Sessions Ends Administrative Closure at the Expense of Due Process in Immigration Court

Altering decades of practice in immigration court and placing immense pressure on an overburdened immigration court system, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision in an immigration case on Thursday declaring immigration judges do not have general authority to administratively close cases. The decision applies nationwide—though we can expect it will be challenged in the federal courts in individual cases.

Administrative closure has long been an uncontroversial management tool used by immigration judges to manage their caseload. It allows a judge to temporarily take a case off the court docket, usually to allow for completion of related proceedings that will impact the outcome of the individual’s removal proceeding. Sessions’ decision largely eliminates this vital tool. Judges now will be forced to keep long-pending cases on their active dockets, contributing to the already massive backlog of immigration cases.

In his lengthy decision, Sessions concluded that judges lack legal authority to grant administrative closure. But he pays short shrift to the legal authority that does not support his view. As amicus (friend of the court) briefs submitted in the case pointed out, the Board of Immigration Appeals repeatedly has declared that administrative closure stems from immigration judges’ inherent authority to conduct proceedings and take actions necessary to decide a case. No federal court has questioned immigration judges’ authority to grant administrative closure.

Not only is Sessions misinterpreting the law, he is creating terrible policy. The National Association of Immigration Judges urged Sessions not to end administrative closure, arguing that its termination could “overwhelm the system” and “waste precious hearing time.” A 2017 report commissioned by the immigration court system concluded morecases should be administratively closed in order to reduce the courts’ backlogs.

Others argue that ending administrative closure will harm vulnerable populations, including children and individuals of limited competency. Many of these individuals need to pause their proceedings to allow other federal and state entities to make determinations that would prevent their deportations.

Furthermore, Sessions’ move to insert himself in this case is particularly alarming given his anti-immigrant bias. As immigrant rights groups explained in the case, Sessions’ long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric prevents him from being an impartial adjudicator. The groups called for his recusal from this decision-making process.

In the decision, Sessions determined that administrative closure “encumbered the fair and efficient administration of immigration cases.” Yet, his decision will result in the very widespread unfairness and inefficiency he claims to oppose, restricting the authority of immigration judges to control their dockets and punishing immigrants who need additional time to obtain the results of other federal and state agency proceedings to qualify for immigration relief. And we should be wary of the ways he downplays the impact of this decision. He notes, for example, that judges who need to extend cases may grant “continuances” instead of administratively closing cases while simultaneously neglecting to mention that he is weighing in on another immigration case that may greatly reduce the availability of continuances.

Though Sessions ended administrative closure for future cases, regulations still permit the practice in a limited number of cases. As for the 350,000 cases currently administratively closed, those cases will gradually make their way back onto court dockets in the coming weeks and months through motions by the government.

The fact remains that this is a devastating decision for those who want to preserve due process in immigration courts. Sessions has not only restricted the authority of immigration judges, but he also has found another way to make immigrants increasingly vulnerable in a system that is already stacked against them.

This article was originally published by the American Immigration Council and written by Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. Click here for the original article.

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Your Rights Entering the United States of America

Image result for us customs airport

Whether you are at the airport or entering the United States via land or a sea port, you will encounter officers with the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) and/ or officers with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We at Goldstein & Associates wish to outline what rights you have when you are traveling into the country.

Please note that you cannot travel out of the country and be let back in without a valid US Passport (for US Citizens), approved travel document (for those applying for an immigrant visa), or valid US Visa.

All information below is summarized from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) series, “Know Your Rights.” The original article can be found at:

TSA and CBP officers have the right to search all people and property when entering the country. Questioning and fingerprinting (for non-US Citizens) is routine, and it is advisable to cooperate with basic inquiries. If you are selected for additional questioning, you have rights. If you are a US Citizen, you have a right to an attorney. If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident or visitor, your rights to an attorney are limited to certain circumstances, and you may be refused legal counsel by the officers. However, if you are under arrest, you always have the right to an attorney, regardless of country of citizenship.

In some cases, TSA or CBP officers may ask you to unlock your personal electronic devices. You are not required to do so. However, failure to cooperate with these requests may cause the officer to deny you entry into the United States. If your electronic devices are confiscated, you should write the name of the officer down, and get a receipt for the item(s) taken.

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Your Rights if you get Stopped by Law Enforcement Officers

Police car

If you are a recent immigrant, you may be feeling anxious about possible encounters with law enforcement officials or officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We at Goldstein & Associates wish to outline what to do if you are stopped by the police or ICE Agents in your car or on the street, as well as what rights you have.

All information below is summarized from an article from the American Civil Liberties Union. See the original article at:

If an Officer Stops You

If an officer stops you and asks you questions, and you have legal immigration status, then comply with their requests. You are required to carry your immigration documents with you, such as your green card, Employment Authorization Card (EAD), documentation of nonimmigrant status (such as a work or student visa), or border crossing card. Failure to produce these documents can result in your arrest. If you are in the process of procuring one of these documents, but your application is pending with USCIS, then show the officer the receipt notices from your case.

If you do not have legal immigration status, or if your pending application has not been issued receipt notices yet, then ask if you are free to go. If they answer yes, then calmly walk away. Never run. Sometimes, officers may state that you are not under arrest, but you are not free to leave. In this case, you are being detained (but not arrested). They may pat you down and ask for your name. If they ask any further questions, you do not have to answer.

If an Officer Stops you in your Car

Remain calm and pull over immediately, roll down the window and keep your hands visible at all times. You must show your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. You do not have to answer any of the officer’s questions, unless they inquire about your valid immigration status, and you do not have to let the officer search your car. However, if they have a reason to believe that you have committed a crime, they may search your car anyway.

If you are Arrested

You have the right to remain silent. Do not disclose any information other than your name. You have the right to speak with an Attorney. When you make phone calls from prison, officers may listen to calls you make to friends and family, but not to attorneys.

If you are concerned about how this may affect you or your family, or if you have any other immigration needs, feel free to contact us online or call our office at 412-254-8700.

Immigrant Rights and Law Enforcement


If you are a recent immigrant, you may be feeling anxious about possible encounters with law enforcement officials or agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We at Goldstein & Associates wish to outline what to do if ICE agents come to your house, as well as what rights you have.

Your Rights if ICE Agents are at Your Door

All information below is a repost of an original article from the American Civil Liberties Union. See the original article at:

1. If officers are at your door, keep the door closed and ask if they are Immigration agents, or from ICE. Ask the agents what they are there for. Opening the door does not give the agents permission to come inside, but it is safer to speak to ICE through the door. If the agents don’t speak your language, ask for an interpreter.

2. If the agents want to enter, ask them if they have a warrant signed by a judge. If ICE agents do not have a warrant signed by a Judge, you may refuse to open the door or let them in. An administrative warrant of removal from immigration authorities is not enough. If they say they have a warrant, ask them to slip the warrant under the door. Look at the top and at the signature line to see if it was issued by a court and signed by a judge. Only a court/judge warrant is enough for entry into your premises. One issued by DHS or ICE and signed by a DHS or ICE employee is not.
a. An example of an order by a judge:
b. An example of an order by ICE:

3. Do not open your door unless ICE shows you a judicial search or arrest warrant naming a person in your residence and/or areas to be searched at your address. In all other cases, keep the door closed. State: “I do not consent to your entry.”

4. If agents force their way in anyway, do not attempt to resist. If you wish to exercise your rights, state: “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent. I wish to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.” Everyone in the residence may also exercise the right to remain silent.

5. Do not lie or show false documents. Do not sign any papers without speaking to a lawyer.

If you are concerned about how this may affect you or your family, or if you have any other immigration needs, feel free to contact us online or call our office at 412-258-8080.

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Welcoming Veronica Cruz Salazar, LL.M to our firm!


Goldstein & Associates is excited to launch our new blog series about the immigration heritage of our staff. We would like to welcome our newest attorney, Veronica Cruz Salazar, to the team.

Veronica is from Venezuela where she pursued studies in tax law from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas and from Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. Her legal experience includes work for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Caritas de Venezuela, and later as a senior associate and law department manager for the legal department at Taxand Venezuela in Caracas.

Veronica originally came to the United States to study English but as the conditions in Venezuela got worse, her family agreed that it would be best if she stayed in the U.S. Veronica decided to pursue an LL.M because it would allow for her to find many opportunities in America.
During her studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law pursuing her LL.M, Veronica found a job posting for Goldstein & Associates and her experience working with refugees gave her the courage to apply for our immigration practice. After a series of interviews, we found her to be a great fit.

Veronica feels that she has learned a lot from her time thus far at Goldstein & Associates. Each case is different and she is aware of the “human factor” of each individual involved in the case. Veronica knows what it is like to encounter new people and move to a new place, “I was an immigrant; I understand.” She knows how it feels to be full of uncertainty and not sure if you will find the right friends. Veronica attributes much of her success as an immigrant to surrounding herself with the right people who helped her, supported her, and allowed her to find opportunities to succeed.

Veronica feels extremely lucky to have found the right people and agrees that finding the right attorney who provides the same comfort and support is important. If you are interested in speaking with Veronica, do not hesitate to contact us online or call at 412-258-8080

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How Central Americans are Affected by Obama’s Immigration Raids


In May, the Obama administration announced the beginning of a series of immigration raids of Central American migrants to be carried out by ICE officers. Since the raids began, there have been 40 cases reported of women and children being mistreated by ICE officers. The arrests largely to place in homes, schools, and workplaces; some arrests included aggressive and inappropriate conduct according to CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. Of these cases, more than half have valid asylum claims that have not yet been heard in immigration court and some didn’t even have deportation orders. It is clear that the Obama Administration is approaching this influx of Central American refugees as an illegal immigration problem rather than a humanitarian crisis.

It has been reported that gang-related violence, drug trafficking, and corrupt criminal justice systems have plagued Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. As a result, families have fled from these countries to seek asylum in the U.S. despite women and children being the least mobile group-they don’t leave unless there is no other choice. While these migrants may have valid asylum claims, it has become clear that these immigrants have not had the chance to be heard in court. In fact, many did not have legal counsel or even receive a notice to appear in court.

Immigrants in removal proceedings are afforded all appropriate due process under the law. The number of migrants who are being denied this right in our nation’s immigration courts is growing rapidly. The Obama Administration’s response to this surge in Central American migrants is inappropriate and devastating to the immigrant community while ignoring basic humanitarian decency.

Goldstein & Associates urges anyone who is unsure of their status to contact us immediately online or via phone at 412-258-8080.

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.

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Immigration and Our Economy



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.

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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.

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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.

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