Starting Thursday, Mexico's 50 consulates in the U.S. will be able to issue birth certificates to Mexican citizens. The move will make it easier for Mexican immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, passports, work permits and protection from deportation under President Obama's upcoming executive action.
"It helps individuals really begin to formulate their formal identity in this country," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. Prior to this change some immigrants in the U.S. relied on relatives in Mexico to get their birth certificates, which was a longer and more difficult process.
About half of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico, and experts believe about 3 million could be eligible for executive action under Obama's plan.
Mexican consulates will be able to access data from regional governments. Some rural villages where documents are not digitally recorded may not be covered, but consulates should be able to issue birth certificates for nearly all birthplaces.
Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies which advocates for tighter limits on immigration, said it is important that the U.S. communicate with Mexico to ensure the system is established effectively and with integrity.
WASHINGTON - Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has redesignated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and extended the existing TPS designation for the country from April 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016. This allows eligible nationals of Syria (or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) to register or re-register for TPS in accordance with thenotice published today in the Federal Register.
During the past year, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State reviewed the conditions in Syria. Based upon this review, Secretary Johnson determined that a redesignation and 18-month extension of TPS for Syria is warranted due to an ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Syria that prevent its nationals from returning in safety.
Individuals re-registering for TPS:
Current Syrian TPS beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS status must re-register during a 60-day period that runs from Jan. 5, 2015, through March 6, 2015. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day period begins. USCIS will not accept applications before Jan. 5, 2015.
The 18-month extension allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligible Syria TPS beneficiaries who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of Sept. 30, 2016. USCIS recognizes that some re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current EADs expire. Therefore, USCIS is automatically extending current TPS Syria EADs with a March 31, 2015, expiration date for an additional six months. These existing EADs are now valid through Sept. 30, 2015.
To re-register, individuals must submit:
Individuals applying for TPS for the first time:
For Syrian nationals (and persons having no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) who do not currently have TPS, the TPS redesignation may allow them to apply for TPS if they have continuously resided in the United States since Jan. 5, 2015, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since April 1, 2015. In addition, applicants must meet all other TPS eligibility and filing requirements.
To apply for the first time, individuals must submit:
Individuals who still have a pending initial TPS application under Syria do not need to submit a new Form I-821. However, if such individuals currently have a TPS-related EAD and want a new EAD, they must submit:
DHS anticipates that approximately 5,000 individuals will be eligible to re-register for TPS under the existing designation of Syria and estimates that approximately 5,000 additional individuals may be eligible for TPS under the redesignation.
Applicants may request that USCIS waive any fees based on inability to pay by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by submitting a written request. Fee-waiver requests must be accompanied by supporting documentation. USCIS will reject the TPS application of any applicant who fails to submit the required filing fees or a properly documented fee-waiver request.
Additional information about TPS for Syria—including guidance on eligibility, the application process and where to file—is available online at www.uscis.gov/tps. The Federal Register notice published today contains further details about this extension and redesignation of Syria for TPS, including application requirements and procedures, and the automatic six-month extension of current TPS Syria EADs.
All USCIS forms are free. Applicants can download these forms from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/forms or request forms by calling USCIS toll-free at 1-800-870-3676.
Applicants seeking information about the status of their individual cases can check My Case Status Online or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833).
Attorney Randall Drew talks about new immigration action by President Obama in this month's NH Bar News
Bar News - December 17, 2014
Opinion: A NH Immigration Lawyer’s Perspective on Executive Action
By: Randall Drew
Perhaps you have heard that President Barack Obama recently declared himself King and tore up the Constitution to thwart the rule of law regarding immigration. Well, that’s not exactly true. The president did give a speech and published two presidential memoranda on immigration. Those two memos, however, were both rather vague and announced some pretty uncontroversial ideas, such as “…streamline and improve the legal immigration system…” and “...modernize the information technology infrastructure underlying the visa processing system…”
The controversial policy changes have been left to the cabinet members of the relevant agencies; particularly Homeland Security and Labor. There are several changes coming to the inner workings of the immigration system – things that should improve the efficiency and customer service aspects of the bureaucracy quite a lot. But nobody cares about that, unless they are trying to hire an immigrant worker, petition for a family member, or work on immigration cases, as I do.
The really big news about the executive action is the shift of enforcement resources away from “wide net” interior sweep toward a targeted approach against dangerous criminals and recent arrivals, and concentrating on the Southwestern border. As part of this kinder/gentler approach, the secretary of Homeland Security (at the president’s direction) has expanded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and created an additional class of persons eligible for deferred action: parents of US citizen or lawful permanent resident children. This new program is called the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
Is this executive amnesty? Not really. Amnesty implies forgiveness of a violation of immigration law (e.g. illegal entry or visa overstay) and a path to permanent status or citizenship. DACA and DAPA provide only a temporary formal deferral of a person’s removal from the United States. It does not end the threat that eventually, even a DACA or DAPA beneficiary will face deportation. What DACA and DAPA have done and will do is allow some people who have been living here without documents to come out of the shadows; get temporary permission to work, obtain a legitimate social security number, file a proper tax return, and get a legal driver’s license. It allows people to stop breaking the law out of necessity.
If you are in the self-deportation camp (the philosophy that we should make living here such an awful and treacherous experience that undocumented people will voluntarily choose to leave) you are not going to like these measures. I really can’t help with that. I would only point out that we are talking about persons who entered the United States when they were children and/or are parents of US citizen children and who have resided in the country since 2009. I personally am not interested in discovering how spiteful, horrid, petty and mean we can be to these folks – but maybe that’s just me.
Sure, I am biased; this will be good for my business. In truth, I also am hoping that these program changes will last long enough to see a comprehensive immigration reform act pass through Congress. But, biased or not, I also have likely met more immigrants (legal or otherwise) than many Bar News readers, in my close to 20 years as an immigration lawyer. That is how I know that many of them will flourish when given this chance.
Having even a temporary status can allow them to seek a better job for higher wages, pursue higher education (although without financial assistance), and have some stability to make financial decisions like renting a better apartment, registering a car, opening a bank account – things many of us take for granted. These are all positives for the previously undocumented and for the state’s economy and public safety in general.
I commented here back in May on a change to NH law for 2015 that will increase the penalty for first offense driving without a license from a violation to a misdemeanor, if the driver had never had a valid license. I suspect this change will mostly impact undocumented immigrants who are not eligible to receive a New Hampshire driver’s license. Yet they still have to get kids to school, bring home groceries from the store, and get to work and back – usually on a non-Uber-ready budget. For some, but by no means all, DACA and DAPA will change that, so they can stop looking over their shoulders and get on with living their lives.
Click to see the Story on NH Immigration Lawyer Blog
Beginning in December 2014, a parent lawfully present (that includes TPS) in the United States will be able to file Department of State form DS-7699 requesting a refugee resettlement interview for unmarried children under 21 in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Under certain circumstances, if the second parent resides with the child in the home country and is currently married to the lawfully present parent in the United States, the second parent may be added to the child’s petition and considered for refugee status, and if denied refugee status, for parole. Form DS-7699 must be filed with the assistance of a designated resettlement agency that works with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to help resettle refugees in the United States. The form will not be available on the Department of State website to the general public and cannot be completed without the assistance of a Department of State-funded resettlement agency. These resettlement agencies are located in more than 180 communities throughout the United States. When the program is launched, the Department of State will provide information on how to contact one of these agencies to initiate an application.
The real changes take shape in a series of companion memoranda issued by the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor detailing how the executive action is to be carried out.
Some of the changes represent a sharp break from past practices and might be litigated, overridden by Congress, or revoked by the next administration. Some of these changes, however, probably should have been made a long time ago and will likely remain in place for years to come.
Perhaps the biggest and most controversial parts of the plan involve changes to enforcement policies toward undocumented immigrants. The executive action provides three key changes in that sphere:
• The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is being expanded. The program will defer the removal of and allow employment authorization (for three years) for persons who entered the United States prior to their 16th birthday. The cutoff date for arrival in the United States has been moved from 2007 to Jan. 1, 2010, and the upper age limit (31) for applicants has been removed. The changes are supposed to take effect within 90 days.
• A new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program will also grant deferral of removal and employment authorization to parents of U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children born on or before Nov. 20, 2014. The parent must prove continuous residence in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2010, to qualify, and cannot qualify if he or she is considered to be in a specific “enforcement priority group.” This aspect should take effect in 180 days.
• The Department of Homeland Security has been instructed to adjust its enforcement priorities away from interior enforcement against persons with no criminal record or minor criminal records and to devote more resources to border enforcement and interior enforcement against violent criminals, gang activity, terrorists or other national security threats. The administration is calling this a “felons not families” policy.
The effects of these changes on New Hampshire will likely be modest, given its relatively low foreign-born population. Still, for people who have been living in the shadows for many years, the opportunity to have employment authorization and a driver’s license can mean increased job mobility, better utilization of their skills, higher wages, and increased consumer spending.
New Hampshire recently made driving without a license a class B Misdemeanor (effective Jan. 1, 2015) so this is timely for many persons who previously were not legally able to obtain a driver’s license.
Another set of reforms are aimed directly at improving business immigration.
Only Congress can increase the number of employment visas available in a given year. However, a few adjustments have been made through executive action to make it easier to attract and retain well educated and high skilled workers:
• In the past, dependents of H-1B skilled workers (H-4 visas) have not been authorized to work. That will be changed in January 2015. That should have a positive economic impact right away.
• The waiting times for employment-based green cards are very long (often many years), so people sometimes run into problems while waiting. They may run out of time on their temporary visas, others may get a promotion or have to take a new job (if a company closes or changes hands), and this has sometimes been grounds for denying their green card application. Potential fixes for these issues are being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, although no timeline has been announced for implementation.
• Other areas of improvement in the business immigration arena include broadening and extending the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs for students, especially in a STEM program; making user-friendly improvements to the
Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) labor certification program, which underlies the employment-based permanent resident process; and liberalizing the immigration rules for highly capitalized immigrant investors and for persons with exceptional abilities and advanced degrees.
Additional initiatives in various areas that needed attention were also included, such as: creating an interagency workgroup on worksite immigration enforcement; reorganizing the joint agency operations on the southern border and reviewing the personnel composition and compensation at Immigration and Customs Enforcement; making naturalization (U.S. citizenship) more affordable; and easing the path for immigrant families of military enlistees.
All of these announced measures are temporary in nature and can only soften the edges of our broken immigration system rather than repair it. There are still many additional reforms needed to make the immigration system work efficiently, humanely and to the highest benefit of the United States. Comprehensive reform will have to wait for a legislative fix from Congress.
Randall A. Drew, principal of Drew Office, Bedford, has been practicing immigration law in New Hampshire since 1998. He can be reached at 603-644-3739 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama will do the same thing, but three of the broadcasters, ABC, NBC, and CBS have signaled that they won't be carrying it.
From the New York Times
WASHINGTON — President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.
Asserting his authority as president to enforce the nation’s laws with discretion, Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.
That part of Mr. Obama’s plan alone could affect as many as 3.3 million people who have been living in the United States illegally for at least five years, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration research organization in Washington. But the White House is also considering a stricter policy that would limit the benefits to people who have lived in the country for at least 10 years, or about 2.5 million people.
To read the rest of the story click the link below...
NY TImes Article
MAVNI stands for Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest. The program allows persons who have medical or language skills needed by the US Military to enlist even if they are not US citizens. People who have TPS, or Asylum/Refugee status can apply as well as persons in many types of valid non-immigrant status. Now persons who have been granted DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) can also qualify for the program. Keep in mind, Spanish is NOT one of the languages that is needed for the MAVNI program. Persons who serve in the US military can later become US citizens on a special accelerated schedule. To see the details click here:
WASHINGTON—Starting in early 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin implementation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program to expedite family reunification for certain eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and to promote safe, legal and orderly migration from Haiti to the United States.
Under this program U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will offer certain eligible Haitian beneficiaries of already approved family-based immigrant visa petitions, who are currently in Haiti, an opportunity to come to the United States up to approximately two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current.
“The rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti is a priority for the United States. The Haitian Family Reunification Parole program promotes a fundamental underlying goal of our immigration system – family reunification. It also supports broader U.S. goals for Haiti’s reconstruction and development by providing the opportunity for certain eligible Haitians to safely and legally immigrate sooner to the United States,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “The United States strongly discourages individuals in Haiti from undertaking life-threatening and illegal maritime journeys to the United States. Such individuals will not qualify for the HFRP program and if located at sea may be returned to Haiti.”
Legal authority for the HFRP program is provided under the Immigration and Nationality Act which authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to parole into the United States certain individuals, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. This is the same legal authority used to establish the Cuban Family Reunification Parole program in 2007.
USCIS is not currently accepting HFRP program applications, and potential beneficiaries should not take any action at this time. USCIS will provide full program details before the end of this calendar year and stakeholder engagements will take place shortly thereafter. In early 2015, the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) will begin contacting certain U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents with approved petitions for Haitian family members, offer them the opportunity to apply to the program, and provide instructions on how to apply. Only individuals who receive a written notice of program eligibility from NVC will be eligible to apply.
Under the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program, Haitians authorized parole will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for work permits but will not receive permanent resident status any earlier.