Bipartisan Group of Senators Offer Immigration Reform Proposal

January 29th, 2013 No comments
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A bipartisan group of senators has agreed on a set of principles for a sweeping overhaul of the immigration system, including a pathway to American citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants that would hinge on progress in securing the borders and ensuring that foreigners leave the country when their visas expire.

The senators were able to reach a deal by incorporating the Democrats’ insistence on a single comprehensive bill that would not deny eventual citizenship to illegal immigrants, with Republican demands that strong border and interior enforcement had to be clearly in place before Congress could consider legal status for illegal immigrants.

Their blueprint, unveiled on Monday, will allow them to stake out their position one day before President Obama outlines his immigration proposals in a speech on Tuesday in Las Vegas, in the opening moves of what lawmakers expect will be a protracted and contentious debate in Congress this year.

Lawmakers said they were optimistic that the political mood had changed since a similar effort collapsed in acrimony in 2010. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and one of the negotiators, said he saw “a new appreciation” among Republicans of the need for an overhaul.

“Look at the last election,” Mr. McCain said Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours.” The senator also said he had seen “significant improvements” in border enforcement, although “we’ve still got a ways to go.”

He added, “We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status.”

President Obama has already changed some rules that will help families in which one spouse is in the United States illegally. Those plans will go into effect on March 4th, 2013.

Same Sex Couples To Be Included in Obama Immigration Reform Proposal

January 29th, 2013 No comments
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WASHINGTON — Same-sex couples will be a part of the immigration reform proposed by President Obama today.

A Democratic source said: “Same-sex couples will be part of his proposal.” A second source confirmed that, unlike the Senate framework released Monday, same-sex bi-national couples — those with one American and one foreign partner — will be included in the White House principles. (For more information on same sex marriage visa petitions, click here.)

The decision by Obama seeks to remedy what same-sex advocates view as one of the most searing inequalities under the existing federal limit on marriage to one man and one woman: LGBT American citizens simply have no way to confer citizenship on their romantic partners, something that is automatic — if not always simple — for straight couples.

Under current law same-sex couples, even those married under state law, are not eligible for adjustment of status to green cards. Foreign partners of same-sex couples have in the past found their green card applications denied — often forcing couples to separate or move abroad.

Although Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have taken steps to examine the issue and, in some cases, prevent deportation of the foreign same-sex partners of Americans, the Defense of Marriage Act continues to prevent the granting of green cards for such individuals.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment about the issue Monday night.

When the Senate framework was unveiled Monday, same-sex couples were not included. BuzzFeed has learned that three of the Democratic senators involved in the bipartisan framework reached out to LGBT advocates on Sunday to let them know in advance that same-sex couples’ immigration issues would not be addressed in the Senate framework.

An LGBT advocate on the call said that the call, which was led by Sen. Chuck Schumer and included Sens. Richard Durbin and Bob Menendez, included the news from Schumer that same-sex couples would not be addressed in the Senate framework to be unveiled Monday in order to maintain its bipartisan support.

The advocate also said that Schumer told the advocates that although there would be attempts to include same-sex couples at a later point in the process — up to and including during committee amendments — there were no guarantees that same-sex couples would be included the legislation.

 

U Visas Approved for Entire Family Based on Victimhood of Minor Daughter in Orange County

January 28th, 2013 No comments
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We recently received an approval for U visas for three of our clients. We filed the U visa packets with the Vermont Service Center almost two years ago. The case was based on the minor daughter being the victim of a qualified crime. Part of the delay was due to USCIS losing our clients’ birth certificate proving she was the daughter of her parents. Ultimately, we had the parents do a DNA test to prove parentage.

If an alien is the victim of a particular crime (not all crimes qualify), and the alien helps to investigate and prosecute the offender, the alien may be eligible for a U visa, which will enable the alien to work legally in the US and adjust status to permanent resident in the future.

It is necessary to have a qualified law enforcement official state that the alien was cooperative with the investigation and prosecution. In this case, the District Attorney’s office signed off on the U visa forms.

The clients were very happy to receive the news after such a long wait. If you are considering the U visa process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will meet with you to help you better understand the options available to you.

Senator Marco Rubio Intends to Propose Immigration Reform

January 18th, 2013 No comments
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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is laying out elements of his proposal to reform the immigration system, which he pitches as much-needed modernization for the outdated system.

Rubio, who was elected in 2010 to his first U.S. Senate term, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Saturday that his plan would include a permanent residency provision and a route to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, but he stressed that the plan was “not blanket amnesty or a special pathway to citizenship.”

The crux of his plan is to meet the country’s economic needs, including expanding the skilled workforce and supporting agriculture, which has relied on undocumented immigrants.

“I don’t think that in the 21st century we can continue to have an immigration system where only 6.5% of people who come here, come here based on labor and skill,” he said in the interview. “We have to move toward merit and skill-based immigration.”

Rubio has previously spoken out in favor of immigration reform and said last summer he was drafting a GOP alternative to the DREAM Act proposals, which would provide some form of legal status to young people who were brought into the U.S. illegally but who seek higher education or military service.

Case Brief – Vasquez Hernandez v. Holder, 9th Circuit (2010)

January 17th, 2013 No comments
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Facts:
Vasquez-Hernandez is a native and citizen of Mexico. He entered the U.S. without inspection in 1988. He was convicted of corporal injury to a spouse in 2002. On August 9, 2002, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) placed him in removal proceedings. Vasquez-Hernandez conceded removability.

In 2004, the IJ rejected Vasquez-Hernandez’s cancellation of removal request and held that he was “statutorily ineligible” because his conviction was for a crime of domestic violence as stated in 8 U.S.C. Section 1227(a)(2)(E).

IJ denied his motion to reopen after ruling that the petty offense exception in 8 U.S.C. section 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii) did not apply to his conviction.

Procedural Posture:
BIA adopted the IJ’s decision and denied Vasquez-Hernandez’ motion to reopen.
He filed a petition for review with the 9th Circuit.

Issue:
Whether the petty offense exception in 8 U.S.C. Section 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii) is applicable to an 8 U.S.C. Section 1229(b) cancellation of removal request if that request is otherwise barred by an alien’s conviction for an offense described in section 1227(a)(2) or section 1227(a)(3).

Holding:
Denied Vasquez-Hernandez’ petition for review of BIA’’s order denying his motion to reopen.

Rule:
The petty offense exception is not applicable to section 1227(a)(2) domestic violence offense for cancellation of removal regardless of whether the conviction may meet the petty offense exception requirements.

Reasoning:
Vasquez-Hernandez was convicted of a crime under the “plain terms of section 1229(b),” a domestic violence crime. The Ninth Circuit reasoned that the petty offense exception statute did not reference section 1227(a)(2) or section 1229b(b). There was no other statutory basis for applying the petty offense exception here.

If you or a loved one is in removal or deportation proceedings in immigration court, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you on a confidential basis to help you better understand the options available to you.

Joint I-751 Approved Without Interview for Fountain Valley Couple

January 16th, 2013 No comments
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We just received an approval notice for the removal of conditions on lawful permanent residence (I-751). The husband is originally from Japan. He and his wife, who is a US citizen, originally met in 2008 while living in Hawaii. They dated for almost a year before deciding to marry and move to California. They hired us shortly after their wedding in 2009 and we helped the husband with adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence. Because the marriage was less than two years old at the time of the adjustment to permanent residence, the husband was approved for a two year conditional resident status. This meant that he would need to file an I-751 with USCIS during the 90 day period immediately preceding the expiration of his two year green card.

The couple came back to us when it was time to remove the conditions and file the I-751. We helped them collect the necessary evidence and compile a packet of evidence that proved the couple had been living in a good faith marriage and combining their assets for the last two years. We provided bank statements, joint tax returns, proof the couple had been living together and many other pieces of evidence. When we filed, we were confident that we were presenting a compelling packet of evidence; however, I believed we would likely need to attend an interview with USCIS. In I-751 cases, USCIS has the option of calling an interview before adjudication of the I-751. I was surprised when we received an approval without an interview.

The couple is very excited as well. They are already talking about naturalizing the husband as a US citizen, which he will be eligible for in a few months. If you are married to a foreign-born spouse and are considering the green card process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will help you better understand the process that applies to your situation. We have helped countless couples obtain green cards in the United States and avoid deportation.

President Obama Will Push for Pathway to Citizenship for 11 Million Undocumented Aliens

January 15th, 2013 No comments
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President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week.

Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats will propose the changes in one comprehensive bill, the officials said, resisting efforts by some Republicans to break the overhaul into smaller pieces — separately addressing young illegal immigrants, migrant farmworkers or highly skilled foreigners — which might be easier for reluctant members of their party to accept.

The president and Democrats will also oppose measures that do not allow immigrants who gain legal status to become American citizens one day, the officials said.

Even while Mr. Obama has been focused on fiscal negotiations and gun control, overhauling immigration remains a priority for him this year, White House officials said. Top officials there have been quietly working on a broad proposal. Mr. Obama and lawmakers from both parties believe that the early months of his second term offer the best prospects for passing substantial legislation on the issue.

Mr. Obama is expected to lay out his plan in the coming weeks, perhaps in his State of the Union address early next month, administration officials said. The White House will argue that its solution for illegal immigrants is not an amnesty, as many critics insist, because it would include fines, the payment of back taxes and other hurdles for illegal immigrants who would obtain legal status, the officials said.

The president’s plan would also impose nationwide verification of legal status for all newly hired workers; add visas to relieve backlogs and allow highly skilled immigrants to stay; and create some form of guest-worker program to bring in low-wage immigrants in the future.

Case Brief – Matter of Stockwell, 20 I&N Dec. 309 (BIA 1991)

January 15th, 2013 No comments
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Facts:
In Matter of Stockwell, a 46-year-old male, native and citizen of the United Kingdom, entered the U.S. in 1987 as a visitor. He married a U.S. citizen in 1987 and was granted permanent resident status on a conditional basis. They divorced in 1988, and he married a second U.S. citizen on July 6, 1989. His new wife filed a visa petition on his behalf that was approved on September 19, 1989. He was placed in deportation hearing on July 14, 1989 because his conditional permanent residency terminated. IJ found that Stockwell was deportable since his conditional permanent resident status had been terminated. He granted his application for adjustment of status.

Procedural Posture:
IJ found that Stockwell was deportable since his conditional permanent resident status had been terminated. He granted his application for adjustment of status.
The USCIS appealed on the ground that the Congressional intent of 245(d) was to exclude aliens who have had their conditional status terminated as well as those continuing to hold conditional status.

Issue:
Whether section 245(d) of the INA (“Act”) prohibits an alien whose conditional permanent resident status has been terminated from adjusting status under section 245(a) of the Act.

Holding:
No. Affirmed IJ’s holding that Stockwell be granted to adjust status based on his second marriage to a U.S.C. wife.

Rule:
An alien holding conditional permanent resident status is prohibited by section 245(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. Section 1255(d)(1988), from adjusting his status under section 245(a), but Section 245(d) of INA does not prohibit an alien whose conditional permanent resident status has been terminated from adjusting his status under section 245(a).

Reasoning:
The Board focused on the congressional intent of 245(d), which was to prevent aliens from circumventing the immigration legal system through fraudulent marriages. By barring adjustment of status during the 2-year conditional period, Congress sought to prevent aliens from acquiring conditional permanent residency through marriage only to adjust status on another basis. This way, they might have tried to bypass the requirements for removing the conditions of residence. Therefore, the Board reasoned that section 245(d) of the Act was not intended to prohibit an alien whose conditional permanent resident status had been terminated from adjusting status under 245(a).

If your I-751 has been denied by USCIS and your case has been transferred to the immigration court, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the options available to you.

Case Brief – Matter of Rainford (BIA 1992)

January 10th, 2013 No comments
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Facts:
Rainford was a native and citizen of Jamaica. He was admitted to the U.S. as lawful permanent resident on March 27, 1988. On April 30, 1991, he was convicted for criminal possession of a weapon.  The Immigration and Naturalization Service charged him with deportability as an alien convicted of a firearms offense under section 241(a)(2)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Rainford conceded deportability but was eligible for adjustment of status to permanent resident if he can show “admission.” Rainford was found deportable by the immigration judge on June 17, 1992. IJ held based on Matter of V-, 1 I&N Dec. 293 (BIA 1942) that Rainford was inadmissible because he would become immediately subject to deportation upon entry.

(Rainford had a U.S.C. father. As a son of a U.S. citizen, he is under family first preference for purpose of eligibility for a family based immigrant visa.  His priority date was also current.)

Procedural Posture:
Therefore, he was found to be ineligible for AOS.
Rainford appealed.

Issue:
(1) Whether Rainford would become immediately subject to deportation upon entry due to his criminal conviction.
(2) Whether Rainford is admissible to the U.S., thereby meeting the second condition for AOS eligibility.

Holding:
(1)    No (see reasoning)
(2)    Yes. BIA Held that Rainford was admissible to the U.S. and therefore eligible for AOS; remanded case to IJ.

Rule:
An alien convicted of criminal possession of a weapon is deportable. However, such a conviction does not preclude a finding of admissibility in connection with an application for adjustment of status, and it may not serve as a ground of deportability if the alien’s status is adjusted to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Reasoning:
Compared Matter of Rafipour, 16 I&N Dec. 470 (BIA 1978) and used it as a key case.
The BIA ruled in Matter of Rafipour that an alien would no longer be deportable pursuant to section 241(A)(5) of the Act for his earlier conviction, once he was admitted as a lawful permanent resident. Likewise, the Board in the instant case reasoned that Rainford was deportable for a crime for which there is no corresponding ground of exclusion explicitly stated in the Act. Further, the Board reasoned that there was “no indication in the Act or its legislative history that Congress ever intended to bar this class of aliens . . . from becoming lawful permanent residents.” Although the ground of deportability was different from Matter of Rafipour, the Board extended the same reasoning to Rainford’s ground of deportability.

I-360 Approved for VAWA client in Irvine Based on Domestic Abuse Victimization

January 9th, 2013 No comments
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We recently received great news that one of our Irvine VAWA clients had her I-360 approved. She entered the United States illegally in the 1990s. She later met her future husband while she was working in a restaurant in Southern California. Eventually, the couple began dating. She had US citizen children from another relationship, and during the courtship her husband treated her children well.

After the couple married, her husband’s demeanor changed. She began noticing that her children were afraid of her husband. Her husband became very possessive and controlling over our client. He monitored her movements and tried to isolate her from family and friends. Eventually, one of the children’s teachers called a meeting with our client to discuss the possibility of abuse. Her children told her that their stepfather had been abusive when she was not around. She was shocked. Child Protective Services got involved. When our client confronted her husband about the allegations, he became physically violent. They tried to work it out, but he was violent on several other occasions. Eventually, she ran away and filed for a restraining order, which was granted.

When we filed the I-360 and I-485 for adjustment of status, we provided ample evidence that the couple’s relationship was entered into in good faith and that our client was the victim of domestic violence. We received a Request for Evidence, which we responded to promptly. We received the approval notice within a couple months of filing our response to the RFE. The client is overjoyed about the approved I-360. The Nunez Firm is very happy to have been involved in this case. We handle many domestic violence cases and they are some of the most rewarding cases to have succeed.

If you are an alien victim of domestic violence, contact The Nunez Firm. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the VAWA process and whether you have a strong case.

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