False Claims to United States Citizenship: What May Seem Like a Simple Mistake Can Lead to a Lifetime of Problems.

False claims to U.S. citizenship can cause a permanent bar to legalizing your immigration status.

False claims to U.S. citizenship can cause a permanent bar to legalizing your immigration status.

Making a false claim to United States citizenship is a violation of U.S. federal law.[i] The consequence of false claims to citizenship can include fines, deportation and a permanent bar to legal immigration status. There are cases where undocumented immigrants and non-immigrant visa holders accidentally claim they are U.S. citizens, but there are also times people knowingly lie about citizenship and face harsh penalties. In recent news, a civil trial was declared a mistrial because a juror lied about his citizenship – the juror was a legal resident of Atlanta but was not a U.S. citizen[ii]. The juror was held in contempt and ordered to jail.

Frequent false claims of citizenship occur when non-citizens:

1)      Register to vote – even if they were registered through their local DMV;

2)      Claiming “U.S. citizen” when completing an I-9 Employee Eligibility Verification form;

3)      Claiming U.S. citizenship on student loan applications;

4)      Applying for a U.S. passport and otherwise;

5)      Stating you are a U.S. citizen in order to obtain any benefit only available to U.S. citizens.

Be careful not to accidentally make a false claim of citizenship. Several states offer drivers licenses to non-citizens. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993[iii], also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” requires states to offer an opportunity to register to vote when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license. The department of motor vehicles agent may not know your citizenship status, so if they offer to register you to vote, do not register if you are not a U.S. citizen. Be sure you clearly read any forms you may be asked to sign if you are eligible for a driver’s license. The fine print may state that by signing the application, you swear that you are a U.S. citizen. Likewise, election campaign volunteers might be around town registering people to vote, and they might not ask if you are a citizen. When in doubt, do not sign anything or somehow allow yourself to become registered to vote unless you are a U.S. citizen.

False claims to U.S. citizenship can cause a permanent bar to legalizing your immigration status

Applicants for U.S. permanent residency and citizenship through the naturalization process must demonstrate good moral character (“GMC”).[iv] The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“U.S.C.I.S.”) policy manual addresses acts that could prevent an applicant from establishing GMC.  One example in the USCIS policy manual states, “An applicant may fail to show GMC if he or she engaged in unlawful voting or falsely claimed U.S. citizenship for purposes of registering to vote or voting.[v]” Under the current immigration laws, false claims to citizenship causes a permanent bar to admission to the U.S. since they cannot establish GMC. In addition, removal and imprisonment are possible.

Children may qualify for narrow exceptions to false claims to U.S. citizenship.

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000[vi] amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), permitting citizenship in certain circumstances. While many children acquired U.S. citizenship from their parents under the new law, there can be confusion among families who thought their children were citizens when in fact, they were not. Under certain circumstances, a false claim to citizenship may not be a deportable offense. The following are some examples of excusable false claims: the child’s parents were U.S. citizens by birth or naturalization; the child’s false claim was made prior to reaching age 18; the child was a U.S. permanent resident prior reaching age 16; or where the child reasonably believed he or she was a U.S. citizen when the claim was made. Because the penalties for false claims are severe, questions about false claims and exceptions should be brought to a licensed and experienced immigration attorney. Indications of false claims can cause many problems for anyone involved in the naturalization process.

An experienced licensed immigration attorney can help noncitizens who are concerned they might have accidentally taken some action that could lead to a finding of a false claim of U.S. citizenship, or where a limited exception may apply to the false claims rules. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including false claims to U.S. citizenship. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.

 

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California’s “Health for All Act”

States continue to be forced to take action into their own hands as hopes for Comprehensive Immigration Reform wane in Congress: California’s “Health for All Act” would provide needed healthcare for undocumented immigrants.

The California law would benefit undocumented immigrants and healthcare providers.

The California law would benefit undocumented immigrants and healthcare providers.

While many of California’s residents took advantage of the state’s systems for offering health insurance through the Affordable Care Act[i] (“ACA”), the state’s undocumented immigrants are not eligible to participate. Since ACA took effect October 1st of 2013, more than 650,000 Californians signed up for insurance through the new law. Another 1.2 million of the state’s residents qualify to receive state Medicaid assistance; however this does not include any of the estimated 1 million undocumented residents who are ineligible for California Medicaid or ACA options. State Senator for California, Mr. Ricardo Lara[ii], does not think affordable healthcare should be withheld from undocumented residents of his state.

The Health for All Act proposes healthcare options for undocumented Californians.

The new bill, the Health for All Act, SB 1005,[iii] proposed by Senator Lara would give California’s undocumented immigrant residents the option to receive Medicare payments or to buy subsidized insurance plans if their income exceeded Medicare limits. According to Lara, “Healthcare coverage is just another step toward recognizing that undocumented immigrants play a vital role in the state economy, says Lara, whether they have legal status or not.[iv]” Medicaid payments paid pursuant to the Health for All Act would be fully funded by the State.

California is among the states working diligently to make life better for undocumented residents by offering select public services. For example, like Illinois[v], the California legislature voted to issue driver’s licenses to immigrants, allowing them to drive legally and without fear.[vi] Senator Lara, recognizing the part that every Californian plays, “whether they have legal status or not,[vii]” favors the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in society and the state’s economy.

The California law would benefit undocumented immigrants and healthcare providers.

Without access to affordable healthcare options, many of undocumented immigrants are limited to visiting hospital emergency rooms and low cost or free healthcare facilities. According to the reports[viii] covering the proposed California law, under ACA, healthcare providers receive less federal payments to compensate for care of the uninsured. In theory, if more Americans get insured through ACA, there will be fewer uninsured patients in need of care. The theory fails when you consider how many people are do not qualify for ACA coverage.

Undocumented immigrants are prohibited from participating in ACA exchanges and receiving Medicaid benefits funded by the federal government. Without healthcare options, this large part of the state population must visit free clinics and emergency rooms as uninsured residents. California’s Health for All Act could reduce the burden to the state’s healthcare providers to the uninsured. If the law passes, other states might work with similar legislation to help incorporate immigrants to the U.S. who otherwise wait for much needed Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

KiKi M. Mosley follows news and trends in law that matter to our large population of undocumented residents in the U.S. She can help people seeking legal status as well as people on a path to U.S. citizenship. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website: HHS.gov/HealthCare.

[iii] LegiScan website: California Senate Bill 1005, regular session.

[iv] Time U.S.: Undocumented Immigrants Could Get Health Insurance In California. By Kate Pickert, Feb. 18, 2014.

[vii] See Time article and quoting Senator Lara.

[viii] See Time article.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the American Dream: US fund to help DACA Recipients

"THEDREAM.US provides college scholarships to highly motivated DREAMers who, without financial aid, cannot afford a college education that will enable them to participate in the American workforce." http://thedream.us/

“THEDREAM.US provides college scholarships to highly motivated DREAMers who, without financial aid, cannot afford a college education that will enable them to participate in the American workforce.” http://thedream.us/

Approved Applicants of the DACA program are finally seeing some movement to help them attend institutions of higher education and live the American Dream.  There is a program for undocumented students called “TheDream.US” fund[i]. This scholarship program was created to match qualified DACA approved students with the money they need to pay for tuition, fees, and books. TheDream.US fund has already raised $25 million to help approximately 2,000 students over the next ten years, which comes out to $12,500 per scholarship recipient. To learn more about TheDream.US please visit their website.

Why apply for DACA when Immigration Reform is on the Horizon?

As hopes for comprehensive immigration reform wane, children of undocumented immigrants should know that they can still take advantage of a program that helps them obtain certain protections from deportation and also employment authorization.   Many watch as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) bill is continuously put on hold for political reasons.  Congressional Democrats are focused on offering a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants and expired visa holders in the U.S. while Congressional Republicans seek better guarantees that southern border security will get the attention they feel it needs. Negotiation and compromise are on hold until after the November elections.   Please read our blog article, Problems and solutions in bipartisan immigration reform: is President Obama over a barrel? for more information on the current status of CIR.

The reality for many undocumented immigrants and those who has overstayed visas is that their parents brought them into the United States as children and now they find themselves in the only country they know without control over their ability to change their immigration circumstances.   The problem for these children is that without legal status they not only do not qualify for federal student loans and aid, they cannot legally work, and they live with the constant fear of deportation.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) is a policy making it possible for undocumented immigrants to go to work and school without fear of deportation. 

DACA was created by President Obama’s administration and became effective on June 15, 2012[ii]. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued orders to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CPB”), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) directing that they use the policy called “prosecutorial discretion” (read our article Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Enforcement) when addressing those who came to the U.S. as undocumented immigrant children and who still do not have a lawful immigration status. DACA provides a formal application process so that immigrants who meet all of their requirements of the DACA initiative may apply for this special immigration relief.

If approved, applicants for relief under DACA reprieve from their fear of deportation as  they will not be subjected to removal from the U.S. assuming that they meet DACA’s strict requirements that they not have any serious issues with law enforcement.  DACA does not provide a path to permanent residence at this time.  DACA is still available as many wait for CIR as promised by politicians on both sides of the aisle many times over.

Who is eligible for DACA?

From the DHS website[iii], the following is a list of criteria for DACA eligibility: 

  1. Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum  (June 15, 2012) and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum (June 15, 2012;
  3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Are not above the age of thirty.

If you or someone you know may qualify for DACA relief and wants to go to college or work in the U.S. after finishing high school, you may contact the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley for assistance with their applications. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] The Washington Post: Scholarship program to aid immigrants. Associated Press. Feb. 4, 2014

[ii] U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

[iii] U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Eligibility for Deferred Action.

Problems and solutions in bipartisan immigration reform: is President Obama over a barrel?

"White House giving Boehner room on immigration - The Washington Post"

“White House giving Boehner room on immigration – The Washington Post”

The recent Associated Press article title, “White House giving Boehner room on immigration”[i] is attracting attention from both sides of the political aisle and some people are speculating about a delay in comprehensive immigration reform until after the November elections. Some activists pushing for immigration reform want President Obama to exercise Presidential powers to slow deportations and take actions to ease the hardship experienced by immigrants and asylum seekers waiting for their chance at a better life in the U.S. There are several problems in politics that get in the way of immigration reform.

The short-term delay to immigration reform is the upcoming midterm election this November.

Short-term problems getting in the way of immigration reform include debate about the Affordable Care Act. The battle to keep, reform or eliminate President Obama’s health care law is a key issue to voters in November. In several state races for congressional positions, healthcare is a top concern in current campaigns. The problem is that fierce immigration debates could distract congress and voters from a focus on healthcare. According to some democratic officials, “There is also a possibility that the House could act in November or December, during a lame duck session of Congress after the elections. That would require swift work in a short time. What’s more, if Republicans win control of the Senate, there would be pressure to leave the issue to the new Senate.[ii]

Even after the elections, lawmakers have very different problems and need fresh ideas to negotiate a bipartisan compromise.

Long-term problems and solutions are a bit more complex. While both Republicans and Democrats want immigration reform, there is a fundamental division and conflict about key components of reform. Congress and the media present Southern border security as a fundamentally important demand of “conservative” voters while “liberal” voters want immigration reform to give options for a path to citizenship; the reality is that many people on both sides of the argument recognize the importance of both of those issues.  The American public simply seeks for their representatives in Congress to actually accomplish some type of comprehensive reform as opposed to only talking about it.

Is President Obama over a barrel?

Recent news articles report that immigration reform advocates believe President Obama could do more despite the stall on immigration reform by Republican lawmakers. One such advocate was recently quoted on the issue, ““The administration has both the legal authority and moral authority to make changes that would reduce the pain and suffering in the community right now,” said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. Such advocates dismiss Republican claims that President Obama can’t be counted on to enforce the border security components of a new immigration law.[iii]

Waiting longer for comprehensive immigration reform may be unpopular but could be beneficial long-term.

As President of the United States, President Obama has powers granted to him by the U.S. Constitution that allow him to put in place certain Executive Orders.  White House spokespeople, in response to criticism and claims that Obama is not doing enough, stated that the president is following the law, and despite claims he can change immigration laws on his own, he cannot.  President Obama has long stated that he is opposed to the wide use of Executive Orders to advance his political agenda.  President Obama advocates proper use of the legislative process to enact a long-term comprehensive solution.

Why can’t we force immigration reform? To reach a bipartisan agreement, both Democrats and Republicans will need to compromise on key issues including border security and amnesty for undocumented residents seeking immigration relief. Being too strong or unwilling to negotiate compromise could upset the progress that has already been made in the immigration reform debate.

KiKi M. Mosley monitors and shares updates on immigration reform and is always happy to explain answers to important legal questions about immigration reform and better options for people on a path to legal status and citizenship in the U.S. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] The Washington Post: White House giving Boehner room on immigration, Associate Press, Feb. 7, 2014.

[ii] Direct quote from The Washington Post article above.

[iii] Direct quote from The Washington Post article above.