Articles Posted in Legislation

In the State of the Union Address, President Obama called for immigration reform. Unfortunately, the term “immigration reform” has only served as a generic term thrown around on the Congress floor. Proposed reform could have both positive and negative implications on non U.S. citizens. The President called for added security at the border, specifically at the Mexican border. The President has also called for a streamlining of the immigration process to alleviate the burdensome and inexcusable delay in processing visas, which has kept U.S. citizens away from their non U.S. citizen families for extended periods of time. It can take years for an immediate relative to get to the U.S. to live with his or her U.S. citizen spouse.

As President’s often do in State of the Union speeches, the President left out specifics or any policies that he plans on supporting that would the people that are already in the United States with no lawful status. The President’s policy related to the Dream Act seems to suggest that there is some hope for children that were brought to the United State’s without legal status, however, the current policy is simply a band aid on a bullet wound. DACA recipients are not provided legal status and are merely given a temporary reprieve from deportation.

The long and short of the President’s speech leaves us with as many questions as we had before the speech. And that probably won’t change any time soon.

Eight United States Senators came out with a general, non-detailed plan for future immigration policy in the United States. One of the senators included Florida Republican, Marco Rubio. It is a four point plan that includes:

1) Creating a path to citizenship for those who are already here without legal authority, while securing the borders so more people cannot enter without inspection;

2) Allowing more unskilled employees to enter the country legally if the employer can establish that there are no U.S. employees to fit the employment qualifications;

According to a June 15th, 2012 Department of Homeland Security memorandum, certain young individuals are eligible to file an Application for Deferred Prosecution which would defer any removal for a period of two years. The applicant can also apply for work authorization and file for a renewal of the deferred action, to extend the two years.

Potential applicants can file Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization and Form I765WS worksheet along with a filing fee of $465, with USCIS.

Deferred Action is simply the Government’s decision to defer removal proceedings for a specified period of time. Deferred Action is not a path to a green card or citizenship. So, although it is a blessing to many who are threatened with deportation, it is a curse because it provides no long term relief and the Government can terminate a grant of deferred action at any time.

Although the Dream Act has not passed in Congress, President Obama has taken the initiative to use his discretion to defer action to those who qualify under the Government’s criteria. So, those who fit the following criteria are eligible for deferred action on any deportation/removal case against them.

In order to qualify for deferred action, you must:

Be 15-30 years old.

The Georgia Bulldogs learned first hand how tough immigration policies can lead to individual negative experience. Talented football recruit, Chester Brown, was heavily recruited to Georgia from his high school in Hinesville, Georgia. Chester was born in Samoa and brought to the United States by his family when he was a boy. He went to school in California and was moved to Hinesville by his family when violence was running rampant in California.

Chester enrolled in and went to school in Hinesville. He joined the football team and was an athletic standout. His dream was to become a Georgia Bulldog. The Georgia Bulldog’s dream was to have him. Just another American success story right?

The problem arose when a rule requiring every potential student to prove their lawful status in the United States was brought to light. Chester was a child when he came to the U.S. He had no documentation to prove his status. Chester’s family also were unable to provide the proper documentation. So, no Georgia Bulldogs for Chester. And no Chester for the Georgia Bulldogs.

The United States Supreme Court has indicated that it will hear the State of Arizona’s appeal of a ruling that struck down the State’s law criminalizing the unlawful presence of aliens. By passing this state law, Arizona has challenged the federal position that immigration remains a federal issue and that the federal government has sole authority to legislate in the immigration arena.

The U.S. Supreme Courts decision will either pave the way for other states to follow Arizona’s lead, or will shut the door to Arizona and other states from encroaching on the federal government’s historic monopoly on immigration enforcement. This decision will have a dramatic effect on the lives of thousands of immigrants, both lawful and unlawful. It will also affect minority U.S. Citizens.

Many minorities and lawful immigrants have argued that Arizona’s law leads to racial profiling and harassment of both U.S. citizens and non U.S. citizens that are here lawfully. Arizona’s immigration law has led to state law enforcement officers increasing efforts to ferret out individuals who are here unlawfully. In doing so, those that are here lawfully are subjected to increased scrutiny. Imagine, as a U.S. citizen, having to account for your U.S. citizenship at every interaction with law enforcement or government agency. Having to respond to questions like, “Where’s your birth certificate? Is it certified? Why is your name mispelled? Why is your address incorrect?”

Florida lawmakers proposed a new bill that would require employers to verify potential employees immigration status. The bill would also allow law enforcement to obtain the identify and legal status of individuals in criminal investigations. Critics of the proposed law state that the Arizona type immigration bill would reflect poorly on the state of Florida, a tourist dependent state. Critics also argue that the bill will promote racial profiling and that it is unnecessary because illegal immigrants are not taking jobs away from U.S. citizens. It remains to be seen whether the proposed law will be enacted.

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