When Immigration Matters

Immigration Reform: Living Undocumented in the USA

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 @ 2:11 PM
 

describe the imageEllen H. Badger writes: "Living Undocumented explores the lives of diverse undocumented immigrant youth to illustrate the realities, challenges and opportunities they face through high school, college, and beyond. It is directed by Tatyana Kleyn (City College of New YorkSchool of Education) and produced by Ben Donnellon.  It features 6 DREAMers, who portray the realities of our nation’s immigration system and its impact on undocumented youth.  The documentary is intended for all audiences, but with the accompanying lesson plan and resource guide for students and educators, it is especially useful in high school classes.  The director, who is a professor at CCNY in New York City, has given full permission for its distribution.  She has created a website at this link: http://www.livingundocumented.com/  The film can be accessed at the web site.  The direct link to the film, which is YouTube, is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjBkrqJ9BEc."

First Round of Deferred Action Applications Approved

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Wed, Sep 12, 2012 @ 10:18 AM
dream act, deferred action, visasThe Obama administration has approved the first wave of applications from young undocumented immigrants hoping to avoid deportation and get a work permit.

The Homeland Security Department is notifying a small group of people this week that they have been approved to stay in the country for two years as part of President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The first approvals come just three weeks after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started accepting applications for the program that Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano first announced June 15.

In an internal document obtained by The Associated Press, the government had estimated previously that it could take months for each application to be reviewed and approved. So far, about 72,000 people have applied to avoid deportation.

"Following a thorough, individualized case review, USCIS has now begun notifying individuals of the determination on their deferral requests," DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement Tuesday.

DHS said background checks, including fingerprinting, are being conducted on each immigrant before an application can be approved. The average wait time for approval is expected to be about four months to six months.

Most applications for immigration benefits take several months for USCIS to process. In certain circumstances, people can pay extra fees to speed up the process. There currently is no such option for deferred action applications.

See other articles on Deferred action on the Pollak Immigration blog.

Confidential information Disclosed by Deferred Action Beneficiaries

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sat, Sep 01, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

deferred action, dreamers, ice uscisIs the information provided by Deferred action beneficiaries concerning themselves or family member or even employers confidential? 

Here is what the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service says on its website at www.uscis.gov:

  "Will the information I share in my request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals be used for immigration enforcement purposes?
Information provided in this request is protected from disclosure to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the criteria set forth in USCIS’s Notice to Appear guidance (www.uscis.gov/NTA). Individuals whose cases are deferred pursuant to the consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals process will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including for assistance in the consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals request, to identify or prevent fraudulent claims, for national security purposes, or for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense. The above information sharing policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to the requestor.

This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.

If my case is referred to ICE for immigration enforcement purposes or if I receive an NTA, will information related to my family members and guardians also be referred to ICE for immigration enforcement purposes?
If your case is referred to ICE for purposes of immigration enforcement or you receive an NTA, information related to your family members or guardians that is contained in your request will not be referred to ICE for purposes of immigration enforcement against family members or guardians. However, that information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including for assistance in the consideration of the deferred action for childhood arrivals request, to identify or prevent fraudulent claims, for national security purposes, or for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.

This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter"

  Yes that's right--the Government may change their mind and decide to disclose the information to Immigration Enforcement.  While we applaud President Obama for providing a chance for undocumented youth, as with anything be aware of all the pros and cons before making a decision to apply. 

 

 

Why Deferred Action Beneficiaries Should Be Granted Driver's Licenses

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 @ 2:00 PM

deferred action, DACA, USCISGreat Article from our friends at Immigration Impact written by Michele Waselin.  http://immigrationimpact.com/2012/08/27/why-states-should-grant-daca-beneficiaries-drivers-licenses/

 

"In the early 2000s, one of the ways states attempted to control unauthorized immigration was by limiting immigrant eligibility for driver’s licenses and state-issued identification documents. The arguments for and against extending eligibility for driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants takes a new twist with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Because those who receive deferred action will also receive work authorization, it seems only logical that they should have access to driver’s licenses, like many other people who have permission to remain in the country. But some are opposing extending licenses to this group, ignoring the fact that both safety and security argue in favor of generous licensing policies.

 

Most of the arguments in favor of denying driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants stem from the basic idea that people unauthorized to be in the country shouldn’t have access to state-sanctioned identification and the right to drive. Without a driver’s license, the obstacles to remaining in the country presumably increase and puts individuals one step closer to “self-deportation.” But in a decade’s worth of attempts to limit access, there is no evidence that restrictions have led to reductions in unauthorized immigration or made our communities safer.

This is largely because driving is often a means to an end. People who are working or going to school need transportation. In many parts of the country, driving may be the only option available. And yet, the presence of unlicensed drivers, regardless of immigration status, poses a safety risk. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has described people without a valid license, including unlicensed drivers as “among the worst drivers on the road.” One study found that unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than properly licensed drivers.

Unlicensed drivers increase costs for everyone, often because they cannot obtain insurance without a valid license. Licensed drivers must pay higher premiums to cover accidents and injuries caused by uninsured drivers. When New York considered allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, the State Department of Insurance estimated that premiums would be reduced by 34 percent, and would have saved New York drivers $120 million a year.

Licensing is a proxy for ensuring that people have adequate training and knowledge before they get on the road. It is also a way to regulate behavior, according to the Task Force, as states can identify and preempt bad driving habits before they become deadly.

Licensing also serves to increase the knowledge of who is living, working and driving in a community, thus enhancing national security

According to Margaret Stock, former associate professor of law at West Point:

“Rather than trying to deny licenses and state identification cards to illegal immigrants, we should be encouraging every adult present in America to get a license or identification card. In fact, to enhance law enforcement and security efforts, immigration status should be irrelevant. People should be required to prove their identity, using secure documents that can be verified.”

A handful of Governors have already stated that DACA beneficiaries will be eligible to apply for driver’s licenses. Restricting DACA beneficiaries’ access to driver’s licenses is bad public policy that does not result in the desired outcome and creates greater problems"

Deferred Action (DACA)--School Records are Great Evidence-Here's Why

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 @ 6:03 PM

Karen Lee PollakOn Tuesday, DHS officials hosted a conference call with educators in regard to school records serving as documentation for DACA applicants. During the call, DHS officials advised educators that school records serve as two-pronged pieces of evidence: firstly, they prove that applicants are either still in school, or have graduated high school, and secondly, they prove continuous presence in the country for at least four years. One of the requirements to be eligible for DACA is continuous presence in the country for five years; DHS officials explained, “[school records is] fantastic evidence in a single document.” Educators seemed concerned by the fact that, while school records can indeed prove presence in the country for four years, summer and other breaks are not accounted for. DHS officials replied by stating that there is no requirement for applicants to account for any given day during school breaks. Additionally, the officials affirmed that the agency, when processing the applications, will keep in mind that schools do have regular breaks.

One of the most important questions on educators’ minds was the question of federal financial aid. If granted DACA, educators wanted to know, would the students then qualify to receive grants or be eligible to participate in work-study programs. The answer given by the immigration officials was disappointing but seemingly expected: DACA provides only two benefits: removing the possibility of deportation and obtaining work authorization, both for at least two years. Those individuals granted DACA will not receive any other benefits such as federal financial aid.

 Some school districts have been highly cooperative with DACA applicants in expediting the processing rates of providing school records to requestors. Thus far, how has your experience been in obtaining your school records? Does your school charge a fee? Is the waiting time too long? Have you encountered any serious difficulties in obtaining the records? Share your experience here!

Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Deferred Action?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 @ 1:10 PM

It is not required to have a lawyer to apply for deferred action. 

However, PROCEED WITH CAUTION, the government has stated quite clearly that there will be no appeals or motions to re-open cases.  You get one chance to take advantage of this opportunity so it is probably worth it to retain the help of an experienced and reputable immigration lawyer.

Tips for selecting an immigration lawyerfinding immigration lawyer

1. Do your homework!  Choosing your immigration lawyer could have a profound impact on your future.  Get answers to the following questions:

    • How much experience does she have practicing immigration law? 
    • Has the lawyer successfully handled cases simliar in nature to your own?
    • Is the lawyer licensed and in good standing with a State Bar Association?
    • Is she a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law? 
    • How is she regarded by peers and clients?
    • Has she earned accolades such as "SuperLawyer"?
    • Do you trust this person?

2. Choose an AILA lawyer. AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) is the only legal association in the United States for immigration attorneys. More than 11,000 immigration lawyers are members of AILA. 

    • "Only a U.S.-licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist with your immigration case. Unlike consultants, lawyers have completed extensive education and training before being licensed to represent clients. Lawyers are also required to maintain high ethical standards: and if they don’t, you can contact your local bar association for action. When a consultant promises to help—but doesn’t deliver—the damage may not be fixable, and there may be no one to turn to.
    • By promising too much—and knowing too little—unauthorized consultants can damage your chances. Many are little better than scam artists, taking your money and never having to answer for the results.
    • It is against the law for “public notaries” or even foreign lawyers who are not licensed in the U.S. to provide immigration advice—even “just” filling out forms is something that only a licensed, properly trained lawyer or accredited representative should do.
    • This is important because only a U.S.-licensed lawyer or accredited representative is authorized and qualified to assist with your immigration case." - AILA

3. Check client & peer reviews on sites like Avvo

    • Avvo is an expert-only Q&A forum where people can ask legal questions of lawyers  for free. The Q&A forum is backed by an online directory of lawyers licensed in the United States. Avvo provides listings to which attorneys can submit their own profiles and histories. The listings may also include client reviews, disciplinary actions, and peer endorsements.

4. Interview a few lawyers and go with your gut

    • Meet with a few lawyers and hire who you trust and feel most comfortable with.  It is common for lawyer to provide a free consulation so that they can understand your case and explain your options.  This is your chance to get a feel for whether you trust this person and feel comfortable with her.  You can also discuss fee structure and agreements. 

5. Be careful who you listen to!

    • "Be smart! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    • Don’t believe it if someone tells you about a secret law or claims to have connections or special influence with any agency.
    • Never sign an application that contains false information, and try to avoid signing blank forms. If you must sign a blank form, make sure you get a copy of the completed form and review it for accuracy before it is filed.
    • Always get proof of filing—a copy or government filing receipt—when anything is submitted in your case.
    • Insist on a written contract that details all fees and expenses and make sure you receive a receipt, especially if you pay cash. If terms change, get a written explanation." - AILA

GOOD LUCK!!!

Related articles:

USCIS Releases Forms to Apply for Deferred Action

What are the risks with applying for deferred action?


 

What are the risks with applying for deferred action?

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 @ 5:51 PM

The recent announcement that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting completed forms to allow individuals to request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals is an exciting time for many young people across the nation.  

risk deferred actionHowever, applying for deferred action is not without risk.  There are several factors to consider.  First, the political risk. What if President Obama is not re-elected?  Could deferred action be reversed?  Applying for deferred action requires you to reveal a lot of personal information about yourself and your family.  Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas says that the information in applications will be confidential and will not be used to round up other undocumented people, you should give careful consideration to the fact that you could be exposing your family to the risk of deportation by providing this information.  

Now fast-forward to Election Day on November 6thWhat if President Obama is not reelected?  Mitt Romney has been floundering for a position on the issue.  During a speech in Iowa in December, he flatly promised to veto the DREAM act.  However, in April, he expressed support saying that Republicans needed to propose a GOP version of the bill to garner support of Hispanic voters.  However, that version supposedly being drafted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) has yet to materialize even after President Obama’s announcement in June.   The point is that the DREAM act is an executive order, not law, and if Mitt Romney wins the presidential election, he will have the power to revoke it.

The second risk is that the policy is a “temporary” measure. The President issued what he called a "stopgap" measure directing the Department of Homeland Security to halt the deportation of undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the U.S. as children. This order effectively decriminalized the status of individuals who would have qualified for permanent residency under the DREAM Act, and is valid only for two years.  So, if President Obama is re-elected in November, Dreamers do not have immunity or a shortcut to citizenship and must assume they will be renewed, but will not know until further guidance is provided.

USCIS Releases Forms to Apply for Deferred Action

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 @ 2:50 PM

deferred actionToday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released new forms and instructions to allow individuals to request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals from USCIS.  USCIS will begin accepting completed forms tomorrow, August 15, 2012. 

On June 15, 2012, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and President Barack Obama announced that, effective immediately, certain undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as young children, who do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Under the administration plan, certain unauthorized immigrants, will be able to avoid deportation and obtain work authorization if they can satisfy specific key criteria:

  1. Came to the United States before they turned 16;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of the memorandum (June 15, 2012) and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum (June 15, 2012);
  3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate or are honorably discharged veterans of theU.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offence, multiple misdemeanor offenses or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Are not above the age of 30.

Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action and work authorization. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than five years immediately before June 15, 2012. Types of evidence include but are not limited to school records, medical records, high school diploma or GED certificate. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

In a change from the prior announcement, people currently in removal proceedings will use the USCIS process when it is implemented on August 15, 2012, rather than go through ICE. Only individuals in detention will go through ICE to make a deferred action request. Requestors will use a form developed for this specific purpose.

  • Requestors will mail their deferred action request together with an application for an employment authorization document and all applicable fees to the USCIS lockbox. Total fees including biometrics will be $465.00
  • All requestors must provide biometrics and undergo background checks.
  • Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances. The four USCIS Service Centers will review requests.
  • Information provided as part of the deferred action request process is protected from disclosure to ICE or CBP for purposes of removal proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria of USCIS' November 2011 NTA memo.
  • If a departure from the U.S. was due to removal, voluntary departure, etc., the absence was not brief, casual and innocent and would interupt the continuous residence that is required since June 15, 2007. Short absences before August 15, 2012, reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose of the trip, would not be interuptive.
  • Only people who are currently not in status and were not in any lawful status on June 15, 2012 are eligible
  • A "significant misdemeanor" is one for which the individual was sentenced to more than 90 days, or a conviction for domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, firearm violation, drug distribution or trafficking (but not possession), or DUI, regardless of the sentence.
  • Whether a person has reached age 15, and whether the requestor meets the education requirements, will be determined as of the date the request for deferred action is filed, NOT the June 15, 2012 date.

We have attached copies of the pertinent applications and instructions for your review.

USCIS Announces Cost & Procedures to Apply for Deferred Action

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Aug 03, 2012 @ 4:46 PM

deferred action, dream actOn August 3, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security provided additional information on the deferred action for childhood arrivals process during a national media call in preparation for the August 15 implementation date.

USCIS expects to make all forms, instructions, and additional information relevant to the deferred action for childhood arrivals process available on August 15, 2012. USCIS will then immediately begin accepting requests for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals.

Information shared during today’s call includes the following highlights:

  • In a change from the prior announcement, people currently in removal proceedings will use the USCIS process when it is implemented on August 15, 2012, rather than go through ICE.  Only individuals in detention will go through ICE to make a deferred action request. Requestors will use a form developed for this specific purpose.

 

  • Requestors will mail their deferred action request together with an application for an employment authorization document and all applicable fees to the USCIS lockbox.  Total fees including biometrics will be $465.00

 

  • All requestors must provide biometrics and undergo background checks.

 

  • Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances. The four USCIS Service Centers will review requests.

 

  • Information provided as part of the deferred action request process is protected from disclosure to ICE or CBP for purposes of removal proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria of USCIS' November 2011 NTA memo.

 

  • If a departure from the U.S. was due to removal, voluntary departure, etc., the absence was not brief, casual and innocent and would interupt the continuous residence that is required since June 15, 2007. Short absences before August 15, 2012, reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose of the trip, would not be interuptive.

 

  • Only people who are currently not in status and were not in any lawful status on June 15, 2012 are eligible

 

  • A "significant misdemeanor" is one for which the individual was sentenced to more than 90 days, or a conviction for domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, firearm violation, drug distribution or trafficking (but not possession), or DUI, regardless of the sentence.

 

  • Whether a person has reached age 15, and whether the requestor meets the education requirements, will be determined as of the date the request for deferred action is filed, NOT the June 15, 2012 date.

 

 

 

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