Trump Proposes “Fortress America” Following Orlando Shootings

os-donald-trump-attacks-his-opponents-and-addresses-protesters-at-a-packed-cfe-arena-20160305Donald Trump has put a new twist on his immigration policy following the mass shooting at a Florida nightclub by the American-born son of Afghan immigrants. If elected, Trump promised, he would halt immigration from any area of the world with a “proven history of terrorism” against America or our allies. He also accused the Muslim community of broad involvement in these types of attacks.

While a ban on immigrants from certain countries has been done before and has some legal standing, Trump’s proposed religious-based ban poses serious Constitutional concerns. No previous U.S. president has proposed a religious ban on immigrants and Trump’s proposal demonstrates his poor understanding of the Constitution and the founding principles of our nation.

Trump has used the Orlando massacre as evidence of Islamic threat to America and as reason to suggest a temporary prohibition on Muslim immigrants. Because of the vagueness of his announcement, it is hard to discern how broadly Trump would extend an immigration ban on any other country or religious groups.

Goldstein & Associates urges anyone who may be concerned about their status to contact us online or call us at 412-258-8080 to discuss options before it is too late.

Immigration and Our Economy

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Both immigration reform and economic performance in the United States are hot topics during this presidential election. As such, it is imperative to look at the effect of immigration on our economy. Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has an impractical and self-destructive approach to immigration that would have severe consequences for our economy. In addition to the construction of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and a banning of all Muslim immigration to the U.S., Trump suggests a mass deportation of any undocumented individual. This alone would destroy the United States economy if it were to be implemented.

Deporting the 6.8 million employed undocumented workers would wreak havoc on our economy and reduce private industry output by between $381.5 billion and $623.2 billion dollars, according to the American Action Forum’s (AAF) May report. Not only would this revenue disappear, but the AAF reports that the government would have to spend between $400 and $600 billion to address the deportation efforts of the roughly 11.2 million undocumented immigrants. A mass deportation would destroy industries, economics, and families across the United States.

It is important to note that unauthorized immigrants are paying billions of dollars in taxes, spending billions of dollars in U.S. businesses, and having U.S.-born children who will grow up to do the same. A pathway to legal status and citizenship, as outlined by Hillary Clinton, would allow for this substantial tax revenue, consumer spending, and entrepreneurship to continue.

Goldstein & Associates understands how integral immigrants are to the United States economy and society in general- we would be happy to assist anyone interested in exploring their immigration options. Contact our office online or call for a free consultation at 412-258-8080.

The Long Wait for E-2 Investor Visas for Israeli Entrepreneurs May Soon Be Over  

President Shimon Peres and President Barak Obama Washington 04/03/2012 Photo Moshe Milner GPO flash90

President Shimon Peres and President Barak Obama Washington 04/03/2012
Photo Moshe Milner GPO flash90

Israeli entrepreneurs have been waiting for a non-immigrant E-2 visa for investors since President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing it in June 2012. While the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) was signed by both countries long ago, the ability of Israeli entrepreneurs to use E-2 investor visa status has still yet to be allowed.

Since 1954, Israelis have had access to E-1 Treaty Trader visas, in which 50% of the company’s product must come from Israel. But if an Israeli wants to open a business like a coffee shop, restaurant, grocery, import/export company, IT company, or any other business, they need an E-2 visa which will allow them to run any business in the United States.

The E-2 investor visa allows investors who are natives of treaty countries to remain in the U.S. to develop, direct, and oversee their business. Running an active business in the U.S. requires investing a substantial sum of money (at least $100,000 U.S. dollars). The E-2 visa allows managers, executives, and essential skilled employees to live in the United States and work, and importantly, includes employment authorization for their spouse to work in the U.S. for any business. *

Not all countries have E-2 visas, however. While many of our close business partner countries have both E-1 and E-2’s, e.g. all countries in the E.U., Mexico, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and Pakistan, etc., not all countries have such access. For example, India and China do not have E-2s. Surprisingly, while Israel has had a treaty allowing Treaty Trader E-1 visas since April 3, 1954, it still does not have a treaty authorizing E-2 investor visas. However, the long awaited implementation of investor visas for Israelis appears imminent; Israelis should soon have the ability to invest and start their businesses in the United States with E-2 investor visas.

Why Such a Long Delay?

The delay in implementation for Israelis comes as a surprise due to the strong nature of the economic relationship between Israel and the U.S. Israel has been the source of $2 billion invested in the U.S. and is ranked among the top 20 countries that invest in the U.S. In the past decade, the direct foreign investments from Israel to the U.S. increased to approximately $60 billion. In fact, Israel invested in the U.S. almost as much as China did and in 2010, Israel was one of the top 20 countries with the highest direct investments in this country.

While economic ties between the U.S. and Israel are strong and stable, the cause of the delay has been unclear. When will the treaty allow E-2 access for Israeli citizens? It has been a long process and both governments have expressed how the visa agreement would be economically profitable and beneficial. Why has the implementation taken so long and when will it finally be available? In an effort to find an answer, Goldstein & Associates contacted parties on both sides of the investing agreement about the delay in implementing this visa. Officials and professionals from both Israel and the U.S. provided us with their view on the delay.

After Obama signed the legislation to pass the E-2 Investor Visa in 2012, it was a difficult start. The issue was reciprocity. Israel needed to come up with its own parallel visa for the bilateral agreement. The result is a B-5 visa in Israel, an investor visa equivalent to the E-2 visa for U.S. citizens. Ensuring that the B-5 provides the same benefits as E-2s has been a main source of the delay in implementation.

In the summer of 2015 we contacted Israeli Attorney Jamie Cohen, a Partner at Cohen, Pex, Brosh Law offices located in Petach Tikvah, Israel. Cohen explained that in Israel there are two ministries involved in the implementation process, which determine which investment plans would be acceptable to qualify for the B-5 Investor Visa.

Attorney Tsvika Kan-Tor of Kan-Tor & Acco in Ramat Gan, Israel, the Israel and United States Chamber Chairperson described the next steps for the B-5 visa to be implemented. “Prior to implementation,” Attorney Kan-Tor adds, “the government must create and document the proper procedures and regulations. Only upon completion, can citizens of both countries apply for the investor visa.”

In the summer of 2015, Vincent Bierne, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at the U.S. State Department Bureau of Counselor Affairs, stated that the U.S. was prepared to move forward with issuing and implementing the E-2 visas for Israelis, shortly after Israel provides the U.S. with more information on their parallel B-5 visa. He explained, “After reviewing an English translation of the Cabinet decision and regulations, we asked the Government of Israel for a bit more information about its procedures regulating the application process [of their paralleled visa, the B-5 Investor Visa]. The [U.S. State] Department needs that information to consider in the assessment of the similarity of our respective programs and in the formulation of our response to Israel. We anticipate receiving this information soon.” In short, Bierne indicated that once the information was received and assessed, Israel and the United States could begin processing investment visas. We have just learned that the U.S. has since received this information and is actively working on completing this process.

Implementation Now Appears Imminent

Essentially, the delay had been prolonged because the Israeli government needed to come up with a completely new parallel Israeli visa status to the E-2 investor visa for U.S. entrepreneurs investing in Israel, which they did not previously have. After Israel developed the B-5 visa, the U.S. needed to make sure that its terms provided equivalent treatment to that of the U.S. E-2 investor visa.

We just reached out again to Vincent Bierne of the U.S. State Department on March 21, 2016 for an update and were assured that in a matter of months, the wait for the implementation of both visas would finally be over. Once the translation of documents has been completed and the U.S. government is able to finally determine that equivalent access to U.S. entrepreneurs has been provided, then the E-2 will be made available to Israeli investors in the United States.

Bierne explained that there has been a lot of back and forth, but they are very close to the finish line. The parties have already completed working on final proposals to modify regulations in order to bring the programs within a range of similarity. The U.S. State Department is waiting on the translation of documents from Hebrew to English in order to ascertain if the changes to the B-5 are consistent with the benefits allowed to Israelis under the E-2 program. Bierne expressed that the implementation is certainly on track to happen and that it appears that there should be no further impediments.

Goldstein & Associates and our clients are looking forward to promising developments in the E-2 visa implementation for Israeli investors in the coming months. If you are interested in obtaining additional information about this E-2 program, please do not hesitate to contact us online or visit our “Investment Visas” tab on our website. If you wish to further discuss a particular interest in the matter, you can contact our firm directly at 412-258-8080.

 

 

 

*In order to qualify for an E-2 investor visa, the investor must be either a “person, partnership, or corporate entity” and must have citizenship from a treaty country. If the investor owns a business, at least 50 percent of that business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality. The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.

The investment must be a real operating enterprise, with an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and their family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.

Investors must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If they are not the principal investor, they must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.  Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify. The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.

Justice Department v. Judge Hanen

Judge HanenThe Texas v. SCOTUS debate is heating up. The feud between the Obama administration and a federal Judge has escalated after Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, ordered the Justice Department to provide the names of tens of thousands of immigrants that were granted protection from deportation under Obama’s DAPA and DACA programs.

The Justice Department is calling the judge’s order grossly disproportionate and a clear overstep of his authority. This is ironic, considering Obama’s implementation of these programs has also been called an overstep of authority. It is clear that there is bad blood between Judge Hanen and the government lawyers involved; in addition to the request for the names, the Judge also ordered lawyers to take ethics courses and even barred some from appearing in his court.

According to the Obama administration, if implemented, these measures would cost roughly $8 million over five years. In addition to the exorbitant financial cost, forcing the government to reveal the identities of innocent immigrants would be a serious breach of the confidentiality of immigration applicants.

On June 7, 2016, the Judge halted this order and it will be “stayed” until a hearing in August. The Department of Justice has until July 31, 2016 to file a brief explaining the lawyers’ “misrepresentation” of the DAPA and DACA programs.

Goldstein & Associates will continue to follow the case and provide any significant updates. If you are concerned about how this may affect you or your family, feel free to contact us online or call our office at 412-258-8080.

On Obama’s Immigration Actions

Orlando-Immigration-Attorney-President-Obama-Immigration-ChangesAs Barack Obama’s second term comes to a close, we have the opportunity to look back at the relationship between his presidency and the illegal immigrant population in the United States.

It is important to understand the numbers prior to Obama taking office in 2008; when George W. Bush left office in 2007, the total number of illegal immigrants was estimated to be 12.2 million. During Bush’s time in office, between 2000 and 2006, an estimated 4.16 million immigrants illegally settled in the United States. Reports from the Center for Immigration Studies estimate that, between 2009-2015 (the first six years of the Obama administration), around 2.52 million immigrants illegally settled in the U.S. The latest numbers revealed that in 2012, the population of illegal immigrants was 11.7 million. In looking at these numbers, it is clear that both the number of migrations and total illegal immigrants went down after Obama took office.

Some argue that in recent years, since Obama began his immigration reform efforts such as DACA and DAPA, that the number of illegal immigrants has dramatically increased. However, since 2009, the size of the illegal population has remained almost constant due to new arrivals being offset by those who returned home or became authorized to live in the U.S. It has recently been reported that there has been a decline of around 100,000 in illegal immigrants between 2013 and 2014. While this may seem promising, the decline is probably not statistically significant. There is a margin of error associated with these types of statistical studies that essentially makes it impossible to know if the decline is substantial. Even so, the overall numbers clearly indicate that the number of undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. during the Obama administration was lower than that in the Bush administration.

Goldstein & Associates encourages those seeking immigration options to contact us online or at 412-258-8080 as soon as possible to ensure that you can take advantage of opportunities under the current administration.

Hillary Clinton’s Strong Stance on Immigration

la-pn-hillary-clinton-speech-silicon-valley-20150224Hillary Clinton has outlined policies that are committed to ensuring a fair and just immigration system. As Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2016 Presidential Election, it is important to understand her immigration plans and how they may affect your status.

In early May, Clinton vowed to support immigration reform and expand President Obama’s deportation relief policies. Taking it a step further, Clinton promised to extend protections to additional categories of undocumented immigrants. One category would be the parents of young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children (DREAMers) who may be able to remain in the U.S. under Obama’s DACA as well as parents of American citizens, under DAPA.

Clinton is committed to creating a pathway to “full and equal citizenship” as part of her immigration reform. Clinton supports Obama’s efforts and has also addressed less discussed immigration issues. She argues that those in deportation proceedings, at the very least the young, should receive more legal representation. Clinton also called for movement away from the current detention policies and argues that undocumented immigrants who are especially vulnerable, such as children, transgender, and generally noncriminal immigrants should not be detained.

In short, Hillary Clinton’s comprehensive immigration policy calls for granting a pathway to citizenship, providing deportation protections, reforming detention practices, expanding legal representation to immigrants and creating a pathway to citizenship. If you are interested in learning more about Clinton’s policies or any opportunities you may have regarding your immigration status, please do not hesitate to contact Goldstein & Associates for a free consultation online or at (412) 258-8080.

We encourage you to explore existing legal protections that are currently available to you- in light of the fact that some may not be available after a new administration comes into power.

 

Obama Immigration Raids

13260226_557612724413200_2879551303306558359_nOn Thursday, May 12th, the Obama administration announced their intent to begin a “30-day surge of immigration raids”. The target of the raid will be families who did not show up for court appearances of who have defied orders for removal. The raids are in response to the doubling of the Central American family units apprehended at our borders with the hope that other Central Americans will be deterred from illegally entering the U.S.

These raids sound like something out of Trump’s immigration reform plan, but have actually been initiated by the Obama administration. Leading Democrats, including Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have staunchly opposed the raids. Rightfully so, as it appears that the raids will not have the intended effect on immigrants coming to the U.S.

The undocumented migrants that the raids are targeted toward are not coming here to work or conduct illegal business, but are simply fleeing from their home countries riddled with brutal violence and persecution. The targets are chiefly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador; it has been reported that eighty-three U.S. deportees back to these countries have already been murdered in their homelands. For that reason, it is hard to believe that this immigration raid will have the desired deterrence effect- “nothing will change people’s minds when they are literally fleeing for their lives” according to White House spokesman, Josh Earnest.

The lack of access to legal representation is a big reason that these Central Americans get placed in removal proceedings. In 2014, 86% of asylum cases from Central America lacked legal representation. An overwhelming majority of these detainees have a reasonable fear of returning home. This fear will be heightened as the immigration raids ensue. The Obama administration should reevaluate the proposed raids and take a more humanitarian approach to the immigration crisis in the United States.

Goldstein & Associates would be happy to discuss legal options for individuals and family units who may be affected by the proposed immigration raids. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm online or call us at 412-258-8080.

Texas v. SCOTUS

handsThe Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear a case that will affect over 4 million immigrants in the United States. President Obama’s Executive Orders expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), were introduced in 2014 and would grant lawful presence to certain types of undocumented immigrants. Ever since these program were proposed, Texas and 25 other states have adamantly tried to block these initiatives, challenging that Obama does not have the authority to implement such extensive changes to immigration enforcement.

In 2015, a Texas federal court upheld the injunction which propelled the case to the Supreme Court. The Court has until the end of June to announce their ruling on whether or not Obama’s program is constitutional. On April 18, the Court heard oral arguments regarding the case and it still appears that the justices may be evenly split along ideological lines.

There are two outcomes that seem most likely: deadlock or “standing” ruling. As a result of Justice Scalia’s death, the Court is now split evenly between four liberal and four conservative judges. If the Court rules a deadlocked 4-4 decision on this case, the Texas federal court ruling will be upheld and the program will remain blocked. A standing decision refers to the idea that states do not have legal standing to bring this case, which would allow the expanded DACA and DAPA programs to proceed to implementation.

Goldstein & Associates will continue to follow the case, which is to be decided by June. For those interested in more information on the matter, please do not hesitate to contact our firm online or at (412) 258-8080 for a free consultation.

Implications of Trump Immigration Reform

trump-627166Living in the United States during a presidential election can present alarming issues for the international community. As it remains possible that Donald Trump could be elected our next president, anyone with immigration concerns should try to resolve their immigration status as soon as possible. If there is an available remedy for your immigration concerns, please take care of your situation sooner rather than later.

Donald Trump has several big ideas to “make America great again” that have severe implications on immigration in the United States. The American dream that so many immigrants strive for would become much harder to achieve if Trump’s immigration reforms were to be implemented.

According to Trump’s plan, there are several steps that should be taken in order to enact “real immigration reform”. The first is to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers. Essentially, increased ICE officers would increase deportations of immigrants in the U.S. Trump insists that ICE officers should be required to detain “every illegal alien they encounter, in jails and prisons.” A mass-deportation mission for ICE forces would lead to roundups of the undocumented people in the U.S. The plan also outlines a proposal to end birthright citizenship. All around, these initiatives would have serious consequences for the immigrant population of the United States.

Recognizing the problems with this plan, the Boston Globe posted a satirical front page dated April 9, 2017 featuring mock articles on Trump’s potential presidency. The main article discusses the mass-deportation initiative after tripling ICE officers. While the front page was simply satire, representatives from the Boston Globe say it is “an exercise in taking a man at his word.” The editorial outlined the concerns of Trump’s candidacy and aimed to fabricate a prospective reality for the future of the United States. It is important for both immigrants and non-immigrants to understand the implications of a Trump administration and ensuing immigration reform plan.

It is important to uncover immigration solutions when they are available under the law and Goldstein & Associates would be happy to assist anyone seeking to obtain more information on this matter. For those interested in how their immigration status may be affected, please do not hesitate to contact our firm for a free consultation online or at (412) 258-8080

Same-Sex Partners Eligible for Immigration Benefits

On June 26th, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in United States v. Windsor, also known as the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) case. In its decision, the Supreme Court held that the federal law’s provision that limited the federal definition of “marriage” as only between one man and one woman was unconstitutional. This paves the way for over one thousand federal benefits to be bestowed upon same-sex couples who are legally married.

As the immigration laws in the U.S. are controlled by the federal government, this ruling also affects same-sex couples in the immigration context. Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees all immigration applications in the U.S., stated, “Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.” In other words, same-sex partners of U.S. Citizens will be able to apply for green cards based on their marriage, just as heterosexual couples currently do. In addition, in immigration removal proceedings, certain applications for relief that rely on a showing of hardship to the U.S. Citizen spouse will also be open to same-sex couples. There are multiple avenues that are now open to same-sex couples, and you should be sure to consult with an immigration attorney prior to filing applications for immigration benefits.

We have been watching this issue as it has progressed through the courts. We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision, as it has opened the door for thousands of same-sex couples to seek the right to obtain immigration status in the U.S. We are ready to speak with individuals who may have questions regarding how the Supreme Court’s ruling could affect their particular situation. If you are in a same-sex relationship and would like to discuss your immigration situation, please give us a call at 1-888-233-7002 and we will gladly discuss your case with you and see if we will be able to help.