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USCIS Will Now Issue NTA's

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 @ 1:31 PM

On June 28, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy memorandum on Notices to Appear (Forms I-862, hereinafter “NTAs”).  The new NTA policy is intended to implement the Trump administration’s enforcement priorities as set forth in the January 17 Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”  The new policy not only has significant ramifications for foreign nationals but also gives the USCIS an abundance of unchecked authority.  From its inception, the USCIS was never intended to be an immigration enforcement agency.  That role was reserved for the ICE.  The sole function of the USCIS was to administer immigration benefits (i.e., processing applications for visas, green cards, naturalization and humanitarian benefits).  The Policy fundamentally shifts the way in which the USCIS operates.  As explained by Benjamin Johnson, the director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, “The Homeland Security Act was designed to have three components:  service, enforcement and border control, each under a different agency, particularly so that the ‘service’ component was not overshadowed by the enforcement and border components.  The Trump Administration is re-writing the Homeland Security Act without Congressional action.” Historically, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has relied upon the enforcement components of DHS, specifically the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), to handle NTA in the majority of circumstances. Under the new policy, USCIS will be able to issue an NTA on its own accord and place individuals in removal proceedings upon denial of an application or petition for immigration benefits if the individual is deemed removable at the time of the denial. More significantly, NTAs will be issued to every person who is not “lawfully present” in the United States at the time that their application benefit request or petition is denied.  A second policy memorandum issued at the same time makes applicants for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) the exception to this new NTA policy.

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