Articles Posted in Policy

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Last week, President Obama issued the first major change in U.S. immigration policy towards Cubans in over 20 years. On January 12, 2017, President Obama announced that the 1995 immigration policy designed specifically for Cuban nationals, known as “Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot”, would be abolished immediately. That means that Cuban nationals arriving at air, sea and land ports would now be subject to expedited removal (they were not previously) and that the Cuban government has agreed to review Cuban nationals with final orders of removal on a case by case basis to determine if they would allow them to be deported to Cuba. In addition, Cubans who arrive in the U.S. without visas and without having been admitted or paroled will not receive special parole consideration. They will be considered for parole like any other foreign national. Parole is the primary way that Cubans become eligible to adjust status in the U.S. and get their green cards.

This is a major, major change to how the U.S. government treats Cuban nationals coming to, or attempting to come to the United States. No longer will they be welcomed into the air, sea and land ports, automatically given parole into the U.S., and a year and day later, be allowed to apply for adjustment of status under the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Just for background, the 1995 Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot Policy, enacted by President Clinton, restricted Cuban nationals, who would be paroled into the U.S. and allowed to apply for green cards, to those who actually made it to U.S. soil before immigration officers caught them. Previously, Cuban nationals caught on boats or rafts in the Florida Straits, on their way from Cuba to the U.S., were brought to the U.S. and paroled into the country, rather than being sent back to Cuba. Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot greatly limited the number of Cuban nationals who made it to the U.S.

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That’s right, you read that correctly, Republican presidential candidate, Donald J Trump may be the only presidential candidate with a strategy, a plan and a chance to pass comprehensive immigration reform. You all probably think I am crazy, or that when I say immigration reform, I mean giant electrified fences across the Rio Grande and mass detention and deportation centers in the Sonoran dessert. But you are wrong, I am talking about the comprehensive immigration reform that provides the across the board, legalize most of the 11 million who are here, deport some, background checks for all and secures the border. Yes, I think he is the only candidate who is already executing a strategy to make it happen.

Before you stop reading and think this is a endorsement for Trump, let me assure you, I have not yet voted in next week’s Florida primary, and I honestly have not made up my mind on who I will vote for. This is the first election I remember where I have no idea who I will vote for for president this far into the cycle. I still don’t have my candidate, but I follow politics very closely and I think I am finally starting to get Donald Trump.

I tell my son all the time, most of what every politician says you shouldn’t believe because most of what they say they don’t believe. They are just saying things or taking positions for some reason or another. I believe this old adage to be true: politics is the opposite of principle.

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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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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 are the summaries of the District Court Cases for Alabama, Georgia and Florida. 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 Decisions

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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 are the summaries 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 Cases:

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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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Finding yourself in handcuffs and under arrest is a traumatic experience for everyone. Many thoughts run through your mind, where will they take me, will I be able to get out of jail, can I afford a criminal defense attorney? One thought that should also be at the forefront for everyone arrested who is not a U.S. citizen is, how will this arrest affect my immigration status and will I be deported?

For non-citizens who are arrested, hiring a criminal defense attorney is just the first step in protecting your rights. While criminal defense attorneys in both state and federal court are charged by the U.S. Constitution with providing accurate immigration advice to their clients, in reality, this often does not happen. Criminal defense attorneys are often unable to give accurate immigration advice because they do not practice immigration law and have no idea what the effects of a given criminal charge will be for a client.

This is true because the criminal aspects of immigration law, or crimmigration is a very nuisanced, complicated, ever-changing and inconsistent area of law that even the most experienced immigration attorneys are often fearful of practicing. If immigration attorneys don’t know the immigration consequences of criminal prosecutions, how can your criminal defense attorney be expected to know them?

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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)