Monthly Archives: July 2012

New details about DREAMer Deferred Action

Our friends at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) have informed us that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before Congress last week on the new Deferred Action process for young immigrants. A lot of uncertainty and speculation has been swirling around the details of the application process for people who were not already placed in Immigration Court.

Some of the key points that were clarified:

  • AGE — anyone under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 is eligible
  • PROCESS — details should be available August 1, applications accepted August 15
  • FEES — $465 for work permit ($380) and fingerprinting ($85). There may also be a separate fee for the actual Deferred Action benefit. We do not yet know if a fee waiver request will be possible.

Many thanks to CLINIC for its continued diligence in getting the word out. Contact a CLINIC affiliate in your area for information about Deferred Action for DREAMers.

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Filed under National News, Undocumented Immigrants

Mexican woman arrested for selling tamales faces deportation

The Sacramento Bee is reporting this week that a woman was arrested and detained for twelve days for refusing to leave a Wal-Mart parking lot where she was selling inexpensive tamales. Complicating the case is that 46-year-old Juana Reyes is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who came to this country over 16 years ago and now has two U.S. citizen children. During her time in jail she was interviewed by an officer from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) through the federal Criminal Alien Program (CAP), which ultimately led to ICE bringing deportation charges against the woman.

In the aftermath of this incident, Ms. Reyes’ case is being publicized as evidence of the overreach of federal immigration enforcement policy. Advocates for more generous immigration policies argue that CAP and other related programs like Secure Communities reach too far into the criminal justice system in order to ensnare immigrants detained on minor charges. Advocates are pushing for legislation and policy changes that would prevent some of these programs from applying to individuals arrested on minor crimes if they have no other criminal history. Ms. Reyes had no prior criminal history but her case will still be an uphill battle to avoid deportation.

A year ago the Obama Administration announced new policy guidelines aimed at focusing immigration enforcement resources on high-priority offenders such as violent criminals and repeat immigration violators. Critics charge that these policies have not become a reality despite what is written in memos and discussed in speeches. Although the Obama administration has argued for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) that would address the nation’s ten to twelve million undocumented immigrants, it has also overseen a massive increase in deportations.

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Filed under National News, Undocumented Immigrants

Beware misinformation about Deferred Action for DREAMers

Since the Obama Administration announced on June 15 that it will implement a three-pronged policy to provide administrative relief to certain young undocumented immigrants, our office has been flooded with questions about the new initiative. We are hopeful that this small policy tweak will provide much deserved relief to this class of young immigrants, but we have been frustrated and worried by apparent predatory practices unfolding in our community around this issue.

At the time of the announcement, the Department of Homeland Security announced (1) that it would administratively close pending removal (deportation) cases affecting qualified individuals, (2) that it would direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to avoid placing qualified individuals into proceedings, (3) and that in the next 60 days it would craft a process by which qualified individuals can apply for youth Deferred Action.

What this means is that for most affected individuals, there is no new process nor will there be one until mid-August. Unfortunately, this has not prevented some news outlets from promoting the idea that the new policy is already in effect and “open,” and it has not prevented notarios, unscrupulous attorneys, and other predatory practitioners from encouraging immigrant families to pay them and sign up for “advanced processing” of this new process.

Generally speaking, we do not think it is a good idea to pay someone in advance for completion of a process that neither they nor you nor anyone understands in detail. A young woman called us yesterday to ask us if she should sign up with this Web site, which appears to be one such predatory immigration operation. We directed her instead to the USCIS immigration Web site, which states clearly that there is no process available yet.

For the time being, the advice we are giving young undocumented immigrants is to gather proof of their 1) identity and age, 2) time of entry and presence in the U.S. on approximately June 15, 3) clean criminal record, and 4) current attendance or completion of high school. Students who have left school without graduating can pursue their G.E.D. and may be able to qualify for the program that way. And aspiring Deferred Action candidates should not pay anyone to pre-process applications for a process that doesn’t exist yet.

We will keep our readers updated as new information becomes available.

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Filed under Immigrant Youth, Undocumented Immigrants

Too talented to immigrate?

Today during our walk-in services we met with a talented young woman from Poland who would like to become a Permanent Resident of the United States. The problem is that, in some sense, she is too talented to immigrate.

This particular woman first came to the United States as an exchange visitor and attended the second half of high school here. She then obtained F-1 and J visas to complete her undergraduate and master’s degree studies. She is now working on an H-1B visa for a program that helps place international students and she earns about $45,000 per year.

In theory, she could get in line for an employment-based immigrant visa classification, which is a system that functions somewhat similarly to the family preference system for family-based immigration. But part of that process involves having an employer file an I-140 and a Department of Labor Certification, which requires that the foreign employee be paid at a level on par with the prevailing wage in that industry for employees with comparable skills.

The problem is that the prevailing wage for this woman’s skillset has been calculated to be over $90,000, twice what she is being paid.  Because of this, the conversation about an employment-based Permanent Residence is a virtual non-starter. There are other, more arcane paths (e.g. L or E visas) to Permanent Residence, but they rely on exploiting loopholes and further delaying the stability and clarity that this young woman seeks.

Despite her talents, her vision for a better world, and her long-term attachment to this country, this young woman is likely to either leave the United States and take her talents elsewhere or remain in an in-between immigration status (she is contemplating a new F-1 visa to complete a Ph.D.) until she meets and marries a U.S. citizen man. She has no immediate family in the United States, so marriage is her only realistic entry to the family-based system.

This is yet another example of why the immigration system — including the legal immigration system — needs reform. Prevailing wage rules are not without merit, but we have to find better ways to retain the talented people who we attract to this country. It seems that the worst thing we can do — both to these folks and to ourselves as a collective — is to invest resources in educating them, creating professional and emotional attachments to this country, and then providing no realistic opportunities for them to share their talents with us.

It cannot be overstated that our system of authorized immigration is as ripe for reform as is the flow of unauthorized immigration. The hope is that as more people become aware of the twin shortcomings of these systems we can find the political space to reform them both.

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Filed under Employment-Based Immigration, Uncategorized

Powerful report highlights need for Family Unity Waiver through individual stories

A new report released by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and Alliance for a Just Society picks up where our advocacy efforts left off in June when the public comment period closed on Proposed Rule USCIS-2012-0003. The new report includes the voices of immigrants across the country, including one individual from Reno, NV. You can find the report here: http://fairimmigration.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/promisesreport-final.pdf

Plainly eye-opening, the report called “Promises to Keep” is an excellent primer on the legislative landscape in place today. It summarizes common immigration pitfalls such as the ten-year bar of admission and the long administrative processing times. In this context, it builds a simple and compelling case for implementation of a stateside pre-adjudication process for these waivers. Such a new process would help “resolv[e] the uncertainty that keeps so many immigrants from seeking the permanent residence for which they are eligible.” Approval of the Family Unity Waiver process is not an amnesty; it is a way to smooth the road to legalization for many currently eligible applicants.

Keep this report in mind as we await a Final Rule from USCIS. Although immigration advocates across the country were heartened to hear that changes were finally on the way, many were disappointed at how narrowly the new process would reach. By keeping the conversation going now, we increase the likelihood that the finished product will be as just and expansive as possible.

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

Next Diocesan immigration education session July 23

After a successful debut earlier this month at St. Albert’s Catholic Church in northwest Reno, the Diocese of Reno’s immigration education campaign continues at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (Pyramid and McCarran). This will take place on July 23 starting at 7:00 PM.

Join us for a powerful and informative session examining the realities of immigration and how it affects our community. We will frame this contentious issue in the framework of Catholic social teaching and invite all in attendance to share their thoughts and stories.

For more information: https://ccnnimmigration.wordpress.com/diocese-of-reno-immigration-education/

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Filed under Nevada News, Reno News, Uncategorized, Undocumented Immigrants