Obama and DHS to address deportation changes

Two weeks ago President Obama issued a statement calling for changes to the deportation practices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In that statement, that was acknowledged by DHS, Obama sought to make the deportation practices more “humane” by ensuring that those without criminal records and family ties in the United States may be able to halt their deportation.

However, this is nothing more than a statement by Obama and DHS to “look into” how to address making the deportation process more humane. What we really need is action not an examination of the process. Obama, DHS and the rest of the government (hopefully Congress can act at some point) need to create a plan that allows for those without criminal records and strong family ties in the United States to have their deportation halted, delayed or prevented altogether. If Congress cannot pass immigration reform soon, the President needs to act using his pen and phone to reform our broken immigration system, as he promised in this year’s State of the Union address.

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Obama Orders Review of Deportation Practices

According to the White House and yesterday’s article in the Huffington Post, President Barack Obama is directing the government to find more humane ways to handle deportation for undocumented immigrants. The directive to consider changing how the U.S. government enforces deportations comes as immigration groups grow increasingly impatient with Obama, despite his efforts to secure legislation that would create a path to citizenship for about 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, that have been halted most recently by House Republicans who refused to take up the Senate bill that was passed last June.

Under Obama’s leadership, almost two million people have been removed from the U.S. and while Congress delays action, Obama has enforced laws even he acknowledges must be updated. Immigration reform advocates have been putting pressure on Obama to halt all deportations — a step Obama has insisted he does not have the authority to do by himself. However, by announcing he’s open to changing how the U.S. enforces its current laws, Obama is signaling he may be growing more inclined to test the limits of his authority in the face of a Congress that has been able to do little in pushing reforms through both houses.

Obama’s announcement came Thursday in a meeting with Latino lawmakers — all Democrats — that he is concerned about the pain families suffer when they are separated due to an immigration system that is largely broken and in dire need of reform. The White House was vague on what changes were made but activists encouraging reform will likely call for Obama to halt deportations for parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally, among other steps. Obama has already moved to ease deportations for some of those children, but not their parents with Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that was announced in June of 2012.

For more information on DACA, other relief, or how our immigration law offices can help you or a loved one now, please contact our Las Vegas and Reno Immigration Law offices.  We offer free consultations and can give you up-to-date information on changes in the law and methods for relief from deportation.

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United We Dream urges Obama to Curtail Deportations

Following announcements that House Republicans would not move on immigration this year, more than 500 leaders of a national network of young immigrants, known as “United We Dream” protested in Phoenix, Arizona last week  in an effort to pressure President Obama to act to stop deportations.

After months of lobbying, rallies and sit-in demonstrations ended with no movement in the House on a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally, the organization of youths who gathered in Phoenix last weekend for an annual congress of the network, United We Dream, said they felt disappointed by both  parties in Congress. Their protests and sentiments pointed to Mr. Obama’s pledge early this year to use his phone and pen when Congress did not move on his agenda. They also said they would demand that he take executive action to increase protections for immigrants without papers.

It is clear that the young immigrants’ demands will be uncomfortable for Mr. Obama and the Democrats in a midterm election year when his low approval ratings could allow Republicans to make important gains. However,  recent polls show wider sympathy among Americans for young immigrants than those who are older without legal status. Fortunately, “United We Dream” and other organizations of young people have become leaders in setting strategy among immigrant groups.

Hopefully, action will be taken by the Obama Administration since Congress, besides the Democratically-controlled Senate that passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June of last year, has mostly failed to act before the midterm elections.

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U.S. Communities Support Immigration Reforms

Most news these days on the possibility of immigration reforms for 2014 have been disappointing, given Republican leaders opposition to any change in existing laws prior to the November elections. However, a New York Times opinion article demonstrates that many U.S cities have discovered that supporting their immigrant community strengthens the economic viability of their city and makes for a more inclusive society.

Stayed tuned to this blog for emerging information on this struggle for comprehensive immigration reforms.
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House Republicans court election disaster in refusing to consider Immigration Reform

As Republicans in Congress go back and forth regarding passing Immigration reforms in 2014, as the article below describes they may be creating more political problems for themselves in this Fall’s Congressional election and the 2016 Presidential race.

We listen to Boehner and Marco Rubio declare in 2013 that the time is right to deal with 11 million undocumented immigrants…and then back down this month when talk show hosts and caucus hard-liners raised a stink over passing comprehensive reform or even the piecemeal approach that has been supported by many House Republicans and opponents of the Senate bill passed in June.

Stayed tuned to this site for further news on Immigration Reforms and the political actions to achieve them. Or contact our Las Vegas, Reno and San Francisco immigration law offices.

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For months there has been talk that Republicans in Congress, in order to garner support among the Latino electorate for the November 2014 elections, would pass an immigration reform bill.  Now it appears they have calculated that it is better to wait until 2015 after they gain control of both Houses of Congress. It is yet to be seen if this political strategy will be effective.

Perhaps after the primaries are held later this year, Republicans will submit a Bill that will lead to some reforms this year, particularly the Dream Act.
Stay tuned to this blog site and check out our immigration law office websites in Las Vegas, Reno and San Francisco for more information on what you or a loved on may be eligible for before reforms are passed.
For more news on the issue, click here for an article in the New York Times. 
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Rejecting Path to Citizenship Contradicts Democracy

A recent New York Times opinion article provided four scholars and experts on Immigration Law and Reform to debate on the issue of what the United States should do regarding Immigration Reform in the near future. One such scholar, Daniel Tichenor, is a professor of political science at the University of Oregon (the alma mater of one of our very own attorney’s) and a senior fellow at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics. Professor Tichenor writes that by blocking a path the citizenship for adults who are living and in the United States “illegally” contradicts the democratic principles this country was founded on as a nation of immigrants. Read the excerpt from Professor Tichenor below:

“Creating a fixed status between citizen and legalized immigrant, as House Republicans would do by blocking a “special path to citizenship” for adults who “are living and working here illegally,” introduces deep contradictions for a democracy. Few democratic principles are more elemental than the notion that people who are subject to government authority have political rights to influence how that authority is exercised.

These obstacles to citizenship would would mark a return to older, ignoble traditions in U.S. immigration and naturalization policy that predate landmark reforms of the cold war and civil rights eras.

“I came to New York because I heard the streets were paved with gold,” as an Italian immigrant of early 20th century was said to have lamented. “When I got here, I learned three things: The streets are not paved with gold. They are not paved at all. I am expected to pave them.”

During the Gilded Age, Chinese immigrants, originally recruited as cheap labor for Western development, faced fierce violence, discrimination and eventual exclusion. Mexican arrivals faced similar patterns of marginalization and exclusion in the 20th century. After the country imposed literacy tests, national origins quotas and other draconian immigration restrictions during and after World War I, Mexicans were recruited as guest workers and as both legal and unauthorized immigrants for farm work and other menial jobs. Mexican braceros and undocumented workers were particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse under this system, yet all Mexican immigrants confronted harsh discrimination and mass deportation campaigns (especially during economic hard times).

Revisions in U.S. naturalization law in 1952 removed bars to citizenship based on race and gender, and the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 dismantled national origins quotas. For all its frailties, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provided a straightforward plan for legalizing eligible unauthorized immigrants. The current House Republican blueprints would codify subclass status for a significant portion of the population, reviving legal exclusions of the past. They would introduce permanent gradations of membership that are inherently corrosive to democracy. At bottom, free nations provide long-term residents an equal say or choice in how they are governed.”

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GOP Principles on Immigration: A Path to Legal Status

Following the release of the Republican Party’s list of principles on immigration reform that was released last week, activists, immigration lawyers and others are optimistic that although the Republican plan does not call for a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants that the Senate bill (which passed in June 2012) called for, the plan might allow for a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

For example, the GOP document does not state that such legalized individuals cannot seek permanent residence and citizenship through normal channels within the existing, and most likely a reformed immigration system. While it would be really beneficial for the integration of the nation to have a special pathway to citizenship, like the Senate bill after individuals are put in a provisional status for 10 years and 3 more years as a permanent resident, such a proposal would still be welcomed by those who are out of status or have removal orders, with no other forms of relief to remain in the US.

In addition, this would allow those currently without documents to be able to live and work freely, and even potentially travel outside the US.  For those who presently lack such basic freedoms, who among them would not readily embrace their new life even if it is not all we or they would have hoped for?  If the existing immigration system is reformed to include more pathways to legal residence, then such individuals can still hope to become US citizens. Moreover, they could also potentially become citizens more quickly than the 13 year special path to citizenship under the Senate immigration bill.

For more information, feel free to contact our immigration law offices in Reno, Las Vegas and San Francisco. 

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GOP Reveals its Principles on Immigration Reform

House Republican leaders laid out their long-awaited immigration reform principles yesterday, January 30th,  to the GOP conference, suggesting a broad step-by-step plan that would include more border security and enforcement, major changes to the legal immigration system and what will likely be the most contentious issue: legal status for some people who are in the country without authorization.

The principles are not an official bill, but rather are a list of priorities the House Republicans intend to address and confront in forming a bill. Although the Senate passed a bill in June that would allow for a path to citizenship and/or legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., the majority of House Republicans have stated they will not discuss or pass a similar version of the Senate bill. New estimates put the number of people allowed to obtain legal status under the Republican plan amount to a little more than half those eligible under the senate bill–6.5 million people.

The preamble to the Republican principles states that “Our nation’s immigration system is broken and our laws are not being enforced,” adding that “Washington’s failure to fix them is hurting our economy and jeopardizing our national security.” It then addresses six principles, divided into sections: “Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First,” “Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System,” “Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement,” “Reforms to the Legal Immigration System,” “Youth” and “Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law.”

The most contentious sections will likely be those discussing how to deal with undocumented immigrants. The principles recommend different things for so-called Dreamers — the undocumented young people who entered the country as children — and undocumented adults. Fortunately, under these principles Dreamers should be allowed “an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship,” the principles state, so long as they meet certain requirements. However, its less clear whether there will be a path to citizenship for the older generations.

Undocumented immigrants in general wouldn’t be given a “special path to citizenship,” typically defined as a set way for applicants to become legal residents and then citizens. But the principles suggest they “could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).” The document specifically excludes “criminal aliens, gang members, and sex offenders and those who do not meet the above requirements.”

The principles also suggest that legalization be delayed until “specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced.” They do not address whether immigrants under the new status could obtain green cards and eventually become citizens.

In addition to border security and interior enforcement, the principles call for the government to better track individuals entering and exiting the country and to require businesses to check the immigration status of their would-be hires. They also call for changes to the legal immigration process that would limit family immigration, allow foreign-born students to remain in the U.S. more easily after attending college here and make employer-based and temporary-worker visas more flexible based on “economic needs of the country.”

The border security and enforcement section states that “the United States is failing” in its mission of protecting the border. The GOP leaders’ principles look to emphasize border security and enforcement by creating a “zero tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas in the future.” The principles also state that reform should ensure presidents cannot selectively enforce immigration laws — something President Barack Obama has been accused of doing with executive orders, including the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

For more information read the article in the Huffington Post or contact our law offices in Las Vegas, Reno, and San Francisco to find out how we can help you now or when reforms push through Congress (hopefully) later this year.



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State of the Union and the GOP’s principles

President Obama’s State of the Union was brief last night on the issue of impending immigration reforms but most critics believe this is because both parties want to make sure immigration reform gets done this year; they just have different ideas of what the reforms will be. This is an except of what President Obama said at last night’s state of the Union Address:

“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement — and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.” President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014.

It is expected that he House Republican leadership’s broad framework for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws will be issued this week and will call for a path to legal status — but not citizenship — for many of the 11 million adult immigrants who are in the country illegally, according to aides who have seen the party’s statement of principles. For immigrants brought to the United States illegally as young children, the Republicans would offer a path to citizenship.

GOP congressional aides have stated that the immigration reform framework could discuss the need for better U.S. border controls and beefing up interior security so that companies cannot easily hire undocumented workers. In addition, it is expected that the GOP principles will allow for visas for skilled workers to be expanded as well.

Keep up to date on our blog our contact our law offices for more information.

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