Asylum Seekers who Fear Domestic Abuse or LGBTQ Persecution Ineligible for U.S. Asylum

Asylum seekers can no longer seek asylum in the U.S. citing fears of domestic abuse, gang violence or fear as a LGBTQ individual .  On June 11, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred a Board of Immigration Appeals case to himself and issued a decision stating members of particular “social groups,” including domestic violence victims and LGBTQ individuals cannot file a petition for asylum.  He reversed an immigration appeals court ruling that granted it to a Salvadoran woman who said she had been sexually, emotionally and physically abused by her husband (Matter of AB-, 27 I&N Dec. 227 (A.G. 2018)).

Asylum, the right to remain in the country,requires proof that an immigrant faces persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, political views or membership in a particular social group. It includes private abuses that the home government is unable or unwilling to control. (more…)

TSA New Secret Watch List “95 List”

TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has created a new secret watch list also known as a “95 list” to monitor people who may be targeted as potential threats at airport checkpoints.  “While people on the list are not necessarily subject to additional scrutiny, it seems likely that agents would single them out for additional attention, and there is no way to get off the list,” said Faiza Patel, a director of the Liberty and National Security Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Federal security directors, top TSA. security officials at airports and top Air Marshals supervisors can nominate individuals to be put on the watch list. Only the TSA administrator, his deputy and the top two officials at the agency’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis may add or remove people from the database

Individuals can be placed on the “95 list” for the following:

  • they have swatted away security screeners’ hands;
  • appeared unruly;
  • their actions pose physical danger to security screeners;
  • people who loiter suspiciously near security checkpoints;
  • people who present “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening”

So far, the names of fewer than 50 people (more…)

Recall of 8,500 Green Cards for Incorrect “Resident Since” date

On May 14, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) began recalling approximately 8,500 Permanent Resident Cards (also known as Green Cards), that contain an incorrect “Resident Since” date. We issued these cards between February and April 2018 to spouses of U.S. citizens after  we approved their Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence. The correct “Resident Since” date on the new Green Card should be the same as the “Residence Since” date on the expired two-year Green Card.

Our office has already received letters from USCIS asking to mail back to return the incorrect green cards and a replacement card with the correct “Resident Since” date will be issued in three (3) months.

Trump terminate Honduras TPS effective January 5, 2020

Trump terminate Honduras TPS designation, with a delayed effective date of January 5, 2020. Honduran citizens with current TPS registration will be required to re-register and apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) in order to legally work in the U.S. until the termination becomes effective. 

Nearly 90,000 Hondurans who have lived in the US at least two decades could be forced to leave the country after the Trump administration decided Friday to end protections for the immigrants that go back to the 1990s.

The move brings the total number of immigrants for whom the administration has decided to end temporary protected status in the last year to more than 425,000, many who have lived in the US legally for decades, according to numbers from US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

(more…)

Immigration Judges New Performance Matrix will create Speedier Deportations

The Department of Justice will be implementing a new performance metrics for immigration judges on October 1, 2018.  The Justice Department official said the new metrics will require immigration judges to complete three cases per workday.  The average cases completed per year by immigration judges, per the official, is fewer than 680. The new metric will require judges to complete 700 cases per year. Completing fewer than 560 cases per year would result in the judge being evaluated at the “unsatisfactory” level.  Many worry that immigration judges will be forced to adjudicate cases more quickly, rush immigrant defendants through the system without the opportunity to obtain an immigration attorney, without an opportunity to present evidence or to present their claim in a manner that’s appropriate with due process.

The requirement to complete a removal/deportation in cases in 3 days from the hearing where the immigrant is detained (10 days when the immigrant is not detained) is nearly impossible for an immigration attorney.  The immigrant defendant and attorney cannot gather evidence to support a claim for relief and file documents in court in 3 days or even 10 days.  Usually when an immigrant is detained, an immigration judge can complete the case in 30 days – giving the government attorney and immigrant defendant reasonable time to gather evidence and present oral testimony.  These new performance metrics for immigration judges is putting a place a new system that will generate more appeals and strip defendants of a fair opportunity to fully prepare and present this case in court (a right referred to a due process). (more…)

Five Ways Trump Successfully Cut Immigration Benefits

“When it comes to putting immigrants on a path to deportation, it doesn’t seem to matter how long they’ve been here, the conditions they fled in the first place, the contributions they have made or the impact on their families, employers and communities, or the fact that they’ve had legal status for years and years,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a progressive immigration reform advocacy group.  “The bottom line seems to be this: get ready to get out; this is especially true if you are from what the president calls ‘shithole countries,’ ” he added.  The termination of special protection programs show that Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen are “intent on driving millions of immigrants out of the country.” 

#1: DACA

In September 2017, Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the decision directly affected around 690,000 so-called Dreamers — immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as minors who were given an employment card and deportation protection.

The 690,000 pre-enrolled DACA recipients can currently maintain and renew their two-year permits thanks to a federal court order against Trump’s move to end the program. But uncertainty over the program’s future has created a slew of other issues for the program’s beneficiaries.

#2: TPS

Under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has announced the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 260,000 Salvadorans, 60,000 Haitians, 5,000 Nicaraguans and a few hundred Sudanese.  Salvadoran TPS has been renewed every 18 months since 2001, after two earthquakes hit the country.  TPS allows citizens of countries that are going through man-made or natural disasters to live and work in the United States.

#3: ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the federal government’s top immigration law enforcement agency.  Under Trump, the agency has become “unshackled,” allowing it to prioritize for deportation immigrants who were deemed out of bounds by previous administrations.  ICE can no longer use prosecutorial discretion to stop or pause deportation so the deportee can remain united with his U.S. citizen spouse or minor child.  Trump implementation of the Criminal Alien Program also denies bond to permanent residents facing criminal cases (even though not convicted and simple charged with deportable offense).  Trump has also placed new performance matrix on immigration judges creating unattainable timeframes for completing an immigration case resulting in a deportation mill at the immigration court.

#4: USCIS

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency that grants visas, permanent residency and citizenship to foreign applicants.  Under Trump, USCIS Director Francis Cissna changed the agency’s mission statement, removing references to the United States as a “nation of immigrants” in favor of language about “protecting Americans.”

USCIS is considering a proposal to tighten the rules on foreign citizens’ use of tax breaks and welfare programs, said Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for Homeland Security.  If the White House approves the proposal, foreigners on visas or with permanent residency could be barred from using popular tax breaks, like the earned income tax credit or public health subsidies.

#5: Refugees and travel ban

Trump issued an executive order in January 2017 banning the entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States.  The so-called travel ban was blocked by three courts using Trump’s public statements as evidence that it unfairly targeted Muslims.  But after each reversal in court, the administration released a new set of rules to impose a travel ban that could pass constitutional muster.  The Supreme Court is scheduled to permanently rule on the travel ban’s constitutionality in early May 2018.

(more…)

Signature REQUIRED for Green Card & Work Permit Upon Delivery

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the agency will begin phasing in use of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service to mail Green Cards and other secure documents beginning April 30, 2018.

The first phase will affect documents that need to be re-mailed because they have been returned as non-deliverable. These documents include Permanent Resident Card (also called Green Card), Employment Authorization Cards, and Travel Booklets. Applicants who have changed mailing addresses during the course of the application process are more likely to have their secure documents sent with the new delivery method, which USCIS will expand to all secure documents in the future.

As part of the new delivery method, applicants must present identification to sign for their documents upon delivery. They also have the option to designate an agent to sign on their behalf by completing the Postal Service’s PS Form 3801, Standing Delivery Order (PDF) or PS Form 3801-A, Agreement by a Hotel, Apartment House, or the Like (PDF). Applicants can sign up for USPS Informed Delivery to receive delivery status notifications. Applicants will also have the option to arrange for pickup at a post office at a convenient date and time by going to the USPS website and selecting “hold for pickup.”

Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery increases the security, integrity, and efficiency of document delivery. (more…)

U.S. Supreme Court Reject Trump request to block DACA – DACA Renewals will Continue

(CNN) February 26,2018 – The Supreme Court announced it will stay out of the dispute concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for now, meaning the Trump administration may not be able to end the program March 5 as planned.

In an order, the justices declined a request from the Trump administration to review a lower court opinion that temporarily blocked the government’s effort to end the program.

The court’s order means the case will continue in the lower courts and DACA renewals can continue. (more…)

Immigration Filing Fees by Credit Card

February 14, 2018 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will now accept filing fees by credit card payments for filing most of its forms.  The new payment option is available for the 41 fee-based forms processed at USCIS Lockbox facilities.  CLICK HERE TO SEE LIST OF FORMS THAT CAN BE PAID BY CREDIT CARD

Paying filing fees by credit card for commonly filed immigration petitions will be a major incentive for many who seeking immigration benefits but simply do not have $725 for citizenship and nearly $1300 to apply for a green card.  To pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover, applicants will need to use Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction (PDF, 260 KB)s.  USCIS will enter credit card data into the Pay.gov system, (more…)

DACA Deportation – Federal Judge Rules Trump Cannot End #DACA

By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times – Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday that the government must fully restart the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty and accept brand new applicants as well as renewals, throwing a potential wrench in the ongoing debate over the fate of “Dreamers” on Capitol Hill.

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said the administration does have the power to revoke DACA, but it must give a sound reason for doing so — and the Homeland Security Department’s September 2017 rationale fell far short of what is required in that regard.

He becomes the second judge to rule President Trump’s aides bungled the phaseout — but his decision is the most wide-ranging, ordering the government to not only allow those already in the program to renew their applications but also ordering the government to accept new applications.

“The question before the court is thus not whether defendants could end the DACA program, but whether they offered legally adequate reasons for doing so,” wrote Judge Garaufis, a Clinton appointee to the court. “Based on its review of the record before it, the court concludes that defendants have not done so.”

The judge said the Trump administration can still rescind the program in the future if it does it the right way.

And he said the administration doesn’t have to approve any specific DACA applications. But it must begin to process applications again.