U.S. House Passes Significant ‘Dreamer’ Immigration Bill with Potential to Grant Permanent Residency to 2 Million Undocumented Youth

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an ambitious immigration bill aimed at providing a path to citizenship to almost 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “Dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children.  This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain aliens, and provides such aliens with a path toward Legal Permanent Resident status.

The bill, titled American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, would provide a 10-year conditional permanent residency to recipients of the Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and for other qualified young, undocumented, immigrants. To be eligible, immigrants must have been younger than 18 when they came to the U.S., and must have lived in the U.S. continuously over the previous four years.  Applicants will also need to possess an American high school diploma or GED, and pass a background check. Applicants who have committed certain crimes would be ineligible under the bill.

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Update on the Travel Ban and DACA

Travel Ban

travel-ban May 2018On April 25th, 2018 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both sides on President Trump’s highly scrutinized “travel ban”. The travel ban, now in its third iteration, prohibits entry of travelers from five Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya), as well as North Korea and government officials from Venezuela. Although previous versions of the travel ban were initially partially blocked by U.S. District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland, the Supreme Court lifted such injunctions in December 2017.

Since Trump first issued his travel order, setting off widespread chaos at airports just a few days after his inauguration, the issue has strongly shaped public perceptions of the new administration. It has also led to a string of defeats in lower courts, where judges ruled that the measure exceeded Trump’s authority and, in some cases, said it reflected bias against Muslims.

 

However, the Supreme Court of the United States has provided a friendlier forum, on this topic. The justices issued a ruling in June 2017 that allowed the second version of the travel ban to take partial effect. Then, in December 2017, with only two dissenting votes, they set aside lower-court rulings to allow the administration to put the third version into practice, a strong indicator of where the majority was headed.

Justice Samuel A. Alito rejected the notion Trump’s order could be considered a “Muslim ban,” noting it does not apply to most of the largest Muslim nations.

“If you look at what was done, it does not look like a Muslim ban,” he said.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s appointee, questioned whether the challengers had standing to sue in the first place. Foreigners overseas do not have rights in U.S. courts, he said. Plaintiffs who live in Hawaii sued, contending the travel ban was illegal, but “third parties can’t vindicate the rights of aliens,” Gorsuch said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy portrayed the issue before the court as one of national security in which the chief executive, not the judicial branch, should be entrusted to weigh possible threats from foreign visitors.

 

A final decision by the Court is expected at the end of June. Meanwhile, the current version of the travel ban remains in effect during deliberation. Continue reading

Immigration As Usual? Moving Forward in Times of Uncertainty

by Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer Grady, Esq.

Recent announcements by the Trump Administration declaring enhanced vetting of current immigration cases; talks in Congress about major proposed changes to the immigration laws; and constant media discourse regarding the future of DACA, the Travel Ban, employment-based visas, and increased waiting times, may have the effect of chilling immigration applications.  However, with the right information, and a plan that takes these changes into account, it is still possible to submit a successful immigration application.  We discuss the latest updates, and our recommended responses, below.

I. “Enhanced Vetting”

TRUMPOne of the major elements of President Trump’s Presidential Campaign was the promise that he would take a hard line on immigration.  Since he has become President of the United States, this promise has materialized into a policy that enforces existing immigration laws by applying stricter review of immigration applications. Commonly referred to as “enhanced” or “extreme” vetting, the practice requires that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) spend more time reviewing immigration applications, conducting additional background security checks, adding in-person interviews. Continue reading

What You Really Need to Know About the Rescission of DACA

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On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is being rescinded.  The Department of Homeland Security personnel will take all appropriate actions to execute a wind-down of the program, consistent with the parameters established in Tuesday’s Memorandum on Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) (hereinafter, “Memo”).

On September 6, 2017, fifteen states and the District of Columbia filed a suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York seeking to stop the rescission.  During his candidacy for president, Donald Trump said that he intended to end DACA on “day one” of his presidency.

What Is DACA?

On June 15, 2012, under the Obama Administration, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status. Continue reading

How Will the 2016 Presidential Election Affect Immigration Reform?

election.wikimediaby Jennifer Grady, Esq. and Grady Firm Law Clerk

With the American presidential election cycle in full swing, immigration reform continues to be a heated and controversial topic.  The presidential campaign front-runners, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, have widely divergent perspectives on the issue.  Below is a look at each candidate’s stance on the ability of undocumented immigrants to gain legal US citizenship. Continue reading

President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration on Hold Pending Further Legal Action

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. and Anthony Mance, Esq.

Statue of LibertyOn November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

However, on February 16, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a ruling that has led to the temporary suspension of President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration. The ruling prevents the Obama administration from implementing the proposed expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) until the constitutionality of the executive actions can be determined. Continue reading

How Undocumented Immigrants Can Obtain State-Sponsored Financial Aid and California Resident Tuition Under the California Dream Act

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by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.

What is the California Dream Act?

Assembly Bill 540, passed in 2001, allows qualifying non-resident California students to pay resident fees at California’s colleges and universities.  AB 540 students include: (1) undocumented students; (2) students who are U.S. citizens, but who are not residents of California; and (3) usually dependent students whose parents are not residents of California.

The California Dream Act, authored by Assembly Member Gil Cedillo (Los Angeles), became law through the passage of two Assembly Bills, AB 130 and AB 131 in 2012.  Assembly Bill 130 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria (California Education Code 68130.5(a)) to apply for and receive non-state funded scholarships for public colleges and universities.

AB 131 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria to apply for and receive state-funded financial aid such as institutional grants, community college fee waivers, Chafee Grant, University of California Grants, State University Grants, Board of Governor’s fee waivers, and Cal Grants for attendance at public and private colleges.  They may also obtain private scholarships administered by California public colleges. Continue reading

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): A Way For Child Immigrants With Unlawful Presence to Obtain Work Authorization and a 2-Year Deferred Action from Removal Proceedings

Photo credit: epSos.de

September 15, 2013-

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain individuals who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would be eligible for work authorization.  Individuals who receive deferred action will not be placed in removal proceedings, or removed from the United States, for a specific period of time unless terminated.   Deferred action, however, does not provide an individual with lawful status, but can be utilized for individuals in removal (deportation) proceedings.  DACA relief is discretionary and can be revoked by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at any time. Continue reading