Undocumented immigrants confront author of strict immigration laws

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment
Bob Miller/for NBC News

Isela Meraz and Fernando Lopez lead a group of undocumented Hispanics in protest against anti-immigration laws during a briefing on the civil rights effects of state immigration law held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Birmingham, Ala.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Protesters opposed to strict state-level immigration laws confronted one of the key writers of such legislation as he testified at a U.S. Department of Justice civil rights hearing here on Friday.

Holding up small banners with the words “undocumented” on them, four self-proclaimed undocumented immigrants stood up one at a time to denounce the laws, interrupting the testimony being given by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped author the measures in Alabama and Arizona.

Kobach, who advised those states before being elected to statewide office in Kansas, and others were invited to speak about the impact of such laws by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent commission of the federal government.

But the session was interrupted by protests.

“I have received a lot of discrimination. I am Maria Huerta, undocumented and without fear. I have no fear! You have to respect our rights. They are civil rights,” the 65-year-old woman, originally from Mexico, cried out just before throwing the hearing agenda on the floor. “I leave it there. Keep it. You don’t know how to respect human suffering.”

Huerta is among a group of undocumented immigrants traveling across the country in a caravan to highlight their situation and those of others still living in the shadows. Before landing in Alabama, the ragtag caravan made stops in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Their ultimate goal is the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where they intend to press their concerns.

Moments before Huerta spoke, another group of five women stood up and turned their backs on the commission as Kobach began his testimony. They wore shirts that spelled out “stop hate.”

Bob Miller / for NBC News

Secretary of State Kris Kobach of Kansas addresses the commission during a briefing on civil rights effects of state immigration laws held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Birmingham, Alabama on August 17, 2012.

Emotions ran high later when protesters called Kobach, a “liar,” with Mayra Rangle, 32, telling commissioners: “It’s a shame you invited him and him,” as she pointed to those invited to speak.

After the hearing, Kobach said the protesters had the right to voice their opinions, but the interruptions were disrespectful.

“It’s inherently rude and it disrespects the American process of deliberation and careful policy making,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate when one side in a debate results to personal insults instead of bringing information and making a coherent point.”

When asked why he didn’t respond to them when challenged, he said: “I was there to respond to the panel not the protesters.”

During the protest, the civil rights commissioners argued about the presence of the demonstrators, with Commissioner Todd Gaziano, a Heritage Foundation fellow, denouncing the lack of security and Commissioner Michael Yaki, of Michael Yaki Consulting, noting the demonstrators were acting in the form of non-violent protest.

Bob Miller/for NBC News

Civil Rights commissioner Michael Yaki addresses a crowd of mostly undocumented immigrants in downtown Birmingham, Ala.

Gerardo Torres, 41, a Mexican who lives in Phoenix, said after the hearing that those who wrote the immigration laws were out of touch.

“I don’t think they have ever been in contact with regular people,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think they just go back to their gated community. … They are not in touch with reality.”


Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment



  • ·         Program will start August 15, 2012. Application Requests submitted/received before that date will be rejected.
  • ·         The documents submitted must prove that the Requester (they are not claling them “applicants.” Deferred Action is a request, and as such, subject mainly to discretion):


o   Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

o   Came to the United States before reaching her 16th birthday;

o   Has continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;

o   Was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

o   Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or her lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;

o   As of the day of the Request is in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and;

o   Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.


  • ·         All Requests to be submitted to USCIS 4 Service Centers, except, if the Requester is in the custody of ICE at the time of Request, then the Request is filed with ICE.
  • ·         The Fee is $465, including EAD. EAD will be issued for 2 years.
  • ·         NO FEE WAIVER AVAILABLE, however, “Fee Exceptions” will be considered on a case by case basis for Requesters:


o   under 18 years of age; or

o   homeless; or

o   in foster care; or

o   with no parental/familial support net and income is below 150% Poverty Guidelines; or

o   disabled; or

o   has more than 25K in debts that are medical or educational


ü  Fee Exceptions must be submitted PRIOR to the Deferred Action request and wait for approval from USCIS before submitting the DA request


  • ·         There is NO appeal to denials. Again, this request is purely discretionary in nature. However, it is unclear if sua sponte motions to reconsider will be entertained. Mayorkas seemed to be a bit thrown by that question.
  • ·         Felony is any local, state, or federal offense punishable (regardless of actual sentence imposed) with more than 1 year.
  • ·         Significant Misdemeanor is any offense punishable (regardless of actual sentence imposed) with more than 5 days but less than 1 year, and involving:


o   Domestic Violence;

o   Sexual Abuse;

o   Burglary;

o   Possession/Trafficking of illegal firearms;

o   Possession/Trafficking of a controlled substance; and

o   DWI (this drew gasps)




  • ·         Affidavits can be used to supplement evidence, not in lieu of it. Mayorkas stated that USCIS will only entertain affidavits to cover gaps in physical presence issues
  • ·         “Brief, Casual and Innocent” pre-8/15/12 absences from US could be overlooked, but not absences after 8/15/12, unless the Requester obtains an Advance Parole
  • ·         Advance Parole can be requested only AFTER the requester obtains a grant of Deferred Action, no FEE WAIVER. However, USCIS will only entertain AP requests based on employment, medical or military basis. None of that “I want to visit my mom” or “my cousin is getting married in Mali.”




  • ·         Form still in development, pending OMB’s approval. It will be available online on 8/15/2012, and not before
  • ·         Guidelines will also be published online on 8/15/2012
  • ·         Fee includes biometrics as well
  • ·         I-765 can be filed concurrently so far; USCIS may change its mind by 8/15/12
  • ·         No interviews will be conducted (but keep reading)
  • ·         Fraud on the application will be swiftly dealt with. USCIS will request an interview for any case they deem “iffy,” including suspicion of fraud.




  • ·         The information on the application will be protected and cannot (general rule) be used to commence Removal Proceedings. It also applies to Requester’s parents and other family members. BUT PLEASE NOTE:
  • ·         ALL requesters AND their relatives are subject to NTA-issuance guidelines, Revised Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear  and ICE may be notified.


Immigrant workers, farmers fearful in wake of Alabama immigration law

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment

Immigrant workers, farmers fearful in wake of Alabama immigration law



Alabama passed the severest immigration law in the US.  Basically, Americans don’t want to do the jobs that people without papers or status in the US are willing to do so a lot of farm work will not have enough labor to be completed and I can see food prices rising.  Illegal and legal immigrants are leaving Alabama in droves, I even have a client that has left Alabama.  We really need immigration reform. I understand why states are trying to put immigration in their own hands but really we need action from the Federal government.


Ruby L. Powers

US Immigration Attorney