Monthly Archives: June 2012

Deferred Action for DREAMers: Update

The Department of Homeland Security has posted a memo from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano outlining more specifics on the proposal leaked/announced this morning. You can read the memo here: Deferred Action Process for DREAMer Undocumented Youth

The language being used is Deferred Action, which can be deployed both in the context of relief from deportation and in the context of an affirmative benefit (for instance, this is what VAWA Self-Petitioners file for initially when they have suffered from domestic violence).

DHS states that the benefit is available immediately to qualifying individuals and an affirmative application process will be developed in the next 60 days. DHS notes that this is not a guaranteed benefit and all cases will be reviewed individually with an eye to proving that all requirements have been met.

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, National News, Undocumented Immigrants

BREAKING: Obama officials describe administrative relief for DREAMers

The Associated Press is reporting at this hour leaked reports from Obama Administration officials that describe a memo from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that would offer protection from deportation and eligibility for a work permit to certain individuals commonly referred to as “DREAMers.”

The term comes from the perennial legislative proposal the DREAM Act, which itself stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors act. DREAMers are an increasingly outspoken group of young people brought to the United States as children — sometimes as babies — and who have stronger social ties to the United States than they do to their home countries (often in Central America).

In recent years DREAMers have become impatient with being tossed around as a political football, with the DREAM Act legislation introduced in Congress each session since 2001 yet never passing both houses of Congress. Through rallies, marches, sit-ins, and cross-country walks, the growing community of DREAMers and their allies has begun agitating more aggressively for a solution to their plight. DREAMers complain that their entry to the United States (whether without inspection, on a long-expired visitor visa, or by other means) was not their choice, that they know this country better than their actual “home” country, and that despite having worked hard in school and done everything asked of them they cannot put their talents to work for themselves or for society because they lack lawful immigration status.

Now, to the Obama Administration’s proposal: details are scarce. The criteria that have been outlined parallel those in the DREAM Act legislation that narrowly fell short of passage in the U.S. Senate in December 2010: individuals must have been brought to the U.S. before age 16, they must now be under age 30, they must have been in the country for five continuous years, they must have a clean criminal history, and they must have graduated from high school, earned a G.E.D., or served in the military.

Under the proposal, these youth would be able to apply for a deportation waiver and a renewable two-year work permit. The work permit would allow them to get a Social Security card and authorization to work, but it would not seem to give them access to some public benefits or federal financial aid for college. Nonetheless, this would be an improvement for the thousands of DREAMers who have excelled in high school, gone on to college, and now have university degrees that they cannot use because they lack employment authorizations.

Also unclear is whether or not this will be a proactive benefit — one for which DREAMers can apply no matter their circumstances — or whether it will be a defense form of relief. At first blush the mechanism seems to be the latter: DREAMers in removal proceedings will have an unexpected reprieve, but the benefit will not be available to all comers. It also remains to be seen how a “clean criminal record” will be defined and how much the discretion of jurisdiction-level officials will come into play. Recent promises that 300,000 pending deportation cases would be reviewed and closed according to a generous set of criteria have fallen short, as the review has only resulted in the closure of about ten percent of all pending deportations.

We will provide updates as more specific information becomes available. Observers note that this is an “election year announcement” targeted at a Latino voting bloc that has soured on the Obama administration’s aggressive deportation policies and failure to squeeze blood from a stone in achieving compromise with Congressional opponents of immigration reform. The president speaks to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials next week.

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, National News, Uncategorized, Undocumented Immigrants

Information about new Deferred Action and Provisional Waivers

Please see this flyer for a summary of two new immigration initiatives by the Obama Administration: Deferred Action for DREAMers and Provisional Adjudication of Unlawful Presence Waivers.

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H-1B work visas hit ceiling unchanged by Congress in years

If you’ve been paying attention to jobs reports over the last year, you’ve heard some common themes again and again: large corporations are sitting on trillions in cash but worry that consumer demand will slump; manufacturing is rebounding in some areas but exports are weak due to European uncertainty; growth in China and elsewhere is starting to slow; and while too many Americans are out of work, employers can’t find enough qualified applicants to fill jobs in programming, engineering, and the other skilled positions.

One solution to the last of these problems is foreign workers. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s when the tech industry was booming, no one blinked much as talented programmers and engineers came from the top schools in India and other developing countries and filled demand for positions many native workers couldn’t perform. According to the Brookings Institution, Congress raised the cap on available H-1B visas in late 2000 from 115,000 to 195,000 to absorb this influx of foreign talent. In fact, this flow of labor became so robust that Congress then tamped down on the number of available H-1B visas for skilled workers, sending the cap plunging down to 65,000 in 2004.

In 2006 another 20,000 H-1B visas were made available for graduates of U.S. universities, but since then the number has been unchanged. This year the H-1B cap was reached after about 10 weeks, which Business Week reports suggests an uptick in economic growth for this year. When employers are not able to squeeze their chosen workers into the H-1B framework, they often turn to loopholes available through other forms of working visas. The effects are dually that the costs of doing business increase and some talented workers aren’t connected with the companies that seek them, and both effects impair the efficient churning of the economy.

It’s no secret that the issues of unauthorized immigration are thorny, but H-1Bs are a form of legal immigration. That even this aspect of our immigration system remains in gridlock speaks volumes about the stasis that prevents improvement of our broken immigration system. Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum have, at times, put forth common-sense proposals for addressing the many quirks and anachronisms of the employment-based immigration system, but movement on these consensus issues is blocked by refusal to seek compromise on the most contentious issues. Rightly or wrongly, many advocates for comprehensive immigration reform are wary of finding common ground on marginal issues because these small victories may come at the cost of wide-ranging reforms.

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Filed under Employment-Based Immigration, National News

Americorps VISTA opportunities

We are proud to announce that our Immigration Assistance Program has been approved for up to three VISTA volunteers through the federal Americorps program. We are accepting applications for these positions through July 14.

VISTAs are paid a stipend for a year of community service. At the end, they emerge from a highly respected program with a year’s worth of intensive service under their belts and the option to take a $1,500 cash award or a $5,550 education award.

The three positions available will all help launch our Legalization and Empowerment Assistance Program for Students (LEAPS), which works with public schools to identify and assist talented undocumented youth in Washoe County and guide them toward lawful immigration status wherever possible.

The three positions are for the LEAPS Outreach Coordinator, LEAPS Program Coordinator, and LEAPS Volunteer Coordinator. Please follow the embedded links for information and to apply!

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, LEAPS Program, Nevada News, Reno News, Undocumented Immigrants