Monthly Archives: April 2012

Migration flow from Mexico has stalled due to economy, not harsh immigration policies

New research by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that for the first time in four decades, net immigration to the United States from Mexico is effectively zero. See more at

Although some will argue that this proves the effectiveness of attrition-oriented policies such as Arizona’s infamous SB1070, the evidence suggests that economic factors are the main driving force.

Some eight states across the country have adopted harsh, anti-immigrant legislation that criminalizes lack of valid immigration status and requires local police to investigate the immigration status of suspected non-citizens. Criticism of this type of legislation includes its unconstitutional interference with federal immigration policy and the charge that it promotes racial profiling.

There is little evidence that harsh laws like these do anything other than make life difficult for their targets. Immigrants feeling pressured in a state like Arizona are more likely to move to another state in the country than to return to their country of origin. Moreover, even if these laws were having an effect, it would not have been measurable in the window examined by the Pew Hispanic Center (2005 to 2010) because Arizona’s law did not take effect until 2010.

Clearly, the economic downturn has affected all corners of the country and the recovery has been slower than anticipated. The fact that many millions of undocumented families have remained in the U.S. despite these conditions shows just how attached they are to their lives here. Hopefully we can find the political and space and human empathy required to pass comprehensive immigration reform soon to provide solutions.


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Filed under National News, Undocumented Immigrants

UNR’s Latino Research Center takes a stand against dangerous medical practice

In addition to hosting online registrations for this weekend’s free naturalization workshop (visit !), the Latino Research Center at the University of Nevada, Reno is getting attention this week for its campaign to inform the Latin@ community about the dangers of unlicensed medical practitioners.

Many unlicensed practitioners were trained professionals in their country of origin, but sometimes their knowledge is outdated or their skills are out of practice. In any case, they have not been vetted by the various boards and certifying agencies that determine each medical professional’s competence to practice. Using unlicensed practitioners can lead to dangerous mistakes in some cases, and it also opens the door to fraud and abuse.

Nonetheless, many families are having a hard time financially and they want to save money wherever they can. Additionally, because immigration enforcement has increased across the board in recent years many individuals who lack valid immigration status fear possible exposure to deportation if they use traditional medical services.

You can see more about the LRC’s program here or you can visit their Web site at

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Filed under Immigrant Rights, Nevada News, Reno News

Before and after Easter, churches offer sanctuary to deported refugees

This Easter Weekend, the Associated Press is reporting on a New Jersey church that is walking the walk and providing sanctuary for those in need. Three Indonesian immigrants caught in a type of legal limbo and would risk being detained by immigration officials if they left the church grounds.

In the late 1990s social upheaval in Indonesia included repeated attacks on Christians and the burning of churches.
In response to this violence, the U.S. government relaxed some of its visa policies and was generous in issuing tourist visas to many Indonesian Christians to allow them to escape the conditions in their native country. This was an expedient response, but one can argue that it would have been more appropriate to process those fleeing Indonesia as refugees.

Once they arrived in the U.S., many of these individuals sought employment and started families here. In the meantime, post-9/11 security policies became more rigid and in the ensuing decade immigration enforcement increased. One way or another, all three individuals fell under the scrutiny of immigration officials and were ordered to depart from the United States. They did not qualify to apply for asylum protection because current law requires foreign nationals to file for asylum within one year of entering the United States or when conditions in their home country change drastically.

Federal officials are contemplating an update to this statute that could extend asylum protection to these displaced individuals. You can read the entire article here:

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Filed under National News, Refugees Asylees and Parolees

After January teaser, Feds propose I-601 waiver change

Welcome news today — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officially registered its new proposed rule to remove some of the sting of the current I-601 waiver process.

We recently posted about a family that will be reunited after waiting nearly a year and a half for a waiver approval. Another case we gained approval for in March will allow a man to rejoin with his wife and three children after six and a half years apart. These approvals are hard-won, and the process is heart-rending for the families.

The issue is that most undocumented individuals have to leave the U.S. to regain lawful entry, and they automatically trigger a ten-year punishment when they leave. This is the case even for the parents and spouses of U.S. citizens.

Under the change proposed by USCIS the law would be unchanged but the process would become more bearable. Families could request provisional approval of a waiver before leaving the U.S. and thereby avoid the pain and uncertainty of separation.

There is a public comment period open from now to June 1, 2012. Details on the proposed change are at and you can comment through at . In the coming days we will post model comments as proposed by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc (CLINIC).

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Filed under National News, Undocumented Immigrants

I-601 waiver approval for family of seven separated for a year and a half

Much of our work focuses on uniting families in the United States, where even in hard times opportunities abound and those facing poverty can hope for better days to come.Today we received a rare and welcome piece of news — one of our clients was granted an I-601 waiver allowing him to return to the United States without spending ten years abroad as he otherwise would have to.

In May a distraught U.S. citizen came to us after her husband had been denied an immigrant visa. She had gone to a tax preparer for help filling out the paperwork, and her husband went to Ciudad Juarez for his appointment with the U.S. Consulate. Unfortunately, the tax preparer did not know the ins and outs of the immigration laws and when our client was declared ineligible for a visa for ten years the family was completely unprepared for this news. Sadly, this story is far from uncommon because much of the need for low-cost immigration services is met by individuals who lack the training and accountability to provide reliable service.

We are very happy that this hardworking and responsible husband, dad, and stepfather will soon be reunited with his family.

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Filed under Reno News, Undocumented Immigrants