Articles Posted in Legislation

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Even though I am an Orlando immigration attorney, I practice immigration law all over the United States. I like to think of myself as an attorney on the forefront of both immigration and criminal law, and especially where to two cross over. Because of that, I try to stay on top of changes in both federal immigration law and state criminal law that may effect my immigration clients.

This legislative session in Florida has seen a large number of immigration-related bills designed to punish and deter immigrants from entering, living in, or committing crimes in Florida. I blogged about a couple of them a while back.

One bill created a very serious criminal offense for people who were present in Florida after receiving an order of deportation. Check out my blog about this bill here: https://www.floridaimmigrationlawyerblog.com/2015/09/a_law_pending_in_the_florida_l.html

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Congress recently passed legislation that changes who is eligible to enter the United States through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). These changes are in reaction to the fears that terrorists and terrorist sympathizers will enter the United States exploiting the ease by which people can enter through the VWP.

The Visa Waiver Program was designed to allow citizens of certain countries to avoid the lengthy process by which most foreign nationals must apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. The normal process involves an application, a background check, an interview and sometimes more. Applications for short-term visitor or business visas are routinely denied. The Visa Waiver Program allows qualified citizens from 38 countries to avoid this process and with a quick online registration, obtain an electronic visa and admission into the United States for 90 days at a time.

This list of 38 countries changes often and usually only contains first-world countries that have low rates of people overstaying their visas, claiming asylum or otherwise abusing the visa process. Citizens from all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand and parts of East Asia enjoy the use of Visa Waiver admissions.

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There is a bill currently pending before Florida Senate that seeks to increase the maximum punishment for certain crimes committed by “illegal immigrants.” You can read the text of Senate Bill 150 here:

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0150/BillText/__/HTML

Thankfully, there is no companion bill in the House. At first glance, many Floridians may think, “good, if someone is here illegally and commits a crime, they should face higher penalties.” But that gut reaction is wrong in this case, as the devil is always in the details. If you know anything about immigration law or have been following the protracted fights between the Obama administration and the federal courts over immigration, you know that the Federal Government and Federal Courts have a hard time interpreting and administering federal immigration laws themselves. What this bill proposes to do is to impose upon the Florida courts, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys the additional time, financial and legal burden of determining the immigration status of a person before, during and after they commit a crime. This is much easier said then done.

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This Friday and Saturday, October 16th & 17th, the Central Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will host its 2015 Annual Immigration Law Conference in Orlando. This conference will feature leading immigration experts from across the United States and a sitting U.S. Congressman. The venue is the beautiful Omni Champions Gate Resort.

SLG has the honor of having two of its partners, Jeremy Lasnetski and John Gihon, selected to be panelists at the conference.

Jeremy was chosen to be the discussion leader on the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization panel. This panel will cover topics including the acquisition of citizenship by birth abroad, derivation of citizenship through a naturalizing parent and the requirements and procedure for naturalization.

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Over the last few months I had the opportunity to work with some fantastic immigration attorneys across the Southeast United States on a collaborative project. Our goal was to find, review and summarize every immigration-related and useful District Court and Circuit Court Case from the Eleventh Circuit and put them together in a newsletter. This was an enjoyable and educational experience. We expect to send out this newsletter every quarter and it will contain published and unpublished District Court cases from Florida, Alabama and Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

This would not be possible without the hard work of our multi-state team composed of Marshall Cohen, Roberta Cooper, Bruce Buchanan and myself, John Gihon. Here is an excerpt of the 11th Circuit Cases. If anyone reading this newsletter has any suggestions, please contact me at John@slgattorneys.com or our editor, Bruce Buchanan at bbuchanan@visalaw.com

District Court Opinions

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Over the last few months I had the opportunity to work with some fantastic immigration attorneys across the Southeast United States on a collaborative project. Our goal was to find, review and summarize every immigration-related and useful District Court and Circuit Court Case from the Eleventh Circuit and put them together in a newsletter. This was an enjoyable and educational experience. We expect to send out this newsletter every quarter and it will contain published and unpublished District Court cases from Florida, Alabama and Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

This would not be possible without the hard work of our multi-state team composed of Marshall Cohen, Roberta Cooper, Bruce Buchanan and myself, John Gihon. Here is an excerpt of the 11th Circuit Cases. If anyone reading this newsletter has any suggestions, please contact me at John@slgattorneys.com or our editor, Bruce Buchanan at bbuchanan@visalaw.com

11th Circuit Decisions (September)

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Over the last few months I had the opportunity to work with some fantastic immigration attorneys across the Southeast United States on a collaborative project. Our goal was to find, review and summarize every immigration-related and useful District Court and Circuit Court Case from the Eleventh Circuit and put them together in a newsletter. This was an enjoyable and educational experience. We expect to send out this newsletter every quarter and it will contain published and unpublished District Court cases from Florida, Alabama and Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

This would not be possible without the hard work of our multi-state team composed of Marshall Cohen, Roberta Cooper, Bruce Buchanan and myself, John Gihon. Here is an excerpt of the 11th Circuit Cases. If anyone reading this newsletter has any suggestions, please contact me at John@slgattorneys.com or our editor, Bruce Buchanan at bbuchanan@visalaw.com

11th Circuit Decisions (June through August)

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Recently a concerned colleague sent a me a link to a bill that is under consideration in both the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate.

The crux of the bill is to make it illegal for immigrants to be in the State of Florida after they have a final order of deportation. For a copy of the bill follow these links:

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0118/BillText/__/PDF

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Matter of D-M-C-P-, 26 I&N Dec. 644 (BIA 2015); The Board decided that neither the Board, nor the Immigration Courts have jurisdiction to determine if a respondent was properly placed into Asylum-Only Proceedings pursuant to INA § 217. Once an immigration officer determined that an alien was subject to removal as a visa waiver violator, the only issue the Immigration Court or the Board could review is whether the alien qualified for asylum or withholding or deferral of removal. In addition, the Immigration Judge cannot dismiss properly-filed applications for relief from removal due to an alien’s failure to comply with the biometrics requirement pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1003.47(c), (d), unless the respondent was advised of the biometrics requirement, provided a deadline for complying and advised of the consequences for failing to comply.

Matter of M-A-F- et al., 26 I&N Dec. 651 (BIA 2015); The Board held that where a respondent has filed a second or substantially amended asylum application, it will be considered a new application, and the filing date of the later application is operative for determining if the provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005 apply and if an asylum applicant has met the one-year filing deadline. The Court will conduct a case-by-case factual analysis to make this determination, however a second or amended asylum application that raises a new basis for asylum or amends a prior fraudulent application will be considered a new application rather than an amendment of the old one.

Matter of R-K-K-, 26 I&N Dec. 658 (BIA 2015); The Board held that an Immigration Judge may rely on documents and statements from another asylum case while making an adverse credibility determination. The Department may provide applications and evidence from another case in order to impeach the credibility of an applicant. The Immigration Judge may then rely on the similarities between the evidence in the two different cases to make an adverse credibility finding, so long as the Court: 1) gives the applicant meaningful notice of the similarities that are considered to be significant; 2) gives the applicant a reasonable opportunity to explain the similarities; and 3) considers the totality of the circumstances when making the credibility finding.

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Recently, the media and politicians have used the term “sanctuary city” as both a sword and a shield, both as a standard to strive for and as a pejorative. But much like the term “amnesty” that has been used very similarly of late, “sanctuary city” has no fixed and agreed upon definition. What is commonly accepted is that a “sanctuary city” refers to a state or local government that has policies that in one way or another refuse to fully cooperate with the efforts and requests of federal immigration officials. Some of these cities will refuse to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in any form or fashion (San Francisco) and others simply ban their employees from inquiring about a resident’s immigration status.

The philosophy behind sanctuary city policies are both fiscal and ideological, emotional and detached. Should local law enforcement care about enforcing federal immigration laws over which they have no jurisdiction? Should local governments care about the immigration status of a child enrolling in school when they will accept the child regardless of their status? These are all issues ripe for debate, but one thing is clear, these policies come about in localities where there is a distrust of and poor communication between federal immigration officers and local officials.

State and local budgets are tight enough without having locals take on the additional responsibilities and costs associated with enforcing immigration laws and proactively assisting federal immigration officers. Undocumented and even legal residents are apprehensive about interacting with local law enforcement when the locals start asking questions about immigration status.