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IMMIGRATION RELATED AGENCIES

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment


 

1)      US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

 

Homeland Security combines the resources of several federal, state and local agencies into a single, integrated agency focused on protecting the American people and their homeland. More than 87,000 different governmental departments at the federal, state, and local level have homeland security responsibilities.

 

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS– Responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization court functions and establishing the policies and priorities of immigration related services.
  • Administrative Appeals Office or AAO–  Should a petition or application be denied or revoked by the USCIS, in most cases it is possible to appeal that decision to a higher authority. The AAO has oversees the appeals of over 40 different petitions and applications (see list below).
  • Customs and Border Protection or CBP– Responsible for protecting our nation’s borders in order to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while aiding the flow of legitimate trade and travel.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE– Largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is responsible for identifying and shutting down vulnerabilities in the nation’s borders, specifically those having to do with the economy, transportation and infrastructure.

 

2)      Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)

 

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) was created on January 9, 1983 through an internal Department of Justice (DOJ) reorganization which combined the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) with the Immigration Judge function previously performed by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (now part of the Department of Homeland Security). Besides establishing EOIR as a separate agency within DOJ, this reorganization made the Immigration Courts independent of INS, the agency charged with enforcement of Federal immigration laws, much like national court of laws are separate from local and federal police departments The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) was added in 1987.

 

EOIR is also separate from the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices in the DOJ Civil Rights Division and the Office of Immigration Litigation in the DOJ Civil Division.

 

  • Immigration Courts

The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ) provides overall program direction, establishes policies and procedures, and sets priorities for more than 200 Immigration Judges located in 54 Immigration Courts throughout the Nation. The Chief Immigration Judge carries out these responsibilities with the assistance and support of two Deputy Chief Immigration Judges and 10 Assistant Chief Immigration Judges.

Immigration Judges are responsible for conducting formal court proceedings, and act independently in deciding the matters before them. Their decisions are final unless appealed or certified to the Board of Immigration Appeals. In removal proceedings, Immigration Judges determine whether an individual from a foreign country (an alien) should be allowed to enter or remain in the United States. They also have the power to consider various forms of relief from removal. In a typical removal proceeding, the Immigration Judge may decide whether an alien is deportable or inadmissible under the law, then may consider whether that alien may avoid forced removal by accepting voluntary departure or by qualifying for asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment status, protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, or other forms of relief.

Many removal proceedings are conducted in prisons and jails as part of an initiative called the Criminal Alien Institutional Hearing Program. In coordination with Department of Homeland Security and correctional authorities in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, selected municipalities, and Federal Bureau of Prison facilities, Immigration Judges conduct on-site hearings to rule on, the immigration status of aliens while they are serving sentences for criminal convictions.

  • Board of Immigration Appeals

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board) is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. It is composed of 11 Board Members, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman who share responsibility for Board management. The Board is located at EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. Generally, the Board does not conduct courtroom proceedings – it decides appeals by conducting a “paper review” of cases. On rare occasions, however, the Board does hear oral arguments of appealed cases, almost always at their headquarters.

The Board has been given nationwide power to hear appeals from certain decisions made by Immigration Judges and by District Directors of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a wide variety of proceedings in which the Government of the United States is one party and the other party is either an alien, a citizen, or a business firm. In addition, the Board is responsible for the recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives requesting permission to practice before DHS, the Immigration Courts, and the Board.

Decisions of the Board are binding on all DHS officers and Immigration Judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a Federal court. All Board decisions are subject to judicial review in the Federal courts. The majority of appeals reaching the Board involve orders of removal and applications for relief from removal. Other cases before the Board include the exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the United States, petitions to classify the status of alien relatives for the issuance of preference immigrant visas, fines imposed upon carriers for the violation of immigration laws, and motions for reopening and reconsideration of decisions previously rendered.

The Board is directed to use its independent judgment in hearing appeals for the Attorney General. Board decisions chosen for publication are printed in bound volumes entitled Administrative Decisions Under Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States.

3)      US Court of Appeals

 

The 94 U.S. judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, each of which has a United States court of appeals. A court of appeals hears appeals from the district courts located within its circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.  In addition, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals in specialized cases, such as those involving patent laws and cases decided by the Court of International Trade and the Court of Federal Claims.

 

*The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has jurisdiction over Texas.

 

 

4)      US Supreme Court

 

The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and such number of Associate Justices as may be fixed by Congress. The number of Associate Justices is currently fixed at eight, bringing the total current number of justices on the court to nine. Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments must be approved by the Senate. Only cases challenging the constitutionality of a decision by a lower court may be appealed before the Supreme Court.


Born in the USA—But Does that Guarantee Citizenship?

Posted on by Ruby Powers in 14th Amendment, Immigration Law Leave a comment

Born in the USA—But Does that Guarantee Citizenship?

By Martha J. Heil
American Bar Association
Aug. 4, 2011

This article discusses the hot topic of the 14th Amendment.

TORONTO — Does the 14th Amendment provide that children born in this country automatically become citizens? And if it doesn’t, should we fix it? A debate on that topic today at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting covered several centuries of legislation but started with just three words.

Those words, “subject to jurisdiction,” are a clause in the amendment to the U.S. Constitution that defines who is an American citizen.

Reading this reminded me that not all people born on US soil receive US citizenship but there are few exceptions.

My friend, Margaret D. Stock was quoted on the issue:

Stock gave a list of practical objections to modifying the 14th Amendment through laws in Congress. “If we get rid of birthright citizenship, we will lose our tax base, but we will also lose the benefit of those who are not born in the U.S. [while] we take advantage of their services,” she said. “Actually, the U.S. will get more undocumented immigration, because second, third, and fourth generations will also be illegal. We will have social disruption, discrimination and we’ll go back to the Dred Scott era.”

The ABA Annual Meeting takes place in Toronto Aug. 4-9. “The Battle Over Birthright Citizenship: History, International Perspectives and the Path Ahead” was sponsored by the ABA Commission on Immigration.


Tips on creating a paperless office—it is possible!

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

I came across this article  (July 2011) with the ABA about going paperless. It is a summary of another blog and article about going paperless by  Margaret (Molly) DiBianca:

“The paperless office is not a myth,” says Margaret (Molly) DiBianca, who practices labor and employment law at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, in Wilmington, Del., and writes the Going Paperless Blog. “It is, and has been a reality for many lawyers for many years.”

In fact, the Law Office of Ruby L. Powers has striven to be as paperless as possible from inception in 2009.  With paper you are using paper, ink, staples, staple removers, hole punchers, trash cans, trash can bags, physical storage of paper and files in the office and in storage locations, charging clients for copies, storage, postage, labor which can include to make copies, collate, mail, go to the post office, etc.

You can easily see the savings on:

  • Supplies and equipment
  • Storage
  • Labor
  • the Environment
What is great is that practices that use this model or culture, can pass on tremendous savings to their clients. We charge clients for copies and postage but most of those copies and postage are for the packets sent to the Government and we scan and email copies to our clients decreasing their expense charge. Additionally, we use an e-fax system to eliminate wasting paper and to have the documents already scanned for review and filing.
It would be great if more businesses could do this!
Ruby L. Powers
US Immigration Attorney

A soldier’s final gift: Parents’ citizenship

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

A soldier’s final gift: Parents’ citizenship

By Kurt Streeter

August 6, 2011

At a bittersweet naturalization ceremony for Ryan Hizon’s mother and father, a magistrate judge finds a lesson in the opportunities and the responsibilities of citizenship.

Such a sad but true story. I currently have a US citizen client serving in Iraq and his foreign-born wife will be attending her immigration interview without him although normally couples attend together.  Their case has been extremely faster than my other cases of the same type. I appreciate that USCIS honors those who serve the US military.

Ruby L. Powers

US Immigration Attorney

Houston, TX

www.RubyPowersLaw.com

 

 


How to the choose the right immigration attorney for you

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Finding the right immigration attorney can be a challenge and you need to make sure that you find the right one to entrust your important immigration matters to his/her expertise.  Here are a few things to consider in making the right choice:

 

1. Find an immigration attorney who practices only immigration law (or predominantly immigration law)

US immigration law is highly complicated — a web of statutes and regulations at the intersection of several government departments and agencies.  There are continuous changes.  When an attorney practices more than immigration law, it can be difficult to stay up to date on important changes and issues. It is ideal to find an immigration attorney who practices exclusively or predominantly immigration law.

 

2. Figure out how much experience the attorney has in the particular area of need in immigration law

Among the practice of immigration law, there are many areas of specialties or categories: deportation and removal, asylum, employment-based, investment-based, family-based, consular processing, waivers, etc.  Depending on the area of need you have, ask the attorney or firm, how much experience they have in the particular category of immigration law you need assistance with.

 

3. Read the attorney and firm’s online reviews

If true and accurate, online client reviews speak volumes of the legal product of an attorney and law firm.  It usually takes effort to go online and write a few words, and seeing what other clients have to say helps to give you an idea of what others have experienced.  Online reviews are our modern-day “word of mouth.”

 

4. Read the attorney’s online profile and firm website

You learn a lot about an attorney by reviewing his/her website and profile. What is his/her philosophy on legal service? Where did he/she study and train? Where has he/she worked beforehand? What makes him/her interested in immigration law and care about his/her clients? You can generally understand the attorney’s approach to his/her practice and search for common areas between your needs and his/her approach.

 

5. Review the attorney’s standing with his/her State Bar

After learning where the attorney is licensed, you can review his/her state bar’s website to see what his/her standing is with the bar and if there have been any complaints. For example, you could run an internet search for, “Texas State Bar” for an attorney licensed in Texas and search for their profile.

 

6. Talk with the attorney

Make sure you talk with the main attorney who will be overseeing your case, but not just the supporting personnel.  Do you feel comfortable with the attorney? Do you feel a sense of trust? Does he/she listen to you and ask the right questions during the consultation? How quickly does he/she respond to your emails and phone calls? How much of the work will the attorney be doing vs. how much is done by a paralegal or assistant? Having this conversation before retaining an attorney and firm will put your mind at ease and help you to know that you have found the right attorney for your case.

 

7. If you can, consult with at least two attorneys before retaining their services

Your case is important.  Just like getting a second opinion from a medical doctor, it can be useful to consult with more than one attorney about your case for a legal opinion.  Additionally, this will help you decide which attorney you feel more comfortable with and trust with your case.

 

Remember: You usually get what you pay for, so the least expensive attorney is probably not going to give you the same level of service if you were to pay more.  At the same time, consider the firm’s focus on quality vs. quantity and whether you are going be just another number or an actual person whom the attorney genuinely cares about.  Do not just go for the flashiest attorney or firm. They might have an advertisement on TV, a billboard, or their own television channel; that does not necessarily mean that they are the right attorney or firm for you.  If you are trying to find a “deal” by hiring a “notario,” you could get yourself into more trouble than if you just hired an attorney.  Additionally, notarios are not licensed attorneys in the United States.

The following is not legal advice but merely suggestions to consider from a practicing immigration attorney.

Ruby L. Powers

August 2, 2011

 

US Immigration Attorney

Law Office of Ruby L. Powers

www.RubyPowersLaw.com

(713) 589-2085

 


More Fear and Loathing from the House Judiciary Committee

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

More Fear and Loathing from the House Judiciary Committee

July 13, 2011

“Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up two immigration bills that supposedly address community safety, but in reality are simply the latest attempts to restrict immigration and limit due process for immigrants. Neither Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) “Keep Our Communities Safe Act of 2011,” or Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) “Security and Fairness Enhancement for America Act of 2011” (SAFE Act) offer solutions to the immigration crisis. Instead, Chairman Smith’s bill would authorize indefinite detention for a wide range of immigrants, while Rep. Goodlatte’s bill would eliminate the diversity visa—a lottery that offers 50,000 visas per year to immigrants from countries that send few people to the U.S. Once more, the House Judiciary Committee is using fear to restrict our immigration system.”

I don’t see how indefinite detention for a wide range of immigrant helps anyone. From my experience, Immigration is always trying to have immigrants out of detention as soon as possible whether by deportation or by bonding out for their day in court.  Additionally, everyone I have known to win the diversity visa lottery (which requires having had no prior immigration problems and having held a certain high level of education or training) to be an asset to the American community. I don’t think either measure will solve the issues that are the  most pressing.

Ruby L. Powers, Houston Immigration Attorney


A new Republican pragmatism on immigration?

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

 

Influential pro-reform conservatives are emerging, but none of the leading 2012 candidates seems to have got the memo


ABA Tells Congress the Immigration System Is in Crisis, Needs More Resources

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Immigration enforcement has “increased exponentially” in the last 10 years, creating burdens for courts straining to keep up with the caseloads, an ABA representative told Congress on Wednesday.

We have seen the increased enforcement here in Houston and the backlog in immigration court.


Computer glitch costs US visa lottery jackpot for 20,000

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Computer glitch costs US visa lottery jackpot for 20,000
By Matthew Lee
May 13, 2011
For a few joyful days, more than 20,000 people around the world thought they literally had hit the lottery and won a chance to come and live legally in the United States. Oops, the State Department said Friday, we had computer problems and have to run the annual visa lottery again.

The decision reopens competition for 50,000 wild-card visas for people who otherwise would have little hope of qualifying. About 15 million had applied, so it’s good news for many people who thought they had lost.


House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement:

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment
 
January 26, 2011

 

Washington D.C. – Today, the newly named House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held its first hearing of the new session entitled, "ICE Worksite Enforcement – Up to the Job?" The name change seems to be a signal that Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly will focus on enforcement, rather than immigration reform this session. It is hardly surprising, then, that the first hearing of the year was designed to challenge the Obama administration’s decision to move from the massive worksite raids of the past to the use of employer worksite audits.

 

The following statements were made today during a pre-hearing press conference call organized by the Immigration Policy Center:

Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center said:

The Obama Administration’s stepped up worksite enforcement efforts include conducting a record numbers of I-9 audits and collecting millions of dollars in fines. While this is an improvement over the arrests and round-ups involved in large-scale raids, which targeted workers, this new strategy is not without controversy. Across the country, I-9 audits, when not carefully conducted within the guidelines ICE has set for itself, can inadvertently lead to hardships for employers and workers alike, leading to the firing of thousands of workers, and leaving employers without the workers they need.  If today’s hearing is any indication of the committee’s long-term vision, then we are in for sound bites rather than substance, and a call for the good old days of immigration enforcement first and forever."

Emily TulliPolicy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center said:

"This enforcement-only agenda, with military-style raids as its centerpiece, may make for good PR, but it is ineffective policy. These raids terrorize communities, shutter businesses, and hurt our local economies. This enforcement-only model is not only unsustainable and inhumane, but also doesn’t fix our broken immigration system. Instead of looking backwards, we need to focus on practical solutions that help American workplaces thrive. ICE has a unique opportunity to meet their goals while helping to support labor law enforcement. Our economic recovery depends upon allowing good employers to thrive, while ensuring that bad apple employers who exploit workers are appropriately punished. ICE should use its significant enforcement dollars to target and penalize the worst employers, helping to create an incentive for employer compliance with immigration and labor law."

Javier Morillo-Alicea President of Service Employees International Union Local 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota said:

"We are going to see more and more small business going underground and paying people off the books as a way not to be audited. The assumption that an ICE audit results in unauthorized workers being replaced by authorized workers should be checked. It’s time for us to look at the problem and understand that we cannot deport our way out of illegal immigration nor can we audit our way out of illegal immigration."
Dan SicilianoSenior Lecturer in Law and Associate Dean for Executive Education and Special Programs at Stanford Law School said:

"There is no evidence to support the idea that worksite raids open up jobs for U.S. workers. Most immigrant workers-mid-skill, low skill, documented and undocumented-don’t compete with American workers. The 2010 Census is showing us that this trend has accelerated over the last decade. We have a low-skilled worker gap in the country. The overall skill level of US workers is increasing, which means those low skill jobs are becoming harder to fill. It isn’t right to look at the economy and workforce as a set of little boxes whereby you pluck someone out of workplace, leaving a perfect empty seat for someone to fill. Labor force dynamics are much more complex than that."

 

Also see additional IPC resources on this topic: 

  • A Framework for Effective Immigration Worksite Employer Enforcement (IPC, Jaunary 25, 2011) This paper provides background on immigration worksite enforcement efforts and lays out principles that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the administration’s immigration worksite enforcement program. The principles include: accountability to stated priorities, accessibility of information, uniformity and consistency of standards, and proportionality of sanctions.  

###

 

For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at wsefsaf@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524

 
___________________________________________________________________________
 

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC), established in 2003, is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC’s mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. IPC reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. IPC staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. IPC is a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office

Division of the American Immigration Council.


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