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Staten Island Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Family immigration helps immigrants achieve

Opinions vary widely on exactly how we should support new citizens coming to the United States. Some argue that generous family immigration policies enable new transplants to succeed -- not only in emotional ways, but as an important driver of economic success. When migrants help the economy thrive, all citizens benefit. New York transplants who have access to extended family support are more likely to build a strong network and feel happier. 

Family immigration is good for the U.S. economy as well. When a person can be supported in a new place with some of his family, he is more likely to be able to have a job or start a business. In 2014, migrant entrepreneurs started over a quarter of new business in the United States. When traveling families expand, they drive the housing market. 

A look at US permanent resident policies

If a person wants to live legally in the United States, the question can be, but how? Immigration laws can be obtuse, to say the least. A recent news article takes a look at U.S. policies for naturalization and sifts through the many details. Persons in New York looking to become a permanent resident may find some new information that can help them achieve their goals. 

There are immigration limits over many categories of immigrants. Currently, the cap for immigration for individuals with no bachelor's degree is 5,000 people. Only 7 percent of available visas may be offered to individuals from one particular country, so countries with higher populations will not receive a proportional level of representation in the number of immigrants. Quotas for employment-based visas are capped at 140,000, and those numbers have not changed since 1990, despite significant changes in the economy. There are also limits placed on the numbers of immigrants with extraordinary ability -- that is, Nobel Prize winners, scientists and outstanding researchers. 

Testify: An unusual way to avoid immigration charges

A recent tragedy offers unexpected hope for a pool of immigrants caught in the middle of a trafficking court case. Prosecutors are able to help immigrant survivors avoid immigration charges and gain citizenship in exchange for testimony about human smuggling that led to the deaths of several people in the back of a tractor-trailer. The New York Times tells about this unusual path to citizenship in a recent news story. 

The fateful smuggling trip led to the deaths of 10 immigrants who died as a result of heat exposure in the back of a truck. The 29 others who survived may have protection from deportation, as well as a possible path to citizenship, should they be classified as material witnesses. Prosecutors for the human trafficking case will attempt to delay deportation while the criminal case is being investigated. 

One state ponders ban on citizenship ID in criminal cases

As one state goes, potentially others will follow. A northwestern state is considering making the mention of citizenship inadmissible in criminal court cases unless the defendant's immigration status is relevant to the case. Proponents and opponents are hashing out the details, while other states like New York watch intently. It remains to be seen if similar rules will be applied in other states. 

In June, the state's supreme court agreed to consider the proposal that unless immigration status is an essential fact to prove an element of a criminal offense or to defend against such, or to show bias or prejudice of a witness, it is inadmissible in court. The measure, advocates hope, will encourage immigrants to assert their rights without fear of deportation. Some crimes, such as employee rights violations and domestic violence crimes, go unreported because victims fear that their illegal immigration status may force them to be deported. 

Citizenship scams being tackled by New York immigrant groups

Some people will stop at nothing for greedy financial gain, even if that means exploiting vulnerable groups of people. A recent news story gives details about scams that are targeted toward the undocumented immigrant community in New York, including fake citizenship scams. City groups are battling the issue by spreading awareness and providing facts. 

Due to fear, language barriers and a likelihood to use cash-based financing, undocumented immigrants are vulnerable to scammers such as one man who posed as an ICE agent and cheated individuals out of over $15,000. Other con artists pose as lawyers but do not actually have the required credentials. These scammers say that they are able to provide green cards or visas, but who in fact sometimes lead immigrants to deportation. Some businesses use predatory lending practices when exploiting the financial vulnerability of immigrants. 

Immigrants take citizenship oaths in recent New York ceremony

For nearly 200 immigrants, there could hardly be a better day. Wherever they came from and however far they traveled, their paths all converged at the New York Public Library where they stood to take citizenship oaths, the final step in the path to becoming an American citizen. A short recent news article about the ceremony shares tidbits about the individuals there, giving faces to the many people who travel to the United States looking to establish themselves as naturalized citizens. 

The crowd was diverse with folks hailing from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, India, Ghana, Bangladesh and more. Some knew that starting over meant leaving comfortable norms such as a dependable roster of clients, or leaving promises of numerous job offers behind, but they were willing to risk change and break away from their old comforts. The one thing all the people had in common was a desire to become an American citizen. 

Child detainees now entitled to bond hearings

How should the United States deal with the occurrence of unaccompanied immigrant children? Some individuals captured at the border are minors unaccompanied by an adult. Previously, these children were held as detainees without the option of a bond hearing. A recent court ruling has changed this policy on bond hearings for children, which may have implications for individuals in New York.

The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals ruled that immigration authorities must honor a 1990s era agreement that established policies for detention, release and treatment of minors in immigration custody. The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the decision of the Ninth Circuit three judge panel, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, immigration advocates are celebrating the decision, which allows for a neutral hearing for the detained children and gives them the option to be released instead of held for long periods of time.

Permanent resident takes Sixth Amendment issue to Supreme Court

One of the basic rights given in New York and throughout the United States is the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees a citizen the right to an attorney if one is desired. When charged with a crime, most defendants seek to retain an attorney who is expected to be knowledgeable about the law. When an individual receives legal advice that is completely ineffective, it can have far-reaching consequences. A recent story tells the tale of a permanent resident facing deportation who prevailed once he took the case to the Supreme Court. 

The man, originally from South Korea, is a permanent legal resident of the United States. He moved to New York at the age of 13, and later moved to another state. He was a business owner there but later was allegedly caught with ecstasy pills and faced charges of possession of drugs with intent to distribute. His attorney advised him that going to trial was risky, and that he should plead guilty and accept a deal. The man asked his lawyer repeatedly whether pleading guilty would put him at risk of deportation, to which the lawyer incorrectly advised no. 

Citizenship case prohibits favoring mothers over fathers

Rules regarding immigration can seem arbitrary and murky. Some cases, due to their highly contested and unclear nature, rise all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. A recent Supreme Court decision, appealed from the New York Second Circuit Court of Appeals, finds that it is unfair to favor mothers over fathers in a certain citizenship issue. 

A man was facing deportation due to consequences related to robbery and attempted murder convictions. The man claimed American citizenship. His father was an American citizen, but his mother was not. His parents were unwed but later married. 

New York law provides deportation defense for petty crimes

Petty crimes should not be the cause for removal from the United States. Immigrants who are charged with lesser crimes will now have more shelter under a new New York City law that allows police to charge them with lesser civil summonses versus criminal summonses. This law provides an important deportation defense. A recent news story covers the details of the new law.

Immigrants must keep a clean record or they can face deportation. By changing the classification for some crimes from criminal to civil, immigrants can avoid new criminal charges that could affect their immigration status. The law was passed in 2016 by the city council and later signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

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