Deferred Action Temporarily Blocked

On Monday, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Obama’s November 20, 2014 executive actions on immigration reform. In a suit filed by 26 states, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen said there was sufficient merit to warrant a suspension of the new program while the case goes forward.  Judge Hanen based his temporary injunction on his belief that the administration did not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act’s provisions on “notice and comment.” He said the case should go forward rather than be thrown out, as the administration has urged.

The court’s decision will delay the application process under President Obama’s executive actions. Among these executive actions are the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DACA, which began implementation in 2012 and its expanded coverage under the November 2014 executive action, allows young immigrants who arrived as children but are now here legally to apply for a deportation deferral. About 700,000 people who already have benefited from the 2012 program, and they will not be affected by the ruling. As many as 5 million undocumented immigrants were said to be potentially eligible to benefit from all of President Obama’s executive actions.

In a statement issued by DHS Secretary Jeh C. Johnson yesterday, Sec. Johnson said that he strongly disagrees with Judge Hansen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of DAPA and DACA and that the Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction. However, DHS will comply with it. Thus, DHS will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned.

Sec. Johnson’s statement also clarifies that the Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. Also, the order does not affect the DHS’ ability to set and implement enforcement priorities, particularly those set under the November 20, 2014 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants”. Under this Memorandum, pursuant to the DHS’ enforcement priorities, the DHS will continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security.

Source:  “Court issues injunction against administration’s immigration policies”, Washington Post, 2/17/2015, by Jonathan Adler; Statement of Sec. Jehn C. Johnson, www.uscis.gov; “

 

 

 

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Can the House block Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration?

The Republicans in Congress are trying to block President Obama’s series of executive actions on immigration, which is intended to protect up to 5 million immigrants who are living illegally in the country from deportation.

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 219 to 197 to nullify the action. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said “We’re looking at a variety of options, both for right now and when Republicans control both houses of the Congress next year,” but admits that “we have limited options and limited abilities to deal with it directly.”

Many say that the House of Representatives’ vote was largely a symbolic move intended to give Republicans an opportunity to vent. The White House has said it will veto any legislation that would undo the president’s move on immigration.

Source: Alan Rappeport, New York Times, “House Votes to Block Obama Action on Immigration”, 12/4/2014; Erin Kelly and Susan Davis, USA Today, “GOP: Few options to block Obama immigration plan

What can you do now to prepare for DAPA/DACA?

Finally, President Obama’s long-awaited executive action on immigration was announced on November 20, 2014.

Among others, these executive actions expand the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to young people who came to this country before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years. Previously, only those who entered the country before June 15, 2007 were eligible to apply. This move expects to benefit approximately 270,000 individuals in the country.

But the more far-reaching impact of the executive action pertain to the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program. They will benefit parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been present in the country since January 1, 2010. Based on estimates, this could directly affect 5 million illegal immigrants in the country.  They can request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, provided they pass required background checks

It is important to point out that these initiatives have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Let us be careful of unauthorized persons who claim that they can now file for you or your family members for a fee.

There are, however, some things that you can already do from your end, including gathering documents that establish your identity, your relationship to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, and your continuous residence in the United States over the last 5 years or more. If you have a criminal history, you should start gathering police reports and court records to make sure the criminal history is not a hindrance to the deferred action.

For more information, go to www.vcalderonlaw.com.

Source: USCIS website; www.immigration.policy.org, “A Guide to the Immigration Accountability Executive Action”

Will Obama issue executive action on immigration?

For many years, Congress had been debating about how to tackle the broken system of immigration in the United States. President Obama had promised to act using his executive powers to tackle immigration reform. This move is expected to anger Republican lawmakers, who say that a unilateral action on immigration could ruin bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and even threaten a government shutdown.

According to the New York Times, Obama’s plans to announce an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy through executive action could shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Until the actual proposed measures are announced, we do not exactly know who will be benefited from the measure, and what the criteria are to get these benefits.

However, lawyers, immigration reform activists, community groups, churches, schools and many other organizations are getting ready to help the millions of individuals who could possibly benefit from the proposed executive action.  If you or your loved ones believe that you will be benefited from the proposed executive action on immigration reform, seek the right kind of help only from reputable immigration attorneys.

Please contact us at 702-932-7656 or go to http://www.vcalderonlaw.com for more information.

Sources: NBC News; Reuters; New York Times

Work Permits under DACA

As a lot of people know, in June 2012, the Department of Homeland Security issued a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

It directs that certain young people who do not present a risk to national security or public safety and meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for 2 years, subject to renewal, and to apply for a work authorization.

In fact, those who were granted relief and work permits under DACA in 2012 are probably now up for renewal of their initial 2-year grant. The application for renewal must be filed 120 days before the expiration of the initial grant.

If you qualify for DACA, you can obtain a work permit if you can show an economic necessity for employment. We usually file the work permit application together with the DACA application.

The question is, are you eligible to apply under the program? Under the DACA rules, only individuals who meet certain criteria, like the date when they arrived in the US, continuous residence, education, and moral character requirement, can qualify.

Please share your specific situation with a reputable lawyer who will evaluate your case and guide you through the DACA process. Go to http://www.vcalderonlaw.com for more information.

 

Waiver of US Citizenship Test for Medical Reasons

Generally, an applicant for citizenship must pass the English, civics and history tests to get US citizenship. In some instances, however, it is possible to waive the tests. For example, a person who is suffering from a medical condition that makes him unable to retain new information, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and will most likely not pass the English and civics test required to get US citizenship, can get the test waived if his doctor signs off on a waiver called N-648 Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.

The first thing we do in a case like this is to get the client’s medical records, review them, and see if there is anything there that we can use as evidence to support his medical condition. If we can show that the applicant cannot pass the English and civics tests “because of physical or developmental disability or mental impairment” — such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease case — and his regular physician is willing to fill out and sign the form required by the USCIS, then we can ask the government to waive the tests for citizenship. During the interview, the immigration officer will also verify if the applicant’s medical condition is true and correct.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Please see our website http://www.vcalderonlaw.com for more details.

Citizenship and long absences from the US

Permanent residents with more than 6 month continuous absence from the US may still be eligible to apply for US citizenship under certain conditions.

To be eligible to apply for citizenship, a person must be a permanent resident for at least 5 years (can be 3 years if spouse of US citizen), physically present in the United States for at least fifty percent of the time, and be a person of good moral character. Moreover, the person must not have any absence from the United States of more than 6 consecutive months.

If a permanent resident is outside the United States for a more than 6 consecutive months (less than one year), the government can consider this as disruption of his residence and might deny an application for citizenship. To avoid this, some of the factors that the officer will look at are the following: (a) Did the permanent resident terminate his employment in the US? (b) Are there immediate family members who are present in the US? (c) Did he retain access to his home here while he was abroad? (d) Did he obtain employment abroad?

Thus, it is crucial to prove that the person did not disrupt his permanent resident status. He can show documents such as tax returns, bank statements, letters that he continued to receive even in his absence, affidavits from family members, proof of medical condition like a medical certificate from the doctor who treated him while out of the country, evidence about how he supported himself abroad during his stay. The more evidence that he can provide, the better.