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Archive for May, 2011

ACLU and NILC File Lawsuit Challenging Indiana’s State Anti-Immigrant Law

May 30th, 2011 No comments
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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the law firm of Lewis & Kappes, P.C. filed a class action lawsuit recently challenging an Indiana law inspired by Arizona’s infamous SB 1070. According to the legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, “Indiana has created a law that not only tramples on the constitutional rights of Hoosiers, but also improperly involves Indiana in areas that are clearly of federal, not state, concerns.”

Some state lawmakers oppose the extreme law, saying it will increase law enforcement costs and deter both employers and employees from coming to the state. Additionally, Indiana University also is concerned that the law will discourage enrollment and academic participation, since the institution hosts thousands of foreign national students, faculty members and visitors every school year.

Since immigration bills inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070 have been introduced across the country, Indiana is now the third state to pass the controversial legislation this year, becoming one of four states to enact rigorous state-based immigration laws, along with Arizona, Utah and Georgia.

Unfortunately, this provision, like the rest of the law, is misguided and without a doubt, have unintended social and economic consequences.

Freedom of Information Act Request Results in Evidence to Help Huntington Beach Immigration Client Avoid Deportation

May 28th, 2011 No comments
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After numerous Freedom of Information Act Requests to US Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the State Department and US Customs and Border Patrol, we finally received the evidence we needed to prove that one of our clients legally entered the United States over 35 years ago.

Our client entered the United States in the early 1980s using a legal US visitor’s visa. He was a teenager at the time, and he was traveling with a Church group from Western Samoa. He overstayed the authorized stay and has been living in the United States ever since that time. At some point he lost his passport, visa and I-94 and all proof that he entered the US legally. About 20 years ago, he married his wife, who is a US citizen, and the couple had 5 children.

Using another law firm, his wife petitioned for him to get lawful permanent resident status through the adjustment of status process. The other law firm filed for a replacement I-94 along with the adjustment of status application. The I-94 card is issued to non-US citizens when they legally enter the United States. It is the Arrival-Departure Record for foreigners used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). USCIS could not locate the I-94, and they denied his adjustment of status. His case was sent to Immigration Court in Los Angeles for deportation proceedings.

The couple hired The Nunez Firm to see if we could help him avoid deportation. We filed FOIA requests with multiple government agencies trying to find any evidence that he entered legally and was, therefore, eligible to adjust status to lawful permanent resident status. We received notices from the Department of State, USCIS, USDHS and Congressmen’s office stating they could not find any records. Finally, we received a response from Customs and Border Protection with the missing I-94.

The couple is extremely happy. We can now prove to the immigration judge in Los Angeles that the husband entered legally and can adjust his status to permanent resident through his marriage to his wife. This couple will be able to live their lives in Huntington Beach without fear of deportation.

If you are considering the adjustment of status process or need representation in immigration court, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a free consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you during a confidential free consultation to discuss the options available to you.

State Legislatures Continue to Aggressively Pursue State Laws Regarding Immigration

May 25th, 2011 No comments
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State legislatures continue to involve themselves with immigration issues at an unprecedented rate. In the first quarter of 2011, state legislators in the fifty states and Puerto Rico introduced 1,538 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees. This number surpasses the first quarter of 2010, when 1,180 bills were introduced.

As in past years, employment, identification/driver’s licenses and law enforcement remain top areas of interest for immigrant-related bill introductions. With passage of federal health care reform, however, health also emerged as a top contender. This quarter, the number of health-related bills was more than double those introduced during the same quarter last year. Following last year’s example of Arizona’s SB 1070, omnibus bill introductions also increased in 2011.

As of March 31, 2011, 26 states enacted 63 laws and adopted 78 resolutions, totaling 141 measures. As of March 31, one additional bill was vetoed in New Jersey. Among enacted laws, the top areas of interest were health, identification/driver’s licenses, law enforcement and resolutions. During the first quarter of 2010, 34 states had enacted 71 laws and adopted 87 resolutions, for a total of 156. An additional 37 bills were awaiting governors’ signatures.

United States Border Patrol Apprehensions Decline Over the Last Decade

May 24th, 2011 No comments
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The U.S. Border Patrol released statistics regarding border patrol apprehensions over the last decade.

The Tucson, Arizona sector consistently led the nation for illegal alien apprehensions. San Diego, California was the second highest sector.

Undocumented alien arrests peaked in fiscal year 2000 and consistently declined over the decade. There was a rise in apprehensions in fiscal year 2004-2006.

In 2010, the number of border apprehensions was at its lowest in the last ten years.

Not surprisingly, the southwest border accounted for nearly 97% of all apprehensions, while the northern border and coastal borders accounted for the remaining 3 %

Green Card Approved for Wife of US Citizen in Newport Beach

May 22nd, 2011 No comments
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Adjustment of status was approved for the wife of a US citizen and former Marine. The couple married 14 months ago after dating for 9 months. She is originally from Brazil, and he was born in the United States. He fought in Afghanistan, and he currently is attending school with the goal of getting his Bachelor’s degree in psychology.

She originally entered the United States on a student visa, but she overstayed her authorized time in the U.S. The couple approached me in late 2009 because they were considering marriage, but they were not sure about the immigration process. After explaining to them how the process worked, they were comfortable with proceeding, and they decided to get married. After they married, it took them a little while to gather all the necessary documents and save the money to pay the processing fees, but we filed the paperwork and evidence with USCIS in late 2010. We just received the approval after attending the interview in Santa Ana.

The adjustment of status process is the final step for aliens living in the United States and seeking to obtain a green card and permanent residency. After the I-130 visa petition is filed and approved, the adjustment applicant can file the I-485 with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will interview the applicant and the US citizen spouse to be certain that the marriage is valid and entered into in good faith. We generally provide substantial evidence to prove that the marriage is bona fide.

The couple was very happy with the outcome, and they look forward to leaving together and maybe starting a family in Newport Beach. If you are considering the adjustment of status process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a free consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you during a confidential consultation and help you better understand the options available to you.

H-1B Approved for Health Care Analyst for Specialty Occupation with Law Firm

May 17th, 2011 No comments
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We just received an approval for an H-1B petition filed by a law firm client of ours. The applicant finished her Master’s Degree in Public Health and began working at the law firm during an approved Optional Practical Training period. The employer was happy with her performance and chose to petition for her to receive an H-1B nonimmigrant employment visa.

Although her OPT ends in June 2011, she is eligible for a cap-gap extension, which will allow her to continue to work for her employer until her H-1B status becomes in September 2011.

We provided evidence to show that the employee beneficiary was eligible for the H-1B including her education records, transcripts and diplomas.

We also provided documentation proving that the employer was eligible as a petitioner. The law firm is a large firm with offices all over the United States. We provided evidence explaining the position with the employer as well.

Because the employer was eager to have a decision as soon as possible, we filed using premium processing. We received a decision within approximately ten days.

The employer and employee are very excited about the good news and look forward to working with each other for at least the next three years.

If you are considering the H-1B process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a free consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will discuss your employment scenario with you and the options available.

L-1 Visa Approved for Manager to Transfer to Company’s Location in Irvine

May 13th, 2011 No comments
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We just received excellent news that the L-1A visa petition was approved by USCIS for a corporate client of ours. The manager has worked for the overseas parent company in Germany for the last 12 years. He received a promotion recently, and the company wanted him to transfer and work in their Irvine, California office for the next 1-2 years.

We provided substantial evidence to USCIS to prove that the petitioning company and the manager beneficiary met all the necessary requirements for the L-1 intra-company transfer. We showed that the German parent company and the Irvine subsidiary office were related corporate entities. We proved that the manager employee met all the education and employment requirements for the L-1 visa, and we provided evidence and explanation on why his transfer to the United States is necessary. We showed how he fit into the corporate hierarchy in Germany and how his new position in Irvine would fit into the organization’s structure overall and in the Irvine subsidiary.

We filed the case under premium processing (which cost $1225 extra), and we received a decision within a week and a half. There was no request for evidence, which saved us time as well. The client and the employee were very happy with the outcome, and the employee/manager and his family look forward to traveling to the United States later this month.

If your company is considering an L-1 intra-company transfer to the United States, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a free consultation. Managing Attorney Jay Nunez can answer all your questions regarding the process and advise you of the various options and feasibility for success.

President Obama Plans to Unveil Immigration Reform Blueprint in El Paso, Texas

May 11th, 2011 No comments
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President Obama plans to unveil a “blueprint” on Tuesday regarding what he wants Congress to include in a comprehensive immigration reform bill, according to senior administration officials.

Obama is scheduled to visit El Paso, Texas, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as part of the White House’s increased efforts to return immigration reform to the national spotlight.

A senior administration official told reporters in a conference call Monday evening that Obama’s renewed push for an immigration bill was not merely a political move attempting to paint Congress as the inhibitor and the White House as the doer in the eyes of Latino voters ahead of the 2012 elections.

“While it may be true that there are significant obstacles in Congress, we believe the American people expect the policymakers to do their job,” said an official. “So we do not accept the argument that because there are some in Congress who are unwilling to act that we ought to just wash our hands of trying to get this done.”

Attorney General Eric Holder Vacates Board of Immigration Appeals Decision Regarding Same Sex Marriage

May 10th, 2011 No comments
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Attorney General Eric Holder today filed a very rare decision, vacating a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman, in which the BIA applied Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to his pending case.

Holder writes:

Pursuant to my authority set forth in 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(h)(1)(i), I order that the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) in this case applying Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, be vacated, and that this matter be referred to me for review.

Saying the attorney general “has taken [an] extraordinary step” with the decision, attorney Eric Berndt — the supervising attorney for the National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities at the National Immigrant Justice Center — tells Metro Weekly, “It adds some heft to our requests for prosecutorial discretion in individual cases in which the foreign partner” of a same-sex bi-national couple is seeking a green card because of his or her citizen same-sex partner.

Attorney Lavi Soloway, a co-founder of Immigration Equality, has been one of the leading attorney-advocates on the issue of asking the government — the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and White House — to exercise that discretion. Soloway tells Metro Weekly in an email, “This development could be a sign that the Obama administration is looking for a way to protect gay and lesbian bi-national couples who are currently barred from the regular marriage-based immigration process by the Defense of Marriage Act.

Immigration Equality’s communications director, Steve Ralls, writes, “This seems to be a step in the right direction. I have little doubt that the recent, significant Congressional pressure on DOJ, led by Senator Kerry and Congresswoman Lofgren, played a key role in Holder’s decision.”

Of his current work at Stop the Deportations, Soloway says, “This is precisely why we must continue to advocate for the executive branch to implement administrative remedies to keep couples from being torn apart, remedies which include instituting a moratorium on deportations.”

In Holder’s decision, he goes on to state four questions that he directs the BIA to consider:

In the exercise of my review authority under that regulation, and upon consideration of the record in this case, I direct that the order of the Board be vacated and that this matter be remanded to the Board to make such findings as may be necessary to determine whether and how the constitutionality of DOMA is presented in this case, including, but not limited to: 1) whether respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union qualifies him to be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law; 2) whether, absent the requirements of DOMA, respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union would qualify him to be considered a “spouse” under the Immigration and Nationality Act; 3) what, if any, impact the timing of respondent’s civil union should have on his request for that discretionary relief; and 4) whether, if he had a “qualifying relative,” the respondent would be able to satisfy the exceptional and unusual hardship requirement for cancellation of removal.

Unlike in other cases in which Soloway has pressed this issue, this case appears to involve a couple who have a civil union in New Jersey — and not a marriage license in one of the jurisdictions that permits same-sex marriages.

It will be interesting to see what the Board of Immigration Appeals says about questions 2 posed by Attorney General Holder. Historically, U.S. immigration laws have not recognized same sex marriages or partnerships as being eligible for marriage-based immigration benefits.

To follow current immigration events and policy regarding same sex marriage, follow The Nunez Firm blog and website.

Is Attorney General Eric Holder Ready to Change Immigration Policy on Same Sex Marriage

May 9th, 2011 No comments
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Attorney Lavi Soloway tells Metro Weekly that Henry Velandia’s deportation proceedings have been adjourned, in part, because of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to vacate the Board of Immigration Appeals decision in another immigration case involving a same-sex couple on Thursday. Moreover, Soloway says, “The government attorney agreed to adjourn the immigration case.”

Velandia, who is from Venezuela, is married to Josh Vandiver of Colorado. The couple was married in Connecticut and live in New Jersey, and Vandiver has filed a petition seeking a marriage-based green card for Velandia, an I-130visa  petition based on the gay couple’s marriage.

Speaking with Soloway, their attorney in this matter, after the hearing, he tells Metro Weekly the immigration judge adjourned the deportation proceedings, which will place the matter back on the “master calendar,” which is more of a status conference and, more importantly for Velandia and Vandiver, removes the “immediate threat” of deportation or removal from the United States.

“The [immigration] judge said at the outset that he wanted to deal with the question of whether the case should be adjourned before we discussed anything else,” he says. “Despite the fact that he had earlier twice denied our motions for continuance. At this time, he essentially reversed himself.”

Of the reasons, Soloway says, “The first reason that he granted an adjournment was that the I-130 petition filed by Josh for Henry was still pending and he felt that it was appropriate to let the U.S. CIS to adjudicate that petition, and that it would be inappropriate to move forward until that happened.”

The second reason the judge cited, Soloway says, was Holder’s May 5 decision to vacate a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman, in which the BIA had applied Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to his pending case.

“He also cited the potential that he saw from the Matter of Dorman decision yesterday, which he reviewed it in court and discussed it,” Soloways says. “He cited the potential that the government might be looking at a different way of approaching the definition of marriage for immigration purposes, and so, it was appropriate to adjourn in light of that decision to vacate.”

This might suggest that US immigration policy pertaining to same sex marriage might be finally evolving after years of hard-line anti-gay immigration policies. Keep updated with same sex immigration news by following The Nunez Firm website and blog.

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