Thursday, December 26, 2013

Parole in Place: What it is and what it isn’t

The Hill

By:  Margaret Stock

Another day, and yet another story about immigration policy with commentators who ignore the facts, overreact, and fling the dreaded “amnesty” word around without sufficient research.

Let me take the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about the “Parole in Place” available for certain close relatives of U.S. service members and veterans.

Parole in place is not a new program and it is certainly not “amnesty.”  The administration has merely issued a Policy Memorandum that clarifies an existing policy that carries out a law duly enacted by Congress.  This policy, known as “Parole in Place,” is grounded in the statutory parole authority given to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Immigration and Nationality Act.  That law allows the Executive Branch to issue immigration paroles, including paroles in place, and the immigration agencies have been issuing such paroles for decades.  The existing military immigration parole policy—started under the Bush Administration when Michael Chertoff was the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security—allows some undocumented relatives of U.S. military members and veterans to stay in the U.S. lawfully while they pursue green cards.

The new Policy Memorandum merely ensures that this existing law is applied consistently by USCIS employees to U.S. military family members.  Such consistency has been lacking because agency employees previously had no written guidance from headquarters with regard to what family members were subject to the policy.  This lack of guidance resulted in errors, so that, for example, the Nebraska USCIS field office denied parole in place to the wife of a disabled Iraqi war veteran and member of the Nebraska National Guard in the mistaken belief that the National Guard is not part of the Army.  The memo will reduce such errors by agency employees.

The memo also explicitly acknowledges the value of the policy: Our nation’s broken legal immigration system has caused harm to our military.  Military members suffer emotional distress and related stress because they are terrified that their family members might be deported while they are serving our country.

To read the full article, please click:  Parole in Place: What it is and what it isn’t

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deportations Drop as Obama Pushes for New Immigration Law

Bloomberg Businessweek

By Michael C. Bender

The Obama administration has cut back on deporting undocumented immigrants, with forced departures on track to drop more than 10 percent, the first annual decline in more than a decade.

In his first term, President Barack Obama highlighted record deportations to show he was getting tough on immigration enforcement, which Republicans and even some Democrats have demanded as a condition for overhauling existing laws.

The last fiscal year was different. The government deported 343,020 people in the U.S. illegally from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 7, 2013, the most recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement data show. If that pace continued through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, removals would reach a six-year low.

The drop, which comes as Obama faces growing criticism from Hispanics over deportations, is a result of a new policy of focusing limited enforcement resources “on public safety, national security and border security,” ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said. “ICE has been vocal about the shift in our immigration-enforcement strategy,” she said. “Our removal numbers illustrate this.”

Legislation to revamp the U.S. immigration system is stalled because of resistance from Republicans in the House of Representatives. Republican lawmakers opposed to changes backed by both Obama and former President George W. Bush, including offering a path to citizenship to the country’s estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, have demanded tougher enforcement before considering new legislation.

Pushing Back

Yet as deportations climbed to a record 409,900 in fiscal 2012, Obama has faced pushback from the Democratic Party’s Hispanic backers, who helped provide his victory margin in two elections. There have also been protests from immigration activists, most recently at a speech he gave last month in San Francisco.

“He’s going to continue to be confronted,” Representative Luis Gutierrez said of Obama, a fellow Illinois Democrat. “You can’t say you’re going to protect the undocumented and give them a pathway to citizenship, and then deport them in unprecedented numbers.”

Even with the recent decline, about 1.93 million people have been deported during Obama’s five years in office. That approaches Bush’s eight-year total and is almost as many as in the 108 years between the administrations of Presidents Benjamin Harrison, when Department of Homeland Security records begin, and Bill Clinton. 

To read the full article, please click:  Deportations Drop as Obama Pushes for New Immigration Law

Thursday, December 12, 2013

January Visa Bulletin Available

To see the complete U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin for January 2014, please click:  January 2014 Visa Bulletin

Family-Based Immigrant Visa Priority Dates:
Family-Sponsored All Charge -ability Areas Except Those Listed CHINA- mainland born INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
F1 08DEC06 08DEC06 08DEC06 22SEP93 01JUL01
F2B 01JUN06 01JUN06 01JUN06 01APR94 01MAY03
F3 15APR03 15APR03 15APR03 01JUN93 01FEB93
F4 01OCT01 01OCT01 01OCT01 01NOV96 01JUL90

Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Priority Dates:
Employment- Based
All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed
08DEC08 15NOV04
Other Workers
Certain Religious Workers
Regional Centers and Pilot Programs

Advocates Struggle to Reach Immigrants Eligible for Deferred Action

New York Times
By Kirk Semple

The two women had spent a couple of afternoons wandering a heavily Chinese neighborhood in Brooklyn on a seemingly straightforward quest: to find young, undocumented immigrants and enroll them in a federal program that lets them stay in the country for at least two years and work legally.

But after they canvassed bakeries and restaurants, Internet cafes and bubble tea shops, and buttonholed scores of workers and customers, who were mostly suspicious if not downright hostile, the challenge of their mission had begun to weigh on them.
“Chipping away at the ice,” sighed Susan Pan, the legal fellow at Atlas: DIY, an advocacy group for immigrant youths, as she and her colleague, Wendy Tsang, paused to drink a restorative cup of milk tea. “Trust is extremely critical.”
Across the country, immigrant advocates have been confronting similar challenges amid a renewed push to sign up immigrants for the program, known as deferred action.
The effort has acquired a sense of urgency as comprehensive immigration legislation has stalled in Congress, dimming the possibility that lawmakers — at least in the near term — might provide a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
The program, President Obama’s signature immigration initiative, is open to certain immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Recipients of the reprieve are protected from deportation, allowed to work and, in many states, to obtain a driver’s license; they can renew their status after two years.

To read the full article, please click:  Advocates Struggle to Reach Immigrants Eligible for Deferred Action

How Republicans Can Benefit From Immigration Reform

By Lanhee Chen

President Barack Obama’s suggestion that he’d be willing to entertain piecemeal efforts at immigration reform is a devilish trap for Republicans. The best way to avoid it is to agree to a comprehensive set of reforms to fix our broken immigration system.

From a policy perspective, some reform would certainly be superior to the status quo -- basic changes, such as better tailoring guest worker and visa programs to the needs of our economy and improving border security, are sorely needed. But such partial change is a dangerous political trap for Republicans.

In my view, Republicans are therefore left with two alternatives: passing nothing at all, or embracing a complete set of reforms that addresses the legal status of those who came to the U.S. illegally. Between these two, Republicans should embrace comprehensive reform. It’s good policy and good politics.

That entails a significant shift in direction. The Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation last summer, and the bill has subsequently languished in the House, where its prospects are grim at best. Now, with President Obama’s approval ratings in the tank because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s horrific rollout and congressional Democrats desperate for a win going into 2014, there is newfound interest in trying to jumpstart the stalled effort for immigration reform.

To read the full article, please click:  How Republicans Can Benefit From Immigration Reform

Friday, December 6, 2013

Boehner hire signals new hope for migrant reform

USA Today

House Speaker John Boehner's hiring of a former top aide to Sen. John McCain to advise him on immigration issues has renewed hopes that House Republican leaders are planning to move forward on reform legislation next year.

Boehner's hiring of Rebecca Tallent as assistant to the speaker for policy handling immigration issues comes amid intensifying pro-reform activism on Capitol Hill as time runs out on the 2013 legislative calendar.

Tallent, most recently director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., worked for McCain, R-Ariz., for years, including a stint as his chief of staff. Before that, she was an aide to then-Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., who, like McCain, was a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform.

"I'll be focusing on trying to get this sticky immigration situation worked out," Tallent wrote in an e-mail announcing her final day at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

To read the full article, please click:  Boehner hire signals new hope for migrant reform

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For immigrant women, domestic violence creates a double shadow

Washington Post

Deysi Gonzalez’s diary begins with this sentence: “On July 3, 2002, I met the man I thought would be the love of my life.” Instead, she continues in neat Spanish script, the handsome acquaintance who courted her in Guatemala turned into a possessive bully who stalked and beat her. When she tried to go to the police, she writes, he threatened to kill her.

Gonzalez remained with her abuser, bearing two sons and hoping that the man would mellow. Several months ago, after years of torment, she fled to the United States. Now, she faces a terrible dilemma. She is desperate to reunite with her children but terrified of being deported.

“I miss my babies so much, but I can’t go back. I know he will find me and kill me,” Gonzalez, 26, said recently, sobbing as she stared at a cellphone image of two little boys. Around her sat a dozen other Hispanic women who had gathered at La Clinica del Pueblo in the District. All are victims of domestic violence in their home countries or the United States, and most are here illegally.

In the national debate over immigration changes, little attention has been paid to a subset of immigrants who live in a double shadow: thousands of women who depend on abusive spouses for legal and economic protection in the United States, and thousands more who fled violent partners in their homelands and could be in danger if forced to return.

To read the full article, please click: For immigrant women, domestic violence creates a double shadow

Obama Calls for Quick Action on Immigration, and So Does a Heckler

New York Times -  President Obama is often heckled, but it is rare for a guest who is part of a White House-approved backdrop to shout out a protest while the president is in mid-speech.

But that is what happened here on Monday when Mr. Obama called on Congress to pass an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.
“Mr. Obama, my family has been separated for 19 months now!” yelled a young man who stood with others on the riser behind the president at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center.       
Mr. Obama continued to speak, but the man did not let up. “You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country,” he said.
The president turned to address him. “Actually, I don’t,” he said. “And that’s why we’re here.”
As the event’s organizers tried to remove the man, Mr. Obama signaled no. “I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families,” he said. But, he continued, the United States is a nation of laws, and “it is not simply a matter of us just saying we’re going to violate the law.”
In his remarks, Mr. Obama reiterated his support for an immigration overhaul split into multiple pieces of legislation, as House Republicans have proposed.