For four years, all across the United States, they have come to law offices like ours. They have come with tidy stacks of records from their years in the United States – vaccination cards, dog-eared school grade cards, pay stubs from high school jobs, college awards. The older ones come by themselves or with their spouses. The younger ones come with anxious parents. All of them are expectant, nervous but hopeful.
These are the DREAMers, the young people eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), announced by President Obama in 2012. They are undocumented youth brought here by their parents, usually without a visa. They have grown up in our country without papers and without any certainty as to what the future may hold.
Since 2012, DACA has allowed qualified young immigrants to apply for and receive a temporary reprieve from deportation. Over the past four years, DACA has significantly changed almost one million lives, allowing DACA recipients to work legally, obtain a driver’s license, more easily attend university or enroll in other advanced educational programs, pursue careers, and otherwise live as integral members of their communities, just as their peers born here.
Continue reading ‘My American Dreams PBS Film Project’ »
“Apurar, cielos, pretendo,
Por qué me tratáis así,
qué delito cometí
contra vosotros naciendo.
Aunque si nací, ya entiendo
qué delito he cometido;
bastante causa ha tenido
vuestra justicia y rigor,
Pues el delito mayor
del hombre es haber nacido.” ~ by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Outrage is the only word that comes to mind to describe the Obama Administration’s recent admission that they are aggressively pursuing enforcement against families and children. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched a 30-day “surge” of arrests focused on mothers and children who have been ordered removed by an immigration judge. It was also reported that the operation would cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age.
Continue reading ‘Outrage’ »
Liaison work has long been at the heart of AILA member services. Liaison, when effective, is a critical bridge for members who are facing issues in their practices, helping to raise those issues with the various agencies to work toward a solution. However, in recent years, some have begun to question the efficacy of liaison efforts and whether AILA might be better served pursuing other options, such as litigation, to push back on critical issues.
I have long held the belief that AILA’s liaison relationship with government agencies can and should be both respectful and spirited, and that it is through a liaison system built on trust, mutual respect, and solid relationships that we can achieve AILA’s mission of providing robust member service. This kind of liaison relationship does not foreclose the option of litigation, political advocacy, public relations, or other avenues for change, but it does serve as the bedrock for effective engagement with the government. This approach works and will continue to work as we move forward. Take, for example, a recent AILA liaison development that we hope will make a palpable difference in members’ practices.
Continue reading ‘Why AILA Liaison Work is Crucial Even in Contentious Times’ »
Until September 2015, Georgia issued driver’s licenses to foreign nationals residing in the U.S. as long as they were statutorily eligible. Then, due to a “policy change,” the Department of Driver Services (DDS) began demanding that foreign nationals show they had been lawfully admitted to the United States, a requirement not found in the law or regulations. One AILA member, Justin Chaney, decided to fight that battle in a Rockdale County court on behalf of a client. Mr. Chaney’s challenge to DDS will protect not only his client’s rights under federal law but also the public safety of all Georgians driving on state roads.
The REAL ID Act established minimum evidentiary requirements for the issuance of driver’s licenses by states. In particular the REAL ID Act requires documentation of both identity and lawful status. In this case, Mr. Chaney’s client, Thomas* had a receipt, issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for his application for cancellation of removal. He had also applied for and received an employment authorization document (EAD) under the (c)(10) category of the federal regulations as one who had applied for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence, i.e. the application for cancellation. In initially applying for a driver’s license, and subsequently renewing, Thomas had successfully presented his EAD and cancellation application receipt.
Continue reading ‘Fighting Roadblocks to Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants in Georgia’ »
From Day One of the Obama Administration’s efforts to expand family detention, children have been the hardest hit. In Artesia, Berks, Dilley, and Karnes, these vulnerable asylum seekers are the ones who suffer the most when fleeing danger and coming to the U.S. seeking lawful protection for their safety. The children are traumatized instead of being sheltered. They are incarcerated by the hundreds as our government works tirelessly to fast-track their deportation and volunteer attorneys work just as tirelessly to prevent those removals.
This week we found out the Karnes facility has received an initial license from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) as a childcare facility. This effort is entirely at the behest of the federal government and the private prison companies, who desperately want to keep their cash cow open despite Judge Dolly Gee’s ruling in the Flores case. Licensing these “baby jails” as childcare facilities is just the latest in a string of outrageous and shameful efforts to keep the deportation machine running. Thankfully a Texas judge has temporarily halted the licensing of the Dilley facility as a child care center. But that battle still wages.
Continue reading ‘Recognize these Mothers’ Sacrifices on Mother’s Day’ »
Sunday is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and having just met some of the most incredible mothers I have ever encountered, I wanted to share that experience. In Dilley, TX, I met countless mothers who risked their lives to come to the U.S. for their children. Not for economic reasons, not for “a better life,” but for the chance for their children to survive, because that is what a mother does.
Primarily, I am a business immigration attorney. I think in terms of Hs, PERM, Es, O-1s and the rest of the business immigration alphabet. However, I have been hearing a lot about the families who have asylum cases that desperately need help in Artesia, Dilley, and Karnes for the last two years and I kept thinking about lending a hand. Throughout my career I have taken on a handful of pro bono cases and have volunteered at clinics and citizenship day events, but I could do more.
When the New York chapter sent emails around asking people to go on a team, my immediate reaction was, “Let me donate some money instead.” I don’t do well roughing it. I don’t even go camping. I’m not saying I am a princess, but my slippers are high-heeled. My idea of roughing it is waiting for my martini for an additional ten minutes. Trust me, my friends think of me more as “Business Immigration Barbie” than “Detainee Defender.”
Continue reading ‘Anything I Can Do, You Can Do Better… in Dilley!’ »
As the American presidential election nears, some of us in Canada have been asked by media and other interested parties what the real options are if someone wanted to head north. ABC News reported in March that Google searches for “how to move to Canada” surged as high as 1,150%. We thought we’d offer some insight into the options available to come to Canada either temporarily or permanently.
Come to Canada to Work or Study: For those seeking a temporary move to Canada, young Americans in particular may pursue post-secondary studies in Canada by securing acceptance to a Canadian college or university. Others may seek to secure a temporary job offer from a Canadian employer. Under NAFTA, there are a myriad of employment options open to Americans. As well, those who are not American can work in Canada if they qualify as an intercompany transferee. In general, the ability to work in Canada depends on the nature of the positon and the particular skill set one maintains. In many cases, individuals require a job offer from a Canadian employer that is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment through Service Canada; this requires the prospective employer to demonstrate an inability to locate a qualified Canadian candidate to fill the positon.
This may sound familiar to attorneys working with business clients here in the U.S. The most recognized temporary work visa in the U.S. is probably the H-1B, particularly this time of year, when more than 230,000 petitions were filed for the 85,000 visas available. While in recent years Canada has made changes to their immigration laws intended to improve their immigration system, the last significant change to the U.S. system occurred more than 25 years ago.
Continue reading ‘Are You Considering Canada?’ »
It was early Monday morning in Los Angeles and all along the West Coast of the United States, people were just waking up. Cars were jamming the freeways, lines were forming at coffee shops and TVs were tuned to the morning news. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the five men and three women who currently sit on the U.S. Supreme Court were hearing oral arguments in what is likely to be a seminal case involving immigration policy and more broadly, the president’s executive authority. The case seeks to resolve the controversy around the immigration initiatives President Obama announced in November 2014. For many who anxiously await the Supreme Court’s decision, a resolution as to whether the expanded DACA and DAPA initiatives may proceed is a life-changing matter.
United States v. Texas traveled to the Supreme Court on a politically charged highway along which advocates and opponents threw many punches. The road was lengthy, and as the case made its way to the Supreme Court, many speculated as to its fate. Significantly, this past February, the Court lost Justice Antonin Scalia. As one of the most conservative justices on the court, his passing could have an impact on the result of the case.
I had the privilege of sitting in the courtroom and listened first-hand as Solicitor General of the United States Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., representing the Obama Administration, and Scott A. Keller, Solicitor General of Texas, delivered their arguments. Certain intervenors were permitted to make statements, including Tom Saenz at MALDEF, who forcefully represented the voices of three undocumented mothers, but the crux of the case was presented and argued by the parties’ respective attorneys.
Continue reading ‘What Happened Yesterday’ »
On Monday, April 18, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the controversial case, United States v. Texas, to determine the fate of more than 3 million undocumented individuals. The lawsuit, filed by Texas and 25 other states shortly after the administration announced the expansion of DACA (DACA+) and DAPA in November 2014, blocked implementation of the programs which have been held hostage ever since.
The lawsuit alleges that DACA+ and DAPA violate the “Take Care Clause” of the Constitution which requires that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In addition, the states argue that DAPA and DACA+ violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) as arbitrary and capricious initiatives that are contrary to our immigration laws, and that the government did not comply with the procedural requirements of the APA before announcing these initiatives.
The so-called “standing” upon which Texas and the 25 other states brought the lawsuit was that these federal initiatives would unduly burden the states by requiring them to issue and subsidize driver’s licenses – $130 per license for Texas.
Continue reading ‘The End Nears for this Politically Charged Game of Chess’ »
There are far too many moments when the dysfunction of our outdated immigration system becomes crystal clear. One of those moments occurred this week when U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received a record number of H-1B visa petitions during the five-day filing window for the coming fiscal year. Because our immigration laws are now more than a generation old, our system is simply not equipped for today’s reality – the H-1B program is like a dial-up connection in a high-speed wireless world.
A recent report shows that the presence of high-skilled immigrants improves a wide spectrum of the American economy and benefits U.S. workers. There is a direct correlation between the hiring of high-skilled immigrants and the creation of new jobs and new opportunities for economic growth in communities across the nation. The H-1B visa program is a way for U.S. businesses to hire those high-skilled immigrants. But, with an artificial limit of 85,000 on the number who can come here, Congress has not made it easy for these essential workers to get here, even with a job offer in hand.
Continue reading ‘The H-1B Visa Program: The Dial-up Connection to the High-speed Wireless World’ »