Articles Posted in Immigration Reform

(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:

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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With November elections looming large, many Senate Democrats facing tough re-election battles are openly questioning whether President Obama should use his executive powers to reform immigration law.

If Obama decides to go that route before the November elections, Democrats in vulnerable positions may find themselves dealing with the thorny two-prong issue of immigration reform and the president’s use of his executive powers to attain that reform, just before the elections.

It is a hot seat Democratic Senate candidates are increasingly seeking to avoid at all costs. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark), who also faces a tough re-election battle, said in a statement that while he is frustrated with Washington partisanship on the issue, it “doesn’t give the president carte blanche authority to sidestep Congress when he doesn’t get his way.” Continue Reading

As the federal government scrambles to respond to a surge of unaccompanied children attempting to cross the U.S. Border, local governments are stepping in with offers of help.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito recently urged the city to house some of the minors who were caught fleeing from violence in Central America and detained at the U.S.-Mexican border. This proposal follows in the wake of a similar offer made by the mayor of Syracuse, who personally penned a letter to President Obama offering to help house some of the children.

Mark-Viverito thinks that New York City should follow in those footsteps.

In the face of reports that 57,000 children, mostly from Central America, have entered the United States since October, it appears that the political winds are changing — providing much sought relief to a Republican party that was finding itself rocked back on its heels concerning immigration reform.

NJ Immigration Law FirmDemocrats, rather than using the issue of immigration reform against Republicans, are now finding themselves in the unenviable position of fighting amongst themselves over the current border crisis.

President Obama wants to speed up deportations of the children and has asked Congress to approve $3.7 billion dollars to deal with the crisis. Obama is not only hitting a brick wall from Republicans who want the Administration to do an about-face on its proposals to provide a potential path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people currently in the country illegally, but he is now also facing stiff opposition from allies.

NJ Immigration LawPresident Obama has said that he will try to change a 2008 immigration law that he believes is contributing to the large number of children, mostly from Central America, who have been caught trying to illegally cross the border into the United States.

The news is full of reports of children — mostly from Guatamala, El Salvador, and Honduras— who are being sent north to flee from violence, drugs, and poverty in their home countries. Under the Williams Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), most unaccompanied minors who are caught by the border patrol are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is then charged with finding them safe housing and advising them of their legal rights.

It is estimated that some 52,000 children have entered the U.S. since October 1, 2013. President Obama is seeking to change the law in order to expedite the deportation process.

It what can only be described as a stunning defeat, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated in the Virginia primary by an upstart Tea Party candidate. During the primary campaign, insurgent David Brat had attacked Cantor for being soft on immigration.

Cantor had championed a Republican version of the DREAM Act, which would have allowed some children of the undocumented to qualify for in-state College tuition rates. It was also rumored that he supported a limited path to citizenship for undocumented workers who serve in the military. However, he never brought any DREAM Act legislation before the House and he repudiated any support for a path to citizenship through military service just weeks before his defeat.

The Cantor campaign was apparently worried about the immigration attacks, spending heavily for television ads and mailers that boasted that he had actually blocked amnesty for undocumented immigrants on Capitol Hill.

NJ Immigration Law FirmWhile President Obama is telling everybody who will listen that the government is losing the window to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill before the mid-term elections, some GOP Senate leaders are saying that they will move on immigration reform only if the GOP takes back the Senate after those elections.

Sen. Mark Rubio (R-FLA), a mover and shaker in last year’s passage of the Senate’s immigration reform bill has stated that he would craft a better immigration reform bill if the GOP controls the Senate in 2015. He indicated that a GOP backed Senate bill would have a better chance of passing in the House of Representatives.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that he would vote to pass immigration legislation if Republicans ascend to the majority in the next Congress. Grassley would be poised to take over as chairman of the Judiciary Committee if Republicans gain a Senate majority.

Despite insistence by some in the U.S. House of Representatives that effective immigration reform is dead in the water for 2014, polls have shown that Americans will be let down if immigration reform is not dealt with this year and feel strongly that any immigration reform should include a pathway to citizenship for the millions of unauthorized immigrants currently residing in the United States.

A recent Gallup Poll found that a majority of Americans believe that addressing issues with unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. was more important than securing our borders. While the split was close (44 percent in favor of dealing with the undocumented and 43 percent believing our borders first need to be secured), it shows a marked change from a Gallup poll taken in 2011 in which 53 percent of Americans believed that securing borders should take priority.

A CBS poll showed that 54 percent of Americans favored a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living within our borders. That majority felt strongly that approaches to solving this issue that left those immigrants as second-class citizens was unacceptable. Only a small percentage of those polled (12 percent) believed in legalization without citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

NJ Worker ImmigrationIt is no secret that the current H-1B visa cap is not working for businesses. It took less than a week for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to hit the cap of 65,000 H-1B visas for fiscal 2015.

This may not sound like an exceptionally low number until you consider that the agency received 124,000 applications for the visas. The “specialty occupation” visa gives U.S. companies the chance to temporarily hire foreign professionals that have a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field. U.S. companies are especially seeking professionals with degrees in technology, engineering, science, or mathematics — fields where it is tough to find enough qualified American workers to fill slots.

The competition for H-1B visas has become so keen that the USCIS has been forced to use a lottery to dole out the restricted visas. The 65,000 cap was established in 1990. An additional 20,000 visas for graduate degrees was added in 2006; however, it did little to satisfy the voracious demand for qualified foreign workers.

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