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Immigration Law Archives

Undocumented Immigrants

Approved by a City Council Committee to Face Full Council SoonWhen it comes to dealing with undocumented immigrants in our country, it has been obvious that certain states take initiative in acting in a fair and just way while others do not. California has the largest population in the country and twenty-seven percent of the population is accounted for by immigrants. This statistic is discounting the number of undocumented individuals. Being such a hub for immigrants, it only makes sense then, that the most populated Californian city would work towards giving immigrants, documented or not, opportunities that are just.Proposal to Issue IDs to Undocumented Immigrants in Los AngelesEarlier this year, Los Angeles stopped seizing the cars of those who were driving without a license. Months later, the police department announced that it would no longer report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities for low-level offenses, an act that previously resulted in the eventual deportation of these individuals.Proposal to Issue IDs to Undocumented Immigrants in Los AngelesLast week, a City Council committee unanimously approved a proposal to develop a city-wide identification card system. This proposal, if approved now by the full Council, would allow undocumented individuals to receive ID cards which would be more than beneficial in a number of ways.

Undocumented Immigrants Issues

The ID cards would, in addition to serving the obvious purpose of identification, would double as prepaid debit cards. Currently, as undocumented immigrants are unable to open bank accounts, they are forced into carrying large sums of money on their person. Many immigrants and immigrant rights advocates have spoken out that this places them in unnecessarily dangerous situations, making undocumented immigrants susceptible to robberies, which are, at times, quite violent.This proposal, like all other efforts to increase immigrant rights, is faced with heavy opposition from conservatives. In this case, Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform – a group that is a proponent of stricter immigration laws – has openly opposed this proposal for city IDs for undocumented immigrants claiming, "this city has bent over backwards to accommodate people who are in this country illegally… if Los Angeles is going to be issuing government IDs, how do they know these people’s true identities"?They could be helping people establish a false identity. In tow with this opposition, others have argued that issuing IDs is a matter that must be resolved by the federal government. However, most proponents disagree with both arguments and are still propone issuing IDs to undocumented individuals. Los Angeles is not the first city to offer such a proposal. In 2007, New Haven became the first city to do so. Thereafter, many cities, including Oakland and San Francisco followed in New Havens’ footsteps. These cities have not experienced any of the negative effects as predicted by the opposition.Will Los Angeles be able to achieve a position on the list of immigrant-friendly cities by allowing undocumented immigrants to hold IDs? Only the votes can tell.

Undocumented Immigrants

College students who are U.S. citizens have over the past year been denied financial aid by several States seeking to reduce their educational expenses. These U.S. citizen students’ parents are undocumented. Recently Federal Courts in New Jersey and Florida have stayed these States from this practice because the U.S. Constitution bars unequal application of the laws. Although States like Florida and New Jersey may legally charge higher tuition for out of state residents more than they charge for state residents at public colleges and universities, still U.S. citizen students who are in state residents cannot be charged the higher rates because their parents are undocumented.

Student Aid Laws

student aid immigrantsOne U.S. born student recently who had graduated high school in Florida and lived there all his life, fled to enter Florida International University at the lower tuition rate but he was not admitted because he could not prove his parents were legal residents. The State denied him State residence because his parents were not legal residents of the State. He could not attend the public university because of the higher tuition. A Federal Judge in Miami, Florida found the State regulations unconstitutional. This law created a lower class U.S. citizenship category.This policy the Judge stated "does not advance any legitimate state interest" while it hindered Florida’s goal of furthering educational opportunities for its own residents. These U.S. born children are citizens. Their family’s status is not relevant. They do not conform to the Constitutional mandate of the equal protection of the laws.

Student Aid Policy

student aid immigrantsA New Jersey State Appeals Court Judge in August, 2012 held that the State of New Jersey may not deny a U.S. citizen and State resident the rights and privileges of tuition benefits because of who her parents are. The Judge declared this is "decidedly un-American". Similarly in California in the past, the State put an end to policies that denied residency to American students because their parents were in the country illegally.

Immigration Laws For Students

Through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the federal government is promising to grant certain undocumented individuals the benefit of residing in the United States without the fear of deportation and authorizing them to work. It has been clarified time and time again, however, that DACA-eligible individuals will not be granted any benefits aside from these. A crucial question to many has surfaced in light of this recent initiative: what of college education? There is no federal or state law that prohibits undocumented individuals to U.S. colleges, whether public or private. However, undocumented applicants to colleges and universities face higher tuition, often paying out-of-state tuition or foreign-student tuition. While out-of-state and foreign students who have documentation have the benefit of applying for and receiving financial aid, those who do not have documentation are unable to partake in this advantage. This places higher education financially out of reach for many otherwise bright and talented individuals.

Deferred Action Status

Deferred Action for Childhood ArrivalsWhat Ricardo Sanchez, chairman of Latino/a Educational Achievement Project, advocates increased efforts to offer financial aids to undocumented college students. In 2009, Sanchez attempted a similar measure in Washington State, however, it was unsuccessful as it did not make it past committees. Now, Sanchez continues advocating for state financial aid to be opened to undocumented college students, arguing that the students and their families contribute their share to the state’s economy by paying taxes. Additionally, he argues, many potential beneficiaries of this new measure are children of workers in the agricultural sector, which is one of the state’s primary economic sectors.

Deferred Action Immigration

While this quells certain concerns regarding financial burdens on the state, the core concern should be the value this measure would add to not only the state, but the country as a whole. Just in the state of Washington, analysts have assumed that a financial aid policy offered to undocumented individuals would increase the number of statewide higher education students by 1,000 in any given year. With this increase in higher-skilled individuals, there can only be positive results as the pool of qualified individuals would grow in size. Thusly, the number of higher-skilled workers available for employment would increase, which can only be beneficent to our economy.Deferred Action for Childhood ArrivalsOffering financial aid to undocumented higher education students obviously requires an in-depth cost-benefit analysis. However, when it comes to education, does it not seem commonsensical to suggest that the more individuals benefitting from higher education, the better?

Immigration Reform News

A socially liberal, fiscally conservative Mayor of one of the most densely and most diversely populated cities in the country, a libertarian media mogul and businessman, and an outspoken life-long Democrat walk into Boston’s Seaport Hotel. While this may sound like the beginning of a political joke, ending with a mildly controversial and satirical punch, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino actually did walk into the Seaport Hotel. Two weeks ago, the three highly influential personalities convened in order to make a nonpartisan argument that reformation of our country’s broken immigration system is of the essence if the nation’s economy is to be revived.Immigration System Bloomberg

Immigration System Statistics

Immigrants encourage the growth of the economy, there are studies and statistics abound proving this. Mayor Menino discussed local statistics for Boston as further evidence: in Boston, there are 8,800 immigrant-owned small businesses, employing more than 18,000 people and producing close to $3.7 billion in annual sales. This economic growth is due solely to foreign-born entrepreneurs; the immigrant population, as a whole, spends $4 billion per year and brings in #1.3 billion in state and federal taxes. These astounding numbers, remember, are only for the city of Boston. Mayor Menino enthusiastically proclaimed, “[immigrants] make this old city new again and again.”Immigration System MurdochMr. Murdoch added, “an immigrant is more likely to start a small business than a non-immigrant.” An immigrant himself, Murdoch understands and appreciates the positive influence our immigration system has on the growth of the country, not only economically, but also socially, academically, and technologically.

Immigration System Reform

In addition to small businesses, a study by the Partnership for a New American Economy has found that over forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. While the immigrant population in the country is less than thirteen percent of the general population, approximately twenty-eight percent of all new American businesses last year were created by them.Immigration System PleaTo address any misguided disconcertion's regarding immigrants draining our economy of valuable finances and snatching employment opportunities, Mayor Bloomberg argues, “people don’t come here to put their feet up and collect welfare, they come here to work.” And working is exactly what they do. Immigrants work hard to achieve the American dream, and in the course, they strengthen, preserve, and expand the economy. The convention of Mayors Bloomberg and Menino, and Mr. Murdoch, then, displays the need to unite in a nonpartisan effort to finally fix this broken immigration system.

New Immigration Laws

In most scenarios, passing fewer laws serves as a limitation to the people’s freedom and liberty. Certainly, for immigration issues, it would seem as though less is far from more. Our broken immigration system is obviously in dire need of restructuring and, at first glance, it seems almost commonsensical that the fewer immigration laws passed, the longer and more excruciatingly tedious that restructuring will be.

Immigration Issues

Immigration Legislation LawsWhat one must realize, however, is that in terms of laws actually being passed, quality trumps quantity. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recently released the results of a study on the passage of immigration measures this year. It found that forty one states enacted 114 bills and adopted ninety two resolutions relating to immigration from January through June of this year. This is a decrease of twenty percent from 2011 for the same time frame. The NCSL attributes this decline to a shift in the priorities of lawmakers, gradually moving away from immigration and into balancing the budget. Additionally, it claims that this decline is also due in part to U.S. courts evaluating pending litigation on how much authority states have in enforcing immigration laws.To understand why less, in this case, is actually more, let us take a look at the immigration laws that were passed last year. Five states last year followed the suit of the law that Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed two years ago, SB 1070 – or the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah individually passed laws designed to drive out undocumented immigrants from the state. In addition, thirty state legislatures introduced more than fifty immigration bills that ran in some line parallel to SB 1070. Fortunately, the laws passed in those states were either partially or entirely blocked by U.S. courts.

Immigration Law

Immigration LegislationIn comparison to this year, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out three provisions of SB 1070, only five states introduced bills similar to SB 1070, none of which were enacted, and states continue to approve legislation that funds naturalization and migrant and refugee programs. Statistically, twenty five percent of approved legislation is related to the latter immigration issue, eighteen percent of approved legislation is related to identification, and eleven percent is related to granting driver’s licenses.While approved legislation in the first six months of this year is far from being a thorough reformatting of our immigration system, the shift in the general outlook refreshing relative to last year. The overarching theme remains the necessity of increased legislation on immigration; however, the type and quality of the legislation must also and always be taken into consideration because, as seen in 2011, more can sometimes be less.

DACA Law

Necessity to earn an income renders individuals unable to qualify for recent benefits

Applying for DACA

As hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths begin the process of applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), there is a harmonious sigh of relief due to the benefits – temporary though they may be. Unfortunately, for several more thousands, while they should benefit from DACA, they are deemed ineligible. These individuals fulfill most requirements: they were brought into the country before their sixteenth birthday; have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007; are under the age of thirty-one as of June 15, 2012; entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of said date; have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat; and were present in the United States on June 15, 2012. The only requirement these individuals in question do not fulfill is that of being currently in school, having graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, having obtained a GED, or being an honorably-discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States. These individuals were unable to fulfill this requirement due to the fact that they are what are known as migrant agricultural workers.Youth Migrant Farm Workers Ineligible for DACAThese youths begin working in their budding youths, unable to attend school as their families need them working as agricultural workers in order to bring additional income into the household. The U.S. agricultural industry allows hundreds of thousands of children, a majority of them immigrants, to begin working full-time at an age as young as eleven or twelve. Out of compulsion, these youths face hardships uncommon, and even unheard of, to their urban and suburban counterparts, working longer hours and in more hazardous conditions in order to supplement their family’s income.

DACA Youths

Some are fortunate enough to be able to attend school; however, the average child migrant farmworker changes schools three times a year as they move from state to state with their families due to planting and harvesting seasons. While it might seem like a boon to be able to be a part of academia, for most, maintaining decent grades, keeping up with coursework, and sustaining an attendance record up to par proves to be a trying task due to the nature of their lifestyle. Thus, the drop-out rate for a child farmworker is four times the national average; as these youths are.For those migrant child farmworkers who have fortunately been able to complete their high school education, or have been able to obtain a GED, another difficulty arises in regard to applying for DACA. Because their lifestyle is highly migratory, evidencing their continuous presence in the country is troublesome. For most of these individuals, the most common documentation of utility bills and leases are out of the question as they would most probably live in migrant housing.DACA Deferred Action for ChildhoodWhile DACA was designed by the Obama administration to offer conciliation to upright immigrant youths, to offer temporary relief from the agonizing and debilitating fear of deportation, and to allow them to work towards finally achieving the much-strived after American Dream, DACA discounts these migrant farmworkers. If it were not for the fact that their lifestyle demobilizes them from attending school, these bright and hopeful youths would be able to apply for DACA and, like their undocumented peers, be granted the opportunity to live to their full potential. When parts of the population suffers thusly, can we sit inactive and helpless, then? Is there nothing we can do for these otherwise DACA eligible individuals?

Pro Immigration

As the presidential elections draw nearer, the careers as political leaders of the candidates are put under the scrutinizing microscope of the public. After President Obama announced his deferred action initiative early last month, the ball of immigration was thrown onto Mr. Romney’s court. His views on immigration and promises of possible immigration reforms were sought out by both supporters and opponents. Recently, articles were published on Mr. Romney’s stance and actions on immigration during his term as the Governor of Massachusetts; the analysis of those four years presents an entire spectrum of pro- and anti-immigration policies.

Undocumented Immigrants Deportation

undocumented immigrantsMr. Romney has shown much compassion for undocumented immigrants and has taken many encouraging and inspiring actions in order to show his sympathy. When an immigrant teacher was facing deportation, Mr. Romney personally interceded, along with many other public officials, in the case, successfully delaying the teacher’s proceedings. Mr. Romney signed into law the requirement of immigration judges to provide a warning to non-citizens that pleading guilty to certain crimes would result in their deportation from the country. Additionally, he has recommended increased funding for English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in schools in order to help undocumented immigrants integrate into the country more efficiently and smoothly.However, these pro-immigration actions are held in stark comparison to other actions that can be considered as anti-immigration. While he has shown support for ESL programs, he has long-championed English-only classes rather than the bilingual education system. The actual motives for this support are rather open for debate. Mr. Romney has also fought against allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition, just as documented Massachusetts residents do.

Undocumented Immigrants Detention

undocumented immigrantsThese stances are, again, in stark comparison to his recent publicized views that he would “staple a green card” to diplomas of undocumented immigrants who receive advanced degrees in math, science, and engineering. This support, however, is on the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of his decision in 2006. In 2006, Mr. Romney signed an agreement with federal authorities that would allow them to arrest and detain any individuals whom they suspect to be undocumented during their normal duties. The detention would soon result in deportation for most, if not all individuals arrested on this basis.It seems, then, that Mr. Romney is not against immigration itself. He supports it and is compassionate towards those who emigrate to the country as they encourage its growth. However, his stance on undocumented immigrants does not run parallel to this view. If elected to be the next president of this country that is so dependent on immigration, what Mr. Romney will do in regard to immigration will be found out in these crucial months leading to the election. His track record as the Governor of Massachusetts as it seems to be so varied, then, cannot be held up as a looking glass for the future for Mr. Romney.We invite you to contact Oltarsh & Associates (212) 944-9072 to speak with one of our experience attorney's.

DACA Policy

On June 15, 2012, DHS Secretary Napolitano issued a memorandum announcing The Obama administration’s deferred action initiative. For fifty days, the country had minimal details on the initiative. The only information the public had was that the deferment would be for a two-year period to certain undocumented youths who came to the U.S. as children and who meet several other criteria. Late last week, USCIS issued revised FAQs and detailed guidelines which prove to be more than helpful.Obama Deferred Action

Deferred Action Guidelines

It was made clear since June that the deferred action process does not allow a path to citizenship but is a temporary relief from deportation only to those individuals who were brought into the country before their sixteenth birthday and have come to consider the United States as their home. According to the updated guidelines, applications will be made available on August 15 and the total cost will amount to $464. Applicants must provide physical evidence that they have lived in the country for at least five years and the previous criteria still stand, including but not limited to not being above the age of thirty-one; being currently in school or having graduated or obtained a GED, or being an honorably discharged of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and not having been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and not otherwise posing a threat to national security or public safety. Additionally, those who are planning on applying for deferred action for childhood arrivals are urged to wait until the application is made available on August 15; if an individual applies beforehand, the application will be rejected. The guidelines further specify that USCIS retains the ultimate discretion in not only granting deferred action to childhood arrivals, but also in renewing deferment or retracting deferment.Deferred Action Guidelines

Deferred Action Process

This process, however, seemingly evades the continuous and tedious stalemate witnessed in Congress over the DREAM Act. Since the announcement in June, there have been many arguments that this initiative is merely a political move made by the Obama Administration during a crucial moment in wake of the presidential elections later this year. Nonetheless, the administration proclaims that it remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform, urging that in order to have an efficient system, these initial steps are integral. Additionally, USCIS emphasized in the updated guidelines: “only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer the certainty that comes with a pathway to permanent lawful status.”Various sources have different estimates for the number of people eligible under this process; but it can unarguably be noted that California, Texas, and New York City would see the most amount of beneficiaries. The most important question falls on the rate of processing: USCIS expects to receive approximately 3,000 applications per day and is planning on hiring several hundred full-time employees. However, there has been no mention of the number of applications that are expected to be processed. The following months will be crucial in determining the success rate of the deferred action for childhood arrivals process, then.

Deportation Laws

One of the most prevalent complaints about any government is that it is too slow. Whether too slow in making new policies, implementing policy reforms, or processing requests, someone seems to always fall victim to the languidness of the government. The most recent victim is twenty-year-old , a immigrant resident of Trenton, Missouri. A distinguished alumna of Stephens College, a friendly employee of her parent’s family-owned a Restaurant, and an active community member, she turned twenty-one on August and therefore, “aged out” of her parents non immigrant visa as she will no longer be considered a dependent of her parents.young immigtantAt the age of four, this young women, and her then one-year-old sister Gemma, were brought into the country by her non immigrant parents. She has grown up in the United States and knows no other place as home. Partaking in activities that any other child might, saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in elementary and middle school, cheering in high school, and majoring in the subject that she is most passionate about in college,she has spent her time living in the country with much contentment. Her life as she knows it, at the stroke of midnight on her birthday, just as in a fairy tale, will fall in on her as a result of aging out of her parents’ non immigrant visa; if she continues to live in the country, she will be considered undocumented,and illegal immigrant, a title that she is unwilling to carry. Therefore, this young women has decided to deport herself to England, a country, despite being her birth country is completely unfamiliar to her.

Plight of a Young Immigrant

Under the deferred action initiative of the Obama administration, it might seem as though this young women would qualify for temporary relief from any removal proceedings if she is to age out of her parents’ visa. She was brought into the country as a minor by her parents, she has graduated high school, is under the age of thirty, and has never been charged with any misdemeanors – serious or otherwise. she does not want to become illegal.young immigrantFor parents entered the country on an E-2 Treaty Investors non immigrant visa after buying the property they now own and operate. The E-2 is a “non-immigrant” visa, implying that it is temporary, and is granted to those who enter the country with the intent to invest or start a business that will employ U.S. workers. While the E-2 visa is renewable, it is only extended to its recipients and their dependent children. Realizing that their grandchildren will age out of the E-2 non immigrant visas, Miss Gray’s maternal grandparents, naturalized citizens since 2003, applied for green cards for their daughter, Lauren’s mother. The applications were filed nearly nine years ago.Currently, the government is processing applications filed in applications filed in the May of 2002. The application in question is dated September of 2003. The grandparents filed family-sponsored applications for green cards for their married daughter and her children, they fall under what is known as “third-preference”. Only a small number of these green cards are granted and that too, slowly.This young women therefore faces a dilema. While her family’s application for green cards might not be processed in time for her twenty-first birthday, there was still a glint of hope thanks to the deferred action initiative. However, if she goes out of status she can not adjust.In an interview, this young lady voices her criticism, “I’ve done everything right. I’ve been part of every community I’ve belonged to. Then to be told you’re not welcome anymore? I definitely think it is my right as a human being to live here and stay here. Isn’t it supposed to be a welcoming country, a melting-pot country?”To this predicament, we ask, where is the justice in forcing one to leave one’s home?

Obama Immigration Reform Plan

Since President Obama’s announcement in regard to granting deferred action to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as youths, a heated debate has erupted between those against and those in support of this decision. Those against this initiative argue that it will act as a detriment to U.S.-born workers and U.S. educational institutes, and this will, in turn, harm the nation’s economy. For those concerned about these supposed economic the following studies conducted by a wide variety of institutions will hopefully serve as some form of consolation as they show that the benefits of this initiative far outweigh the costs.Deferred Action Misconceptions Extinguished NowThe initiative has not been formed with lack of reason: those undocumented immigrant youths in question consider the U.S. their primary home and speak English as their first language; they attend primary and secondary school and do exceedingly well, opening gateways to support the nation as future professionals in a wide array of high-skilled professions. Unfortunately, due to their legal status, or the lack thereof, the opportunity to continue on to higher education institutes and potential careers which would benefit not only themselves, but also the economy, is diminished indefinitely.

Deferred Action Economics

The initiative has not been formed with lack of reason: those undocumented immigrant youths in question consider the U.S. their primary home and speak English as their first language; they attend primary and secondary school and do exceedingly well, opening gateways to support the nation as future professionals in a wide array of high-skilled professions. Unfortunately, due to their legal status, or the lack thereof, the opportunity to continue on to higher education institutes and potential careers which would benefit not only themselves, but also the economy, is diminished indefinitely.Deferred Action Misconceptions Extinguished TodayTo extinguish the misconception of potential beneficiaries of deferred action stealing U.S.-born workers’ jobs, studies conducted by Rob Paral and Associates1 have found that there exists no correlation between recent immigration and unemployment rates at the regional, state, or country level. Their research shows that in areas with the highest unemployment rates, only 3.1% of the population consists of immigrants. Contrarily, the research shows that the counties with the lowest unemployment rates consist of a higher percentage of immigrants. This research is supported by a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco2 which notes that between 1994 and 2007, immigration actually increased the wages of U.S.-born workers by an average of .4%. This increase is due to the boost in economic productivity, capacity, and stimulation of investments. With this boost, one can easily infer that by granting deferred action, neither the U.S-born workers, nor the national economy will be harmed.

Deferred Action Trends

Additionally, economic growth will, contrary to another misconception, appreciate rather than depreciate. According to the research conducted by Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda and his team at the University of California, Los Angeles, deferred action will encourage beneficiaries of this initiative to invest in their own education, real estate, and business, and to open bank accounts, all of which will help to boost the nation’s economy.The studies touched upon herein briefly graze the tip of the iceberg in terms of the beneficent effects of granting deferred action. With these obvious benefits, then, the arguments against this initiative seem incongruous and misinformed.Works Cited:1. There is Little Apparent Relationship Between Unemployment Rates and Recent Immigration at the Regional, State, or County Level. Rob Paral and Associates September 2005.2. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letter 2010-26. August 30, 2010
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