Millions of immigrants again on hold: More political moves delay immigration reform as deportations continue.

President Obama announced a delay of his executive action until after the mid-term elections in November, irritating many who anticipated immigration relief.

President Obama announced a delay of his executive action until after the mid-term elections in November, irritating many who anticipated immigration relief.

Children at recess used to play a game called “Red Light, Green Light,” where the one child faces away from the other children who start behind a line, saying “green light,” so the children behind the line can creep closer and tag them before they quickly turn around and say, “red light.” Is this the real strategy on immigration reform on Capitol Hill?

Reporting news and updates on immigration reform and the problems caused by inaction seems futile when people make promises and do not keep them. More often, people say they will make every effort at taking action, the political version of a promise. Both sides of the political aisle are frustrated with the failure to make meaningful reform to our badly outdated immigration system. As President Obama, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress continue sparring, the human casualties are mounting.

President Obama announced a delay of his executive action until after the mid-term elections in November, irritating many who anticipated immigration relief.

Earlier this summer, President Obama asked Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to hold off on releasing the results of a review of the immigration system, so House Republicans could get together necessary votes to pass a reform bill. It never happened. When Congress adjourned for summer break, the President reported he was working on his own plan for relief through executive orders, something the House Republicans first criticized him for doing, and then suggested he take executive action after all. Meanwhile, the mid-term elections scheduled for November are the latest roadblock to reform. On Saturday September 6, The Associated Press tweeted, “BREAKING: White House officials: Obama to delay immigration action until after November election.”

Result: “Millions of immigrants will face at least 60 more days under the threat of deportation[i]

The human cost of this delay is significant. As the quote from the article indicates, millions of undocumented immigrants who anticipated relief from deportation now fear the worst. Of the millions of immigrants waiting for relief, advocates estimate that an actual 60,000 immigrants will be deported within the next 60 days.

DHS is still stating that they are, “using “prosecutorial discretion” so that resident, law-abiding unauthorized immigrants don’t get deported.[ii]” Instead, they claim, “high priority” immigrants, “those who have committed crimes, have recently entered the country, or were deported and then came back,” are the focus of current deportation activity.[iii]

The message sent by the U.S., likely heard worldwide, is that immigrants are marginalized.

Wouldn’t you feel alienated and awkward coming to a country in political turmoil over what to do about your arrival and presence? From one political party who embraces policies helping people suffering violence and injustice in their home countries, to another who would like to catapult them back to their home countries, it must be terrible not knowing who they can trust. Some compassion for people who likely are not thrilled about leaving their home countries would make for a stronger immigration stance and the current ping-pong games make U.S. leaders look foolish.

While likely feeling marginalized by a seemingly unfair political struggle, the undocumented immigrants who made it safely to the U.S. can only hope for positive change and relief, through President Obama or Congress, whoever is able to make a meaningful difference. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley also hopes for positive change in U.S. immigration policy. She will continue to offer updates and available immigration news.

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 and related options for undocumented immigrants seeking immigration relief. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

[i] Vox, The human cost of Obama’s delay on immigration action, by Dara Lind, Sept. 8, 2014.

[ii] See, Vox article above (HNi)

[iii] See, Vox article above (HNi)

More than 60,000 unaccompanied minors need immigration lawyers and volunteer organizations need pro bono help

There are resources for immigrants seeking free legal counsel and for attorneys who want to volunteer their time on immigration cases.

There are resources for immigrants seeking free legal counsel and for attorneys who want to volunteer their time on immigration cases.

Congress who failed to take serious action to address an epic immigration crisis left 60,000 unaccompanied minors in the dust. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people with legal talent and non-profits with experience and commitment to volunteer initiatives to help children in need. Advocates for the children who fled from violence and instability in their home countries are working hard to train talented attorneys in immigration law, which is a large undertaking when immigration law and policy is complex and not intuitive.

Video: Vice President Joe Biden offers his candid comments about the need for more pro bono immigration lawyers.

The problems with unaccompanied child immigrants start when the children who do not know the law, have no idea how to ask for help. Many of these children might be able to qualify for asylum and could obtain relief to stay in the U.S., but the nine-page application is only available in English and without learning how to seek asylum in the first place, most remain helpless.

Instead of getting the help they need, the children will likely end up with denied asylum applications and face a federal prosecutor seeking deportation in immigration court. This presents a nearly impossible situation, says one immigration attorney quoted in a recent article about asylum for unaccompanied minors, “If you have an unrepresented child, their actual ability to do any of this as a pro se from my perspective is zero.[i]

To learn more about the challenges unaccompanied minors face in navigating our courts, read our article, Thousands of unaccompanied minor immigrant children need comprehensive immigration reform.

In response to the children’s crisis, bar associations and legal aid groups are eager to meet the children’s’ need, “”Every single immigration lawyers’ bar association across the country is scrambling to try to find people to even take the first little tiny hearing for these cases,” said Laura Lichter, a Colorado-based immigration attorney and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.[ii]

There are resources for immigrants seeking free legal counsel and for attorneys who want to volunteer their time on immigration cases.

There are several places attorneys can volunteer their time on pro bono immigration cases. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, (“AILA”) has pro bono programs[iii] and an immigration lawyer search tool available for members of the public looking for an immigration lawyer to volunteer some of their time to pro bono cases. Another fine organization, the National Immigrant Justice Center serves Chicago’s immigrant communities and they have pro bono resources and information about training for lawyers and educational opportunities.

Chicago-based immigration attorney, KiKi M. Mosley dedicates at least 10 percent of her law practice to pro bono cases. She can also direct people interested in more information, to the right people and organizations offering aid.

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 DACA and related options for children arriving in the U.S. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

[i] National Journal, Here’s How Hard It Is for Unaccompanied Minors to Get Asylum. By Rachel Roubein, Jul. 15, 2014.

[ii] CBS News, For unaccompanied immigrant children, a shortage of lawyers. By Rebecca Kaplan, Aug. 7, 2014.

[iii] American Immigration Lawyers Association website, Pro Bono.

President Obama’s $3.7B funding request is not on the calendar but other proposals are scheduled for hearings before summer break

Despite inaction on the President’s funding request, some other immigration proposals are on the schedule, courtesy of several House Republicans.

Despite inaction on the President’s funding request, some other immigration proposals are on the schedule, courtesy of several House Republicans.

As the final days and hours of the current legislative session wind down, it looks like there may not be any action on President Obama’s request for funding. The House will finish the current session on Friday, July 31, at which time members will be on summer break. The House of Representatives online schedule currently does not list any scheduled hearing next week on the President’s request for $3.7B border request. House Speaker, John Boehner, says he does not believe the funding request will go anywhere in the remaining time, “I would certainly hope so, but I don’t have as much optimism as I would like to have.” Boehner added, “There’s just been some comments made by our colleagues across the aisle that are going to make this much more difficult to deal with.[i]

Summary of President Obama’s $3.7B funding request:

The Washington Post published a graphic summary of President Obama’s request of $3.7 billion for “deterrence, enforcement, repatriation, public information campaigns and efforts to address the root causes of migration,” according to the article linked above.

Departments to receive funding under the current request for emergency relief:

  • Health and Human Services – $1.8B – care for unaccompanied children and refugee services;
  • Homeland Security – $1.536B – detention and removal, transportation, ICE enforcement, Customs and Border Patrol employee funding, border security task force programs and increased drone surveillance;
  • State Department – $300M – repair and strengthening of the borders and media campaigns in Mexico and Central America;
  • Justice Department – $64M – additional judges, expanded orientation program, legal representation of immigrants, immigration litigation lawyers for federal agencies.

Despite inaction on the President’s funding request, some other immigration proposals are on the schedule, courtesy of several House Republicans.

On Wednesday, July 29, the House Judiciary Committee, lead by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) will host hearings on a proposed bill, (H.R. 5137), the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, to end several of the current immigration policies enacted under President Obama’s administration, under the assumption that those policies are attracting undocumented immigrants to U.S. borders, according to a press release issued on July 17[ii].

A video on the House Judiciary Committee website claims President Obama has not taken sufficient action and that his plan to address the border crisis is nothing but smoke and mirrors: Watch Video. Whether there is enough bipartisan support for H.R. 5137 as a proposed solution to current and future immigration and border problems remains to be seen and it will likely be covered in the media next week.

Another currently scheduled hearing[iii] to take place on Friday, July 31, will be hosted by the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Research and Technology. The hearing will focus on the technology that may be needed to secure U.S. borders.

Cable news shows love talking about all the legislative proposals, often regardless of the chances they will get enough votes to pass.

As members of Congress lend their support to the variety of proposed bills, you may wonder if they are making a good faith effort to pass legislation, or whether some of the bills simply provide an opportunity for debate and dialogue, which unfortunately turns into political gamesmanship and attack.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx), for example, would like to see the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program terminated, to send a message to people in Central America, “making it clear that we won’t give amnesty to those who are here illegally.[iv]

Beware of political chatter blaming current immigration problems on current policies.

Cruz may be errant in his statement however, in the sense that DACA does not apply to the people currently arriving on U.S. soil, fleeing grave danger in their home countries. To learn more about misconceptions about immigration law and policies and the current border surge, you may read our article, Immigration law and policy is complex and there are frequent misunderstandings on both sides of the fence. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley works diligently to follow the latest news on immigration reform and share valuable information.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the States of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including DACA and related options for children arriving in the U.S. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

 

[i] PBS.org, Recess looming, lawmakers appear stuck on Obama’s immigration funding request, By Rachel Wellford, Jul. 22, 2014.

[ii] U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Chaffetz and Goodlatte Introduce Bill to Stop the Border Crisis, Jul. 17, 2014.

[iii] U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Research and Technology.

[iv] See PBS.org article (FNi) above.

Update on the immigration crisis and surge of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S.

House Republicans did not make any significant progress to pass immigration reform.

House Republicans did not make any significant progress to pass immigration reform.

Late this spring, President Obama asked Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Secretary, Jeh Johnson to hold off on a comprehensive report on how DHS manages deportations and what recommendations should be considered to cure the failures in the immigration system. The President delayed the report while House Republicans had the summer session of Congress to collect enough votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Congress failed to vote to pass reform and the border problem is worse.

House Republicans did not make any significant progress to pass immigration reform. Some political news contributors report that immigration reform is not likely to pass in the House due to the election of a tea party candidate, Dave Brat, replacing Eric Cantor (R) as House Majority Leader. “Eric Cantor is saying we should bring more folks into the country, increase the labor supply – and by doing so, lower wage rates for the working person,” Brat stated[1].

Members of Congress are holding a House Homeland Committee “field committee” hearing in McAllen, Texas last week to discuss options and plans to address the surge of Latin American children crossing the border. Rick Perry (R) Texas Governor, who will testify at the hearing called on President Obama to secure the south Texas border. Recent news reports that Texas is a main point of entry for more than 50,000 children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley since October.[2]

The U.S. government response includes a request for funding to address the problems and an ad campaign to Spanish speaking viewers on both sides of the border.

President Obama is asking congress for more than $2 billion to better handle the surge of child immigrants arriving in the U.S. The money would be used to facilitate quicker deportations so the children can be reunited with families. Additionally, the requested funds would be used to enact tougher punishments for the human smugglers and to better screen and house the children being smuggled[3].

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is launching an advertising campaign warning that the trip to the U.S. is dangerous and when you arrive you will not be allowed to stay. Spanish language television ads targeting immigrants on both sides of the border. The ads state that “Those who risk such journeys could be easy prey for ‘coyotes’ and criminal organizations, be robbed or subjected to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.[4]

Chicago immigration attorney, KiKi M. Mosley closely follows news and policy in immigration that affects the population of people fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries as they risk everything for a chance at a better life 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 including DACA and related options for children arriving in the U.S. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

[1] NBC News, Eric Cantor a Casualty of Immigration Reform, by Mark Murray.

[2] USA Today, Child immigrant crisis prompts hearing at Texas border, by Rick Jervis, Jul. 3, 2014.

[3] The Wall Street Journal, Obama Seeks More Than $2 Billion in Border Control Funds, by Laura Meckler, Jun. 29, 2014.

[4] NBC News, Feds to Wage Ad Campaign to Stem Dangerous Treks to U.S. Border, by Suzanne Gamboa.

Failed immigration reform and leaves immigrant children in great peril and DACA is not a final answer

Undocumented immigrant children face uncertain futures and DACA is not enough enough!

Undocumented immigrant children face uncertain futures and DACA is not enough enough!

Waiting for comprehensive immigration reform has been at the very least, frustrating. More concerning is the danger that young children may face when arriving in the U.S. by themselves, hoping to be allowed to stay in the U.S. and be reunited with relatives in the states. Meanwhile the political games in Congress have more and more Americans absolutely fed up with empty promises that immigration reform is a priority and relief is forthcoming. Children who are brought into the U.S. at young ages have no control over what may happen to them. Furthermore, Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is unable to manage the large number of child arrivals and the conditions in which undocumented children are being kept is a human rights atrocity.

Here is a general breakdown of the stalled progress of comprehensive immigration reform:

The Senate passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill last July[i]. The bill failed in the House of Representatives and one of the main reasons was GOP concerns for southern border security. Meanwhile, President Obama was urged to take executive action and he ordered a DHS report with recommendations. Last month, the President told DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson to hold off with the findings so House Republicans could pass an immigration reform bill. Recently, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor was voted out and replaced by a TEA party candidate many believe will not cooperate with existing reform efforts.

White House responded to concerns that immigration reform is now a dead issue: “Our strategy has not changed,” says White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri. “The impetus for action remains on the House.[ii]” While the world watches and waits for House action, young children are at risk.

Young children have no control over the fact they are “illegal.”

Children need many things including safety, shelter, food, clothing and a loving environment. For some, shelter and food are a daily struggle, and safety concerns make daily life extremely challenging for young children in parts of the world. Young children do not understand the idea of “illegal immigration.” In many cases, family members hear reports that the U.S. is a safe haven and if families make it through their treacherous journeys to U.S. soil, their children are allowed to stay. This is not the law and this is not true. Children arriving in the U.S. may, however, be allowed to postpone deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) policy temporarily protecting qualifying children from removal to their native country. DACA only functions to delay deportation.

DACA does not provide actual legal status.

DACA is only a deferment and delay of deportation for the children who qualify for relief under the policy. People need to understand that this program DOES NOT PROVIDE LEGAL STATUS. Even though a child may be able to renew their DACA participant status does not mean they may continue to stay in the U.S. without proper immigration status[iii].

DACA does not go far enough to protect children.  

While young immigrants temporarily may be able to delay being deported, there is not enough protection for innocent children. Recently many children have arrived on U.S. soil alone and unaccompanied by a parent or family member who may not be eligible for DACA relief. Often, neither the children nor family members helping them come to the U.S. understand that DACA participation is contingent upon meeting eligibility criteria and that renewals are NOT AUTOMATICALLY GRANTED.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley works to help innocent child immigrants avoid being victims of a failed system.

Until the currently out of date immigration system of laws and policies is reformed, we can expect a continuous influx of children who are victims of injustice in their native countries and in the U.S. If you or someone you know needs immigration help, they may contact the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley in Chicago, Illinois.

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 DACA and related options for children arriving in the U.S. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

[i] POLITICO: Immigration reform bill 2013: Senate passes legislation 68-32. By Min Kim Seng, June 27, 2013.

[ii] ABC News: Obama Waiting for House GOP to Act on Immigration. By Josh Lederman, June 13, 2014.

[iii] United States Immigration and Immigration Services. Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

A recent increase in immigrant children causes frustration on both sides of U.S. borders

There is an assumption among many Latino communities that children showing up alone at U.S. border will be allowed to go free.

There is an assumption among many Latino communities that children showing up alone at U.S. border will be allowed to go free.

Unaccompanied minors from Central America have been arriving at the United States/Mexico border in unprecedented numbers.   President Obama’s administration has taken measures to manage the influx of children who need shelter, sponsors, legal representation and administrative staff to document the incoming children fleeing gang violence in primarily in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

These children arriving in the U.S. need help, especially legal assistance, as explained in our blog article, Thousands of unaccompanied minor immigrant children need comprehensive immigration reform. If they appear at their court dates, many might not understand the process and can easily become removable to the countries from which they came despite their misunderstanding of the U.S. immigration system and its complex policies.

There is an assumption among many Latino communities that children showing up alone at U.S. border will be allowed to go free.

Violence in Central America is a common reason many families are sending their children north to seek shelter and a safer life in the U.S., often with relatives. The trip through dangerous territory is expensive and many do not make it safely to the other side. Many believe that the U.S. is lenient on children and foreign parents believe their children will be safer after crossing the border.

Lucy Cabrera was terrified during her son and daughter’s journey to the U.S. Cabrera borrowed money to pay guides in Guatemala and Mexico help get her kids safely on U.S. soil. Along the way, her children called from Honduras after gangs threatened them. Finally, they made it to their destination and called their mother from a U.S. detention facility in Arizona. “Thank God they are safe now. It all happened so fast,” said Cabrera[i].

This video that shows the reality of the situation: CNN Video – Border detention of children shames America.

Immigrants arriving in the U.S. to find overcrowding in detention centers. Many children are being dropped off at bus stations with a court date on their Notice to Appear in immigration court. If the immigrants have family in the U.S. they are released and sent on their way with pending court dates at which many will not appear as noted in a recent news report[ii]. The children who remain in detention centers face poor conditions. These border facilities lack “enough food, beds, or sanitary facilities to provide for the children,” CNN has reported.

KiKi M. Mosley is an immigration attorney who can help families with children coming to the U.S. who are given a “Notice to Appear” at immigration court. She helps them apply for relief allowed by immigration law and policy written to give undocumented immigrants options while comprehensive immigration reform is not yet passed 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 including applications for temporary immigration relief and adjustments of immigration status. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

[i] Washington Post: Immigrant parents urge U.S. officials to help their children flee Central American violence. By Pamela Contable, Jun. 12, 2014.

[ii] CNN, Border detention of children shames America. By Ruben Navarrette, Jun. 12, 2014.

USCIS announces DACA renewal process: First time applications are also accepted

The USCIS press release on DACA renewals states additional guidelines  that participants must meet in addition to the initial criteria for DACA eligibility.

The USCIS press release on DACA renewals states additional guidelines that participants must meet in addition to the initial criteria for DACA eligibility.

On June 5, 2014, Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Secretary, Jeh Johnson announced the new process for participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. Of the initial DACA approvals issued to applicants will start expiring September 2014 so the news of the renewal process is good news for many who need to get moving with their renewal applications.

DACA[i] is a program created by President Obama’s administration in 2012 ordering Customs and Border Protection (“CPB”) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to use “prosecutorial discretion[ii]” and not detain for removal the approved DACA participants, namely immigrant children who came to the U.S. and still do not have legal status but seek to go to school or work in the U.S.

DHS Secretary Johnson commented on the policy basis for granting and renewing DACA.

The initial grant of a DACA request is for two years and people who meet the initial DACA eligibility guidelines may also apply for a first-time DACA approval as stated in Secretary Johnson’s news release. Additionally, he states, “Despite the acrimony and partisanship that now exists in Washington, almost all of us agree that a child who crossed our boarder illegally with a parent, or in search of a parent or a better life, was not making an adult choice to break our laws, and should be treated differently than adult law-breakers.[iii]

The DACA approved participants Secretary Johnson referenced may request a renewal at least 120 days (4 months) before the expiration of the initially approved DACA period of time, as indicated on DACA approval documents.

The USCIS press release on DACA renewals states additional guidelines[iv] that participants must meet in addition to the initial criteria for DACA eligibility:

  • Did not depart the United States on or after August 15, 2012, without advance parole;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since they submitted their most recent DACA request that was approved; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

If you or someone you know is eligible to apply for DACA for their first time or they are eligible to renew their status, attorney KiKi M. Mosley can help them review their eligibility and submit the proper form for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and an Application for Employment Authorization to work in the U.S. It is important to take care to submit timely and properly completed application materials with the proper forms and fees to USCIS through a licensed immigration attorney to prevent rejection of an application for DACA or renewal.

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. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.

[i] KiKi M. Mosley Immigration Blog: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the American Dream: US fund to help DACA Recipients. Feb. 14, 2014.

[ii] KiKi M. Mosley Immigration Blog: Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Enforcement. Jan. 24, 2014.

[iii] See USCIS Press Release FN IV below.

[iv] USCIS Press Release: Secretary Johnson Announces Process for DACA Renewal. Release date: Jun. 5, 2014.