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President’s Immigration Policies

Asylum Policy Changes Implemented in Early 2019 Make Fleeing Persecution Even More Difficult

Update provided by Melissa Wong, Esq., 6/28/2019

Seeking asylum in the U.S. has become more complex this past year. In response to the large number of families from Central America seeking asylum, new policies have recently been implemented that impacts the asylum process.

The first policy to note is the Migration Protection Protocols that includes the “Remain in Mexico” policy, forcing many applicants to remain in Mexico pending a decision on their asylum cases when they come to the US border seeking protection. This specifically applies to asylum seekers attempting to enter the U.S. illegally or without documentation. The “Remain in Mexico” policy has been ongoing since early 2019 at the border between San Diego and Tijuana where migrants are transported to and from their hearings.

A second policy to note is the USCIS policy memo released in late May 2019 with an effective date of June 30, 2019 that updates asylum procedures for Unaccompanied minors. USCIS will make independent factual inquiries in all cases to determine whether a minor is truly unaccompanied as of the date of filing the asylum application. If the minor is determined not to be unaccompanied, they will be referred to Immigration Court without an asylum interview.

Finally, the Los Angeles Immigration Court has implemented the “Family Unity Docket”, which effectively serves as an expedited docket with the goal of processing a case in one year or less. Merits hearings are being scheduled as soon as two months after the initial master calendar hearing. As a result, there has been a rise of in absentia orders due to confusion and misinformation.

Now is the Time to Protect Your Immigration Future – President Trump’s Immigration Policies Target Wide Group of Immigrants in Revised ICE Enforcement Priorities and Executive Orders Targeting Muslims & Refugees

Update provided by Heather L. Poole, Esq., 1/27/2017

President Trump’s Executive Order entitled, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” that was issued on January 27, 2017 targets refugees and immigrants from countries where Islam is the primary religion. The country nationals targeted are from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. Some of the most harmful parts of the new Executive order include: 

  • The executive order denies entry into the U.S. for 90 days to all nationals of these predominantly Muslim nations based on an assumption that any national from this country is a potential national security risk as no individual determinations are allowed for in the Executive Order.  This is affecting many non-immigrant visa holders and businesses who need them. H-1b visa, L-1, and H-2 work visas are all at risk for nationals of these countries. Even those who have passed their Immigrant Visa interviews at consulate abroad (who have been sponsored by a loved one or employer for a green card and came to the US) were stopped with their visa packets by CBP and turned around. 
  • The executive order also stops the admission and processing of those already approved for refugee status who are from Syria and who have already passed extensive background checks and vetting that is inherent to the refugee processing. This is especially troubling since this signifies a violation of International law and the U.S. has an obligation to accept refugees fleeing from the conditions Syrians face – that of a devastating civil war. The U.S. only took in 10,000 Syrian refugees last year alone, a small percentage of what much smaller countries took in for these vulnerable refugees. 

So far as of this date, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have denied entry under this “Muslim ban” to even lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and DHS now claims to now allow LPRs into the U.S. (after intense screening). Reports on the ground, however, show that LPRs are still having difficulty boarding planes, being coerced into signing forms to actively abandon their LPR status, and are being held for hours and hours while CBP figures out what to do. Some LPRs have still been turned around and forced to leave the U.S.  There are also reports that dual nationals (born in one of the 7 countries but have citizenship in another country, i.e., Iran and Switzerland) may have difficulties being admitted to the U.S. 

If you are currently a green card holder and considering travel outside of the U.S., it is best to consult a competent, qualified immigration attorney before departing given the inconsistent application of law and policy of LPRs from these 7 countries.  

CIS recently put out a directive to its field offices to put on hold or shelve applications for benefits such as green cards, naturalization petitions (even for those who passed the naturalization interview and are awaiting their oath ceremony!), immigrant visas, waivers, and more for nationals from these countries, even those these processes already include thorough criminal background vetting.  

If this has happened to  you, contact a competent immigration attorney today to determine if the mechanisms currently available in the law can help you – including a law suit called “mandamus” to force USCIS to decide your application. 

The President has also announced that he will be targeting for removal a broad range of immigrants, even those with a minor criminal conviction, those with prior removal orders, those who have committed misrepresentation (or lied to immigration agent or committed fraud in any way in any benefit or application for entry) and others. He will be taking back the Obama Administration’s policy of granting prosecutorial discretion and administrative closure grants to those who are not a risk to national security even if it would be humanitarian or in family unity interests to do so. ICE Offices of Chief Counsel across the U.S. are already putting on hold any request to join in a motion to reopen a prior removal case and some are actively motioning the Immigration court to re-open closed removal cases.  

If you have a prior removal order or have been granted administrative closure or prosecutorial discretion in your removal case, contact a competent immigration attorney to discuss your options going forward with this new regime.  

What happens now:

The policies from the Administration continue to change and are so vague and misleading that it is hard to know how they can be implemented consistently. Multiple law suits have been filed to protect refugees who were literally in the air on their way to the U.S. to stop the deportations from continuing. Law suits may be the only way to temporarily stop the damage these orders are doing but even with a successful injunction, how the stay or injunction is implemented at the agency level consistently and within a reasonable time frame is still unknown. 

Prior Postings 

President Obama Announces Plan to Provide Temporary Fix to Some Immigration Problems, Extends Deferred Action.

November 2014 – Breaking News.

  • The President’s plan includes:

  • New Option for Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents: Deferred Action (a temporary delay of removal for the parents of U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children who fit the eligibility requirements). Deferred Action would grant work authorization and the right to live lawfully in the U.S. during the deferred action period but it does not lead to a green card (permanent residence).
  • Extension and Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, with plans to remove the age limit for application and plans to move the continuous presence date up to January 1, 2010. DACA will now be granted for 3 years (including those with pending renewal applications).
  • Expansion of Provisional Waiver program (I-601A waiver for 10 year bar) to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents, allowing them to apply for unlawful presence waivers from within the U.S. (currently only certain types of U.S. citizen relatives, not LPRs, can apply under the I-601A).
  • Expansion of parole in place status (which grants legal status and work permit to those related to US military members); 
  • Procedure change for adjustment of status (green card process in the U.S.) to allow legal immigrants waiting for years in the quota backlogs to register their applications;
  • Options for Es and Ls visa holders (business immigration fixes).
  • and much more! 

More specifics are summarized in this guide to the President’s Executive Actions by the American Immigration Council.

Watch Out for Scams – The new program is not available yet and specific requirements are not known.

You should not hire anyone to file your case until you know that you for sure qualify, which is impossible without the Administration releasing more guidance.  Stop_Immigration Fraud_PSA

Watch out for Scammers! Notario Fraud can Ruin Your Immigration Chances and your future

Watch out for Scammers! Notario Fraud can Ruin Your Immigration Chances and your future