President Obama to reduce refugee allotments for Central Americans but calls for alternative program to benefit foreign applicants

The new programs President Obama wants would allow eligible people to apply for refugee status from other countries before they arrive on U.S. soil.

The new programs President Obama wants would allow eligible people to apply for refugee status from other countries before they arrive on U.S. soil.

There is a limit on the number of foreign individuals allowed to apply for refugee relief and resettlement assistance in the U.S. under special humanitarian concern. Last week President Obama reduced the limit for Central American refugees, despite the recent increase in arrivals from the Central American countries where crime and gang violence drove more than 60,000 families from their homes; the overall refugee admissions limit for fiscal year 2015 is the same as 2014, at 70,000. President Obama announced his interest in new programs for asylum seekers. In connection therewith, the allotment for people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is 4,000 down from the allotment of 5,000 for the current fiscal year.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) website contains general information about refugee and asylum status. The current allotment reduction for Central Americans concerns refugee status, defined by USCIS as, “A form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm.[i]

The serious harm people often fear is that they will be or have been persecuted for reasons of t heir political opinion, membership in certain groups, sex, nationality, race and origin, to name a few. A variety of factors contributes to the balance of serious harm to people and humanitarian factors. Often major events, including weather catastrophes like a tsunami causing massive destruction can influence the allotments of admission to the refugee relief programs.

Here is a list of the new allotments[ii]:

  • Africa 17,000
  • East Asia 13,000
  • Europe and Central Asia 1,000
  • Latin America and Caribbean 4,000
  • Near East and South Asia 33,000
  • Unallocated Reserve 2,000

The new programs President Obama wants would allow eligible people to apply for refugee status from other countries before they arrive on U.S. soil. Specifically, the programs the president wants developed would allow Central Americans to apply for refugee status from within their own countries.[iii] In Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, people could benefit from a program that would give them greater security when seeking to apply for immigration relief, rather than risk detention for unlawful presence and experiencing rough conditions in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security residential facilities for undocumented immigrants arriving on U.S. soil.

There are several options President Obama may have in ordering the establishment of a refugee program of this kind and Chicago immigration attorney KiKi M. Mosley will follow the progress of this type of immigration reform effort to keep clients and colleagues up to date as the Obama administration works towards solving problems in the broken U.S. immigration system.

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] USCIS website: Refugees & Asylum

[ii] The White House Office of the Press Secretary: Presidential Memorandum – – FY 2015 Refugee Admissions

[iii] Immigration Impact, Proposed Refugee Program Limited in Central American Impact, by Amy Grenier, Oct. 3, 2014.

Executive orders in immigration: President Obama to follow past presidents in executive action

A history of executive orders.

A history of executive orders.

President Obama, backed into a corner by Congress, must fix immigration with a pen and phone. The New York Times reports that the President, behind closed doors, is working on executive actions to overhaul immigration. An arduous task at best, the President has much work to do, meeting with lobbyists and members of interest groups and advisors. It is noteworthy that the executive branch of government may use executive orders to accomplish goals, despite the lack of an organized system for executive action. Congress, however, is by design, the branch of government best structured to conduct hearings, sort information and create laws. Without the meaningful assistance of Congress, President Obama is now expected to follow previous presidents who affected immigration using executive action.[i]

Everyone is affected by systemic problems in U.S. immigration but politics creates a permanent block to progress.

House Democrats want amnesty for individuals seeking asylum and immigration relief. House Republicans want southern border security and an efficient deportation process. With increased awareness of terror groups and rampant criminal action in the streets, many people living in violent and insecure countries are learning how they can come to the U.S., but they don’t know how to navigate the system to come legally, and follow in line with others making a run to U.S. borders. The immigration problems in the U.S. are not getting better and they will likely only grow worse. In the past, U.S. presidents, from both political parties, used executive orders to solve pressing immigration problems.

President Obama, like his predecessors, has executive order options he can use to overhaul immigration.

The way you hear House Republicans attacking and suing President Obama for signing executive orders in once instance, and criticizing him for failing to write immigration reform may be confusing to many. In fact, President Obama has only issued 185 executive orders as of August 5, 2014[ii]; According to Newsweek, his number, “Is Lower Than Any President in 130 Years.[iii]” In a recent report prepared by a political research organization, Executive Actions Speak Louder Than Words[iv], other recent presidents signed many more orders than President Obama:

  1. Barack Obama – 185 executive orders between 2009 and 2014;
  2. George W. Bush – 291 executive orders during two terms in office;
  3. Bill Clinton – 364 executive orders during two terms in office;
  4. George H.W. Bush – 166 executive orders during one term in office;
  5. Ronald Reagan – 381 executive orders during two terms in office;
  6. Jimmy Carter – 320 executive orders during one term in office.

Past presidents, including Reagan and both Bush presidents used executive action to address immigration.

Important executive orders have been used in recent history to address compelling civil rights problems. While so many people are quick to judge a current president’s record, it is easy to forget that this is not a new method to cure immigration problems in the U.S. Here is a summary of some notable executive actions in immigration, taken by recent U.S. presidents[v]:

  • 1987 – President Reagan eased immigration standards for 200,000 Nicaraguan exiles in the U.S.;
  • 1990 – President Bush Sr. protected Chinese students fearing persecution if sent back to China;
  • 1991 – President Bush Sr. delayed deportation for hundreds of Kuwaiti residents for four years;
  • 1992 – President Bush Sr. made repatriation “automatic” for Haitians coming to the U.S., including those with “potentially valid claim to refugee status”;
  • 1993 – President Clinton granted 18-month extension of the Deferred Enforcement Departure Program, giving 200,000 Salvadorans the right to legally live and work in the U.S.;
  • 1997 – President Clinton again used executive authority to give exemptions to up to 20,000 Haitians for an additional year, from strict new deportation rules;
  • 1998 – President Clinton temporarily suspended deportation to hurricane-ravaged countries;
  • 2001 – President Bush Jr. gave temporary protected status to up to 150,000 Salvadorans;
  • 2002 – President Bush Jr. expedited naturalization for green card holders enlisted in the military.

Obviously, the use of executive actions by U.S. presidents, in immigration, is a common practice. Despite House Representatives, who refuse to take meaningful action in immigration reform, the President can and apparently will sign one or a series of executive orders to address current immigration crises, including some 57,000 recent migrant individuals fleeing from Central America.

KiKi M. Mosley keeps pace with the immigration roller coaster on Capitol Hill because real people need immigration reform today.

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] New York Times, Behind Closed Doors, Obama Crafts Executive Actions, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Aug. 18, 2014.

[ii] Federal Register, Executive Orders website.

[iii] Newsweek, An Embarrassing Hole in Boehner’s Plan to Sue ‘King’ Obama, by Leah McGrath Goodman, Jun. 27, 2014.

[iv] American Bridge, Executive Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Aug. 8, 2014.

[v] See American Bridge report (HNiv) for specific article sources.

Ninth hour congressional action by House Representatives: A good faith effort or a show play leaving President Obama to use his executive powers?

Ninth hour congressional action by House Representatives

Ninth hour congressional action by House Representatives

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants President Obama to use executive orders[i] to fix immigration issues, and on the other hand, endorses a lawsuit against him for several of his past issued executive orders including the orders regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”). Note that DACA does not give benefit to current arrivals; in order to qualify for DACA program, an individual needed to have been on U.S. soil before 2007. Nevertheless, House Republicans blame DACA for enticing new arriving immigrants.

In his press statement last Thursday about border security and House Republican proposals for reform, Speaker Boehner stated, “This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws. There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now.[ii]

While Speaker Boehner speaks critically of President Obama, House Republicans have their own version of immigration reform legislation that does not sit well with President Obama’s administration.

Note that this statement by Speaker Boehner was issued with regards to H.R. 5230, the border supplemental legislation, proposed by House Republican Rep. Rogers (R-Kentucky), which as proposed, would provide additional money for international operations of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to combat the problem of security threats from organized crime networks (drug cartels) and also to reimburse local communities for the cost of housing and educating unaccompanied minors. Of course, there are elements of H.R. 5230 that are more favored by the Republican ideals of addressing immigration.

President Obama would likely be advised to veto this legislation if it moved forward according to recent statement. In response to the introduction of H.R. 5230, the Executive Office of the President’s Office of Management and Budget stated in a July 30, 2014, statement, “Republicans released patchwork legislation that will only put more arbitrary and unrealistic demands on an already broken system. H.R. 5230 could make the situation worse, not better. By setting arbitrary timelines for the processing of cases, this bill could create backlogs that could ultimately shift resources away from priority public safety goals, like deporting known criminals.[iii]

The House Republicans offer a list of, “Immediate Steps the President Could Take to Start Solving the Border Crisis,” published on the House GOP website[iv]:

  • Send the strong, public message that those who enter illegally will be returned;
  • Stop abusing his prosecutorial discretion authority;
  • Stop releasing convicted criminal aliens from detention;
  • Crack down on fraudulent asylum claims;
  • Implement tougher standards for “credible fear” claims;
  • Detain asylum seekers until their claims are proved valid;
  • Restore agreements with local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws;
  • Employ diplomatic resources to stop the border crisis;
  • Give Border Patrol agents access to federal lands.

While there are some steps on the GOP list that could be accomplished by President Obama issuing executive orders and directing DHS and ICE to act and implement new policies. The steps on this list may also be “easier said than done.”

Current immigration clients and their cases can be seriously impacted by the immigration system when it does not move along in an orderly fashion. Wait times are already many years in certain instances and the proposed legislation by the House Republicans could hurt many immigrants who are not part of any border surge, people who arrived on U.S. soil under much different circumstances and conditions. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley works diligently to follow the latest news on immigration reform and share valuable information to help readers keep up with the volatile process of fixing our broken immigration system.

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] Executive orders are enforceable law and are subject to judicial review, and if the executive order is not supported by the Constitution or by statute. When executive orders should be used, versus action voted by congress to be written in an executive order as delegated legislation, is a debatable political question influenced by policy and a variety of factors.

[ii] U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner: Press Release, Statement by House GOP Leaders on Border Bill, Jul. 31, 2014, Speaker Boehner’s Press Office.

[iii] Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget, Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 5230 – Making Supplemental Appropriations for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2014, and for Other Purposes. Jul. 30, 2014.

[iv] GOP.gov – House Republicans: Immediate Steps the President Could Take to Start Solving the Border Crisis, Courtesy of the House Judiciary Committee.

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.