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  • Recent Posts

    Protecting the “Walking ATM”

    ZenoRadio Provides Free Access to International Radio

    Immigration Reform Top of Mind for Michigan Governor

    DACA Program Applications are Stalled

    Settlement Reached in San Francisco Shackling Case

    The FAQ on DACA: How does this impact immigration?

    Violence Against Women ACT – VAWA

    NJ Governor Approves In-State Tuition- Who’s Next?

    Not Insisting on Citizenship

    What Is Deferred Action For Young Immigrants



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    Protecting the “Walking ATM”

    By admin, LLC on March 20, 2014

    On any given Friday evening in American cities, undocumented day workers are targeted for robbery by gang members who know that they are likely to be carrying cash and are just as unlikely to fight back or call the police as a result of their status. Though they’re aware of the difficulties of building trust, the police force in one Washington, D.C.  suburb is working to change things, both by providing more protection on the streets and by recruiting local banks to educate the immigrants about opening bank accounts..

    Prince George’s County, Maryland is an area that sees a large number of undocumented immigrants. The police estimate that two thirds of those that they see out in on a Friday night in their Hispanic neighborhoods are undocumented, and they are concerned about their safety, not about their status. So they’ve increased patrols in the area to try to head off violent crime and provided additional education to make sure that their officers understand that if a man in dirt-covered pants says that he has been robbed of hundreds of dollars, it is highly likely. They’ve also asked a local advocacy group, Casa de Maryland, for help in conducting seminars on opening bank accounts. Wells Fargo, Capital One and Bank of America are all helping, and are benefiting from the influx of bank account enrollment.

    As immigrants discover the ease of opening an account and that it is fully available to them with just a passport and a taxpayer I.D. number, more and more of them are opening accounts, and in combination with the increased patrols the police data indicates that the robberies have been cut in half. The number of arrests has gone up at as well, in large part because people are fearing the police less and reporting the crimes.

    The goal for the police and community leaders is one and the same – they want to get people to put their cash in the bank where it is safe so that they can be safe themselves.

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    ZenoRadio Provides Free Access to International Radio

    By admin, LLC on March 13, 2014

    A New York entrepreneur is making it possible for immigrants across the United States to easily access their home country’s local radio stations, and all they need to do it is an inexpensive cell phone and the access phone number provided by a company named ZenoRadio.

    Baruch Herzfeld created ZenoRadio back in 2012, when it struck him how badly New York’s immigrants wanted to be able to access news from home. Of particular interest to him were the city’s cab drivers and others who spend hours in solitude. He knew that they would particularly enjoy the ability to listen to the politics and music of their country of origin.

    The company provides access to a particular country’s radio station’s via a United States telephone number. Once you connect to your country’s number you can then choose extension 1, 2, 3,etc. to select different radio stations from that country. The phone connects the listener to the radio station’s Internet stream. Changing stations is as easy as pressing the star button. And the cost is generally free to the listener because most people’s cellphone packages are bundled data and calling packages that provide unlimited phone minutes. This enables taxi drivers to spend their entire shifts listening to radio stations from places as far away as Algeria, Somalia and Morocco at no cost.

    ZenoRadio is currently providing access to approximately 2,000 different stations. Tuning in to different options allows you to hear languages and cultures from around the world, and unique tribal dialects as well.  The company makes its money from a combination of investors and advertising, as well as an incremental payment from phone routing companies.

    Those who are listening to ZenoRadio indicate that it has allowed them to feel more connected to friends and family back in their old home, and less culturally isolated.

     

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    Immigration Reform Top of Mind for Michigan Governor

    By admin, LLC on March 6, 2014

    Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder is pushing hard for Washington lawmakers to get moving on immigration reform, and he has a personal reason for doing it. Snyder is in the midst of crafting a strategy that he sees as the future of the hard-hit city of Detroit, and it relies heavily on the ability of legal immigrants to get work visas. That’s why he’s lobbying Congress so hard. But in the meantime he’s going ahead with his own plans, marketing Detroit as a golden opportunity for engineers, I.T. professionals, health care workers and more to come and be a part of the city’s rebirth.

    Snyder sees immigrants as job creators that will boost Detroit’s economy, so he’s got a proposal in to his own state legislators to create incentives that will bring 50,000 immigrants in to the city.  He has created a visa program for those who have advanced degrees or abilities in business, arts and the sciences with the idea that they can create a sort of Renaissance environment that will attract even more talent. Combining the influx of creative thinkers with the city’s other efforts in the areas of technology, manufacturing and the arts is the governor’s master plan.

    Though many are praising Governor Snyder’s ideas, some are less enthusiastic, pointing out that the visa offer is only geared towards those in elite positions and that it leaves behind those who don’t have the same skills, but those points are countered by advocates who say that the innovation that is brought to the city will create new jobs for all. And there is already talk that Snyder’s idea may spread, with advocates proposing that other states could also join in, creating competition for highly skilled immigrants that could contribute to more widespread economic revivals across the country.

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    DACA Program Applications are Stalled

    By admin, LLC on February 27, 2014

    The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) announced in 2012 fell short of the Dream Act that most immigrants were hoping for, but still offers the chance for a two-year deferral on deportation action to those young people who have signed up for its protections.  Still, when it came into being there was a flurry of activity by hundreds of thousands of young people who were eager to take advantage of what it offered. Since that time, however, the number of people signing up has slowed to nearly nothing, and immigration advocates are growing increasingly frustrated.

    Despite the fact that as many as 1.1 million people are estimated to be eligible for DACA, but only about half of that number has signed up. There are a number of reasons being offered for the dramatic slow down. One of the top reasons is that people don’t have a full understanding of who is eligible. Parents think that their children are too young to apply or that because they didn’t got to college they are ineligible. Another reason that is being offered is cultural stigmas about being undocumented.

    The largest group of DACA-eligible people are from Mexico, and they represent the majority of those whose applications have already been received. But immigrants who have brought their children from Asian countries are less likely to acknowledge their own status, with only 9 percent of eligible Chinese having applied and 16 percent of eligible Filipinos. The embarrassment of admitting to being undocumented also looms large in Korean, Vietnamese and Thai communities.  Advocates are trying to overcome this by providing hotlines and informational youtube videos to try to spread the word.

    Finally, there are concerns that by registering for DACA families will call attention to themselves and actually be more vulnerable to actions by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Advocates are trying to assure the fearful that the agencies do not share information, but it’s a hard sell.

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    Settlement Reached in San Francisco Shackling Case

    By admin, LLC on February 20, 2014

    A settlement has been reached in a San Francisco case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The case had involved over a dozen immigrants who had been restrained during court appearances for extended periods of time, despite the fact that none of them were accused of offenses that were violent.

    The suit was filed to specifically address the immigrants’ due process rights, stating that forcing detainees to wear wrist, ankle and waist chains was a violation of their civil rights. According to ACLU attorney Julia Harumi Mass, “People seeking justice who pose no threat to security should not be weighed down by the humiliation and physical pain of being chained like a dangerous animal.”

    The lawsuit was originally filed in 2011 and has been under litigation for over two years. The ACLU was assisted in their filing by the law firm Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.  The settlement came after the ICE agreed to stop the practice with the exception of allowing for restraints to be used in specific situations, including courtroom emergencies and in master calendar hearings in which large numbers of detainees are present for short periods. Even in these situations, the ICE has agreed to completely discontinue the use of “daisy chaining” which strung immigrants together in the same manner as was once done with chain gangs.

    According to a statement, the ICE indicated that the settlement would enable them to provide enough security in the courtroom without violating the detainees due process rights. They stressed that they have an obligation to both public safety and the rights of those in their custody, and that they had, “worked with plaintiffs to arrive at an agreement which affords the agency the flexibility to do both.” The agreement has already received judicial approval and will go into effect in April. It is unclear whether there will be carryover into other immigration courts across the country.

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    The FAQ on DACA: How does this impact immigration?

    By admin, LLC on February 10, 2014

    Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA for short, is an immigration policy implemented in August 2012. Several key components attempt to balance the limited resources of law enforcement and the concerns regarding the status of people who are in the country outside the legal immigration process. The policy addresses those between the ages of 15 and 31 without legal status who arrived in the US as minor children. It does not apply to those over 31, but those under the age of 15 who are presently in the deportation process can apply.

    What are the requirements?

    According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the individual must:

    • Have been under 31 as of June 15, 2012
    • Have arrived in the US prior to turning 16
    • Have lived in the US without leaving since June 15, 2007
    • Have been physically present in the US on June 15, 2012 and when the request was made
    • Arrived without inspection or had their lawful status expire as of June 15, 2012
    • Be in school, have complete school or GED, or be honorably discharged from the US military or Coast Guard
    • Have no convictions for felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors
    • Does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety (USCIS)

    What is the purpose?

    Due to the high volume of immigrants without lawful status either through entering outside the system or legal status expiring, the resources of Immigration Services and Homeland Security are not enough to address the whole of the population. DACA prioritizes the resources of law enforcement to focus on national security and public safety threats. It also defers dealing with the unlawful immigrant population that arrived prior to the age of consent and accountability until Congress addresses the public concerns in this area with legislation.

    What happens if a request for DACA is approved?

    Approval of a DACA application results in exactly what the title says, a deferral of deportation action for two years. It does not grant lawful status to the recipient. It does however grant a work permit that also serves to give the recipient access to normal economic activity such as jobs, checking accounts, credit cards and a valid driver’s license. At the end of the two years, the applicant may reapply for a two-year extension.

    The Arguments

    Opponents of DACA claim the program creates a path to citizenship and amnesty, circumventing current legislation (Vaughan). The policy itself clearly does not do this. However, proponents of the policy openly admit that they view this program as a first step toward comprehensive immigration reform that would include amnesty and a path to citizenship. They recommend ways for DACA recipients to get involved with promoting comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a path to citizenship. (Curran & Burger LLP)

    Overall, DACA is a small piece of the immigration debate, but serves as a starting point for the conversation on immigration policy going forward. This is an important area of public policy debate and all sides deserve serious, fact-based attention.

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    Violence Against Women ACT – VAWA

    By admin, LLC on February 3, 2014

    The United States Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, taking an important step for many noncitizens who found themselves in an abusive relationship involving a United States citizen or permanent resident. These noncitizens are recognized as being an especially vulnerable group due to their fear of deportation as a result of their citizenship status. This deep unease of bring attention to their presence and plight often leads to victims of domestic violence to remain silent. The silence concerning domestic violence created a vacuum in which many victims were left without recourse and allowed an abuser to go without punishment.

    VAWA allows noncitizens to seek an immigration status without involving or informing the abuser, though it does require substantial evidence to establish a pattern of abuse being suffered. The petition requires that the individual also establish the nature of the relationship with the abuser.

    How is Abuse Defined?

    Abuse under the Violence Against Women Act includes:

    • coercion or intimidation
    • threats to have children removed or deported
    • exploitation
    • verbal or physical abuse
    • sexual abuse
    • acts or threats of violence
    • isolation
    • economic abuse

    It is not necessary for the victim to have a police report or have contacted the authorities in any way to provide the necessary evidence to establish an abusive relationship.

    Who Qualifies As a Petitioner Under VAWA?

    to be a qualifying self-petitioner the individual must establish that they are:

    • spouse
    • child under the age of 21 who is unmarried
    • parent of a child being abused
    • parent of the accused abuser, their spouse, or their adult child

    The guidelines further indicate that the abuse must have taken place within the United States, and the victim must have lived within the same residence.

    Once these basic requirements are satisfied, the immigrant may be granted a “prima facie” determination which then makes them eligible for public benefits. In these cases the threat of deportation is also removed and they may be granted work authorizations as well.

    Amendments in 2000

    November 2000 saw changes to the original securities provided under the Violence Against Women Act.

    2000 found law makers including additional circumstances such as immigrants who lost their status as a direct result of domestic violence; those who left their marriage as a result of abuse; the abuser died or was a bigamist.

    These changes included the creation of a “U” Visa established for the sole purpose of aiding those individuals who qualify under the VAWA. It addresses the immediate needs of those individuals who can provide compelling evidence to law enforcement of their abuse or involuntary servitude.

    It also provides those immigrants granted asylum under VAWA to apply for naturalization in three years rather than the standard five years. There is also a special provision which is extended to those who qualify under VAWA which does not eliminate physical residence time after being contacted by the USCIS; disregards time spent outside the United States if due to domestic violence; and removes moral character questions when related to domestic abuse situations.

    These are all fantastic steps forward in the protection of women’s rights, however, there is a strong concern for an already overwhelmed public assistance program and greater competition for jobs by opening these doors in such a magnanimous manner. It also highlights the frozen plight of US citizens who are still combating their own recourse when facing domestic violence.

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    NJ Governor Approves In-State Tuition- Who’s Next?

    By admin, LLC on December 30, 2013

    New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, has claimed that he will sign a bill passed by the state legislature that will allow illegal immigrant students living in NJ to pay in-state tuition. This will make New Jersey the sixteenth state to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state rates. Is Chicago next?

    “The most important thing is for these young men and women of our state, who we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their K-12 education, we’re now going to give them an opportunity in an affordable way to be able to continue their education”-Christie.

    As long as a student has attended a high school in New Jersey for three consecutive years they will be applicable for the in-state tuition rates. Other states that are in the same boat as New Jersey include Colorado, California, Oregon, Texas, New York, Washington and others. These fifteen other states have laws permitting undocumented students to pay in-state tuition as long as they’ve graduated from primary or secondary schools in the state. What states do you think will be next?

     

     

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    Not Insisting on Citizenship

    By admin, LLC on December 27, 2013

    One Latino immigrant, Armando Sanchez, has had his green card for over two decades, works and lives in the U.S. and travels back to Mexico twice a year to see his kids. For him, becoming a citizen is not a main priority and as long as he won’t be getting deported he is fine with the way his life is now. Immigrants like Sanchez feel the same way; that as long as they can live and work legally without fear of deportations then everything is perfectly okay.

    This upcoming year the House of Representative are expected to take up immigration bills including one that may provide the legal right to live and work in the U.S. Not all immigrants want be citizens; many are like Sanchez and see the ability to work here as a huge benefit. Some advocacy and union groups claim that failing to get citizenship means immigrants live ‘second-class’ lives. Without full citizenship they might be able to live and work in the U.S., but they won’t necessarily have the same rights as actual citizens.

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    What Is Deferred Action For Young Immigrants

    By admin, LLC on December 24, 2013

    Deferred Action for Young Immigrants, DACA, is a relatively new law that was created in 2012 to protect the status of young immigrants within the US who were yet to receive legal status. This law protects eligible young immigrants who have been brought to the US as children against deportation. It also allows them to obtain a work permit to work in the US.

     

    There are many uncertainties that still remain with this law. There are also various issues that are still unclear. However, with the assistance of a lawyer who can clearly interpret the law, young immigrants can determine whether they qualify for the benefits this law provides.

    In general, for a young immigrant to qualify to apply for deferred action status, they must fulfill all of the following requirements:

    • Not have turned 31 by the 15th June 2012
    • Have been below the age of 16 when they came to live in the US
    • Have been physically present in the US on 15th June 2012 as well as at the time of making the application
    • Have lived in the US continuously since June 15th 2007
    • Have entered the US without inspection or have an expired immigration status
    • Have not been convicted or committed a felony, more than three minor misdemeanors or a significant misdemeanor
    • Be in school or have graduated from an accredited school, obtained a GED or have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces or Coast Guard.

    If you meet all of the above requirements you should contact a lawyer for assistance in making your application and get the process started as soon as possible. You will need evidence to show that you meet all the requirements above. This should be in the form of documents including:

    • Copies of your passport
    • Birth certificate
    • Copies of visas
    • Form I-94 for those who have overstayed
    • Travel receipts
    • Tax records
    • U.S. military records
    • Facebook posts and other social media updates indicating your presence in the US
    • Statements or affidavits from friends, teachers, employers, pastors and other people in authority stating that you were in the country for the period you have known them
    • Documents issued by immigration authorities
    • Tax records
    • Copy of your US driver’s license
    • Receipts showing items purchased and delivered to your address

    These and any other documents that will prove your presence in the US for the period that you have indicated in your application will be acceptable.

    It is important to note that you can still submit an application even if the immigration authorities have started deportation proceedings against you. However, the proceedings for your application will be treated differently from other applications. You will definitely need a lawyer for this as you will probably have to have legal representation before a judge to ensure that you are not deported and the merits of your application are properly considered.

    Although the policy was enacted in 2012, it is still considered to be new and untested. There is therefore a lot of room for interpretation.

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