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February 2009 Archives

LEGAL COUNSEL IN DEPORTATION PROCEEDINGS

For the past 20 years a precedent has been established that an immigrant in deportation hearings, who has been represented by negligent or inattentive counsel, may move to reopen the deportation order. Just before leaving office, President Bush’s Attorney General, reversed this precedent and held that the right to counsel is only available to criminal defendants and not to immigrants.Even though an alien has a compelling case, it faces being separated from spouse and children, Attorney General, Michael Mukasey left them without remedy. This ruling is contrary to our Constitution and legal precedents under the 5th and 14th amendments. Removal actions have an unquestionably substantial impact on a person’s liberty as well as his family’s. President Obama’s new Attorney General has promised to correct this grave injustice and hopefully it will be done promptly.

MILITARY OFFERS U.S. CITIZENSHIP TO SKILLED IMMIGRANTS

Since the military is facing severe shortages in skilled personnel such as health care and linguistics translation, it is opening a pilot program to attract immigrant enlistees who have lived in the U.S. for more than 2 years and have permanent residence.  This program would shortcut a path to U.S. citizenship for enlistees who would other wise face a long waiting period and a difficult citizenship exam.One thousand immigrants will be accepted the first year and if the program is successful, it would be expanded up to 14,000 annually.The win-win plan would supply the military with needed skills and those recruited would receive their citizenship.Language experts would have to serve four years; health care professionals, three to qualify.

DEATH OF A U.S CITIZEN SPOUSE

For an immigrant spouse of a U.S. citizen, if the citizen spouse dies within 2 years the death effectively annuls the immigrant spouse’s right to permanent residency.Bringing a case in Federal Court may help. Recently a federal judge held that the Department of Homeland Security wrongfully ruled that a widow had a right to permanent residence even though she was only married 9 months. The case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Third Circuit. This case involves a surviving spouse who legally entered the U.S., married the citizen spouse but would lose permanent residence because the spouse died within 2 years after marriage.For no fault of the surviving spouse, the Immigration service in these cases is denying work authorization and licenses are not being renewed by states. The problem under this harsh interpretation by the Immigration Service is that in making a blanket prevision where there is a death of a U.S. citizen, the surviving spouse is presumed to have married fraudulently if the death occurs within 2 years of marriage. The Immigration Service should have to review each window or widower on a case by case basis as to good faith. The death itself is not relevant to the issue of good faith and is an illogical requirement. The Department of Homeland Security is currently reconsidering its law regarding surviving spouses, so help may be coming from the Courts on the Immigration Service itself.

FIANCE(E) VISA

U.S. citizens can only petition for fiancé(e). It is not enough to have met through the internet. The petitioner must have personally, met his /her fiancé(e) within the past 2 years unless a meeting would violate religion or culture. A visa interview will be conducted abroad and if approved, the fiancé(e) may come to the U.S. for 90 days . If the couple marries within that time, the alien may apply for permanent residence; if not, the fiancé(e) must return to her/his country.
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