No More Interpreters in Immigration Court

According to news reports, the policy of no more interpreters in immigration court was officially announced to judges on Thursday. The policy is set to begin nationwide on the week of July 15, 2019. However, it has not been publicly confirmed by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the agency which oversees the immigration courts.

All immigrants in removal proceedings have a right to interpretation, but how that interpretation is carried out varies from place to place. In most locations, interpreters sit next to immigrants when they appear in front of a judge, translating from the immigrants’ language to English and vice versa. 

Under the new policy, interpreters in immigration court will not be available for initial hearings or master hearings. Instead, immigrants who don’t speak English will watch a video orientation in “multiple languages,” and will not be permitted to ask questions about the video. Once the immigrant appears in front of the judge, they will only be able to receive interpretation through the phone.

Telephonic interpretation is often of lower quality than in-person interpretation. Telephonic interpreters have to wait longer to determine whether someone has finished talking, slowing proceedings down. Since they can’t see people, they can’t consider facial expressions or body language in their interpretation. Low-quality telephone lines and volume problems may prevent them from understanding everything that was said.

Before the policy rolled out, immigration judges expressed significant reservations. In leaked emails revealed by BuzzFeed, judges attacked the policy as misguided, with one judge suggesting that playing a video means he will be sitting in court “twiddling my thumbs while the message plays.” Another judge said that the “entire premise of this plan is wrongheaded,” and indicated that it is “disruptive to my court and definitely will not be a time saver.”

About the Author: Aaron Reichlin-Melnick is a Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council, where he works primarily on immigration court issues and the intersection of immigration law and policy.

ACLU warns ‘immigrants and people of color,’ against travel in Florida – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs “sanctuary cities” ban

Effective June 14, 2019, all law enforcement agencies in Florida will have to cooperate with federal immigration authorities under a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a travel advisory for “immigrants and people of color to use extreme caution” in Florida.

The Florida law would require local law enforcement to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in detaining undocumented immigrants.

Florida’s undocumented immigrant population is estimated to be greater than 700,000. The legislation prohibits local governments from enacting “sanctuary” polices that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation — which no Florida cities had actually done. Local law enforcement will be required to honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers for undocumented immigrants who are arrested or convicted of a crime. The bill exempts crime victims and witnesses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has urged law enforcement officials in cities and counties to cooperate with immigration officials.

For more information on undocumented immigrant, 

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End to Self-Scheduled InfoPass Appointment – Scheduling Only with Pre-Authorization

The new Information Services Modernization Program is replacing the current self-scheduled InfoPass appointment system that allows anyone to make an appointment on-line or at their local USCIS office to speak to an immigration officer regarding their pending case, get immigration resources or get answers to immigration questions. The new program is suppose to improves the timeliness of information and emergency services. Additionally, the new program should improve information efficiency for all classes of immigration applicants.

Effective March 4, 2019, the new Information Services Modernization Program will be rolled out to the Tampa and Orlando Field Offices. This means that in order to get information in-person, you first have to call 1-800-375-5283 and after speaking to an agent then you may or may not meet the guidelines to get “pre-authorized” for an appointment at your local immigration office to speak to an officer in-person.

Based on internal surveys, USCIS found that many users of the InfoPass self-scheduled appointment program could have saved time by calling the USCIS Contact Center or checking the USCIS website. In the long term, the new modernization efforts will help applicants save time by limiting the hassle of scheduling an in-person appointment. USCIS additionally hopes that by limiting in-person appointments, the service can better allocate resources and staff towards processing and adjudicating applications. For those who require in-person assistance, USCIS states that applicants will still maintain the right to schedule an appointment, and can receive assistance to do so through the new modernized information service program.

The new Information Services Modernization Program is basically replacing in-person customer support with over the phone assistance that involves long hold times on the phone and generic scripted answers to applicants. Instead of customer support modernization, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is going back to an antiquated system of navigating telephone prompts before speaking to a live person who has no background on immigration law and reads from a computer screen telling you your “case is pending” or “go to our website for more information”.

For more information on InfoPass or Information Services Modernization Program,

text | whatsapp | call 407-292-7730 or email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2019, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

2018 Anti-Immigration Politics and Rhetoric under Trump – Family Separation, Asylum Ban, Wall

Courtesy of , Axios.com

In 2018, we saw a wave of anti-immigration policies, rules and proclamations intended to obstruct U.S. immigration.

Driving the news: The House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on immigration legislation, leaving the Trump administration to use everything within its executive power to address the issue. Many of those efforts were blocked (at least temporarily) by the courts.

AT THE BORDER:

The Justice Department and Homeland Security announced a “zero-tolerance” policy in May that resulted in the traumatic separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents at the border. In the face of global backlash, Trump signed an executive order calling for an end to family separation. But it took government agencies weeks of chaos to reunite migrant families.

Through the executive branch:

IN THE COURTS:

The Supreme Court upheld Trump’s travel banbut blocked his asylum ban for migrants who cross the border illegally. The court did not take up the DACA case —protecting thousands of immigrants who came to the U.S. as children until at least next year.

Federal judges blocked (at least temporarily) administration efforts to end:

ON THE GLOBAL STAGE:

The U.S. was one of a small number of nations to vote against the UN Compact for Migration and Compact for Refugees.

  • A wave of anti-immigration politics and rhetoric continued to sweep Europe, mirroring some of Trump’s 2016 platform.
  • Most recently, the U.S. cut a deal with a Mexico to keep migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. on Mexican soil until their applications are processed. The U.S. pledged billions of dollars in aid to Central American nations and southern Mexico.

#GovernmentShutdown #TrumpShutdown effect on Immigration Services

In light of President Trump’s refusal to sign a bill to prevent a #GovernmentShutdown that does not include border wall funding, a partial government shutdown is currently in effect. Approximately 25 percent of government functions are shut down. Immigration-related agencies that are impacted by the shutdown include the Department of Homeland Security and its immigration-related components (CBP, ICE, USCIS, CIS Ombudsman), the Department of Justice (EOIR), and the Department of State. See below for information as to how these agencies operated during prior shutdown periods. We will update this page with additional information from the agencies as it becomes available.

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services: USCIS announced that a lapse in annual appropriated funding does not affect USCIS’s fee-funded activities. USCIS offices will remain open, and all individuals should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications.  Please attend your biometrics appointments, citizenship interviews and visa appointments.

EOIR Immigration Court: Detained cases and court hearings will proceed as scheduled.  Non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date after funding resumes. Immigration courts will issue an updated notice of hearing to respondents or, if applicable, respondents’ representatives of record for each reset hearing.

U.S. Custom & Border Protection: The www.cbp.gov website will not be updated during the government shutdown.  Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted.  Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

Immigration and Custom Enforcement: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.

Department of Labor (DOL) will not be impacted by a government shutdown. (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.

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…)