(713) 589-2085 Call now to schedule a consultation.

Obama Offers Two Years of ‘Deferred Action’ to Illegal Immigrants

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

Those who are in the U.S. illegally, but meet certain criteria, won’t face prosecution

Some young illegal immigrants living in the United States will be eligible for a reprieve from federal prosecution, according to a Friday announcement by the Obama administration.

It’s a move ripe with election year politics as both President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney ramp up efforts to woo Hispanic voters ahead of the November presidential election.

Republicans have made hay out of the fact that Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform would be one of his top priorities in the White House and yet, in reality, he prioritized healthcare legislation instead. They say he never delivered for Latinos.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

Friday’s announcement, made by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, is certainly aimed at placating disappointed Hispanic voters but also continues an effort her agency has made to change America’s deportation priorities.

Napolitano said the move is “consistent with our existing use of prosecutorial discretion” despite cries from some conservatives that it is unconstitutional.

Immigrants who were brought to the United States before the age of 16, who have lived here for at least five years, are in school, have a high school diploma or GED, or were honorably discharged from the military and are younger than 30 are eligible for the “deferred action,” she said during a conference call with reporters. In addition to deferred action on deportation, many young illegal immigrants would be eligible for work permits.

Verifiable documentation must be provided, and those with felonies or extensive criminal records are not eligible.

[Romney ‘Still Deciding’ on Immigration Stance]

“Over the past three years, the administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform our nation’s immigration enforcement system into one that focuses on public safety, border security, and on the integrity of the immigration system,” Napolitano said.

The Obama administration, which has already deported more illegal immigrants than did the George W. Bush administration, has focused its efforts on those who pose a danger to national security, are a risk to public safety, or those with serious or multiple criminal convictions, she said.

About 90 percent of last year’s deportations applied to those kinds of illegal immigrants, Napolitano said. Immigrations enforcement officials were also given the discretion to close low-priority cases last year so they could focus resources on dangerous individuals.

Napolitano was also quick to point out that this deferred action, which would initially be for a period of two years, would “not provide permanent lawful status or start them on a pathway to citizenship” and “is well within the framework of our existing laws.”

“This grant of deferred action is not immunity. It is not amnesty,” she said. “It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not entering the legal system. It will help us continue to streamline immigration enforcement.”

[Rubio’s DREAM Act Gamble]

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, said on CNN on Friday that the move amounted to a “first step towards amnesty.”

“I’m just more concerned about the politics of this,” he said. But, he added, if the president’s move prompts Congress to move forward with an immigration reform plan, it’s a good thing.

Arizona is one of several states to enact aggressive state policies on removing illegal immigrants because they feel the federal government has failed to adequately address the problem. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law this summer.


DHS will formally announce this morning that it will offer deferred action to DREAMers.

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

DHS will formally announce this morning that it will offer deferred action to DREAMers.

Preliminary information indicates that eligible applicants must:

Be 15-30 years old, and have entered before age 16
Have been present in the U.S. for 5 years as of June 15, 2012
Have maintained continuous residence
Have not been convicted of one serious crime or multiple minor crimes
Be currently enrolled in high school, graduated or have a GED, or have enlisted in the military
The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings as well as to those who apply affirmatively.

The White House is expected to make a formal announcement this afternoon at 1:15 EST.

AILA will provide further details today.


STARS Act Highlights Potential Pitfalls of Rubio DREAM Proposal

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

When news broke yesterday that a Florida congressman introduced an alternative version of the DREAM Act, many assumed it was Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been promising for months to introduce such legislation. In fact, the bill in question—dubbed the STARS Act—was introduced by Rep. David Rivera, a member of the House who introduced similar legislation (the ARMS Act) last January. Although Rivera’s proposals would benefit fewer people than the original DREAM Act, they would put qualified applicants on a path that would ultimately lead to permanent residency. From that perspective, they differ significantly from the proposal Senator Rubio has been discussing, which reportedly does not include a dedicated path to permanent residency.

More..


Teen stuck in Mexico over ‘Leap Day’ error may miss graduation speech

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Law Leave a comment

By Miranda Leitsinger, msnbc.com

A teen who is slated to give the salutatorian speech at her high school graduation Saturday may miss the big event because of an immigration deadline that she missed by a day.

More..


Almost-deported valedictorian Daniela Pelaez helps introduce immigration reform bill

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

By James Eng, msnbc.com

A little more than two months after she came close to being deported, high school valedictorianDaniela Pelaez joined a Florida congressman on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as he introduced a bill to allow undocumented students to remain in the U.S. if they get a college degree.

 

More..


Minorities now account for most U.S. births, census data show

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

New 2011 census estimates due to be released indicate that ‘an important landmark’ has been reached in U.S. demographic evolution as longtime immigration growth ebbs, an expert says.

Associated Press

May 16, 2012, 11:06 p.m.


Mexican immigration to U.S. at a standstill, report says

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

By msnbc.com staff and news services

WASHINGTON — Faced with a persistently weak economy, the number of immigrants flowing into the United States from Mexico has declined for the first time in decades, according to a study released on Monday.

 

In all, the Mexican-born population in the U.S. last year — legal and illegal — fell to 12 million, marking an end to an immigration boom dating back to the 1970s, when foreign-born residents from Mexico stood at 760,000. The 2007 peak was 12.6 million.


Wow, fees decreased??! Effective April 13, 2012, the Department of State will decrease the immigrant visa application processing fees for all immigrant visa categories.

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_3906.html

Important Notice – New Application Fees: Effective April 13, 2012, the Department of State will decrease the immigrant visa application processing fees for all immigrant visa categories. Fees paid on or after April 13, 2012 will reflect the new fee amounts. The National Visa Center will resend the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee bill to those individuals who have yet to pay.

Immigrant visa application processing fees will be reduced to the following amounts:

  • Immediate relative and family preference visa applications– $230 per applicant
  • Employment-based visa applications – $405 per applicant
  • Other immigrant visa applications (including I-360) – $220 per applicant

For more information, review the Press Release and Fees for Visa Services.


Obama pledges immigration reform early in 2nd term

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

Obama pledges immigration reform early in 2nd term

CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) — In his most specific pledge yet toU.S. Hispanics, President Barack Obama said Saturday he would seek to tackle immigration policy in the first year of a second term. But he cautioned that he would need an amenable Congress to succeed.

“This is something I care deeply about,” he told Univision. “It’s personal to me.”

Obama said in the television interview that he would work on immigration this year, but said he can’t get support from Republicans in Congress. Obama also tried to paint his Republican presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, as an extremist onimmigration, saying that Romney supports laws that would potentially allow for people to be stopped and asked for citizenship papers based on an assumption that they are illegal.

“So what we need is a change either of Congress or we need Republicans to change their mind, and I think this has to be an important debate during — throughout the country,” Obama said.

Romney aides have said that the former Massachusetts governor supports laws that would require employers to verify the legal status of workers they employ.

“President Obama only talks about immigration reform when he’s seeking votes,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Then-candidate Obama promised to tackle immigration reform in his first year. More than three years into his term, America is still waiting for his immigration plan.”

Hispanics are an increasingly important voting bloc in presidential elections. Obama won a sizable majority of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election and his campaign is hoping for similar results this November.

Obama spoke to Univision, a network widely watched by Latinos in the United States, while in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.


Foreign-Filed I-601 Waivers: New Procedure starting late Spring/Early 2012

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions 2 Comments

In a teleconference on March 9, 2012, USCIS announced plans to transition all usually foreign filed I-601 applications for unlawful presence, criminal, misrepresentation, and other kinds of inadmissibility waivers to one central Lockbox filing location in the U.S. The practice now is to submit the waiver filing with the USCIS office connected to the foreign consulate. The current process has resulted in a lot of delays and longer wait times for a final decision at certain consulates who have less adjudicators available to decide the waivers. In theory, this will be better for applicants if they can reduce the average wait time and the efficiency of adjudication.

 

Please note: This new process Foreign-Filed Waiver Lockbox procedure has nothing to do with the provisional waiver process that should be in effect by late 2012 and proposed earlier in the year.

 

What this new process would do:

 

Procedural change

 

Waiver applications can only be submitted to the Lockbox in the US after the applicant has attended the immigrant visa interview abroad at the consulate and the consulate officer determines that the applicant is eligible to file a waiver. The waiver would be filed with the Lockbox, in Phoenix, which forwards the petition to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center for adjudication. USCIS expects to train 26 officers on waivers to handle the expected increased workload.

 

Proposed Benefits to this new process:

 

  • Should be faster for applicants – Goal is adjudication in 6 months.  They also hope a new centralized place to submit the foreign filed waivers should stop great variations on processing times at different consulates; overseas offices cannot grow easily – some USCIS offices abroad only have one officer to decide these case and the backlogs created are inevitable.  In contrast, service centers are huge (can pull staff from other units) and can respond quickly to increases in receipts of applications to avoid backlogs. 14 officers will start at NSC and will add more for a total of 26 to handle over 23,000 waivers submitted each year.  Right now there are 4 adjudicators in Mexico and in some cases 1 in other offices.
  • Case status info will be available online through USCIS’s website once the application is filed and receipted. This is a great addition and only available currently with some offices.
  • All cases will be adjudicated in order of being received.
  • Process applies to all I-212s (Advance Permission to Reapply After Removal Packages) filed with Inadmissibility Waivers as well. I-212 waivers can be sent to the Lockbox or still filed with the local offices.
  • E -notification will be available – if you provide email address – can get receipt number emailed to you.
  • Implementation of this new policy is expected in late spring, early summer 2012, around Memorial Day.

 

Other important notes:

  • Estimates of 23,000 waivers per year with 26 adjudicators allows 885 waivers to be reviewed per adjudicator per year. 885 waivers in 252 business days in a year is an average of 3.5 waivers per day, per adjudicator, or about 2.5 hours spent on each case. A great improvement on certain offices now with 1 adjudicator.
  • Concurrent I-130 and I-601 filing is not available.
  • The concurrent I-485 and I-601 filing procedures will not change – Follow the local filing instructions.
  • Applicants cannot apply from Havana – must file with intrasection there (only 10 cases a year)
  • There could be certain situations overseas where USCIS offices are available and could be faster for expedites than lockbox decisions which are expected to take no more than 6 months on average.
  • Transition period for CDJ (Juarez) cases – between 75-79% are filed at CDJ. Now takes two months to review if instantly approvable. If not, the case referred to another office to adjudicate.  For the first six months of this new process, the applicant will have the choice to file at a Lockbox or at CDJ. After this, will then all go to Lockbox filings. So the CDJ Pilot Program will be over within 6 months of this procedure coming in effect.
  • As of today’s teleconference, USCIS is not sure if it will be transferring pending cases from consulates at the time the new procedure becomes effective or if USCIS offices abroad will continue to decide those pending cases.
  • Refiles as the Lockbox if the NBC denies the case will be available if the applicant chooses this route instead of appealing the denial to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office which could take over a year.
  • LockBoxSupport@dhs.gov – for questions and to inquire about the lockbox status.
  • The main reason the waivers will be rejected will be for lack of signatures (must be original), lack of proper fees, and missing information like name, address, and DOB.  Must follow directions for submitting form with most recent directions.
  • Do not file the waiver before the interview or it will be denied.  An applicant may not file the waiver until they are given permission at the visa interview.
  • Officers conducting the visa interview will send inadmissibility and case information visa an electronic database to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) so adjudicators will have the case information readily available.
  • If waiver submissions are duplicated (ex: one foreign filed and one US filed), the duplicated waiver will be sent to NSC so one officer will adjudicate the two waivers.
  • Additional evidence should be sent to the NSC, not to the Lockbox.
  • Not all of the officers are experience adjudicators, but they will be receiving training. If outside support is necessary, the support team will also receive training before they start adjudicating.
  • Applicant will receive decision by mail.
  • If waiver is denied and person chooses to refile instead of appeal, they applicant will not need a second interview but will be able to send a new waiver to the Lockbox.

 

 

Expedites:

 

  • Requests need to be made in writing and sent to the Lockbox.
  • Expedite request requirements will be the same as before.
  • No notification will be provided if denied
  • Cases needing immediate attention to adjudicate the I-601 will have to be discussed with eh consulate interviewing officer.

This is a positive step in streamlining how waivers are adjudicated and we hope that the decreased wait time will allow families to be unified faster than before.

 

Ruby L. Powers – I-601 Waiver Attorney – Houston Immigration Attorney

www.RubyPowersLaw.com

 


Facebook

YouTube

LinkedId