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.

Immigration Reform Bill to be taken up by U.S. Senate in June

The Senate’s immigration reform bill has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, after enduring an extensive mark-up. The Judiciary Committee considered 300 proposed amendments over a two week period, and the bill is now set to hit the Senate floor. The Senate is planning to begin work on the immigration bill the week of June 10, while the House of Representatives is expected to simultaneously work on a bill that could potentially pass by the end of the summer.

While the new immigration laws will undoubtedly open up a pathway to citizenship to millions, they are also expected to eliminate some current options for many immigrants. Under current U.S. law, U.S. citizens can petition for their siblings and unmarried adult children. The wait for these petitions can take more than a decade, but the option exists, for now. Under the Senate’s proposed immigration reform bill, the waiting list for other family-based visas will speed up, but it will eliminate 70,000 green cards annually for siblings and unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens. For those U.S. citizens with foreign national siblings and adult children, it would be wise to apply for your family members before this bill becomes a law.

The attorneys at Goldstein & Associates are tracking the proposals for immigration reform closely. While the Senate’s bill is expected to be worked on as early as next week, the House of Representatives is expected to propose its own version of immigration reform simultaneously, which could pass by the end of the summer. If you would like more information on how the new immigration laws could affect you, please contact our office by phone or email us at mgoldstein@mglaw.com.

Bipartisan Plan for Immigration Reform

A new plan created by a group of bipartisan senators focuses on border control, job protection, and other issues in immigration reform.

In January, a document was released by bipartisan Senators Michael Bennet, Dick Durbin, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio. This document laid out the foundation for updates to the United States’ immigration laws, including laws pertaining to illegal immigrants already living in the U.S.

Four Basic Legislative Pillars

  • Create a tough but fair path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States that is contingent upon securing our borders and tracking whether legal immigrants have left the country when required;
  • Reform  our  legal  immigration  system  to  better  recognize  the importance  of characteristics  that  will  help  build  the  American economy  and  strengthen American families;
  • Create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and,
  • Establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation’s workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

The plan also includes improved technology for the Border Control and steps to reduce racial profiling and violence.

Updates for Immigrants in the U.S.

What does this mean for immigrants currently living in the U.S.? Illegal immigrants are asked to register with the government for probationary legal status, dependent on a background check and including a fine. The plan aims to continue to welcome the “best and brightest” to the U.S., awarding green cards to those who hold Ph.D. or Master’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American University.

To read the entire transcript, visit the ABC news website. As you search for answers on citizenship, our goal is to arm you with the knowledge you need to know. If you have any questions on how the latest updates on immigration reform affect you or your family, contact us at mgoldstein@mglaw.com or 1-412-258-8080.

 

Updated USCIS Procedures for Unlawful Presence Provisional Waivers

Illegal immigrants who have family in the United States can now remain on U.S. soil as they wait for their visa interview, thanks to provisional unlawful presence waivers.

Select immigrant visa applicants who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can now reduce the amount of time they must spend away from family members as they wait to become lawful citizens themselves. The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that, as of March 4, 2013, applicants can now apply for provisional stateside waivers (provisional unlawful presence waivers) while they are still in the United States.

Immigration Process Changes

Before March 4, applicants who were not able to adjust their status in the U.S. had to travel abroad while waiting for their immigrant visa. This often meant spending years away from their family members in the U.S.

The process of obtaining a visa remains the same, with applicants required to leave the U.S. for their immigrant visa interview in their home country. And, although this process is a convenient opportunity for applicants who are approved, the provisional nature of this waiver means that the process is extremely selective. Many applicants will be denied with no chance to appeal or reconsider. Submitting completed forms is extremely important to decrease the chance of denial. If their application for visa is still pending at the point of their denial, they may submit a new provisional statewide waiver application.

Waiver Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be 17 years of age or older and an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (spouses, children and parents)
  • Applicants must be able to prove that their immediate family member with U.S. citizenship would experience hardship in the case that they would not be admitted into the U.S.
  • As immigration attorneys, we’re here to help with every step of the process

To review all of the eligibility requirements for a provisional unlawful presence waiver, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. If you would like more information on this process, to find out if it fits your needs or to begin this process, please email us at mgoldstein@mglaw.com.