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.

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.

President Obama delays deportation review so House Republicans can seek votes to pass a reform bill

Right now, many say there is bipartisan support and we are in a window of time for action if House Republican leaders can get collect enough votes to pass a bill.

Right now, many say there is bipartisan support and we are in a window of time for action if House Republican leaders can get collect enough votes to pass a bill.

President Obama recently asked Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Secretary, Jeh Johnson to hold off on producing his DHS report on deportation and policy options. This March, President Obama, under pressure to take executive action to ease deportations, ordered a formal review of how we deport immigrants. DHS was scheduled to report to the president by early June. Meanwhile, in Washington, there is a window of opportunity to pass an immigration reform bill during the summer months and before the general elections coming up this fall. It is suggested that if President Obama took executive action on the report from DHS and eased up on deportations then House Republicans may take a critical position and not vote for reform. Right now, many say there is bipartisan support and we are in a window of time for action if House Republican leaders can get collect enough votes to pass a bill.

The Secure Communities policy is on the list for review.

The formal review by Secretary Johnson would include recommendations on how DHS could, as a matter of policy, limit deportations to violent criminals and give relief to non-offending immigrants. One of the current policies to be reviewed is the controversial “Secure Communities” concept that positions repeat immigration law offenders alongside violent criminals for purposes of deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) works directly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and the Secure Communities policy provides DHS fingerprints automatically sent from the FBI to check for criminal records in immigration databases. If an individual is arrested for a criminal violation, a DHS officer may get involved to make an immigration enforcement decision. Secretary Johnson told lawmakers this week that Secured Communities should stay but should be revamped with a fresh look[i].

If President Obama does not want House Republicans paying attention to his review of how we deport people, then why does it make sense for Secretary Johnson to promote his ideas for improving the Secure Communities policy? Some critics think the president is acting in response to pressure from labor unions and conservatives who want him to wait.

Immigration advocates are upset by President Obama’s suspension of the formal review.

Dream Action Coalition advocates, critical of President Obama’s direction to hold off on the report said, “We are appalled that after so much sacrifice and hard work from the undocumented community to pressure the President to use his power to stop deportations, some organizations… [would] rather protect the administration instead of millions of families separated by deportations.[ii]

When President Obama ordered the review of our deportation systems this spring, the goal was to find a way to use the most humane methods to enforce immigration laws and policies without breaking up families unnecessarily. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley represents immigration clients who desperately want comprehensive immigration reform and no longer want to fear law enforcement as they do in the current climate of Secure Communities.

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 hearings before immigration courts and applications and procedures to correct clients’ records when things do not go as planned. 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: DHS head says controversial program should stay. By Seung Min Kim, May 29, 2014.

[ii] La Times: Obama delays deportation review to give immigration bill a chance. By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey. May 28, 2014.

Immigration computer system is up and running as the system returns to 2014 after being stuck in the 80s after meltdown

The system was down for almost six weeks, leading many to question how a failure of this magnitude could happen.

The system was down for almost six weeks, leading many to question how a failure of this magnitude could happen.

In a recent press release[1], the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) spoke out to let people know the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) while, fixing the recent immigration court computer failure, is still badly underfunded. The EOIR is the federal office established to adjudicate immigration cases by “fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation’s immigration laws.[2]” In this case, the EOIR was unable to do anything in a uniform manner with a failed computer system and lack of system failure preparedness.

When the system goes down the show comes to a halt and the calendars pile up.

A hardware failure caused most application of the EOIR computer system to shut down at the stroke of midnight April 12.  The system was down for almost six weeks, leading many to question how a failure of this magnitude could happen.  Data recovery specialists and teams worked to recover and restore data and applications according to news published on its website on May 19, 2014[3]. In restoring the system, IT teams worked to create new elements of information redundancy and monitoring to guard against future system issues.

Because of the computer failure, many immigrants in the court system have further rescheduled court dates in a backlogged system. AILA President Doug Stump stated, “We cheered the announcement this week that some initial fixes have been made. But the reality is that the breakdown delayed cases and created unnecessary bottlenecks.[4]

There are thousands of immigrant court respondents affected by the system failure.

The New York Post reported on the “computer meltdown” and noted how immigration courts had to use pen, paper and cassette tapes to manage cases manually without the computer system. Unable to access information on cases, some courts had to make decisions without full knowledge of particular cases before them.

Others did not get a pass or benefit of the doubt when the computers crashed. One immigration lawyer said it was like going back to the 80s. Lawyers were delayed and rescheduled, along with their clients when the system backlog prevented many from knowing if their case would actually be called when scheduled and if called, would anything be able to take place. This causes a huge problem for immigrant respondents with time sensitive matters and deadlines. A toll free phone number with case information has been playing the following message, “Due to system issues, the information on this has not been updated since midnight on April 12, 2014.[5]

What do you do if your case was delayed?

If your immigration court proceeding was affected and you either were not able to appear before the immigration court as scheduled or if nothing happened due to an inability to make an official record of proceedings you may need to take action with an attorney to file the necessary paperwork to assure you will receive a fair immigration hearing and due process allowed by law. Chicago immigration attorney, KiKi M. Mosley has been tracking this serious situation in and out of court and can help you if you have been affected by the immigration court system meltdown.

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 hearings before immigration courts and applications and procedures to correct clients’ records when things do not go as planned. 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] AILA: Immigration Court Computer Failure Emphasizes Need for Increased Funding. Released May 21, 2014.

[2] The U.S. Department of Justice website for the Executive Office for Immigration Review: EOIR Home.

[3] The U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, EOIR News of System Update, Monday, May 19, 2014.

[4] See AILA article above.

[5] Politico Blogs, Immigration court tech crash drags on. By Josh Gerstein, May 14, 2012.

About expedited removal and the increase in its use in the U.S.

An immigration attorney can review your specific circumstances and advise you if there is anything they can do to help to prevent being subject to expedited removal, especially if you are charged with a Felony offense. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is experienced in the complex immigration legal system and can help undocumented immigrants with removal problems.

An immigration attorney can review your specific circumstances and advise you if there is anything they can do to help to prevent being subject to expedited removal, especially if you are charged with a Felony offense. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is experienced in the complex immigration legal system and can help undocumented immigrants with removal problems.

Imagine receiving a knock at the door one day and being served with a Notice to Appear[1] at an immigration court to answer allegations that you may not be lawfully present and may be removed from the United States, even after living in your current residence for many years. The Notice to Appear will contain a list of allegations against you, the respondent, who must appear before an immigration judge to answer or plead for an alternative lawful status to remain in the U.S., such as asylum or if you have a reason to seek cancellation of your removal. You are going to want to hire an immigration lawyer to represent you because the court does not appoint attorneys to represent you. The Notice will not mention, however, that you are one of the lucky ones, and fewer than a quarter of undocumented immigrants never get to see a judge and are virtually whisked away through what is called expedited removal. Expedited removal is an immigration enforcement option created to be used at the U.S. borders and ports of entry. In 1996 the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) was amended to include expedited removal[2]. Today, a non-citizen anywhere in the U.S. can be subject to expedited removal anywhere in the U.S., not only at a border or point of entry. Most often, expedited removal orders are triggered by charges of alleged fraud or misrepresentation regarding their immigration status. The U.S. Department of Justice publishes information about expedited removal. Not only do persons subject to expedited removal not get the opportunity to see a judge, the order of expedited removal is not appealable and there is no process for such. It is possible; however, that Customs and Border Patrol (“CPB”) officials may use their discretion to vacate an improperly issued order for removal, but this is not a common occurrence. If the person subject to expedited removal pleads  asserts that they fear return to their home country, the basis for an application for asylum, they may be allowed access to the immigration system to petition for lawful status to be lawfully present in the U.S. Expedited removal is a very bad outcome for anyone who wants to immigrate to the U.S. because there is a minimum five-year bar from re-entry to the U.S. In some cases, there can be a lifetime bar to entry. Although there it is possible to apply for permission to re-enter, this only occurs in rare cases and it is very important to hire a licensed immigration attorney to assist in such special situations. Many proponents of immigration reform argue that not being allowed to see a judge in an expedited removal case is unfair because the majority of removed persons do not know their rights and do not get the benefit of due process of law. A recent article critical of the expedited removal notes the increase in its use, “At least three-quarters of people deported in 2012 didn’t get a hearing from an immigration judge, according to statistics from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).[3]” An immigration attorney can review your specific circumstances and advise you if there is anything they can do to help to prevent being subject to expedited removal, especially if you are charged with a Felony offense. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is experienced in the complex immigration legal system and can help undocumented immigrants with removal problems. 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 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] 8 C.F.R. §§ 1003.13, 1003.14. [2] 8 C.F.R. § 1228. [3]New Republic, Deported Without Seeing A Judge: One of the Worst Parts of the Immigration System, By Nora Caplan-Bricker.

Victims of crimes and their families can get legal immigration status with the U visa program

The U visa program creates the special exception and opportunity for legal status, encouraging undocumented immigrants to work with law enforcement to solve crimes and prosecute offenders.

The U visa program creates the special exception and opportunity for legal status, encouraging undocumented immigrants to work with law enforcement to solve crimes and prosecute offenders.

The victims of certain crimes face so many challenges in getting back to “normal,” which can be even more difficult for an undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. There may be hope, however, for some immigrants who offer their assistance to law enforcement officers in exchange for the opportunity to apply for legal immigration status through the U visa program. There are some limitations and the applicants for U visas must meet qualifying requirements. Under the U visa program, the qualifying family members of the applicant may in certain circumstances, also receive legal status.

Law enforcement investigating human trafficking, sex crimes and domestic violence frequently investigate crimes where victims, aggressors and witnesses may be undocumented immigrants. Knowing they are not lawfully present on U.S. soil, an immigrant is not likely to speak with or be anywhere near law enforcement personnel for fear they will be arrested and deported. The U visa program creates the special exception and opportunity for legal status, encouraging undocumented immigrants to work with law enforcement to solve crimes and prosecute offenders.

Attorney KiKi M. Mosley comments on the value of U Visas:

“I think that U visas offer an avenue for victims of certain crimes to have access to lawful status, where they would not otherwise under the current immigration law.  Specifically, individuals brought in as young children who have suffered abuse or are victims of one or more of the qualifying crimes who otherwise have no other options may have a path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship.  Sadly, perpetrators of some of the most violent crimes prey upon victims whom they know to be undocumented as they are terrified of encountering law enforcement and are therefore hesitant to file charges and/or pursue prosecution.” Attorney KiKi M. Mosley plays an active role in advocating for immigrants in need of legal relief for a variety of reasons. She also takes part in the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago (“LAF”)’s DACA/U-Visa pro bono program.

Only 10,000 U visas are available every year and since the U visa program began in 2008, almost 90,000 U visas have been issued to qualifying applicants and their family members according to a recent report.[1] The beneficiaries of the U visa program receive four years of legal status and an employment authorization. Legal status may be extended where necessary and permanent residency may be available for the beneficiary and their family members where appropriate.

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services lists U nonimmigrant visa eligibility[2] on their website:

  • You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
  • You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
  • You have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf (see glossary for definition of ‘next friend’).
  • You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.
  • The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  • You are admissible to the United States. If you are not admissible, you may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.

The qualifications for U visas and the list of potential roadblocks can be challenging. Because the benefits are great, there is a concern for fraudulent applications, and a skilled immigration attorney is recommended to nonimmigrants seeking U visas in connection with their cooperation with law enforcement when they are victims of qualifying crimes. Attorneys advocate for applicants who are not otherwise able to navigate the complex system and processes required to obtain a U visa.

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 visitwww.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] Global Nation, Inquirer.net, U visas available for out-of-status immigrants in US who are victims of certain crimes. By Mary Carmen Madrid-Crost, Apr. 9, 2014.

[2] USCIS website: Victims of Criminal Activity: U Nonimmigrant Status.

Thousands of unaccompanied minor immigrant children need comprehensive immigration reform

While waiting for urgently needed reform, children and their relatives stay in the U.S. at their peril.

While waiting for urgently needed reform, children and their relatives stay in the U.S. at their peril.

Unaccompanied minor immigrant children face U.S. immigration courts without adult representatives, without legal counsel, and without the opportunity to have fair court proceedings. Many unaccompanied minors are teenagers but are also as young as toddler-age. Children end up in the U.S. for several reasons. Some left abusive homes and families in Central America and Asia where systems failed them. Others are separated from families coming to the U.S. seeking protection and better opportunities. Most of the children are traumatized by their circumstances and navigating complex immigration law is a hopeless challenge for many.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote in her recent editorial published in the LA Times, that “According to the Esperanza Immigration Rights Project, about 145 unaccompanied minors are released each month from federal child detention centers. Once released they are unlikely to have access to legal representation or advocates.[i]” Lawyers in immigration courts frequently see children in court. In an April 2013 video interview featuring immigration lawyers and policy leaders, one of whom mentions a judge getting angry with a child for coming to court alone without a guardian and the child mentioning their guardian being undocumented and fearing deportation, hence sending the child to court alone.

Watch Video: Migrant Children Face The Court System Alone[ii].

Some of the immigrant children in the U.S. are DREAMers, seeking immigration relief through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program while Congress continues debating comprehensive immigration reform, including the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (“DREAM”) Act.[iii] While working hard and staying out of trouble many still end up in the immigration court system without the benefit of legal counsel or advocates. When children represent themselves in court without a lawyer or understanding of complex immigration law, they could easily jeopardize any current or future legal immigration status. Who will represent these children?

Immigration cases can take hundreds of hours of time and the number of volunteer attorneys and organizations are limited. One pro bono organization called KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), founded by Angelina Jolie and Microsoft Corporation. “KIND serves as the leading organization for the protection of unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone and strives to ensure that no such child appears in immigration court without representation. We achieve fundamental fairness through high-quality legal representation and by advancing the child’s best interests, safety, and well-being.[iv]

While organizations like KIND do what they can to help children in crisis today, Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform providing proper counsel to unaccompanied immigrant children as a humanitarian objective. Senator Feinstein, in the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration bill, “included an amendment to establish basic standards for children in the custody of Customs and Boarder Protection, including the provision of nutrition, clothing and shoes, personal hygiene and sanitary products, and mental health and emergency care services.[v]

While waiting for urgently needed reform, children and their relatives stay in the U.S. at their peril. Immigration attorneys help them apply for temporary legal status. 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] LA Times Letters: First, protect migrant children. Sen. Diane Feinstein, Mar. 14, 2014.

[ii] Huffington Post Live: Migrant Children Face The Court System Alone . Hosted by Alyona Minkovski. Original air date Apr. 15, 2013.

[iii] American Immigration Council, Immigration Policy Center website: The Dream Act.

[iv] Kids in Need of Defense website: About us.

[v] See Sen. Feinstein article cited FNi.

Parole in Place: Eligible Military Relatives Can Adjust to Lawful Permanent Status

Spouse, parents and unmarried children of U.S. citizens in the military, if eligible, can apply for PIP.

Spouse, parents and unmarried children of U.S. citizens in the military, if eligible, can apply for PIP.

Parole in place[i] (“PIP”) allows U.S. military relatives legal immigration status and military benefits. Family members already qualifying for a green card based on a close family relationship can adjust their status and apply for a green card or lawful permanent residence without first leaving the U.S. as would normally be the case.  This initiative came to being in response to a strong push for President Obama to take action despite Congress stalling on comprehensive immigration reform. Supporters of PIP praise the allowance of benefits to undocumented family members of U.S. military and veterans while critics disapprove of the broad reach of PIP and the lack of Congressional approval.

Spouse, parents and unmarried children of U.S. citizens in the military, if eligible, can apply for PIP.

In order to apply for PIP status change and benefits you must be eligible for a U.S. green card as an immediate relative. Eligible relatives are a U.S. citizen’s parent, spouse or unmarried child under 21 years of age. Blocks to eligibility[ii], despite family relationship, include security, criminal and immigration violations; being likely to require public welfare assistance; communicable diseases, and so forth. Note that there are options where an individual can apply to waive inadmissibility grounds, but the PIP policy gives certain applicants the benefit of the doubt, and an undocumented military spouse who arrived or remains present in the U.S. without designated immigration status[iii] will not be considered inadmissible and can apply for PIP legal status without an inadmissibility waiver.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) parole in place memorandum, by the authority and direction of President Obama, identifies and addresses several concerns for members of the U.S. Armed Services:

  • “Military preparedness can potentially be adversely affected if active members of the U.S. Armed Forces and individuals serving in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, who can be quickly called into active duty, worry about the immigration status of their spouses, parents and children.”
  • “Similarly, our veterans, who have served and sacrificed for our nation, can face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of their family members in the United States. We as a nation have made a commitment to our veterans, to support and care for them. It is a commitment that begins at enlistment, and continues as they become veterans”

When the U.S. citizen served in the military is a broad component of PIP, which extends beyond Active Duty military. In addition, PIP eligibility extends to close family of current Selected Reserve and Ready Reserve members as well as those who previously served.

Take a moment to watch this short news video embedded in a recent news article[iv], telling the story of a wounded U.S. military veteran who relies on the care of his wife, an undocumented immigrant who the PIP policy is designed to offer relief.

VIDEO LINK: Fox News: New Immigration Policy Grants Legal Status To U.S. Military Relatives

PIP approved status applications and adjustments of status are discretionary and may require an attorney.

Like most immigration status applications and adjustments, the process for obtaining a green card or lawful permanent resident status is complex. The PIP offers an allowance but it does not grant a right to immigration status or benefits. You cannot start the process as an adjustment of status to a green card, without first submitting the proper applications to address entry to the U.S. and a request for PIP benefits. A licensed immigration attorney can help interested eligible military family members with the process.

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 PIP 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] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – Policy Memorandum 602-0091

[ii] 8 U.S. Code § 1182 – Inadmissible aliens

[iv] Fox News: Immigration change gives legal status to undocumented relatives of US military. By William La Jeunesse, Dan Gallo, Mar. 11, 2014.

USCIS extends Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti for 18 months

Temporary Protected Status gives temporary respite from deportation to those who temporarily cannot safely return to their home country.

Temporary Protected Status gives temporary respite from deportation to those who temporarily cannot safely return to their home country.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) extended the designation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for 18 months from July 23, 2014 through January 22, 2016.[i] Eligible Haitian nationals must re-register to extend their status during within a 60-day window. Applications were accepted as of March 3, 2014 and must be received no later than May 2, 2014 to take advantage of the extended TPS period. Haitian TPS beneficiaries working in the U.S. may also apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) to receive an EAD card valid through January 22, 2016.[ii] TPS does not grant permanent resident status (a green card) but it does offer temporary shelter I the United States without fear of deportation to the victims of disaster in their countries of origin.

Temporary Protected Status gives temporary respite from deportation to those who temporarily cannot safely return to their home country.

Haiti was designated a TPS country in 2010 when they suffered the severe earthquake. Other TPS countries include: El Salvador; Honduras; Nicaragua; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; and Syria.[iii] Countries receive TPS designations when their nationals face ongoing-armed conflicts, environmental disasters and other extraordinary conditions making for unsuitable living. The 2010 Haiti earthquake was catastrophic. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 316,000 people died in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti.[iv] Another several hundred thousand residences and buildings were destroyed leaving many homeless and without an able government to stabilize the area. Marking the four year anniversary of the earthquake, NPR published an article, “Four Years After Earthquake, Many in Haiti Remain Displaced.[v]” The article states that many have been able to rebuild, “But for nearly 150,000 people, life hasn’t moved on. They still live in the temporary plastic and plywood structures erected after the disaster.”

Haitian nationals who are beneficiaries of TPS must meet eligibility requirements to stay in the U.S.

The eligibility requirements for TPS and blocks to gaining TPS are listed on the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) website and are listed below. “To be eligible for TPS, an applicant must:

  1. Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
  2. File during the open initial registration or re-registration period, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation;
  3. Have been continuously physically present (“CPP”) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country; and
  4. Have been continuously residing (“CR”) in the United States since the date specified for your country. The law allows an exception to the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements for brief, casual and innocent departures from the United States. When you apply or re-register for TPS, you must inform USCIS of all absences from the United States since the CPP and CR dates. USCIS will determine whether the exception applies in your case.[vi]

Haitian TPS beneficiaries should be aware of blocks to eligibility requirements for extensions.

Some individuals may not be eligible for TPS or to maintain their status in the event they are convicted of a felony or multiple misdemeanor crimes while in the U.S. Additionally, criminal and security related grounds otherwise barring immigration and asylum eligibility will prevent TPS. Also, failure to maintain the CPP and CR requirements can be a block to TBS. Finally, failures to timely re-register for TPS as required could preclude eligibility.

Living and working in the U.S. requires compliance with immigration laws. TPS beneficiaries who work in the U.S. with a valid EAD card who apply for extended TPS must also obtain a new EAD with an extended expiration date. An immigration attorney can not only help TPS beneficiaries with the EAD process, they also work with individuals with issues related to TPS denials and withdrawals. When denied TPS, immigration attorneys can file appeals and motions when appropriate.

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 TPS and EAD matters. 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. Customs and Immigration Services: Temporary Protected Status Extended for Haitians. Media release date March 3, 2014.

[ii] U.S. Customs and Immigration Services: Employment Authorization Document.

[iii] U.S. Customs and Immigration Services: Temporary Protected Status.

[iv] U.S. Geological Survey: Deaths from Earthquakes in 2010.

[vi] U.S. Customs and Immigration Services: Temporary Protected Status.