Alternatives to Detention for Asylum Seekers

The American Immigration Council has released a report outlining the detrimental effects of mandatory detention and suggest alternatives to such. The detention of asylum seekers in a secure facility for an undefined period causes psychological and physical trauma. Detainees often develop feelings of “helplessness and hopelessness that lead to debilitating depressive symptoms, chronic anxiety, despair, dread,” and “PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] and suicidal ideation.”

The report suggests that since 1996 studies “have showed very high rates of compliance with proceedings by asylum seekers who were placed into alternatives to detention (a.k.a. “ATD” or supervised release).”

Further, “alternatives to detention programs not exclusively involving asylum seekers also have shown extremely high rates of compliance. With respect to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP), from fiscal years 2011 to 2013, 95 percent of participants in the “full-service” program appeared at their scheduled removal hearings, far exceeding ICE’s FY 2010 target for appearance rates by 37 percent.”

To read the entire report, click here.

Judge Orders Detained Immigrant Children Released

On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the hundreds of women and children being detained upon crossing the U.S.-Mexico border need to be released by ICE as this detention is in violation of a 1997 settlement preventing the detention of minors in unlicensed facilities.

In the report, Judge Dolly Gee suggested “widespread and deplorable conditions in the holding cells of Border Patrol stations.” In addition, she wrote that federal officials “failed to meet even the minimal standard” of “safe and sanitary” conditions at temporary holding cells.

The Associated Press reports that: “The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California is a victory for the immigrant rights lawyers who brought the case, but its immediate implications for detainees were not yet clear. The ruling upholds a tentative decision Gee made in April, and comes a week after the two sides told her that they failed to reach a new settlement agreement as she’d asked for.”

Further the Times notes:
“The ruling is a major setback for Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who established the family detention facilities after the U.S.-Mexico border saw a significant influx of children and their parents — most from Central America who illegally crossed the Southwest border — last summer.”

Important DACA Work Permit Info

DACA recipients should be advised the three-year work permit recall only applies to SOME individuals who received a card after the February 16, 2015, court order.

If you received a letter or were contacted directly by USCIS regarding the recall of certain three-year work permits, you must IMMEDIATELY return your three-year work permit to your local USCIS office.

If you fail to return your card, USCIS will terminate your DACA and all employment authorizations effective July 31, 2015.

For more information, contact Agarwal Law Offices at 978-905-9992.

Criminal Stereotypes Debunked

According to a Special Report by the American Immigration Council, The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States, the criminal stereotypes associated with immigrants, particularly those undocumented from Latin American countries, are being challenged with new evidence shedding light on crime rates from the 1990s to present.

Some statistics to consider include the following: Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 million to 11.2 million. During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent. Further, the 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma.

This is not to say that immigrants do not commit crimes, and often violent crimes, but this study suggests that public policy should not be dictated by stereotypes associated with undocumented immigrants.

To read the entire report, click here.

DAPA Updates

On July 10, 2015, a 3 judge appeals panel heard arguments by the U.S. government to remove the injunction on the immigration executive action by President Obama. Arguing in favor of the order, Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer claimed: “All that deferred action confers on an alien is the right to remain here,” and that such changes were “temporary and revocable.” Counter-arguments focused on the legal powers of the Obama administration and Texas solicitor general Scott Keller’s arguments that Obama was overreaching his powers with the order.

A decision date by the Fifth Circuit Court on the legality of Obama’s 2014 deferred action programs is uncertain but continue to check back here for updates.

Premium Processing Resumes for H1B Extension Applications

Beginning July 13, 2015, USCIS will resume accepting Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for all Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, H-1B extension of stay petitions. Premium processing requests for Form I-129 H-1B extension of stay petitions received by USCIS before July 13, 2015 will be rejected.

USCIS had previously announced on May 19, 2015, that premium processing service would be suspended for Form I-129 H-1B extension of stay petitions from May 26, 2015 to July 27, 2015. The temporary suspension allowed for USCIS to implement the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule in a timely manner and begin adjudication of applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulation.

DAPA Updates

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear arguments regarding President Obama’s executive action from November 2014 that would grant deferred status to almost five million undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements. After a lawsuit filed by 26 states by Judge Hanen in the Fifth Circuit, the Court placed an injunction on this executive order.

While the panel of judges is known to be more conservative, this is not dissuading the Obama Administration from making their legal arguments in favor of DAPA. White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said: “We are looking forward to a fair hearing from the judges who sit on the panel, and we have confidence in the Department of Justice to represent the interests of the administration.”

We are all eagerly awaiting Friday’s decision and hope that the relief previously promised by the President will become a reality for so many deserving families.

Suspect in SF Murder – Deported 5 Times

An undocumented immigrant, who was deported five times, is the suspect in the murder of a woman he randomly shot while strolling on Pier 14 (one of the busiest tourist piers) in San Francisco. The case has sparked an ongoing debate about border control and security, immigration detainers, and safe-harbor laws such as those in SF. The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had a criminal history including “seven prior felony convictions, four involving narcotics charges,” ICE said in a statement.

After his fifth entry and subsequent deportation, ICE briefly had him in their custody in March after he had served his latest sentence for “felony re-entry.” Sanchez was turned over to San Francisco Sheriff’s Department on an outstanding drug warrant. ICE had requested a detainer, asking that he be returned to ICE after San Francisco completed his case, but ICE was not notified as San Francisco does not honor such requests as officials believe that they violate Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. According to CNN affiliate, KRON, San Francisco’s policy on undocumented immigrants “states that a law enforcement official shall not detain an individual on the basis of a civil immigration detainer after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody.” ICE has suggested that there was no need to detain him, but even a simple notification from the city of San Francisco would have allowed them to apprehend him. Lopez-Sanchez is in San Francisco County Jail and faces a homicide charge. ICE has requested another immigration detainer.

A Happy 4th!

Between July 1-4, 4,000 immigrants will be celebrating Independence day by being sworn in as U.S. citizens. There are 50 naturalization ceremonies being held across the country including George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia, the State Capitol Building in North Carolina, and Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona.

Citizenship candidates will take the Oath of Allegiance where they will swear to support the Constitution, renounce all allegiance to any foreign country, and support and defend the United States against all enemies.

On a day like today, it is important to reflect on the beauty of the United States of America. Not only in physical landscape, but in the ideals of freedom, tolerance, and equality that the country exudes. While we still have a long way to go before achieving ‘a more perfect union’ we constantly strive as a country to be more secure, more prosperous, and more free.

To our land, our America – Happy Independence Day!

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