Welcome to the Immigration Channel with Jennifer S. Echevarria. Jennifer is an associate attorney at J&G who concentrates on immigration and employment law. She is fluent in Spanish and will be providing frequent updates on immigration legistation and Presidential Executive Orders to keep the Spanish-speaking community aware. Many updates can be found in both Spanish and English. Be sure to check back frequently for updates.
New Priorities for Removal (a.k.a Deportation) under Trump Administration
In 2014, the Obama administration announced a federal immigration enforcement program titled “Priority Enforcement Program” (the “Program”). The Program recognized that the government’s limited resources were best served focusing on investigating, apprehending, and removing undocumented immigrants that posed threats to our national security. To that end, under the Program, only undocumented immigrants with prior orders of deportation or those convicted of three (3) or more significant misdemeanors or one (1) felony, would be actively investigated and pursued for detention removal. This policy also recognized that separating law-abiding families that were contributing members of our society was unnecessary to ensure public safety.
President Trump’s Executive Order titled, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” dated January 25, 2017 (the “Order”), terminates the Program, reinstitutes the prior program, “Secure Communities,” and identifies a new set of priorities for removal (a.k.a., deportation). The full Order can be found here: can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders
Under Trump’s Order, all undocumented immigrants – even those with no criminal histories – are subject to removal. Here is the list of immigrants that can now be investigated, detained, and removed under the Order: 1) those that have been convicted of any criminal offense, regardless of how minor; 2) those that have been charged with any criminal offense even before there has been a resolution of the case; 3) those that are deemed by local law enforcement or federal immigration officials to have committed “acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” even where there have been no charges or convictions; 4) those that have committed fraud with regard to an application before a governmental agency; 5) those that have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; 6) those that have previously been ordered removed but are still here; and 7) those who, “[i]n the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.” (See Section 5 of the Order.)
The Order attempts to circumvent prevailing case law in Arizona v. U.S., 132 S.Ct. 2492, 2505 (2012) wherein the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated that, “[a]s a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.” In other words, being here undocumented is not, in and of itself, a crime for which one can be arrested by law enforcement. The Order gets around that by announcing that all undocumented immigrants pose threats to national security and public safety (see Section 1 of the Order) and then by prioritizing for removal anyone who an immigration officer (or a local law enforcement officer acting pursuant to an agreement with the U.S. Secretary under Section 8(b) of the Order) deems to pose a risk to public safety or national security (see Section 5(g)).
The Order effectively makes all undocumented immigrants priorities for removal. All undocumented immigrants – even those that are law abiding, productive and contributing members of our communities – are now vulnerable to removal.
We recommend that all undocumented immigrants make contingency plans for their minor children and assets in case they are suddenly detained and removed, and that they hire an attorney if they are arrested and charged with even minor crimes.
Jennifer S. Echevarria is an attorney at Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, practicing immigration and employment law. She is fluent in Spanish.
Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, also has attorneys that practice criminal law.
DACA Update (January 17, 2018)
In response to the recent Federal Court ruling in California holding that the Department of Homeland Security must keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program running while a lawsuit regarding the program’s termination is pending, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) agency issued a statement on January 13, 2018, outlining how it plans to comply with the Court’s order.
Starting immediately, USCIS will accept applications from those that have previously received DACA approvals, but only for the following:
1) renewals if your DACA expired on or after September 5, 2017; and
2) if your DACA expired before September 5, 2017, you may file a new initial DACA request.
If you have never received DACA approval, you cannot apply for DACA at this time.
USCIS will still not accept applications for advance parole from DACA beneficiaries.
If you have ever received DACA approval and your approval has either expired or will expire in the next one hundred and fifty (150) days, contact an attorney.
DACA Update (1/10/18)
On September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it would be cancelling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program due to the administration’s view that it was enacted by the Obama administration unconstitutionally. The program is set to expire on March 5, 2018, and all two-year renewal applications were to be submitted by October 5, 2017.
After that announcement, the University of California sued the DHS in Federal Court on the basis that, among other things, the program was illegally terminated based upon an erroneous view of the law.
Yesterday (January 9, 2018), the Court held that DACA recipients would be irreparably harmed through deportation, forced withdrawal from school and employment, etc., if the DACA program was terminated before the lawsuit could be resolved. The Court determined that safeguards had to be put into place to protect DACA recipients while the lawsuit is pending. Therefore, termination of the DACA program is now stayed and those with DACA status as of September 5, 2017, will be permitted to renew during the pendency of this action.
Those that are considering renewing their DACA status based upon this decision are cautioned that the chances of receiving an approval before a near certain appeal by the Trump administration are unknown at this time. DACA frequently takes a year or more to get approved, which is plenty of time for the Department of Justice to appeal. Also, DACA is discretionary; DHS can find reasons to deny applications even though they are required to accept renewal applications. This environment creates the perfect opportunity for DACA recipients to be exploited by “notarios” promising renewals for large fees.
If you are a DACA recipient and have questions about how these developments may affect you, contact an attorney.
The End to Family-Based Immigration?
President Trump announced today (August 1, 2017) in a news conference that he plans to reform our immigration laws by terminating the current family-based immigration system and replacing it with a skills-based immigration program.
Currently, Legal Permanent Residents, or “Green Card” holders, can petition to sponsor their spouses and minor, unmarried children to immigrate to the United States, and U.S. Citizens can petition for their parents, spouses, siblings, and children of any age and marital status, all without regard to education and skill level of the immigrants.
President Trump’s plan will eliminate what he calls a “chain migration” of unskilled workers. His plan would limit the petitions of Legal Permanent Residents and U.S. Citizens to petitions for only spouses and minor children that can prove, among other things, working knowledge of the English language and that they have certain educational credentials or skills that would enable them to find skilled work when here. The exact skills and field of work that would be required was not specified.
President Trump also emphasized that this would eliminate immigrants coming to the United States to be immediately eligible for welfare, although currently immigrants are not so eligible: Legal Permanent Residents are not eligible for social benefits until they have accumulated a certain number of years working in the United States, and it takes 3 – 5 years for a Legal Permanent Resident to become eligible to apply for citizenship depending on if the Residency was obtained through marriage or through another route. Given the high cost and requirements for becoming a U.S. Citizen, many Residents never naturalize and are not eligible for most social benefits that are restricted to U.S. Citizens even though they pay the same employee and sales taxes as U.S. Citizens do.
Jennifer S. Echevarria is an immigration lawyer at Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, handling family-based adjustment of status applications, naturalization applications, and DACA applications and renewals.
Quién tendrá que pagar el Muro? ¡Nosotros!
El 25 de enero de 2017, Presidente Trump promulgó dos Ordenes Ejecutivos, incluyendo uno titulado: Seguridad de la Frontera y Mejores a la Imposición de Leyes Inmigratorios. Si quiere acceso al Orden Ejecutivo (“OE”) completo, visita su página web aquí: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders
Por los que quieren un resumen rápido, aquí están los puntos que resaltan:
En Sección 4, Presidente Trump ordena la planificación, diseño, y construcción inmediata de un muro en la frontera de los EEUU y México. Esa misma Sección, parte (b), dirige la distribución inmediata de “todos fondos Federales” para planificar, diseñar, y construir el muro (es decir, distribuir dinero pagado por nosotros en impuestos). Parte 4(c) dirige la preparación de una pedida de fondos del presupuesto del Congreso para el muro para este año y años en el futuro. Parte 4(d) ordena que un reporte sobre el estado actual de seguridad en la frontera sea preparada en 180 días, la suposición siendo que quiere usarlo para fomentar apoyo público para el muro.
Pero el OE no para allí – dinero pagado por nosotros en impuestos también irá a pagar la construcción de más facilidades de detención por la frontera (Sección 5(a)) e irá a detener inmigrantes que intentan cruzar la frontera en vez de seguir la póliza de “coger y soltar” (Sección 6). También estaremos pagando por 5,000 agentes de Patrulla de la Frontera adicionales para que protegen la frontera (Sección 8).
El OE exige que un reporte sea creado documentando toda la ayuda financiera Federal pagado directamente o indirectamente a México entre los últimos 5 años (Sección 9). Esto invita la pregunta si en un punto ayuda humanitaria será retenido para pagar el muro.
Además, el OE autoriza la policía estatal y local a imponer la ley inmigratorio Federal e intenta animar a los gobernadores estatales a entrar en acuerdos con el gobierno Federal para promover esta póliza (Sección 10). En estos momentos no está claro si los pagadores de impuestos en el Estado de Nueva York están dispuestos a suplementar los fondos Federales para hacer cumplir la ley Federal.
Si usted tiene preguntas sobre cómo estas nuevas pólizas de inmigración pueden afectar a usted y su familia, comuníquese con un abogado.
Jennifer S. Echevarria es una abogada en el bufete J&G con más de ocho años de experiencia concentrando en la ley de inmigración y derechos de empleo. Es bilingüe en Español.
Who’s Paying for the Wall? We Are!
On January 25, 2017, President Donald Trump issued two Executive Orders, including one entitled: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. To access the complete Executive Order (“EO”), click here.
For those that want a quick synopsis, below are some highlights:
In Section 4, President Trump orders the immediate planning, design, and construction of a wall along the Mexican-U.S. border. That same section, subpart (b), directs the immediate allocation of “all Federal funds” for the such planning, design and construction (in other words, tax-payer monies). Subpart (c) directs the preparation of a Congressional budget request for the funding of the wall for this year and upcoming years. Subpart (d) orders that a report regarding the current state of border security be completed in 180 days, presumably to provide facts to drum-up public support for the wall.
But the EO does not stop there – tax-payer money will also go towards building more detention facilities along the border (Section 5(a)) and towards detaining immigrants that attempt to cross the border instead of continuing the policy of “catch and release” (Section 6). We will also be paying for 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents to protect the border (Section 8).
The EO does order that a report be created documenting all Federal aid paid directly and indirectly to Mexico over the last 5 years (Section 9). This invites the question of whether at some point humanitarian aid will be withheld to help build the wall.
Furthermore, the EO empowers state and local police to enforce Federal immigration law and encourages State governors to enter into agreements with the Federal government to further this policy (Section 10). At this time it is unclear whether New York State tax payers are willing to assist the Federal government in enforcing Federal law.
If you have any questions about how these new immigration policies effect you and your family, contact an immigration lawyer.
Jennifer S. Echevarria is an attorney at J&G with over eight years of experience concentrating her practice on immigration and employment law. She is fluent in Spanish.
Jennifer S. Echevarria is an Associate with the firm and practices Immigration and Employment Law. She can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email. Jennifer is fluent in Spanish and is able to assist our spanish-speaking clients.