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Warrant May be Necessary to Search Cell Phone Content

We rely on our cell phones for everything and there is no limit to the information we store on our cell phones. It is of course for this reason that when police perform an arrest the first thing they want to search is your cell phone.

But are police permitted to search your cell phone? Recently the Supreme Court has ruled on a cell phone search case that has had major ramifications across the country including in New Jersey. In Riley v California 134 S.Ct. 2473 (2014) that police must obtain a search warrant before searching digital data on arrestee’s cell phones. In the Riley case an individual was stopped for a traffic violation, and was arrested on a weapons charge. The cops took the individual back to the police station and searched his phone, obtaining evidence that he was involved in a recent shooting.

Typically, a foreign national who has accrued more than one hundred eighty (180) days but less than one year of unlawful presence is subject to a three (3) year bar from returning the US after a departure. A foreign national who has accrued more than one year of unlawful presence is typically subject to a ten (10) year bar from returning to the U.S. after a departure (commonly referred to as the “3/10 year bar”).  While a waiver of these bars remains available, applicants may only apply for this waiver from outside the US.  This process carried a very significant risk of being trapped outside of the US for months or even years pending the adjudication of the waiver.  Even worse, if the waiver application were to be denied, the applicant would be unable to return to the US for 3/10 years, depending upon the previous duration of unlawful presence.

As of March 4, 2013, immediate relatives[1] of US citizens were eligible to apply for the provisional unlawful presence waiver (“601A waiver”) to request that USCIS grant a provisional waiver of these grounds of inadmissibility before departing the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visas— rather than applying for a waiver abroad after their immigrant visa interviews.  This provided applicants with a significant degree of certainty that they would be eligible to return to the US after their interview because the Applicant would already know if their waiver had been granted prior to departing the US.  If the 601A waiver were denied, most Applicants would simply remain in the US.  In practice, while many Applicants were able to make use of the 601A Waiver to reenter, there remained a modicum of danger, as US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ultimately determines admissibility at the time of entry.  In addition, this iteration of the 601A left out many otherwise qualified individuals, such as immediate relatives of legal permanent residents (LPR).

On July 29, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule, to expand the class of individuals who may be eligible for a provisional waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility based on the accrual of unlawful presence in the United States.  The final rule is to take effect on August 29, 2016.

On November 2, 1966, Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act, which permitted Cuban nationals who have been physically present in the United States of America for at least one year, who have been admitted or paroled, and who are admissible as immigrants to the United States to apply to for adjustment of status to that of a legal permanent resident (“LPR”). As a legal permanent resident, they would be eligible for certain benefits, such as being eligible to stay and work in the country legally, being able to start a business, and eventually naturalizing and becoming a citizen of the United States. As a legal permanent resident from Cuba, they also enjoy certain benefits that are typically not available to LPR’s from other countries, such as food stamps and access to Medicaid.

This policy was later modified in 1995, in what has been commonly known as the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” policy, which was the result of a negotiated settlement with between the Clinton Administration and the Cuban government. The policy provides that anyone who is caught in the waters between Cuba and the United States would be sent back to Cuba, whereas anyone who makes it to shore would be eligible to become a permanent resident, and would eventually have a path to becoming a citizen of the United States.

Recently, another modification has been considered for this special program. According to CNN’s article, “The last flight and first steps: ‘Historic’ surge of Cubans crossing into the U.S.”, thousands of Cubans have been continuing to flee north with many eventually reaching North America. “More than 35,600 Cubans have arrived at U.S. ports of entry since October 1 [2015], nearly three-quarters of them at the Texas border, according to U.S. figures.” As Cubans fled from the repression and financial hardships of their home country, they faced many challenges along the way in potential host countries, including low wages as undocumented workers in Ecuador, hiking for days through the Colombian jungle, facing rough terrain, armed groups and extortion by authorities, with some South American countries closing off their borders to the refugees or others threatening to deport them. When faced with these options, many chose to continue the journey into the United States where greater opportunities lay.

(This is the final part of our three-part series with a look at DACA in the courts and how recent developments in the US Supreme Court will affect this program)

In our previous articles, we spoke about the inception of DACA, the proposed DACA expansion and the creation of the DAPA program. While the implementation of the DACA expansion and the DAPA program have been stalled in the federal courts, the original DACA program is still fully operational.

From the beginning, there have been many proponents and critics of President Obama’s plans. On one side, representatives from 26 different states banded together to challenge the President’s initiatives. There is widespread support on the other side as well, with 15 states and the District of Columbia, 73 US mayors and county officials, 181 US Representatives, four US Senators, and numerous advocacy groups representing educators, children, and immigrants, as well as various civil rights, labor, immigrants’ rights groups and business interests.

(This is part two of our three-part series on the development of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, with a look at President Obama’s its proposed expansion and the development of DAPA)

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced an expansion of the DACA program which increased the pool of potential DACA applicants by easing some of the restrictions that were previously in place. President Obama also initiated a program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents or DAPA which would have protected the undocumented parents of US citizen children or lawful permanent resident (LPR) children.

The proposed DACA expansion had three significant changes:

(This begins our three-part series on the development of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, its proposed expansion, DAPA, and the recent developments in the US Supreme Court)

On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama unveiled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) to protect certain classes of undocumented immigrants. Under this program, the US Department of Homeland Security would not remove undocumented youth who had come to the United States as children if they had met certain criteria. Instead, these youth would be “DACAmented” and given a number of benefits that were previously unavailable to them, including the temporary permission to stay in the US under “deferred action.”

To be eligible for the initial DACA guidelines, an applicant must:

Over the weekend, immigration officials stayed true to their word and began their next phase of immigration law enforcement against Central American nationals who have received a final order of removal from an immigration judge in recent years.

While immigration officials claim they are only looking to find and remove families from Central America who have had their chance to present their case in court and received a “final order of removal” dated January 1, 2014 or later, it remains to be seen whether this will be the case. In fact, for individuals with removal orders in absentia, they may have never even stepped foot into the courtroom. Many of these families are fleeing the continuing violence and economic ruin of countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Although few details have been released regarding the execution of enforcement actions, immigration officers executed removal orders over the weekend which resulted in the arrest and detention of 121 Central American mothers and their children. These raids were targeted against families at their known addresses. These raids seem to have served little purpose than to sow fear in our communities and cause further harm to immigrants who are already fleeing unprecedented violence and persecution in their home countries.

Q: What is municipal court?

A: It is a trial court that deals exclusively with cases involving city ordinance violations. Offenses brought before a municipal court are those that occur within the limits of the municipality.

Q: What types of cases are heard in municipal court?

A:  Violations of Motor Vehicle and Traffic Violations

Disorderly and Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses

Violations of Municipal Ordinances

Q: Am I required to appear in municipal court?

A:   If you were issued a summons and the officer checked the Court Appearance required box, you must appear in court on the scheduled date. Additionally, some violations are non-payable and require a court appearance. Continue Reading

On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions to provide immediate relief to the growing immigration problem. While these appear to be stop-gap measures, it is expected to improve the lives of 5 million undocumented immigrants.

These initiatives include:

  • Expanding the eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to young people who came to the US before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010.
  • Allowing parents of US citizens and green card holders who have been in the country since January 1, 2010, to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program.
  • Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens.
  • Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs.

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US Immigration AttorneyIn an indication that President Obama is seeking to use his executive powers to implement more far-ranging immigration reform, the Administration has been meeting with leaders in the construction, agricultural and tech industries to discuss possible reforms it can make without Congress.

Sources told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that the business leaders have discussed “recapturing” unused green cards from previous years, which could add up to 200,000 additional green cards each year. The sources also told the WSJ that those involved in the discussions were willing to exclude spouses of workers who have received skilled visas. Those visas are currently capped at 140,000 per year.

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