Monday, April 5, 2021

Eagle Pass




Texas border town mayor says illegal immigrants have been hiding in homes

Eagle Pass, Texas Mayor Luis Sifuentes says border agents in his area have been catching about 300 illegal immigrants a day.

The mayor of a Texas border town told "America Reports" on Monday that illegal immigrants have been hiding in the homes, backyards and patios

Eagle Pass borders the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, which is to the southwest and across the Rio Grande. The Eagle Pass-Piedras Negras metropolitan area (EG-PN) is one of six binational metropolitan areas along the United States-Mexican border.






 

Monday, March 29, 2021

The House Passes Historic Dream


 

The House Passes Historic Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act


The U.S. House of Representatives passed two immigration bills on March 18, signaling that Congress might finally enact major immigration reform for the first time in over three decades.

These bills—the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act—both offer pathways to U.S. citizenship for many immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.


Who Benefits from the Dream and Promise Act?


Millions of immigrants living in the United States may soon be eligible for permanent status, thanks to the passage of the Dream and Promise Act of 2021. The bill passed by a 228-197 vote in the House.

If the legislation also passes in the Senate, it will provide an estimated 4 million Dreamers—young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children—a pathway to American citizenship. This would go further than the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which only provided temporary protections from deportation and the ability to work lawfully.

Another 400,000 people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) would also receive a pathway to citizenship. Countries are designated for TPS or DED due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary conditions. Most recipients have lived in the U.S. for decades.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Farm Workforce Modernization Act

 



The House Passes Historic Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act


The U.S. House of Representatives passed two immigration bills on March 18, signaling that Congress might finally enact major immigration reform for the first time in over three decades.

These bills—the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act—both offer pathways to U.S. citizenship for many immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.


Who Benefits from the Dream and Promise Act?

Millions of immigrants living in the United States may soon be eligible for permanent status, thanks to the passage of the Dream and Promise Act of 2021. The bill passed by a 228-197 vote in the House.

If the legislation also passes in the Senate, it will provide an estimated 4 million Dreamers—young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children—a pathway to American citizenship. This would go further than the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which only provided temporary protections from deportation and the ability to work lawfully.

Another 400,000 people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) would also receive a pathway to citizenship. Countries are designated for TPS or DED due to ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary conditions. Most recipients have lived in the U.S. for decades.


What Does the Dream and Promise Act Provide?

The legislation—introduced on March 3 by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard—would give current, former, and future undocumented high school graduates and GED recipients a pathway to citizenship.

Those who are eligible would need to follow a three-step process to obtain citizenship through college, work, or the armed forces.

Upon meeting certain eligibility requirements, a person could apply for conditional permanent residence status.

After maintaining that status, they can apply for lawful permanent residence (LPR)—also known as a green card—after completing two years of college, two years in the armed services, or three years of employment. Individuals can apply for a “hardship waiver” if they don’t meet any of these requirements but have a disability or work as a full-time caregiver. The applicant may also receive a waiver if an LPR or U.S. citizen-spouse, parent, or child would face extreme hardship if they were deported.

Monday, March 15, 2021

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Immigration: One Year Later


 

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Affected Immigration: One Year Later


It’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic first affected immigration on a global scale. The impact has been swift, devastating, and long-lasting.

On March 11, 2020, former President issued a proclamation announcing travel restrictions on two dozen European countries. It was one of the first major signs from the U.S. government that the landscape of travel—and immigration in particular—would be significantly altered by the pandemic.

All told, immigration to the United States dropped a staggering 92% during the second half of fiscal year 2020. This was the largest drop off in immigration in the history of the United States.

Immigration amid the pandemic continues to evolve. Here are some of the changes to immigration in the last year.

Immigration Bans and Restrictions: Then

The United States officially declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on January 31, 2020.

Upon that declaration, all people other than U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family were barred from traveling to the U.S. within 14 days of being in China, where the first known outbreak occurred.

On March 11, 2020, during a primetime address to the nation, The President banned all foreign nationals from European countries for 30 days. The President continued to roll out and extend travel restrictions after that announcement.

The next large ban—targeting the legal immigration system—came on April 24 and was set to last until December 31, 2020.

The President blocked the issuance of all new permanent visas to many immigrants that the prior administration had targeted for exclusion for years. The ban blocked immigrant family members of U.S. citizens, including parents and children. The ban also covered winners of the diversity visa.

On April 24, the administration extended the ban to include certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas.

At the same time, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended all in-person services at its domestic and foreign offices. The Department of State had already closed all of USCIS’ visa processing services at embassies and consulates worldwide on March 20. Limited services—such as socially-distanced naturalization ceremonies—resumed on June 4.


Monday, March 8, 2021

Why Immigration Visa Wait Times Are So Long


 

Applying for an immigrant visa to the United States is an all-consuming process. Applicants have to submit paperwork that sometimes spans several years of their lives and make their case in front of immigration officers multiple times. Over the years, the number of applications for immigrant visas has reached record levels. During the Trump administration, we also saw higher denial rates and Requests for Evidence (RFEs) in many categories of immigrant visas. Visa wait times seem to just grow longer.

All of these steps, plus the annual limits in some visa categories, make wait times exceptionally long. During 2020, many applicants for immigrant visas experienced significant delays in their cases due to U.S. immigration offices and embassies’ closures based on COVID-19 protocols.

We know that applying for a U.S. immigrant visa involves “getting in line” with hundreds of thousands of people. But why exactly are visa wait times so long? And what will President Biden do to improve it?

The Immigrant Visa Process, in a Nutshell

An immigrant visa allows you to live and work in the United States permanently. Most people know it as a permanent resident card or “green card.” There are many ways in which a person can become a permanent resident in the United States, but most immigrant visas fall under these categories:


Family-Based Immigrant Visas

Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

Diversity Visas

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Regardless of the category under which you may qualify, the process involves multiple government agencies, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State (if you’re abroad). USCIS manages most of the immigration process.


Monday, March 1, 2021

J-1 Visa Benefits


 

What Are the Benefits of the J-1 Visa?


Over the past year, sweeping orders have banned many non-immigrant visa holders from entering the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic gave many former Trump administration officials the opportunity to restrict immigration based on fears surrounding the spread of the coronavirus and U.S. unemployment and immigration.

The extended executive order—in effect until March 31—has consequently kept J-1 visa holders out of the country for almost an entire year.


What is the J-1 visa?


The J-1 visa, often referred to as the “exchange visitor visa,” allows for people from all over the world to gain crucial skills in the U.S. that they take back to their respective home countries.

This could mean learning specialty skills in everything from hospitality to finance to mental health training or law. Individuals train in these skills and return home with knowledge, insight into American culture, resources, and connections.

This return home is often enforced through a feature of the J-1 visa called the “home residency requirement,” which requires individuals in different categories to return home for at least two years.

Unlike other visa categories which require approval through the Department of Labor, the J-1 visa is approved through the Department of State. This allows for programs to be curated by host-employers, highlighting what the visa recipient can expect to learn and for how long and who will oversee the program. Unlike other visa categories, spouses and dependents can be approved along with the J-1’s application.  This means that extensions are approved through sponsoring organizations and not with other government agencies.

The point of the J-1 visa category isn’t to take American jobs—rather, it’s designed to help train and create a network within global industries and tie countries together with common experiences.

Monday, February 22, 2021

A Win for Transparency

 



In a Win for Transparency, Court Orders Board of Immigration Appeals to Make Immigration Court Decisions Public


The Second Circuit has found that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) must publish immigration decisions, reversing an earlier federal district court decision.

The case challenged the Department of Justice’s longstanding practice of failing to publish immigration decisions by the BIA—the highest administrative court deciding immigration cases—in any forum that could be easily accessed by the public. The decision in the case, brought by the New York Legal Assistance Group, highlights agencies’ obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to make certain records publicly available without individuals or organizations having to file individual FOIA requests to obtain them.

The provision of FOIA that requires agencies to proactively disclose certain agency records is sometimes called the “reading room provision” because agencies maintain FOIA Reading Rooms on their websites that can be accessed by the public. Documents that must be provided to the public without specific requests include: policies that have been adopted by the agency; agency manuals and instructions to staff; and “final opinions . . . as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases.”

Under FOIA, documents that fall under the reading room provision cannot be “relied on, used, or cited as precedent by an agency” unless they are publicly available, or the party opposing the agency has “actual and timely notice of the terms thereof.” The fact that the unpublished decisions were cropping up in immigration court and BIA decisions was very problematic.

The Second Circuit reversed a previous ruling, finding courts do have the ability to order the BIA to make documents publicly available, not just available to an individual FOIA requester. In doing so, the court also disagreed with the D.C. Circuit, finding it had wrongly interpreted FOIA to prevent courts from ordering public disclosure.