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Speaking Up for the Voiceless Among Us – Texas Civil Rights Project

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Originally Published by James C Harrington, TCRP Director

For Americans, Labor Day is that end-of-summer holiday which wraps up vacation time and ushers in the school year. We don’t remind ourselves that unions originated Labor Day in 1882 to pay tribute to workers, mostly immigrants, who were in the throes of organizing against an economic structure that grotesquely exploited men, women and children in factories, mines and sweat shops and on docks, railroads and ranches.

It is shameful we rarely recall and honor the brave struggle of these workers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to better their families’ lives — and our lives. We have a collective amnesia about the nearly half-century of their suffering, jailings, beatings and sometimes death that brought about better wages, increased workplace safety, curtailed child labor, provided retirement and sick leave, and promoted the common good. It eventually gave us the 40-hour work week and eight-hour work day, and it passed minimum wage and overtime pay laws.

The battle goes on

We now take these hard-won rights as a given and rarely recall the immense sacrifice that made our lives better and these rights real. But the struggle is far from over.

The U.S. Economic Policy Institute reports that one percent of this nation holds 35 percent of its wealth. The top 10 percent receive 45 percent of the income, while the other 90 percent split up the remaining 55 percent.

About 46.2 million people live in poverty, a steadily rising number and the largest in the 52 years for which estimates have been published.

Texas has one of the country’s highest poverty rates with nearly four million people at or below the poverty line, pushing 20 percent, well above the national average of about 15 percent. Child poverty is significantly higher in Texas than across the country.

Join TCRP for our 23rd Annual
Bill of Rights Dinner

Featuring Keynote Speaker

Damien Echols
of the “West Memphis Three”

Saturday, November 9th, 2013
University of Texas Alumni Center (Austin)

Info and Tickets Online

Non-college-educated women, working full time, earn 77 percent of what similar male workers make, for which they suffer a detrimental cumulative effect over their lifetime. For African-American workers overall, the comparison with white workers is in the low 70s; and for Hispanic workers, in the low 60 percentile.

This all is partly tied to the demise of full-time jobs with benefits. Ever more common are lower-paying part-time jobs, which require a family to hold two or three to survive. And there are fewer benefits, meaning more out-of-pocket medical costs. Nor is the minimum wage any longer a living wage.

Workers’ rights are based on the inherent dignity of a person. Workers are not simply a means of production like raw materials and capital. They bring unique talents to their jobs. In return, they are entitled to work in conditions that enhance their dignity rather than detract from it.

Solidarity is the key

Martin Luther King Jr. always tied civil rights and economic rights together. In fact, the march we mark for its 50th anniversary was named the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

We belong to one human family — a family that crosses boundaries of race, class and country in an economy that is more globalized and interdependent every day. Our ultimate focus must be the common good, not short-term self-interest. We all must look beyond our boundaries and comfort levels to speak for the voiceless, promote human rights and dignity, and seek the good of all — and future generations. Solidarity is the key.

This is how we can best honor those who brought us Labor Day and made our lives better.


White House Official Says Immigration Reform Vote Not Likely Until October

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Originally Published: Fox News, August 28, 2013

The Obama administration’s domestic policy director urged supporters of comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday to do as the civil rights leaders of the 1960s did – not let opponents defeat them.

Cecilia Muñoz, one of the most senior Latino officials in the White House, linked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with today’s fight for immigration reform in an interview with Fox News Latino.

“Today is about celebrating how far we’ve come and recommitting to the work that is ahead,” Muñoz said, adding that just as the civil rights movement of the 1960s addressed jobs, so does immigration reform.

“Immigration reform is just one piece of the agenda,” she said, “we can now quantify what it means for creating jobs, not just for immigrants, but for the rest of us.”

Muñoz, who has been a point person for Obama on immigration policy, said that significant movement on an immigration reform measure, or measures, was unlikely to happen before October. She said there are few legislative days in September, when members of Congress are to return from summer recess, and that their focus will be the debt ceiling and the budget.

That is later than the August deadline that President Obama had hoped for earlier this year, expressing concern that delays could hurt the chances of an immigration reform bill passing by December.

And in an interview with Fox News Latino a few weeks ago, Muñoz had said she hoped there would be a vote on a reform bill before October.  But on Monday Treasury Secretary Jack Lew set a mid-October debt-ceiling deadline, and some Republicans in the House are saying that it makes major action on immigration bills unlikely in that month, according to Politico.com

Muñoz said there’s no valid reason for more delays on House action on immigration.

The Senate, which passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June, showed that “it’s possible to get this job done well and it’s possible to get it done in a bipartisan bill,” she said.

House Republican leaders have said they will not vote on the Senate’s sweeping immigration bill, and that they prefer to address the issue in a piecemeal fashion, through several separate measures.

“It looks like the House will bring [for a vote] some portion of five bills that have been ready since July,” she said.

“They’ve already been through the committee.”

Muñoz said the president is not trying to rush reform legislation.

“We would like a debate” on the House floor, she said. “We think there’s bipartisan support for a reform bill.”

Some Republican leaders who are key to what happens to immigration bills in the House have been particularly vocal in recent weeks about their opposition to the general concept of allowing some undocumented immigrants to legalize their status.

As recently as Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, assailed Obama for issuing a directive that calls on immigration officials to use discretion when considering detaining immigrants who have minor children.

Goodlatte said the directive undermines the efforts in Congress to find a bipartisan solution to the flawed immigration system. Many conservative members of Congress have criticized efforts by the Obama administration to loosen penalties for certain undocumented immigrants, including a 2012 directive suspending deportation for those who were brought to the United States as minors.

Muñoz balked at the criticism.

She said such directives are part of  “a series of building blocks” that were laid out a few years ago in a memo by John Morton, the then-director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, calling for prosecutorial discretion in the case of undocumented immigrants who were not criminals or tied to terrorism.

“We’re maximizing the law enforcement impact of what we do,” she said, by prioritizing enforcement actions according to categories of undocumented immigrants.

As for Goodlatte, she said, “You could argue with the congressman, or anyone else, who is dissatisfied with our broken immigration system, that is a great argument for fixing it. It’s now abundantly clear. . .the depth and breadth of the constituents who support immigration reform is [now] greater than anyone has ever seen.”

 

 

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2013/08/28/white-house-domestic-policy-official-says-immigration-reform-vote-not-likely/#ixzz2dqMAqIJB


9 Questions About Syria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Originally Published: Washington Post, August 29, 2013.

The United States and allies are preparing for a possibly imminent series of limited military strikes against Syria, the first direct U.S. intervention in the two-year civil war, in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.

If you found the above sentence kind of confusing, or aren’t exactly sure why Syria is fighting a civil war, or even where Syria is located, then this is the article for you. What’s happening in Syria is really important, but it can also be confusing and difficult to follow even for those of us glued to it.

Here, then, are the most basic answers to your most basic questions. First, a disclaimer: Syria and its history are really complicated; this is not an exhaustive or definitive account of that entire story, just some background, written so that anyone can understand it.

Read award-winning novelist Teju Cole’s funny and insightful parody of this article, “9 questions about Britain you were too embarrassed to ask

1. What is Syria?

Syria is a country in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s about the same size as Washington state with a population a little over three times as large – 22 million.  Syria is very diverse, ethnically and religiously, but most Syrians are ethnic Arab and follow the Sunni branch of Islam. Civilization in Syria goes back thousands of years, but the country as it exists today is very young. Its borders were drawn by European colonial powers in the 1920s.

Syria is in the middle of an extremely violent civil war. Fighting between government forces and rebels has killed more 100,000 and created 2 million refugees, half of them children.

2. Why are people in Syria killing each other?

The killing started in April 2011, when peaceful protests inspired by earlier revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia rose up to challenge the dictatorship running the country. The government responded — there is no getting around this — like monsters. First, security forces quietly killed activists. Then they started kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing activists and their family members, including a lot of children, dumping their mutilated bodies by the sides of roads. Then troops began simply opening fire on protests. Eventually, civilians started shooting back.

Fighting escalated from there until it was a civil war. Armed civilians organized into rebel groups. The army deployed across the country, shelling and bombing whole neighborhoods and towns, trying to terrorize people into submission. They’ve also allegedly used chemical weapons, which is a big deal for reasons I’ll address below. Volunteers from other countries joined the rebels, either because they wanted freedom and democracy for Syria or, more likely, because they are jihadists who hate Syria’s secular government. The rebels were gaining ground for a while and now it looks like Assad is coming back. There is no end in sight.

3. That’s horrible. But there are protests lots of places. How did it all go so wrong in Syria? And, please, just give me the short version.

That’s a complicated question, and there’s no single, definitive answer. This is the shortest possible version — stay with me, it’s worth it. You might say, broadly speaking, that there are two general theories. Both start with the idea that Syria has been a powder keg waiting to explode for decades and that it was set off, maybe inevitably, by the 2011 protests and especially by the government’s overly harsh crackdown.

Before we dive into the theories, you have to understand that the Syrian government really overreacted when peaceful protests started in mid-2011, slaughtering civilians unapologetically, which was a big part of how things escalated as quickly as they did. Assad learned this from his father. In 1982, Assad’s father and then-dictator Hafez al-Assad responded to a Muslim Brotherhood-led uprising in the city of Hama by leveling entire neighborhoods. He killed thousands of civilians, many of whom had nothing to do with the uprising. But it worked, and it looks like the younger Assad tried to reproduce it. His failure made the descent into chaos much worse.

Okay, now the theories for why Syria spiraled so wildly. The first is what you might call “sectarian re-balancing” or “the Fareed Zakaria case” for why Syria is imploding (he didn’t invent this argument but is a major proponent). Syria has artificial borders that were created by European colonial powers, forcing together an amalgam of diverse religious and ethnic groups. Those powers also tended to promote a minority and rule through it, worsening preexisting sectarian tensions.

Zakaria’s argument is that what we’re seeing in Syria is in some ways the inevitable re-balancing of power along ethnic and religious lines. He compares it to the sectarian bloodbath in Iraq after the United States toppled Saddam Hussein, after which a long-oppressed majority retook power from, and violently punished, the former minority rulers. Most Syrians are Sunni Arabs, but the country is run by members of a minority sect known as Alawites (they’re ethnic Arab but follow a smaller branch of Islam). The Alawite government rules through a repressive dictatorship and gives Alawites special privileges, which makes some Sunnis and other groups hate Alawites in general, which in turn makes Alawites fear that they’ll be slaughtered en masse if Assad loses the war. (There are other minorities as well, such as ethnic Kurds and Christian Arabs; too much to cover in one explainer.) Also, lots of Syrian communities are already organized into ethnic or religious enclaves, which means that community militias are also sectarian militias. That would explain why so much of the killing in Syria has developed along sectarian lines. It would also suggest that there’s not much anyone can do to end the killing because, in Zakaria’s view, this is a painful but unstoppable process of re-balancing power.

The second big theory is a bit simpler: that the Assad regime was not a sustainable enterprise and it’s clawing desperately on its way down. Most countries have some kind of self-sustaining political order, and it looked for a long time like Syria was held together by a cruel and repressive but basically stable dictatorship. But maybe it wasn’t stable; maybe it was built on quicksand. Bashar al-Assad’s father Hafez seized power in a coup in 1970 after two decades of extreme political instability. His government was a product of Cold War meddling and a kind of Arab political identity crisis that was sweeping the region. But he picked the losing sides of both: the Soviet Union was his patron, and he followed a hard-line anti-Western nationalist ideology that’s now mostly defunct. The Cold War is long over, and most of the region long ago made peace with Israel and the United States; the Assad regime’s once-solid ideological and geopolitical identity is hopelessly outdated. But Bashar al-Assad, who took power in 2000 when his father died, never bothered to update it. So when things started going belly-up two years ago, he didn’t have much to fall back on except for his ability to kill people.

4. I hear a lot about how Russia still loves Syria, though. And Iran, too. What’s their deal?

Yeah, Russia is Syria’s most important ally. Moscow blocks the United Nations Security Council from passing anything that might hurt the Assad regime, which is why the United States has to go around the United Nations if it wants to do anything. Russia sends lots of weapons to Syria that make it easier for Assad to keep killing civilians and will make it much harder if the outside world ever wants to intervene.

The four big reasons that Russia wants to protect Assad, the importance of which vary depending on whom you ask, are: (1) Russia has a naval installation in Syria, which is strategically important and Russia’s last foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union; (2) Russia still has a bit of a Cold War mentality, as well as a touch of national insecurity, which makes it care very much about maintaining one of its last military alliances; (3) Russia also hates the idea of “international intervention” against countries like Syria because it sees this as Cold War-style Western imperialism and ultimately a threat to Russia; (4) Syria buys a lot of Russian military exports, and Russia needs the money.

Iran’s thinking in supporting Assad is more straightforward. It perceives Israel and the United States as existential threats and uses Syria to protect itself, shipping arms through Syria to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah and the Gaza-based militant group Hamas. Iran is already feeling isolated and insecure; it worries that if Assad falls it will lose a major ally and be cut off from its militant proxies, leaving it very vulnerable. So far, it looks like Iran is actually coming out ahead: Assad is even more reliant on Tehran than he was before the war started.

5. This is all feeling really bleak and hopeless. Can we take a music break?

Oh man, it gets so much worse. But, yeah, let’s listen to some music from Syria. It’s really good!

If you want to go old-school you should listen to the man, the legend, the great Omar Souleyman (playing Brooklyn this Saturday!). Or, if you really want to get your revolutionary on, listen to the infectious 2011 anti-Assad anthem “Come on Bashar leave.” The singer, a cement mixer who made Rage Against the Machine look like Enya, was killed for performing it in Hama. But let’s listen to something non-war and bit more contemporary, the soulful and foot-tappable George Wassouf: Hope you enjoyed that, because things are about to go from depressing to despondent.

6. Why hasn’t the United States fixed this yet?

Because it can’t. There are no viable options. Sorry.

The military options are all bad. Shipping arms to rebels, even if it helps them topple Assad, would ultimately empower jihadists and worsen rebel in-fighting, probably leading to lots of chaos and possibly a second civil war (the United States made this mistake during Afghanistan’s early 1990s civil war, which helped the Taliban take power in 1996). Taking out Assad somehow would probably do the same, opening up a dangerous power vacuum. Launching airstrikes or a “no-fly zone” could suck us in, possibly for years, and probably wouldn’t make much difference on the ground. An Iraq-style ground invasion would, in the very best outcome, accelerate the killing, cost a lot of U.S. lives, wildly exacerbate anti-Americanism in a boon to jihadists and nationalist dictators alike, and would require the United States to impose order for years across a country full of people trying to kill each other. Nope.

The one political option, which the Obama administration has been pushing for, would be for the Assad regime and the rebels to strike a peace deal. But there’s no indication that either side is interested in that, or that there’s even a viable unified rebel movement with which to negotiate.

It’s possible that there was a brief window for a Libya-style military intervention early on in the conflict. But we’ll never really know.

7. So why would Obama bother with strikes that no one expects to actually solve anything?

Okay, you’re asking here about the Obama administration’s not-so-subtle signals that it wants to launch some cruise missiles at Syria, which would be punishment for what it says is Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.

It’s true that basically no one believes that this will turn the tide of the Syrian war. But this is important: it’s not supposed to. The strikes wouldn’t be meant to shape the course of the war or to topple Assad, which Obama thinks would just make things worse anyway. They would be meant to punish Assad for (allegedly) using chemical weapons and to deter him, or any future military leader in any future war, from using them again.

8. Come on, what’s the big deal with chemical weapons? Assad kills 100,000 people with bullets and bombs but we’re freaked out over 1,000 who maybe died from poisonous gas? That seems silly.

You’re definitely not the only one who thinks the distinction is arbitrary and artificial. But there’s a good case to be made that this is a rare opportunity, at least in theory, for the United States to make the war a little bit less terrible — and to make future wars less terrible.

The whole idea that there are rules of war is a pretty new one: the practice of war is thousands of years old, but the idea that we can regulate war to make it less terrible has been around for less than a century. The institutions that do this are weak and inconsistent; the rules are frail and not very well observed. But one of the world’s few quasi-successes is the “norm” (a fancy way of saying a rule we all agree to follow) against chemical weapons. This norm is frail enough that Syria could drastically weaken it if we ignore Assad’s use of them, but it’s also strong enough that it’s worth protecting. So it’s sort of a low-hanging fruit: firing a few cruise missiles doesn’t cost us much and can maybe help preserve this really hard-won and valuable norm against chemical weapons.

You didn’t answer my question. That just tells me that we can maybe preserve the norm against chemical weapons, not why we should.

Fair point. Here’s the deal: war is going to happen. It just is. But the reason that the world got together in 1925 for the Geneva Convention to ban chemical weapons is because this stuff is really, really good at killing civilians but not actually very good at the conventional aim of warfare, which is to defeat the other side. You might say that they’re maybe 30 percent a battlefield weapon and 70 percent a tool of terror. In a world without that norm against chemical weapons, a military might fire off some sarin gas because it wants that battlefield advantage, even if it ends up causing unintended and massive suffering among civilians, maybe including its own. And if a military believes its adversary is probably going to use chemical weapons, it has a strong incentive to use them itself. After all, they’re fighting to the death.

So both sides of any conflict, not to mention civilians everywhere, are better off if neither of them uses chemical weapons. But that requires believing that your opponent will never use them, no matter what. And the only way to do that, short of removing them from the planet entirely, is for everyone to just agree in advance to never use them and to really mean it. That becomes much harder if the norm is weakened because someone like Assad got away with it. It becomes a bit easier if everyone believes using chemical weapons will cost you a few inbound U.S. cruise missiles.

That’s why the Obama administration apparently wants to fire cruise missiles at Syria, even though it won’t end the suffering, end the war or even really hurt Assad that much.

9. Hi, there was too much text so I skipped to the bottom to find the big take-away. What’s going to happen?

Short-term maybe the United States and some allies will launch some limited, brief strikes against Syria and maybe they won’t. Either way, these things seem pretty certain in the long-term:

• The killing will continue, probably for years. There’s no one to sign a peace treaty on the rebel side, even if the regime side were interested, and there’s no foreseeable victory for either. Refugees will continue fleeing into neighboring countries, causing instability and an entire other humanitarian crisis as conditions in the camps worsen.

• Syria as we know it, an ancient place with a rich and celebrated culture and history, will be a broken, failed society, probably for a generation or more. It’s very hard to see how you rebuild a functioning state after this. Maybe worse, it’s hard to see how you get back to a working social contract where everyone agrees to get along.

• Russia will continue to block international action, the window for which has maybe closed anyway. The United States might try to pressure, cajole or even horse-trade Moscow into changing its mind, but there’s not much we can offer them that they care about as much as Syria.

• At some point the conflict will cool, either from a partial victory or from exhaustion. The world could maybe send in some peacekeepers or even broker a fragile peace between the various ethnic, religious and political factions. Probably the best model is Lebanon, which fought a brutal civil war that lasted 15 years from 1975 to 1990 and has been slowly, slowly recovering ever since. It had some bombings just last week.


Visa Bulletin Released: F2A Visa Category is Now Current

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

The Department of State has released the September 2013 Visa Bulletin. According to it, the F2A category(spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents) remains current for all countries.

Generally, individuals who are petitioned for by a lawful permanent resident, rather than a United States citizen, must wait until a given date or period before visas will be made available for their category. In some cases, individuals may have to wait several years before visas for their particular category are made available, prompting many immigrants to wait to for years to even put in an application.

As a result of the recent update, rather than having to wait until a later date individuals’ applications that fall underneath the above category are currently being reviewed and visas have been made available. These individuals may now be eligible for adjustment of status, meaning regardless of the date when the petition was filed, if all other requirements are met, they are able to apply for work authorization, and eventually a drivers license and social security number. If you are the spouse or child under the age of 21 of a permanent resident and have already filed, or would like to file petitions in order to gain a visa underneath this category it is advised that you seek legal advice as to how to proceed.

For more information on qualifications and the latest updates to the visa bulletin visit the USCIS.gov website, or the Travel.State.Gov website.

If you are interested in obtaining a visa to enter the United States underneath these conditions or filing an initial application, contact the Law Office of Ruby L. Powers in order to obtain a consultation and further advice on whether or not you qualify.


United States Government Recognizes Same-Sex Couples for Immigration

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

On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, stating that federal benefits tied to marriage could only be considered for heterosexual couples, was unconstitutional, opening the doors for thousands of individuals to apply for things like social security, joint filing of taxes, the passage of estates, etc. This is undeniably a huge victory for same-sex couples in the Untied States.  But a successive victory was that hours after the ruling on DOMA for same-sex couples, the government announced that it would also begin extending immigration benefits to same-sex couples.

According to studies, the number of same-sex partner couples in which one is a foreign partner is around 32, 000. And historically, while heterosexual couples were able to sponsor one another by filing petitions to bring or keep their partners into the United Sates – same-sex couples were unable to do so because their marriages were not recognized, until now.

In July the Department of Homeland Security announced that same-sex couples will indeed be able to secure immigration benefits for one another, and in guidelines issued via USCISon July 1, 2013 the Secretary of Homeland Security stated that “ I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

As a result same-sex couples and their partners should be able to bring their gay and lesbian partners into the United States as well as prevent some of those individuals from deportation, assuming that they meet all other immigration requirements for Alien Relative Petitions, and/or Fiance visas. Additionally, those who have been denied prior to the revision may be eligible to have their cases reviewed.

If you are interested in obtaining a visa to enter the United States underneath these conditions, contact the Law Office of Ruby L. Powers in order to obtain a consultation and further advice on whether or not you qualify.


Can Christian Egyptians get Asylum from Egypt?

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Trends Leave a comment

 

The 2011 revolution in Egypt that ousted Mubarak and acted as the kickoff for the Arab Spring, the string of revolutions and uprisings in neighboring Arab countries that followed, has resulted in a great deal of strife, the recent toppling of the successive Egyptian presidency of Morsi, a divide amongst pro- and anti- Morsi supporters, military crackdown on public media and the deaths of thousands more of civilians and protestors.

The question now is whether or not the United States will offer greater asylum for Egyptian civilians, particularly the Christians. The current revolution related death toll in Egypt via recent protests is now near 700. Thousands of civilians though have died though, since the initial 2011 revolution during which individuals have been killed via ammunition in the from the military, local brawls between divided supporters in the streets and allegations of torture and executions carried out by Muslim Brotherhood supporters against anti-Morsi and particularly a minority of Cotptic Christians who the brotherhood supporters perceive as opposing them.

Many share the opinion that the United States and other Western countries should open their doors to the small but historically targeted Egyptian Christians as anger and violence against them is renewed and rises.  Several Christian churches have been burnt to the ground since the year began and hundreds of sites have been attacked. And although no emergency asylum status has been issued, according to a Bloomberg article, the United States granted asylum to over 2,000 of these individuals in 2012. Since 2011 they’ve been fleeing to both the United States and Europe. Australian humanitarian groups and immigrations supporter are also speaking out on the need and desire to protect these the Coptic Christians looking to flee the violence in Egypt.

In order to apply and qualify for asylee status in the United States the individual must be able to prove three major requirements:

1)   the individual must demonstrate that s/he fears persecution

2)   the individual must prove that the government is either responsible for or unable to control the individuals and persecution aimed towards them

3)   the persecution must be based on one of several protected grounds, which in this particular case would be religion.

The process of obtaining affirmative asylum generally consists of a putting together and submitting an application that demonstrates the above, which is then reviewed by an adjudicator. The applicant is then required to appear for an interview with the adjudicator. If not granted asylum via the interview the applicant does have a second chance to appear before an immigration judge and make the request for their asylum defensively.

With the renewed and heated climate in Egypt, now is a strong time for Egyptians seeking refuge in the United States to apply. If you are looking to obtain status and refuge in the United States underneath these conditions contact the Law Office or Ruby L. Powers in order to obtain a consultation and further advice on whether or not you qualify.


Temporary Protected Status Extended for Syrians in the United States

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

 

Recently, the White House Administration confirmed that the Syrian government did indeed use chemical weapon attacks on civilians. According to the administration it is unlikely that the opposition group ( mainly the FSA) had the means of carrying out the attack. The international community is now debating whether to launch military strikes against Syria on the grounds that these attacks are a violation of human rights.

As a result of the dangerous conflict between Syrian opposition groups and the government that has been taking place since early 2011, the United States has extended Temporary Protective Status for Syrians already located in the United States. In early June of 2013, from October 1, 2013, TPS for Syrians in the United States has been re-designated and extended. The 18-month extension was announced and published in the Federal Register on June 17, 2013. Syrians now in the United States who re-register their TPS will be allowed to remain in the United States until March 31, 2015, assuming that they continue to meet TPS status terms and conditions.

According to USCIS’ website, those who already have their TPS for Syria and would like to retain it will need to re-register June 13, 2013 and August 16, 2013.  Those who are filing their first application will need to file between June 17, 2013 and December 16, 2013. Further guidelines and eligibility requirements can also be found on the USCIS website.

If you are interested in obtaining a visa to enter the United States underneath these conditions, contact the Law Office of Ruby L. Powers in order to obtain a consultation and further advice on whether or not you qualify.


Obama concedes Congress won’t meet August deadline on immigration overhaul

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

Obama concedes Congress won’t meet August deadline on immigration overhaul

By Associated Press, Published: July 15 | Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 8:23 PM

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday conceded that an immigration overhaul cannot be achieved by his August deadline. With House Republicans searching for a way forward on the issue, the president said he was hopeful a bill could be finalized this fall — though even that goal may be overly optimistic.

The president, in a series of interviews with Spanish language television stations, also reiterated his insistence that any legislation include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. Many House GOP lawmakers oppose the citizenship proposal, hardening the differences between the parties on the president’s top second-term legislative priority.

“It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix this system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he said during an interview with Telemundo’s Denver affiliate.

The White House sees the president’s outreach to Hispanics as a way to keep up enthusiasm for the overhaul among core supporters even as the legislative prospects in Washington grow increasingly uncertain.

Some Republicans view support for immigration reform as central to the party’s national viability given the growing political power of Hispanics. But many House GOP lawmakers representing conservative — and largely white — districts see little incentive to back legislation.

The president said the lack of consensus among House Republicans will stretch the immigration debate past August, his original deadline for a long-elusive overhaul of the nation’s fractured laws.

“That was originally my hope and my goal,” Obama said. “But the House Republicans I think still have to process this issue and discuss it further, and hopefully, I think, still hear from constituents, from businesses to labor, to evangelical Christians who all are supporting immigration reform.”

Supporters are working on strategy to get the House to sign off on an overhaul. On Tuesday, most members of the so-called Gang of Eight — the bipartisan group of senators that authored the Senate immigration bill — met in the Capitol with a large group of advocates from business, religious, agriculture and other organizations to urge everyone to work together to move the issue through the House.

The senators distributed a list of 121 House Republicans seen as persuadable in favor of the bill and discussed honing a message for Congress’ monthlong August recess, when House members will meet with constituents and potentially encounter opposition to immigration legislation.

“When we go into the August break we want to be sure everybody’s working hard and trying to make our case,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after the meeting.

The landmark bill passed by the Senate last month would tighten border security, expand the highly skilled worker program and set up new guest worker arrangements for lower-skilled workers and farm laborers. It would also provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million immigrations illegally in the U.S., one that includes paying fines, learning English and taking other steps.

During his interview with Univision’s New York affiliate, Obama said the citizenship pathway “needs to be part of the bill.”

House Republicans have balked at the Senate proposal, with GOP leaders saying they prefer instead to tackle the issue in smaller increments. Many GOP representatives also oppose the prospect of allowing people who came to the U.S. illegally to become citizens.

House Republicans are considering other options, including proposals to give priority for legalization to the so-called Dreamers — those who were brought the U.S. illegally as children. Allowing only those individuals to obtain citizenship could shield Republicans from attacks by conservatives that they’re giving a free pass to those who voluntarily broke the law.

“I think that group of people — some call Dreamers — is a group that deserves perhaps the highest priority attention,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said at an immigration-related conference in California Monday. “They know no other country.”

Goodlatte and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, both Virginia Republicans, are working on a bill to address the status of those immigrants, although the timing is uncertain. And Goodlatte cautioned that any such measure should hinge on completion of enforcement measures to prevent parents from smuggling their children into the U.S. in the future.

The House is not expected to act on any legislation before the August recess, though the House Judiciary Committee could hold a hearing on the bill dealing with people brought to the U.S. when they were young.

Obama also spoke with the Telemundo station in Dallas and the Univision station in Los Angeles.

_

Associated Press writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.


What We Won With Senate Immigration Bill S. 744, from America’s Voice

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

What We Won With Senate Immigration Bill S. 744

The Senate passed a landmark immigration reform bill by a 68-32 vote. Immigration reform is NOT yet a
done deal–we now have to fight to pass immigration reform through the House of Representatives, then conference
the two bills together. But the Senate bill–while it is a compromise full of unnecessary and overstrict border
measures–is full of provisions that would substantially improve the lives of immigrants. Here’s a short list of some of
them:
1. Path to citizenship for vast majority of the 11 million!!!
2. While in RPI status, immigrants can work, travel and live without fear of deportation
3. Reunification of many families separated by deportation
4. 5 year path to citizenship for Dreamers
5. DACA recipients will have RPI status expedited
6. Farm workers will get a ‘blue card’ and will be on a 5 year path to citizenship
7. Expedited path for those already here in a temporary status (TPS/DED)
8. Families that have spent years, even decades waiting for their turn in line will finally be reunited
9. Spouses and children of LPRs would be considered immediate family members and therefore would no longer
be subject to arbitrary visa caps.
10. Allows DREAMers to become citizens through military service
11. Immigrants on the path to citizenship can pay fees in installments
12. Individuals with final removal orders may be eligible for RPI status
13. Beacons for those toiling at the border
14. New temporary worker programs that protects immigrant workers and American labor force
15. All workers, including RPIs, will be treated equally by the tax system and eligible for tax credits
16. Spouses of H-1B holders will now be able to work
17. Immigration Judges will have some flexibility to consider individual factors when making decisions
18. Children and the mentally disabled will be eligible for court appointed counsel in immigration proceedings
19. Removal of filing deadline for asylum seekers
20. Encourages immigrant integration through more targeted programs and foundations to help legal immigrants
become citizens
21. Inclusion of POWER Act, bolsters legal remedies to immigrant workers who are fired in violation of labor laws
22. Strict limits on solitary confinement in immigration detention facilities
23. Provides immigration status to certain battered spouses and children
24. Prohibit ICE from conducting raids/arrests outside schools, churches, hospitals and other “sensitive locations”
25. Makes it substantially easier for both LPRs and non-LPRs to qualify for cancellation of removal, and removes
the cap on the number of cancellations that DOJ/DHS can grant in a year.
26. Protects the ability of W visaholders (essential workers) to change jobs.
27. Ensures access to affordable housing for battered immigrants.
28. Encourages alternatives to immigration detention
29. More protections for workers recruited abroad
30. Stricter penalties for notario fraud
31. Requires a use-of-force policy among all DHS agencies
32. Future work-visa holders will be able to self-petition for green cards rather than relying on employers to decide
whether they can call America home for good


Fixing America’s broken immigration system would be good for the country–and for the Republican Party

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

The Economist

Immigration

Of fences and good sense

Fixing America’s broken immigration system would be good for the country—and for the Republican Party

SOME of the first English words that Mario Rubio learned were “I am looking for work.” A penniless Cuban immigrant, he asked a friend to write them out phonetically on a piece of paper so he could memorise them. He worked hard and eventually became an American citizen. Perhaps his greatest reward was that his children had a better start in life. His son Marco is now a Republican senator.

His family’s story helps illustrate why the immigration reform Senator Rubio backs would increase the sum of human happiness, by freeing more people to pursue it. But like the sea between Cuba and Miami, the route to reform is rough.

On June 27th, by a convincing 68 votes to 32, the Senate passed an immigration bill co-sponsored by Mr Rubio. Now the action moves to the House of Representatives, where its passage is far from certain (see article). The Senate bill passed with support from both parties: all the Democrats voted for it, as did nearly a third of Republicans. House members would probably pass something similar, if allowed. But John Boehner, the Speaker, says he will not allow a vote on any bill unless a “majority of the majority” (ie, a majority of House Republicans) approve of it. That is a steep hurdle.

The Senate bill, were it to become law, would go a long way towards fixing America’s broken immigration system. It would increase the number of visas for skilled workers, grant visas for entrepreneurs and establish a guest-worker programme for manual labourers. It would give the estimated 11m illegal immigrants in America a chance to come in from the shadows: after paying a fine and back taxes, working hard and staying out of trouble, they would eventually be eligible to apply for citizenship. And in a last-minute deal the bill added another $46 billion (up from $8 billion in the original version) to fortify the Mexican border, which is already bristling with fences, armed guards and drones, and to beef up systems for checking that firms do not hire illegal workers. This “border surge” managed to lure in wavering Republican senators. But it is not enough for House Republicans.

Many of them insist on a bill that “secures the border first”. That is, they do not want any of the illegal immigrants now in America to be granted legal status until the border is so militarised that the flow of new ones slows almost to nothing. This would cost a fortune—America already spends more on border security than on all the main federal criminal law-enforcement agencies combined. And it would make only a marginal difference. So long as the supply of legal foreign workers falls far short of demand for their services, people will find a way in. It would be far better, for the immigrants themselves and for America, if they were allowed in legally.

More highly skilled immigrants would make America more innovative. More foreign entrepreneurs would create jobs for the native-born. More young, energetic newcomers would slow the rate at which America is ageing. More immigrants would mean more connections with fast-growing places such as China and India—connections that would accelerate trade and the exchange of ideas. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate bill would raise GDP, reduce the budget deficit and slightly increase the wages of the native-born. Countries built on immigration tend to be rich and dynamic: think of Australia, Canada and Singapore.

From “Tear down this wall” to “Build a fence”

Passing immigration reform would also be good for the Republican Party. Granted, to many in the House, it does not seem that way. Many represent districts gerrymandered to be whiter than a starlet’s teeth. For such congressmen, the biggest worry is a primary challenge from a more conservative fellow Republican. Many will doubtless hear, at barbecues over the July 4th weekend, that voters want landmines in the Yuma desert and crocodiles in the Rio Grande. Pandering to such demands will help some Republicans hang on to their seats in 2014.

But if the Grand Old Party wants to retake the Senate or the White House, it cannot afford to alienate ethnic minorities. They will reject a party that rejects them, and they will one day be a majority. Half of the babies born in America today are non-white. By 2060 non-Hispanic whites will be only 43% of the population, predicts the Census Bureau. Long before then, a party that attracts barely a quarter of the Hispanic and Asian vote, as Mitt Romney did, will be incapable of winning national elections. Mr Rubio, who would like to be president one day, understands this. If his party does not, it will be swept aside not by Democrats, but by demography.


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