seen by the Guardian. The guard then allegedly grabbed the boy’s wrist “very hard” and would not let go.

“The boy’s mother told the guard to let go and tried to pull her son’s hand away, but the guard kept holding on,” according to the complaint. “He finally released the boy and threatened to punish him if he hit him again.”

The complaint said the boy’s hand was swollen and bruised and he was treated with pain medication and ice at the South Texas family residential center in Dilley, in a remote part of the state about 100 miles from the US-Mexico border.

The Dilley detention center has been controversial since it opened in 2014. Dilley can hold 2,400 people, the most of any family detention center in the country, and in March 2019 held at least 15 babies under one year old.

“Since the assault, the boy is afraid of male officials at the jail, goes to the bathroom in his pants, bites his nails until they bleed, and does not want to play, sleep, eat, or bathe,” the complaint said.

Ice spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said in an email that the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility does not comment on pending investigations.

“However, the agency is committed to ensuring all individuals in our custody are treated in a safe, secure and humane manner. Accusations of alleged unlawful conduct are investigated thoroughly and appropriate action is taken, if necessary, to ensure the safety and security of those in ICE custody,” Pruneda said.

Katy Murdza, advocacy manager for the Dilley Pro Bono Project, which sends volunteers into the Dilley detention center to help families, met with the mother on Wednesday.

Murdza said the mother is fearful of her imminent deportation and is upset about what happened to her son because she had little power to protect him.

“She was unable to prevent someone from hurting her child and while she has tried to report it, she hasn’t received any information on what the results are, so she still does not have control of whether the detention center let that staff member back in,” Murdza said.

“When people are detained and it’s hidden from the public, these sorts of things happen and there are probably many other cases that we have never learned about that could be similar to this,” Murdza added.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said in March 2017 that no migrant child in the custody of their parent should ever be detained because the conditions could harm or retraumatize them.

The US government can release asylum-seeking families in the US while they wait for their cases to be heard in court, but Donald Trump’s administration favors expanding detention and has tried to extend how long children can be held in detention centers.

Katie Shepherd, national advocacy counsel with the American Immigration Council’s Immigration Justice Campaign, filed the complaint on Thursday with the DHS watchdog, the office of the inspector general, and with its office for civil rights and civil liberties.

“The government has a long history demonstrating it’s not capable of holding people in their custody responsibly and certainly not children who require special protections and safeguards,” Shepherd said. “They require a different environment, not one where guards are going to be physically abusing them.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Wall Update

The Trump administration has acquired only 16% of the private land it needs to build the president’s signature border wall — “casting doubt on his campaign promise to complete nearly 500 miles of new fencing by the end of next year,” Nick Miroff and Arelis R. Hern├índez report for The Washington Post. In Texas, 162 of the 166 miles of planned border barrier lie on private property, and landowners are reluctant to give up property for the project. David Acevedo, a rancher and businessman, granted government officials access to his property but does not want a wall built on it:  “I want border security. Put up more cameras, sensors, send more agents and give them drones … But we don’t need a wall.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

DACA

Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will head to the Supreme Court next month to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Tucker Higgins reports at CNBC. The move is seen as controversial by some immigration advocates who argue that Napolitano, who was instrumental in creating the DACA program under President Obama, did not do enough to avoid deporting “innocent immigrants” (more than half of the 419,000 people deported in fiscal year 2012 were not criminals). Per Napolitano: “I think we had the right priorities and were enforcing the right priorities, and I think the approach of this administration, that anybody is fair game, is not good policy and it’s not consistent with our values.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Friday, October 25, 2019

“HITTING THE GAS”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a report last week celebrating the results of Trump’s immigration agenda during fiscal year 2019, per Daniel Shoer Roth in the Miami Herald. Specifically, there were five changes USCIS touted in its “historic year:” (1) reducing asylum claims, (2) denying residence to immigrants considered a “public charge,” (3) increasing the minimum financial requirement for investor-based residency, (4) analyzing social media use of citizenship and visa applications, and (5) increasing the investigation and screening of immigrants. Meanwhile, the president plans to “hit the gas” on his immigration agenda in 2020, Paul Bedard reports in the Washington Examiner: “Topping his list will be the construction of one mile a day of new border wall, aggressive challenges to judicial hurdles, and a new merit-based green card for foreign workers.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

REFUGEES IN EUROPE

Europe’s cramped, “hellish” refugee camps are “an expression of the continent’s self-inflicted helplessness,” Yiannis Baboulias writes in an opinion piece for Foreign Policy, arguing that the EU’s populist politicians and internal disputes have left the continent weaker: Europe relies on Turkey to act as a buffer for Syrian refugees, straining diplomatic relations and giving Turkey “the upper hand in any conversation about migration” as the region continues to receive millions of people fleeing war. If the continent is going to solve this crisis, populist immigration hardliners “cannot be allowed to obstruct Europe’s ability to resolve coming geostrategic challenges. A continent as wealthy and peaceful as Europe cannot possibly continue to claim it can’t accommodate the few thousands stuck in Greece and whoever else arrives to its shores from active war zones.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

USCIS Updates Fee Waiver Requirements

Revised Criteria Provides Clarity for Demonstrating Eligibility

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has revised Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, by removing the means-tested benefit criteria that was previously used as a factor in determining whether an applicant was exempt from paying for filing fees or biometric services. Individuals may still request a fee waiver if their documented annual household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or they demonstrate financial hardship.

A means-tested benefit is a public benefit—offered by federal, state, or local agencies—for which eligibility and amount considerations are based on a person’s income and resources. USCIS formerly considered Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income during eligibility evaluations.

USCIS has determined that receiving a means-based benefit is not an appropriate criteria in reviewing fee-waiver requests because income levels used to decide local assistance eligibility vary greatly from state to state.

“USCIS relies on fees to cover the costs of adjudicating applications and petitions, implementing operational efforts, and ensuring the nation’s lawful immigration system is properly administered,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “USCIS waives hundreds of millions of dollars in fees annually. The revised fee waiver process will improve the integrity of the program and the quality and consistency of fee waiver approvals going forward. Providing clear direction to agency adjudicators for more uniform determinations will help us to uphold our mission of efficiently and fairly adjudicating immigration requests.”

USCIS has estimated that the annual dollar amount of fee waivers increased from around $344.3 million in fiscal year 2016 to $367.9 million in FY 2017. In FY 2018, the estimated annual dollar amount of fee waivers USCIS granted was $293.5 million. Fee revenues account for more than 95% of the USCIS budget.

Under the revised criteria, individuals may still request a fee waiver if:

Their documented annual household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; or
They demonstrate financial hardship.
However, USCIS will require applicants to complete Form I-912 and submit supporting documentation, including federal income tax transcripts. USCIS will not accept a letter stating the applicant is unable to afford filing fees or biometric services without a completed Form I-912.

As of Dec. 2, those seeking a fee waiver must submit the 10/24/19 version of this form to request a waiver of a required fee for immigration benefits. After Dec. 2, USCIS will reject any Form I-912 with an edition date of 03/13/18 or earlier, a fee waiver request submitted with a letter, or documentation of receipt of means-tested benefit to show eligibility for a fee waiver. USCIS will adjudicate any fee waiver request postmarked before Dec. 2 under the previous policy, AFM 10.9, Waiver of Fees.

The new form does not change the applications and petitions that are eligible for a fee waiver. For the list of eligible applications and petitions, see the Form I-912 Instructions. In addition, USCIS has updated policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to accompany this form revision. The updated policy guidance is effective on Dec. 2.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Man v. Barr

In removal proceedings commenced against a noncitizen after the non-citizen has already entered the country, an immigration judge lacks authority to grant the non-citizen a U visa waiver of inadmissibility under 8 U.S.C. §1182(d)(3)(A)(ii). An alien’s conviction under California Health and Safety Code §11359 was a drug trafficking aggravated felony that made him inadmissible and ineligible for adjustment of status.

Man v. Barr - filed Oct. 24, 2019
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 13-70840

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

USCIS Begins Producing Security-Enhanced Travel Documents

To prevent secure document tampering, counterfeiting, and fraud, we will begin producing on Oct. 24 a new security-enhanced U.S. travel document, which is a booklet that looks similar to a U.S. passport and serves dual purposes. The travel document can serve in place of:

Form I-327, Permit to Reenter the United States: Lawful permanent residents use the Reentry Permit to return from temporary travel outside of the United States and, in some cases, may use a Reentry Permit for travel in place of a passport; and
Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document: Those with refugee or asylum status use a Refugee Travel Document if they wish to temporarily travel outside of the United States and, in some cases, may use a Refugee Travel Document for travel in place of a passport.
The new travel document will include a variety of secure features:

Redesigned booklet cover
Four montages containing three images, each of notable U.S. architecture, used throughout the booklet
A combination of first-, second- and third-level security features (overt, covert and forensic)
Overt is something you can see with the eye, such as the central image of the Statue of Liberty.
Covert is something that requires a tool, such as a magnifying glass, to see fine detail artwork.
Forensic is something that requires laboratory examination. 
Prior versions of the travel document will remain valid until their expiration date.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

FOR-PROFIT PRISONS

Private prisons in Louisiana are making a hefty profit by locking up thousands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, Bryn Stole reports for The Times-Picayune. As the number of Louisiana state inmates has declined, controversial private prison operators like LaSalle Corrections are turning to ICE detainees, most of whom are seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, to boost their revenues. Meanwhile, Julia Ainsley at NBC reports that the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) — the nation’s largest public pension fund — joined other businesses in pledging to divest from GEO Group and CoreCivic, the two for-profit prison companies that run the most ICE detention facilities. Follow the money.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

FINES WITHDRAWN

In a significant reversal, the Trump administration announced it has withdrawn fines for undocumented immigrants seeking refuge in churches across the country, Franco Ordo├▒ez reports for NPR. ICE had previously issued fines ranging from $300,000 to $500,000 to immigrants for “failing to depart the U.S. as previously agreed.” Attorney Lizbeth Mateo is now calling on ICE to reverse its position toward these immigrants: “ICE has demonstrated with this that they have the power to exercise discretion – the same way they can use discretion to drop these finds, they can use it to release sanctuary families.”

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

DREAMERS MARCH

Dozens of immigrants will begin a march from New York City to Washington, D.C. this Saturday to highlight the Supreme Court case that will decide the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Stephen Rex Brown and Michael Gartland write for the New York Daily News. Oral arguments are set to begin at SCOTUS on Nov. 12. “My biggest concern as a parent is losing deportation protections,” said Eliana Fernandez, a DACA recipient and mother of two who will participate in the march. “What will happen if I’m taken away from my kids?” 

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Visa Bulletin for November 2019

DOS released the November 2019 Visa Bulletin. In addition to final action dates and dates for filing applications, it includes notes on the November availability of numbers in the Diversity Immigrant (DV) category and December rank cut-offs, as well as information on the November 21, 2019, expiration of the SR religious worker and the I5 and R5 visa categories. Further legislative action is needed to extend these categories for FY2020.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

Monday, October 21, 2019

Trump Outstripping Obama on Pace of Executive Orders

WASHINGTON — It wasn't too long ago that Donald Trump derided presidential executive orders as "power grabs" and a "basic disaster."

He's switched sides in a big way: In each year of his presidency, he has issued more executive orders than did former President Barack Obama during the same time span. He surpassed Obama's third-year total just recently.

Back in 2012, Trump had tweeted: "Why Is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?"

That criticism continued once he entered the presidential race.

"The country wasn't based on executive orders," Trump said at a South Carolina campaign stop in February 2016. "Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can't even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It's a basic disaster. You can't do it."

But Trump appears to have learned what his predecessors discovered as well: It's easier and often more satisfying to get things done through administrative action than to get Congress to go along, said Andrew Rudalevige, a professor at Bowdoin College who studies the history and effectiveness of presidential executive actions.

"Most candidates don't realize the utility of executive actions while campaigning," Rudalevige said. "When they become president, they quickly gain an appreciation of how difficult it is to get things done in government."

The White House declined to comment on Trump's use of executive orders. He surpassed Obama's third-year total when, in the last two weeks, he issued five executive orders relating to Medicare, government transparency, federal spending and imposing sanctions on Turkish officials.

An executive order can have the same effect as a federal law — but its impact can be fleeting. Congress can pass a new law to override an executive order and future presidents can undo them.

Every president since George Washington has used the executive order power, according to the National Constitution Center, and some of those orders played a critical role in American history. President Franklin Roosevelt established internment camps during World War II. President Harry Truman mandated equal treatment of all members of the armed forces through executive orders. And President Dwight Eisenhower used an executive order to enforce school desegregation in Little Rock.

When Obama became frustrated with how difficult it was to push legislation through Congress, he warned Republicans he would take executive action when he considered it necessary.

He famously declared in 2014: "We're not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help they need. I've got a pen, and I've got a phone."

Few candidates for office have placed so much emphasis on criticizing a predecessor's executive orders as Trump did. He reasoned that Obama's use of executive orders made him look like a weak negotiator. But Trump himself has had little success with Congress in that regard. His biggest legislative achievement so far, a $1.5 trillion tax cut, failed to gain one Democratic vote.

Trump has so far issued 130 executive orders. By comparison, Obama issued 108 in his first three years.

Still, Rudalevige says that comparing executive orders from one president to the next can provide a misleading snapshot of a president's propensity for taking executive action. That's because presidents also use memoranda and proclamations to achieve policy goals or to get the message out about their priorities. One president's executive order might be another's memoranda, or phone call even.

Obama relied on memoranda and proclamations for some of his most disputed executive actions, so just counting his executive orders understates his efforts to take action without Congress passing a bill.

For example, protections for young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children came about through a Department of Homeland Security memorandum. That effort allowed eligible individuals to request temporary relief from deportation and apply for authorization to work in the U.S.

Obama took the action after Congress had declined to pass the Dream Act, legislation that would have helped a similar group of migrants. Republicans argued Obama overstepped his constitutional authority. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments over the Trump administration's plan to end the program, which has protected roughly 700,000 young immigrants from deportation. Lower courts have so far blocked the administration from ending the program.

Obama also issued proclamations to declare new national monuments in Utah and Nevada in his final days in office. In all, he issued 34 monument proclamations, including designating 29 new monuments and enlargement of five existing monuments as he brandished his conservation legacy. Some of the largest monument designations were heavily criticized by state and local officials.

Rudalevige said that Trump appears to favor the pomp and ceremony that often comes with an executive order. He routinely makes a speech, administration officials and potentially affected Americans get to thank him for taking action and Trump often signs the order before the cameras, holding it up in the air for photographers to capture the moment.

"I think it fits his personality," Rudalevige said.

For more information, go to: http://www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com