Monday, November 23, 2020

U.S. Citizenship Test


New US Citizenship Test Makes It Harder for Immigrants to Become Citizens

Lawful permanent residents seeking to become U.S. citizens will now be required to take a more difficult and longer citizenship test. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the change on November 13.

The new test increases the total number of questions from 100 to 128. Applicants will be verbally asked 20 questions and must answer at least 12 correctly, up from six out of 10.

A longer and more challenging test will likely prevent some immigrants from becoming citizens. It will also delay the citizenship process for hundreds of thousands more who are already waiting in months- or years-long backlogs.

The new test will apply to any person who files a citizenship application after December 1, 2020. These changes come on the heels of other targeted efforts that make it harder to become a U.S. citizen, including higher naturalization fees, increased vetting, and backlogs in citizenship applications.

The New Citizenship Test Questions Are More Complicated

Some of the questions have been made explicitly more difficult—even though there’s no evidence the old test wasn’t challenging enough.

While applicants previously may have been asked to identify one of the branches of government, they may now be asked to identify all three branches of government. Applicants who may have been asked to identify three of the original 13 states may now be asked to identify five of the original 13 states.

USCIS says one of the goals of the new test is to ensure applicants learn more about civics and history and aren’t simply learning names and dates.

For example, the old test asked, “What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?” The new test asks, “What does the Bill of Rights protect?”

Monday, November 16, 2020

Targeted Sanctuary Cities


ICE Is Targeting ‘Sanctuary’ Cities With Increased Enforcement and Massive Fines

In the final run up to the presidential election, the Trump administration has reinvigorated its attacks on undocumented immigrants in the United States by targeting so-called “sanctuary” policies and jurisdictions.

These attacks have come in two forms. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials started to issue fines against undocumented immigrants who have sought “sanctuary” in U.S. churches.

In a somewhat different vein, ICE has also singled out so-called sanctuary jurisdictions for immigration enforcement actions.

Both tactics are part of a concerted effort by the administration to demonize undocumented immigrants. The agency aims to portray them as a threat to public safety despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary.

Immigrant rights groups recently released documents that show that ICE officials plan to levy massive civil fines against undocumented immigrants. ICE uses the fines to retaliate against outspoken leaders of the sanctuary movement.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Turn Back Policy


Challenging Customs and Border Protection's Unlawful Practice of Turning Away Asylum Seekers

This case challenges the government’s policy – the Turnback Policy – of turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry (POEs) across the U.S.-Mexico border since 2016.

The plaintiffs in the case are Al Otro Lado, a non-profit legal services organization that serves indigent deportees, migrants and refugees in Los Angeles and Tijuana, along with individual, courageous asylum seekers who experienced CBP’s unlawful conduct firsthand. Their experiences demonstrate that CBP has used a variety of tactics – including misrepresentation, threats and intimidation, verbal abuse and physical force, metering, and coercion–to deny bona fide asylum seekers the opportunity to pursue their claims.

In April 2018, the government issued guidance formalizing and focusing the Turnback Policy through a policy of metering. Under the metering policy, CBP officials assert a lack of capacity and refuse to inspect and process asylum seekers, forcing them to wait in Mexico.

The complaint alleges that CBP’s refusal to allow asylum seekers access to the asylum process violates the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the doctrine of non-refoulement under international law.

Plaintiffs are represented by the American Immigration Council, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Mayer Brown LLP.

On August 6, 2020, the district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, allowing the case to proceed on behalf of all asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border who were or will be prevented from accessing the asylum process at ports of entry as a result of the government’s Turnback Policy. Specifically, the court certified a class consisting of “all noncitizens who seek or will seek to access the U.S. asylum process by presenting themselves at a Class A [POE] on the U.S.-Mexico border, and were or will be denied access to the U.S. asylum process by or at the instruction of [CBP] officials on or after January 1, 2016.” The court also certified a subclass consisting of “all noncitizens who were or will be denied access to the U.S. asylum process at a Class A POE on the U.S.-Mexico border as a result of Defendants’ metering policy on or after January 1, 2016.”

Monday, November 2, 2020

Court neglects to tell


The Government Wants Immigrants to Show Up for Court—But Neglects to Tell Them How to Attend Their Hearings

Over 60,000 people at the southern border have been forced to return to Mexico under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. As they get sent back, U.S. government officials give them insufficient information about how to attend their immigration court hearings in the United States.

Then when people do not make it to their court hearings, the government asks the court to deport them because they didn’t show up to the hearing. We must do more to uphold our immigration laws and the basic concept of due process.

Under MPP, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials return people applying for asylum at the southern border to Mexico to wait for their immigration court hearings. U.S. immigration law requires certain protections for those placed into removal proceedings—including those sent to wait in Mexico.

One of the most fundamental of these protections is adequate notice of the immigration court hearing, so that migrants can present their case to a judge.

DHS officials are supposed to give notice—informally known as a “tear sheet”—that tells people when and where they need to arrive at a port of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border to be transported to their hearing in the United States.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Naturalization Fee


Naturalization Fees: A Poll Tax Hidden in Plain Sight

The application fee to apply for U.S. citizenship was due to rise from $640 to $1170 on October 2. Though the fee hike was temporarily blocked in federal court, this is not the first time U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has tried to raise the naturalization application fee. But the increase has never been this high—a staggering 82%.

The Center for American Progress found in a 2014 study that 32% of immigrants eligible for naturalization lived below 150% of the federal poverty income guidelines. High application fees will put citizenship out of reach for many—possibly up to 54% of the eligible immigrant population.

If people cannot afford to naturalize as U.S. citizens, they never will earn one of the key privileges of citizenship: the right to vote.

Monetary barriers to voting are not new. Poll taxes were used after the Civil War Reconstruction era to disenfranchise Black people, poor white people, and immigrant voters.

Starting in the 1870s, many states enacted laws that required every voter to pay before they could vote. The poll tax amount varied by state and ran at most between $10 to $20 in today’s dollars. That figure is low compared to the astronomical new $1,170 naturalization application fee, though it was still unreachable for many during that time.

Monday, October 19, 2020



Border Patrol is Going After Humanitarian Aid in the Arizona Desert—Again

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched another military-style raid on a humanitarian aid station in the Arizona desert, close to the U.S.-Mexico border.

On October 5, Border Patrol agents and CBP’s para-military arm Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) descended on the aid camp. They charged in with assault rifles, an armored vehicle, ATVs, a helicopter, and multiple marked and unmarked vehicles.

Border Patrol’s raid comes less than three months after a strikingly similar show of force. In that instance, at least one agent carried sophisticated video equipment into the camp. The agency claimed to have warrants but did not readily display them when arriving at the camp.

Advocates filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on October 14 to demand CBP’s records related to this and previous raids. The request seeks footage CBP may have recorded during the events, agency communications, and search warrants requested or received.

The aid station known as Byrd Camp has operated for more than a decade under the group No More Deaths/No Más Muertes. The volunteer-based organization maintains a year-round humanitarian presence in remote desert areas of southwestern Arizona, providing life-saving aid and care to migrants in need.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Rock Legend Immigrant


Eddie Van Halen endured a 'horrifying racist environment' before becoming a rock legend

Music fans around the world are mourning the loss of iconic Van Halen rock star Eddie Van Halen. And while many today honor his legacy as one of the all-time greatest guitarists, fans are also highlighting past interviews describing his encounters with painful racism and discrimination because of his mixed race in his early years.

Van Halen, who died of throat cancer at 65, was the son of Dutch and Indonesian immigrants and spent his childhood in the Netherlands. His former bandmate David Lee Roth, a fellow rock superstar, once revealed on the podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" just how painful the experience was for the young Van Halen and his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen.

In the 2019 interview, Roth described how poorly the Van Halens' parents were treated because of their mixed-race relationship in the 1950s.

"It was a big deal. Those homeboys grew up in a horrifying racist environment to where they actually had to leave the country," Roth said in the podcast.

He added that the brothers, who were often referred to as "half-breed" in the Netherlands, still met difficult circumstances after immigrating to the U.S.

"Then they came to America and did not speak English as a first language in the early '60s. Wow," Roth told Maron. "So that kind of sparking, that kind of stuff, that runs deep."

The brothers' mother, Eugenia, met their father, Jan, a traveling musician, in Indonesia when it was under Dutch rule. Shortly after World War II, the couple decided to move to the Netherlands, where the rock stars were born.