DACA is In Place… For Now

Late Thursday night, on the fifth anniversary of DACA, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued a memo on immigration policy that keeps the DACA memo in place at this moment.
At the same time, the memo withdrew two other key immigration protections, one that would have expanded DACA and DAPA, which would have protected undocumented parents of citizens and legal permanent residents. Neither of these programs had been implemented because they have been held up in the court system for over a year.
Keeping the original DACA program in place is absolutely critical for 800,000 beneficiaries, their families, and our nation. Administration officials have also said to various news outlets that no permanent decision on DACA has yet been made. We need to keep fighting to keep this program in place and for a clear public signal – but we also can’t let Congress off the hook for the permanent solution our nation desperately deserves and needs.
The 800,000 hardworking young people whose lives have been transformed by this program are going to continue contributing to and improving our country every day, and they deserve a firm commitment from the Administration and Congress that they will continue to be allowed to live and work in America.

What Happens with Cuba now?

CubaIf you were thinking about traveling to Cuba, think twice. Last Friday the President announced changes in the policy issued by Obama. Here are some FAQ that hopefully will help answer your questions.

  1. What is individual people-to-people travel, and how does the President’s announcement impact this travel authorization?

Individual people-to-people travel is educational travel that: (i) does not involve academic study pursuant to a degree program; and (ii) does not take place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. The President instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel.

  1. Will group people-to-people travel still be authorized?

Yes. Group people-to-people travel is educational travel not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program that takes place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact. Travelers utilizing this travel authorization must maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.

  1. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect individual people-to-people travelers who have already begun making their travel arrangements (such as purchasing flights or hotels)?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Provided that the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to the President’s announcement on June 16, 2017, all additional travel-related transactions for that trip would also be authorized, provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC’s regulations as of June 16, 2017.

  1. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect other authorized travelers to Cuba whose travel arrangements may include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Consistent with the Administration’s interest in not negatively impacting Americans for arranging lawful travel to Cuba, any travel-related arrangements that include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted provided that those travel arrangements were initiated prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.

  1. How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect companies subject to U.S. jurisdiction that are already engaged in the Cuban market and that may undertake direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

Consistent with the Administration’s interest in not negatively impacting American businesses for engaging in lawful commercial opportunities, any Cuba-related commercial engagement that includes direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted provided that those commercial engagements were in place prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.

  1. Does the new policy affect how persons subject to U.S jurisdiction may purchase airline tickets for authorized travel to Cuba?

No. The new policy will not change how persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction traveling to Cuba pursuant to the 12 categories of authorized travel may purchase their airline tickets.

  1. How does the new policy impact other authorized travel to Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction?

The new policy will not result in changes to the other (non-individual people-to-people) authorizations for travel.

Ninth Circuit Also Rejects the Travel Ban

Barely three weeks after the Fourth Circuit ruled that President Trump’s travel ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination” and thus violated the First Amendment by discriminating against Muslims, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the travel ban also violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
In upholding a Hawaii federal district court decision that blocked the travel ban nationwide, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Trump violated the INA because he didn’t follow the law’s requirement to provide a sufficient rationale to block the entry of “more than 180 million” people. The Court also found that the travel ban violates the INA’s prohibition on national origin discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas. Taken together, the two decisions emphasize that the president’s authority over immigration is limited by both the Constitution and Congress.
The Ninth Circuit’s decision comes after it heard arguments in an appeal of federal Judge Derrick Watson’s March order preventing the Trump administration from implementing the travel ban and blocking all nationals of six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. A second judge in Maryland also blocked the order. That decision was appealed to the Fourth Circuit, which last month ruled that the travel ban was essentially the same “Muslim Ban” which President Trump had argued for on the campaign trail.
The Trump administration has appealed that other decision to the Supreme Court and asked the Court to issue an emergency stay. Undercutting their claim to urgency, earlier today the government asked the Court for an extra week to respond to the Ninth Circuit.
The Ninth Circuit also held that the travel ban violates the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, which provides that “no person shall… be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s… nationality.” While groups such as the American Immigration Council have brought this claim in lawsuits against the travel ban, the Ninth Circuit’s decision is the first to find that the nondiscrimination provision provides an independent reason that the travel ban is unlawful.
Now that both the Ninth and Fourth Circuits have ruled against it, the Trump administration’s only hope is for the Supreme Court to overturn both courts. Monday’s decision makes this more difficult for the government. By ruling against the travel ban without invoking the Constitution, the Ninth Circuit has given the Supreme Court a roadmap to strike down the travel ban without diving into the question of whether or not the travel ban is a “Muslim Ban.”
On Monday, challengers to the travel ban filed briefs asking the Supreme Court to leave both injunctions in place. Now, the Supreme Court has two weeks to act before it recesses for the summer; if it fails to act before then, the Court would have to wait until it returns in October to take the case.

Immigrants been deported at check-ins

For years, immigrants facing deportation have been allowed to stay in the U.S. when attending regular check-ins with federal deportation agents and stay out of trouble. After a brief meeting, they’re usually told to return later to check in again. Some of these immigrants are now being told their time here is up.

Immigrants who have deportation orders and were allowed to stay in the country under the prior administration have become a target under President Donald Trump’s new immigration policies, with some getting arrested on the spot during check-ins with officers. These arrests have shocked family members and spread fear through immigrant communities.

Or, immigrants have been fitted with ankle-monitoring bracelets. Others have been released like they were during President Barack Obama’s administration in what appears to be a random series of decisions based more on detention space than public safety.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it is tracking nearly 970,000 immigrants with deportation orders. The vast majority — 82 percent — have no criminal record, according to the agency. ICE declined to say how many must regularly report to authorities or are tracked by ankle monitors, and it is unclear how many are being arrested.

Trump boosted immigration arrests by 38 percent in the early days of his administration, but deportations fell from a year ago as activity on the U.S.-Mexico border slowed.

For authorities keen on showing they’re beefing up immigration enforcement, immigrants who already have deportation orders are seen as an easy target. They can be removed from the country more quickly than newly arrested immigrants, whose cases can drag on for years in immigration court proceedings and appeals.

Many immigrants with old deportation orders have lived in the United States for years and — despite having no legal status — set down roots here, which deportation agents were known to weigh to decide who was a priority for removal.

Who Watches Over the Watchmen?

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed The Anti-Border Corruption Reauthorization Act (H.R.2213). The measure is designed to weaken Customs and Border Protection hiring standards by exempting some applicants from polygraph testing before being hired. Unfortunately the bill will not do anything to ensure good hiring practices by the Border Patrol, which has a history of staffing issues related to corruption, excessive use of force, and abuse.

These problems prompt Congress to pass the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010, which required additional hiring measures including mandatory polygraph testing. This bill will now go to the Senate, where the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee passed a similar bill last month.

Important DHS notice

We are sharing the Department of Homeland Security notice that will mean further documentation will be requested:

DHS notice of request for emergency OMB approval and public comment on a new Form DS-5535, Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants, to collect information from visa applicants who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities. Comments are due 5/18/17. If granted, the emergency approval is only valid for 180 days. (82 FR 20956, 5/4/17)

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

[Public Notice: 9984]

Notice of Information Collection Under OMB Emergency Review: Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants

ACTION: Notice of request for emergency OMB approval and public comment.

From the notice:

The Department proposes requesting the following information, if not already included in an application, from a subset of visa applicants worldwide, in order to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities:

  • Travel history during the last fifteen years, including source of funding for travel;
  • Address history during the last fifteen years;
  • Employment history during the last fifteen years;
  • All passport numbers and country of issuance held by the applicant;
  • Names and dates of birth for all siblings;
  • Name and dates of birth for all children;
  • Names and dates of birth for all current and former spouses, or civil or domestic partners;
  • Social media platforms and identifiers, also known as handles, used during the last five years; and
  • Phone numbers and email addresses used during the last five years.

Most of this information is already collected on visa applications but for a shorter time period, e.g. five years rather than fifteen years. Requests for names and dates of birth of siblings and, for some applicants, children are new. The request for social media identifiers and associated platforms is new for the Department of State, although it is already collected on a voluntary basis by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for certain individuals. Regarding travel history, applicants may be requested to provide details of their international or domestic (within their country of nationality) travel, if it appears to the consular officer that the applicant has been in an area while the area was under the operational control of a terrorist organization as defined in section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)(vi). Applicants may be asked to recount or explain the details of their travel, and when possible, provide supporting documentation.

Take a look at P.C.’s Story in our Monthly Newsletter

This month we want to introduce you to P.C., one of our clients from Brazil. He initially came to the U.S. with a training visa to improve his knowledge and skills in the highly specialized aluminum manufacturing field.

After some time working with an aluminum manufacturing company, both he and the company realized they wanted to continue the relationship as he was the perfect fit for an opening they had after the training was completed. After consideration and long conversations with his family, he decided to accept the position and move here with his family permanently.  They reached out to us to help with a way to make it happen.

The first option we offered was to apply for an H-1B visa to get a temporary work visa in the short term, so last year we helped the company to apply on P.C.’s behalf for him and his family. However, the H-1B did not work out because the government only grants a limited number of H-1B visas per year, and P.C.’s as petition was not selected in the H-1B lottery. We then had another meeting and offered to apply for an immigrant visa for him and proceeded with it with the company’s approval. The company is a manufacturing company located in a rural area in a very specialized industry and it is very difficult for them to find the right people with the skillset they need to fulfill their complex manufacturing needs.

We are happy to share that his green card has just been approved and both P.C. and the company are very pleased that he is here to stay for the long term.

Memorial Day- Also remember your Foreign-Born Heroes

This Memorial Day, Americans honored U.S. service members who died while serving their country. Enlisting in the military and risking one’s life is a powerful demonstration of courage and loyalty to one’s nation. For many, this decision is also one to serve their adopted country.

Immigrants have a long history in the U.S. military, dating back to the Civil War. An estimated 43 percent of Union soldiers were immigrants or the sons of immigrants.

Their contributions continue to this day. In 2016, for example:

An estimated 511,000 veterans living in the United States were foreign born.

The majority, (85 percent) of immigrant veterans became naturalized citizens.

2 million veterans come from an immigrant background—roughly 11 percent of all U.S. veterans.

Immigrants also make up an estimated 5 percent of today’s active-duty force. The Department of Defense has stated that around 18,000 noncitizens serve in the military at any given time, with 5,000 legal permanent residents (green card holders) enlisting annually.

Despite this and the foreign born’s ongoing dedication to American ideals, many immigrants who have risked their lives for their adopted country face serious immigration challenges.

For some immigrant veterans, the benefits—including citizenship—they believed they were also signing up for have yet to materialize. Beginning 2001, an expedited process for citizenship was established for eligible noncitizen military personnel in recognition of the risks that service members take on. Since then, nearly 110,000 service members have naturalized.

While the current administration has confirmed that the expedited path to citizenship for immigrants in the military is still in effect, veterans have come forward with their stories of the immigration battles they now face, after fighting for their adopted homeland.

While the government does not track deportations of veterans, a 2016 report by the American Civil Liberties Union counted at least 250 deportations of U.S. veterans since 1996, though other veteran support organizations estimate the real number is in the thousands.

Immigrants are vital to this country, and those who have served the United States in the armed forces deserve respect, due process, and support when they return home.

About Last Week…

May 2017 Collage

Last week the WIL team was busier than usual.

Besides looking after and taking care of our clients, we attended a corporate relocation-focused conference where we met some very interesting corporations that work with ex-pats and immigrants and learned a lot about global mobility future trends. We also had some team building while making chocolate deliciousness.