Archive for the ‘Legal Topics’ Category

Oath of Allegiance

Monday, May 13th, 2019

To be spoken by candidates for U.S. naturalization, upon which the oath-taker is a citizen.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

Modifications

According to U.S. regulations, the phrase “so help me God” is optional and that the words ‘on oath’ can be substituted with ‘and solemnly affirm’.

According to U.S. Congress, if the prospective citizen is unable or unwilling to promise to bear arms or perform noncombatant military service because of “religious training and belief”, he or she may request to leave out those clauses. The law specifies:

The term “religious training and belief” as used in this section shall mean an individual’s belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code.

From here.

The administration “is dismantling the infrastructure” of refugee resettlement

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Syrian refugees in Jordan, Mr and Mrs. Rastanawi were shocked to learn in March of this year that they were being admitted to the United States as refugees, and their spring arrival in Indianapolis was akin to winning the lottery. The country used to allow thousands of Syrians to immigrate, but the flow of Syrian refugees is at an almost complete stop.

Mrs. Rastanawi was riding a bus to pick up diabetes medication in March when she got the phone call telling her that she and her husband were eligible to come to the United States. The couple had to go to a hospital the next morning for a medical exam, pack their bags, pick up medication and get ready for a new life. The couple arrived at the Indianapolis airport on March 23. They are now living in Indianapolis, where their daughter lives with her family.

But the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the United States in fiscal 2016 was 12,587. In fiscal 2018, the United States admitted 62.

“Syrian refugees are the largest population of refugees seeking resettlement,” said Nazanin Ash, vice president of policy and advocacy for the International Rescue Committee. “Their vulnerability is increasing while U.S. policy is reducing admissions.”

The sharp decline in refugees has led some resettlement agencies to dismantle the infrastructure that has helped place those seeking assistance within the United States and leaving struggling U.S. towns short of workers they are eager to welcome. The nine organizations that resettle refugees in the United States have all had to lay off staff or close offices, sometimes both.

In 2016, Exodus Refugee Immigration in Indianapolis resettled refugees from 13 countries, including Syria, Iraq and Sudan. Last year, Exodus placed refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Congo and Eritrea, said Cole Varga, the group’s executive director. The drop in refugees means the group’s funding has been cut almost in half, and the group laid off or did not backfill more than a dozen positions.

“One of the most striking things, I think, is just how much disruption this has caused to the network,” Varga said. “The top level is all the missing refugees who are not in the U.S., but it’s also about how [the president] is dismantling the infrastructure of this program.”

From the Washington Post

Deportation of a long time American resident to Liberia

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Afomu Kelley was just 11 years old when she left Liberia with her mother in the early days of a civil war in 1990. She remembers standing in a crowd jostling to board an airplane to the United States for what she thought would be a six-week vacation.

Instead, the war in Liberia escalated and Kelley, now 40, never returned to the West African country. She grew up in Northern Virginia, where she finished high school early, and attended the University of Maryland. She has an American accent. Sometimes she doesn’t feel like an immigrant.

But at the end of this month, she may be forced to return to a homeland she barely remembers.

On March 31, the program [Temporary Protected Status] that has allowed Kelley and more than 800 other Liberian immigrants to live legally in the United States for decades will end, the result of President Trump’s decision to terminate a protection against deportation that has been in place for nearly 28 years.

“It is cruel to tell me that I have to go back to a place that I don’t know,” said Kelley, who lives in Greenbelt, Md., with her daughters, ages 9 and 11. “I don’t even know the street I lived on. But I can tell you every diner between here and New Hampshire.”

From the Washington Post

What is Temporary Protected Status?

Per the Migration Policy Institute, TPS allows nationals of certain countries to temporarily live and work lawfully in the United States if DHS determines that they are unable to safely return due to natural disaster, armed conflict, or other extraordinary and temporary circumstances. TPS can be granted for periods of six to 18 months, after which DHS, with the input of the State Department, re-evaluates the designation. If country conditions still threaten the safety of returning nationals, or if the foreign government is unable to handle returns.

Many persons have held TPS for almost two decades, and have established strong community ties in the United States. Currently, ten countries have TPS, with Salvadorans making up 60 percent of the nearly 437,000 TPS recipients.

Court Injunction

On October 3, 2018, a federal court judge in California issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration from terminating TPS for over 250,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed in March 2018, claiming that the government terminated TPS designations as a result of a predetermined agenda and in violation of the law. The ruling is on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On March 1, 2019, DHS issued a notice in the Federal Register stating that while the preliminary injunction is in place, the affected TPS holders will retain their status and work permits through January 2, 2020. DHS will continue to extend the validity of their immigration documents in nine-month intervals. Also, it states once the litigation is completed, and if the courts have issued a final ruling that the terminations were proper, DHS will allow for a 120-day “orderly transition” period.

From here.

 

Mexican Border apprehensions high

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The Trump Administration is frustrated that illegal border crossing attempts, while much lower than in the 1990 – 2008 period, appear to be higher in 2018 than they have since 2012.

Apprehensions along the Mexican border are thought to reflect the total numbers of persons trying to cross the border illegally. There have been estimates that apprehensions are roughly half of the number of people attempt to cross illegally. Between 2012 and 2015, Border Patrol apprehensions along the Mexican border in October were around 30,000. In 2016, they rose to 40,000, apparently due to attempting to cross before the Trump Administration came to power. They dropped back to the 30,000 level in 2017, but now in October 2018 were about 51,000, the highest since 2012.

Pew Research estimates that There was an average of 386,000 annual arrivals of unauthorized persons for the 2011-16 period, compared with 715,000 for the 2002-07 period. That amounts to a 46% decline. (Source here).

The percentage of apprehensions involving families rather than single adults rose from 3.6% in 2013 to 24.9? in 2017. (Source here).

Another category are inadmissables – persons presenting themselves at legal ports of entry but being denied entry. The October 2018 number was about 7,500, which is consistent with past years.

From here and here.

 

Legal grounds for denying entry to US.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

This section of immigration law is fascinating. This section may be Trump’s best tool to radically restrict immigration flows without having to consult Congress. His just announced decision to refuse to hear certain asylum petitions, and his impending changes to public charge criteria, arise from this section.

The law is found in Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part II, § 1182.

1.Health issues (communicative disease, insanity, drug abuser)

2. Crime (including criminal convictions, drug trafficking, prostitution, money laundering)

3. Security and related grounds (including overthrow of government, terrorist activity, member of terrorist organization, “proposed activities…potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States”, member of totalitarian organization, current member of Communist party, affiliation with Nazism.

4. Public Charge (“Any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.”)

5. Labor certification (“(i) In general, Any alien who seeks to enter the United States for the purpose of performing skilled or unskilled labor is inadmissible, unless the Secretary of Labor has determined and certified to the Secretary of State and the Attorney General that— (I) there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified (or equally qualified in the case of an alien described in clause (ii)) and available at the time of application for a visa and admission to the United States and at the place where the alien is to perform such skilled or unskilled labor, (II) the employment of such alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed.

6. Illegal entrants and immigration violators (including “Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this chapter is inadmissible.”)

7. Without documentation

8. Ineligible for citizenship (“Any immigrant who is permanently ineligible to citizenship is inadmissible.”)

9. Those previously removed.

10. Miscellaneous (including polygamists)

Visa denial rate is up under Trump

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

In 2018, the D.H.S. turned away 10% of applicants for employment authorization documents compared with 6% in 2016, and it rejected applications for advanced parole — which gives temporary residents the authorization to travel internationally and return — at a clip of 18%, more than doubling the rate in 2016. Even skilled workers are being rejected at higher rates. The denial rate for petitions for temporary foreign workers shot to 23% from 17%. The application for permanent workers saw denials rise to 9% from 6%.

The largest increase in the denial rate for family-sponsored applications, for petitions for fiancés, rose to 21% from 14%.

A new analysis for the Cato Institute has found that the Department of Homeland Security rejected 11.3% of requests, including for work permits, travel documents and status applications, based on family reunification, employment and other grounds, in the first nine months of 2018. This is the highest rate of denial on record and means that by the end of the year, the United States government will have rejected around 620,000 people — about 155,000 more than in 2016.

This increase in denials cannot be credited to an overall rise in applications. In fact, the total number of applications so far this year is 2% lower than in 2016. It could be that the higher denial rate is also discouraging some people from applying at all.

From the NY Times

Migrant Justice Suit against ICE

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Federal immigration authorities used a civilian informant to infiltrate meetings of Migrant Justice, which advocates for Vermont’s immigrant farmworkers, the group contended as it filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Wednesday November 14, 2018.

Migrant Justice alleges that group members were targeted and detained as part of a national effort against immigrant rights advocates.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has been helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security to engage in an “unlawful, multi-year operation to surveil, harass, arrest and detain” farm worker activists, Migrant Justice said in a statement. Its suit names ICE, DHS and the DMV as defendants.

Documents obtained through public records requests show that the DMV forwarded the plaintiffs’ personal information to ICE when they applied for the state’s driver privilege card, the group asserts. Immigration enforcement officers also engaged in the electronic surveillance of one Migrant Justice member, the suit alleges.

About 40 Migrant Justice members have been arrested in the last two years, and the majority of them have been deported, said Will Lambek, the group’s spokesman. At least 10 of those arrested are believed to have been targeted because of their activism, Lambek said.

The plaintiffs seek a federal injunction to stop the defendants from “targeting, surveilling, infiltrating, spreading misinformation, arresting and detaining Migrant Justice members,” as well as prohibiting DMV employees from sharing information with federal immigration enforcement agencies, according to a statement from Migrant Justice.

From Seven Days

 

Where non-citizens can vote

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

My city of Montpelier Vermont voted this week to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Early permissiveness. From 1776 to 1926, 40 states and federal territories permitted non-citizens to vote in local, state, and even federal elections. Non-citizens also held public office. In practice, immigrant voting promoted civic education and citizenship.

Retrenchment in late 19th – early 20th C. Noncitizen voting was abolished at the same time that other restrictive measures were also enacted by elites, including literacy tests, poll taxes, felony disenfranchisement laws, and restrictive residency and voter registration requirements—all of which combined to disenfranchise millions of voters. Efforts to “clean up” what were allegedly rampant “corrupt” practices in local government and electoral politics by big city “party machines” associated with immigrants culminated in a series of reform measures that were passed by state legislatures at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century.

A come back. Since 1988, Chicago permits non-citizens to vote in school board elections (as did New York City from 1969 until 2003 when school boards were eliminated for unrelated reasons), and non-citizens currently vote in six municipalities in Maryland. These jurisdictions make no distinction between documented and undocumented immigrants—all non-citizens are permitted to vote in these local elections (as was true in New York City). Since the 1990s, Cambridge, Amherst, Newton, and Brookline, Massachusetts, have extended the right for documented non-citizens in local elections.

In 2010, voters in San Francisco narrowly defeated a ballot proposal (Proposition D) that would have granted all parents and guardians of children in the public school system voting rights in school board elections, regardless of their immigrant status. In 2016, voters passed a similar proposal (Proposition N).

Republican attack.  The House passed on September 26, 2018 a resolution to rebuke cities that allow non-citizens to cast votes in certain local elections.

Content from here.

 

 

 

Examples of sanctuary city programs

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Chicago’s July 2012 Welcoming City Ordinance, per a press release from the city, “builds on an existing ordinance and longtime City policy that prohibits agencies from inquiring about the immigration status of people seeking City services, and provides that the Chicago Police Department will not question crime victims, witnesses and other law-abiding
residents about their legal status.

Santa Clara County, in which San Jose is located, has a Rapid Response Network, to alert people about ICE raids. “Training is led by Pangea Legal Services, Sacred Heart Community Service and PACT: People Acting in Community Together. The Rapid Response Network aims to expand the community’s capacity to monitor and document ICE operations in real time.”

New York City enacted in December, 2017 a law (2017/228) “That would prohibit City agencies from partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to enforce federal immigration law, including through 287(g) agreements. Additionally, this bill would prohibit the use of City resources, property, and information obtained on behalf of the City in furtherance of federal immigration enforcement.”

San Francisco passed in 1989 the “City and County of Refuge” Ordinance (also known as the Sanctuary Ordinance). The Sanctuary Ordinance generally prohibits City employees from using City funds or resources to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of Federal immigration law unless such assistance is required by federal or state law. In 2013, San Francisco passed the “Due Process for All” Ordinance. This ordinance limits when City law enforcement officers may give ICE advance notice of a person’s release from local jail. It also prohibits cooperation with ICE detainer requests, sometimes referred to as “ICE holds.”

(Source: here.)

Immigrants in the military

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Since Sept. 11, 2001, over 109,250 members of the Armed Forces have attained their citizenship by serving in the military. Today, about 5,000 legal permanent resident aliens (green card holders) enlist each year, eligible for citizenship after a year in the military.   The recent uproar has been about enrollees in a special program started in 2008 to recruit medical and language specialists.

As reported by National Immigrant Forum: “Earlier this summer the U.S. Army forcibly discharged over one hundred immigrant enlistees. The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI) promised highly-skilled immigrants an expedient path to citizenship in exchange for their service in the army. As of this week, over 30 recruits have been reinstated into the program, signaling an improving situation. However, more information recently came to light about why immigrant recruits were targeted for removal – recruits were reportedly red-flagged as a security risk for a variety of mundane activities, such as placing calls to their parents abroad and playing video games with noncitizens.”

Background:

Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) began in 2008 as a pilot program. 10,000 troops have signed up to serve through MAVNI since 2008. New entrants have been suspended since 2016, leaving about 1,000 persons in still under review.

The program is restricted to healthcare professionals or experts in certain key languages with associated cultural backgrounds. Around 30% of MAVNI recruits were assigned to Special Operations units due to their language abilities, (go here).

MAVNI program applicants must be in a legal immigration status, with a valid temporary visa. The applicant must have been in valid status for at least two years prior to the enlistment date.

For a Defense Dept. fact sheet go here. It says that non-citizens have served in the military since the Revolutionary War. The Lodge Act of 1950 permitted non-citizen Eastern Europeans to enlist between 1950 and 1959. The United States officially began recruiting Filipino nationals into the Navy in the late 1940s.