US PLANS ON MORE DEPORTATION RAIDS, FOCUSING ON CENTRAL AMERICANS
According to an internal document seen by Reuters, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recently told field offices nationwide to launch a 30-day (May and June) “surge” of arrests focused on mothers and child immigrants who arrived illegally after January 1, 2014, who have already been deported, and have no pending appeal or pending claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under current immigration laws. The new plans do not include intensive raids like those over one weekend in January, when about 120 women and children were detained for deportation in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. Instead, immigration agents will speed up the arrests of individual families, which they have been making nationwide since the January raids.
The planned new raids are in response to a renewed surge of illegal entries by Central American women traveling with their children. From October 2015, through March 2016, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 32,000 family units (compared about 14,000 in 2014-2015).
JUDGE’S DEMAND FOR IMMIGRANTS’ IDENTITIES DRAWS BACKLASH
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas has ordered the Department of Justice to turn over the names of over 100,000 young immigrants who were granted three-year renewals of deferrals of deportation and work permits under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. The Justice Department has described the order as an “unprecedented breach” of trust for the tens of thousands who have qualified under the protective status. Hanen is the judge who blocked President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action from being implemented, a decision now on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR DONALD TRUMP TO DEPORT 11 MILLION AND BUILD A WALL
According to the New York Times, Donald J. Trump has a simple plan to reduce the estimated population of 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States: Deport them. Former senior immigration and border officials, however, are skeptical. Deportations have peaked recently at about 400,000 a year, so the increase in scale to reach Mr. Trump’s goal would be exponential. To prevent flight after arrest the authorities would have to detain most immigrants awaiting deportation. Existing facilities, with about 34,000 beds, would have to be expanded to hold at least 300,000, perhaps with tens of thousands of people in detention camps, similar to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Additional costs are associated with his plan which include tripling ICE’s deportation officers, to 15,000 and flying back millions of immigrants at the federal government’s expense. The American Action Forum, a conservative-leaning research group, calculated the federal outlay to be at least $400 billion, assuming that the deportations were stretched over 20 years.
In connection with the proposed wall, he has pegged the cost at $4 billion to $12 billion, most recently settling on around $10 billion.
FRAUD CHARGES AND PERIL FOR IMMIGRANTS AT JAY PEAK RESORT
As recently reported by the New York Times, two men heavily involved in the highly publicized Jay Peak EB-5 project have come under investigation by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and the State of Vermont. A combined 67 counts have been filed against Mr. Ariel Quiros and Mr. William Stenger. With an $850 million dream, the businessmen promised the biggest economic development in Vermont history. They planned to finance it through the EB-5 program that federal program that allows wealthy foreign citizens to invest $500,000 in projects in distressed areas in return for green cards, leading to permanent residency in the United States. The businessmen raised $350 million through the EB-5 program from roughly 800 investors from at least 74 different countries. The complaints stated that the two used a “Ponzi-like” scheme to divert $200 million intended for future projects into a dizzying swirl of fraudulent accounts set up to try to keep earlier projects afloat. Some were completed, others were not. The actions of the two men have seriously jeopardized the immigration status of about 400 investors, who are already in the United States, and have thrown into doubt the future of the entire EB-5 visa program.
USCIS SUED OVER “UNLAWFUL DELAY” OF CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS OF MUSLIMS
The lawsuit – filed by the Hacking Law Practice on behalf of 13 Muslim immigrants in the Eastern District of Missouri – alleges that the “USCIS has applied different rules under a policy known as the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP), which has resulted in the agency refusing to adjudicate Plaintiffs’ applications.” CARRP, which first began in 2008, is designed to identify security risks among immigrants who apply for visas, asylum, green cards, and naturalization in the U.S. Due to its secretive nature, it is unclear how many people currently fall under CARRP, nor what fraction is Muslim. What is known is that between 2008 and 2012, the case files of over 19,000 people from 18 Muslim-majority countries were rerouted through that program.
DEMOCRATS PRESSURE PRESIDENT OBAMA ON VOW TO RESETTLE 10,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES
As recently reported in the New York Times, President Obama has spoken passionately about embracing refugees as a core American value. However, nearly eight months into an effort to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States, President Obama’s administration has, to date, admitted just over 2,500. And as his administration prepares for a new round of deportations of Central Americans, including many women and children pleading for humanitarian protection, the president is facing intense criticism from allies in Congress and advocacy groups about his administration’s treatment of migrants.
RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVELERS USING THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
On April 1, 2016, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh C. Johnson announced that per the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (PL 114-113), all travelers coming to the United States from the 38 countries that currently participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP or ESTA) must have an electronic passport, or e-Passport, effective April 1, 2016. An e-Passport contains an electronic chip that holds a passenger’s name, date of birth, and other biographical information. Travelers who do not have an e-Passport from a Visa Waiver country must obtain a visa to come to the United States.
Earlier this year, as part of its continuing implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, DHS added the countries of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries. At this time, the restriction on Visa Waiver Program travel will not apply to dual nationals of these three countries. It will, however, continue to apply to dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria.
DHS PROPOSES TO RAISE FILING FEES
On May 04, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed rule in the Federal Register, announcing that filing fees for many U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) petitions and applications are expected to increase for U.S. employers and foreign nationals. According to the regulation, fees for most employment-based petitions and applications would be raised by an average of 21%, though other types of petitions may experience a higher increase in filing fees. The increase in filing fees will not take effect until the federal government approves the regulation, which is expected to take several months following the close of the 60-day comment period on July 5, 2016.
JUDGE BLOCKS CHILD-CARE LICENSE FOR FACILITY HOLDING IMMIGRANT FAMILIES IN TEXAS
In a rare win for immigrant advocates in Texas, a judge blocked the state’s plan to grant a childcare license to one of the nation’s largest detention centers for families caught crossing the southern U.S. border illegally. Judge Karin Crump granted Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based group opposed to private prisons, a temporary restraining order that prevents the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from granting a license to the privately owned and managed, 2,400-bed South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. The order is effective until June 1, 2016, when arguments are scheduled on an injunction to halt the licensing indefinitely.
ADVOCATES SAY HEALTH CARE AT NEW JERSEY IMMIGRANT JAIL IS SUBSTANDARD
According to a recent article in the New York Times, two advocacy organizations asked federal immigration officials to improve medical health care at a New Jersey detention center, citing a pattern of substandard medical care at Hudson Facility, where both New York and New Jersey detainees are held. Advocates urges federal authorities “to immediately intervene to ensure the health and safety of current and future immigrants detained at Hudson,” either by ending its contract with the jail, which is paid $110 a day for each detainee, or appointing an independent investigator to swiftly inspect and improve the jail’s health care policies and practices.
IRAQI-AMERICAN LAWYER FACING PRISON FOR IMMIGRATION FRAUD
Robert DeKelaita, an Iraqi-American attorney, was recently convicted for helping clients file and falsify religion based asylum applications. Mr. DeKelaita claims the government got a handful of his former clients to testify that he helped them make up stories about persecution and falsified documents that helped them win asylum in the U.S. The federal jury who heard testimony in the three-week trial convicted Mr. DeKelaita on one count of conspiracy to commit asylum fraud, two counts of knowingly offering false statements in an asylum application, and one count of procuring perjury during asylum documents. Notably, Mr. DeKelaita’s supporters insist he was targeted for speaking out about what they consider the federal government’s blind eye to Christian persecution in the Middle East. He currently faces up to 35 years in prison when he is sentenced in August.
- F-1 students seek to reinstate status: You may remember from our last newsletter that the U.S. Homeland Security investigators set up the so-called University of Northern New Jersey, a sting operation that led to the indictment of 21 people on visa fraud-related charges. The defendants – many of whom worked as recruiters or consultants serving international students – fraudulently obtained or attempted to obtain student or work visas for approximately 1000 foreign nationals from 26 different countries. Federal officials said that the students could face deportation – but won’t be prosecuted. Many have been requested to appear for interviews and processing. NAWLAW is currently handling several cases involving students who previously enrolled at the University of Northern New Jersey, the visa sting operation, wherein foreign students are now seeking F-1 reinstatement.
- Beginning June 8, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will allow certain Filipino World War II veteran family members who are beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions an opportunity to receive a discretionary grant of parole on a case-by-case basis, so that they may come to the United States as they wait for their immigrant visa/Green Card to become available. Additional information about the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) can be found here.
SAMPLING OF RECENT NAWLAW ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card approval for an Indian national working as an Investigative Journalist
- EB-1 Extraordinary Ability Green Card approval for a U.K. national working in Digital Marketing and Advertising
- EB-2 Green Card approval for a Russian national working as an Institutional Research Analyst
- EB-2 Green Card approval for an Irish national working as a Cost Estimator
- EB-3 Green Card approval for an Irish national working as an Operations Manager
- EB-3 Green Card approval for a Chinese national working as a an Associate
- O-1B approval for a French national working as a Curator
- O-1B approval for a South Korean national working as a Consultant Chef
- L-1A approval for a French national worked as a Director of Revenue
- P-3 approval for a Canadian national working as a Rakugo performer
- H-1B approval for a French national working as a Management Analyst
- H-1B approval for an Irish national working as a Project Manager
- H-1B approval for a Chinese national working as a Risk Analyst
- H-1B approval for a Chinese national working as a Production Editor
- H-1B approval for a Spanish national working as a Visual and Interactive Designer
- H-1B approval for an Irish national working as a Business Development Analyst
- H-1B approval for an Indian national working as a Director of Operations
- H-1B approval for an Irish national working as Project Manager
- H-1B approval for an Indian national working as a Quality Systems & Assurance Manager
- H-1B approval for an Indonesian national working as an Accountant
- H-1B approval for a Togian national working as an Analyst
- H-1B approval for an Indian national working as an Associate
- H-1B approval for a South Korean national working as an Analyst
- H-1B approval for an Indian national working as an Associate
- H-1B approval for a Chinese national working as a Control Design Engineer
- H-1B approval for a Chinese national working as an Associate
- H-1B approval for an Indian national working as a Operations Manager
- H-1B approval for an Irish national working as a Cost Estimator
- H-1B approval for a German national working as a Data Analyst
- H-1B approval for a Japanese national working as a Health Educator
- TN approval for a Canadian national working as a Computer Systems Analyst
- VAWA (“Battered Spouse”) approval for a male Irish national seeking a Green Card
- Waiver approval for an Ecuadorian national seeking a Green Card
- Many B-1/B-2 approvals and extensions that were approved within 1-2 months of filing
RECENT CLIENT QUERIES AND TESTIMONIALS
1. Green card holder from Argentina is working in the Bahamas and asks if this is legal?
Yes, legal permanent residents (LPRs) are permitted to consult and work outside of the U.S. However, please note that federal regulations require that LPR’s not abandon their lawful permanent residence which means returning to the U.S. every 6 months unless you obtain a re-entry permit that allows you to be out for two (2) years. LPR’s are still permitted to live and work abroad.
2. Indian national asks: “My wife had a brain operation last month and her six month tourist visa will expire soon. In light of this situation can I qualify for work authorization in the U.S.?
Unfortunately, a major medical issue will not qualify a foreign national for employment authorization/work permission in the U.S.
3. Untied States citizen, a lawyer, asks about the consequences of placing a nanny on the books after some time.
Potential liability in terms of taxes, unemployment insurance, etc., could open both the IRS’ and New York State Tax Department’s door to interest and penalties based on the length of employment.
4. National of Portugal on a J-1 visa attending Columbia University whose wife is currently on a J-2 visa with work authorization ask if they can launch a start-up company?
Yes, foreign nationals in nonimmigrant status are permitted to engage in certain business activities including corporate formation. What is not permissible is actual “employment” by the newly formed entity-i.e. working set hours, drawing salary, etc. However, the regulations do not really specify the parameters. Hence, it would be feasible for one to engage in start-up activities. Since his spouse has valid J-2 work authorization she can certainly draw salary and engage in employment.
5. Foreign national from Ireland currently on a J-1 visa which is expiring soon has been approved for an H-1B which will commence on October 1st. She asks if it is a problem for her to remain in the U.S. beyond the 30 day grace period afforded to J-1 visa holders?
Yes, not worth the risk to incur a future problem (unlawful presence) when applying for the actual H-1B visa at the U.S. Consulate in Dublin.
6. A Green Card holder from Israel has an elderly parent who is terminally ill and may be out of the U.S. for more than six months. He inquires about whether this could cause a problem with the validity of his Green Card?
The basic federal regulation states that Green Card holders should return to the U.S. every 6 months unless one can show an emergent reason (severe illness or death of a parent or close relative). If that is the case, you should have documentary proof or evidence at the time of return to the U.S. Note: federal regulations do not require that green card holders actually live in the U.S. for a period of 6 months each year.
Testimonial from a client who was recently naturalized as a United States Citizen: “Now I have responsibilities and rights as a citizen. It was very strange and very different feeling when I opened the welcome letter from the President Obama. I think most of Americans/citizen who were born in here may not have chance to feel like I had today, my eyes just stayed at his signature. And my passed 14 years of life in United States was concluded by his signature. It was very emotional moment for me. It is not just happy or sad. It was like I am born again with new American name. My life is nothing different than yesterday but my mind is different from today. I am part of this country which I’ve chosen. I now deeply appreciate for real meaning of “help” for others. I and my daughter got real help from you, and your company. I just want to let you know how important job you are in to help so many immigrants for immigrants’s country. THANK YOU!”