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Staten Island Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Family immigration, one of many facets of overhaul

The United States is experiencing a shift in policies regarding people looking to relocate to the country. The current administration has been very active in altering existing guidelines and acting to make changes. A border wall, increased detention facilities and restricting family immigration are major things happening now in American immigration policy. People who have relocated to New York recently may be interested in keeping current with the shifting policies on U.S. immigration. 

With the border wall as one of his major campaign promises, it is no surprise that President Trump has been interested in reforming these policies. Prototypes of the wall are currently being built and tested, and resolution of another immigration issue, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, may be packaged along with funding for the wall in the future. Also in the news is the ending of Temporary Protected Status for certain groups of legal immigrants.

Permanent resident status one option on the table for immigrants

U.S. Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently spoke out about options for resolution to the immigration issue for DACA recipients. This group of immigrants, which consists of mostly young people, has recently come into the news because of the Trump administration's announcement to end the DACA program. The legal status of these individuals is currently up in the air, but the Homeland Security Secretary remains hopeful that a solution to the problem can be found, including possibly granting permanent resident status. This hopeful outlook could potentially be reassuring to some immigrants in New York. 

Some of the various options currently on the table are permanent residency, citizenship or a temporary protected status. No decision has yet been made, though, and Congress is still considering its options. Other details, such as how exactly one would qualify for citizenship, are also being discussed. 

New hurdles for citizenship seekers in New York

Another round of paperwork has been added to what some individuals say is an already lengthy process. For individuals seeking U.S. citizenship and desiring to locate to New York, this means the the extra steps may possibly cause delays. No longer will people be able to allow a family member or lawyer to easily work directly with a member of Congress. 

Potential immigrants sometimes seek aid through congressional offices, and allow the office to work directly with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services through a family member or lawyer with the use of a privacy waiver. Now, the process to ensure that the waiver is honored has become somewhat more difficult. USCIS will now require multiple new forms to accompany the privacy waiver. 

Employment immigration visa process trickier these days

Persons seeking common H1-B visas for work are facing more hurdles as the current U.S. administration shifts policies. Greater scrutiny has led to an increase in requests for evidence from applicants. Employment immigration visas are still being granted in New York, reportedly, but applicants are putting forth greater effort and more time to receive them. 

An H1-B visa is granted to individuals coming to the United States to perform certain jobs that require highly-skilled employees who have at least a bachelor's level of education. When the person applies, they must be able to demonstrate that the job does in fact require the specialized higher education. More often, say immigration lawyers, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office is sending the applications back with requests for more evidence that the job requires education. 

Raising awareness of immigration detention via hunger strike

One individual seeking asylum has decided to take a dramatic stance to raise awareness of his problems with ICE. He is currently being held in immigration detention after seeking asylum for political and discrimination reasons. He says that other immigrants experience similar problems, which may also apply to those awaiting parole in New York.

Looking at the man's case, it seems like he would be a good candidate for parole. He has no criminal history. He has worked and lived in the United States and abroad on visas and has never overstayed the visa. When he lived in his native homeland, he worked for a political campaign that lost, and he now faces persecution there for that reason and because of his sexual orientation. 

Reform could change focus from family immigration to work

Concerns about economic growth are causing the experts to look into certain policy reform. In New York and beyond, one such area of interest is skill-based and family immigration. Experts say that, by looking to the example set by other countries, the United States can create policies that increase the number of immigrants overall and maintain a base of highly skilled workers who contribute to fiscal surplus.

To maximize the benefit of immigration, some have argued that the United States should refocus its efforts from family immigration to skilled employment immigration. Experts point to the example of other nations who take in similar numbers of family immigrants but more numbers of skilled workers. In those countries, the additional number of immigrants have contributed to a more robust economy. 

Tough to transfer from TPS to permanent resident

The revocation of Temporary Protected Status for some otherwise deportable aliens has recently been in the news. A person who is not yet a permanent resident of the United States, who resides in New York, may be subject to deportation. However, due to deteriorating circumstances in some countries, the U.S. has granted TPS for some individuals. 

Most recently, the TPS of Haitians in the United States was announced to be revoked. The U.S. administration has decided that living conditions in the country have improved enough since the earthquake in 2010 that the country could start receiving deportees again. Some individuals and advocacy groups argue that Haitians living in the United States should be allowed to stay because they have been integrated into American life, with many holding jobs, paying taxes and owning homes. 

No path to U.S. citizenship for Haitian TPS recipients

An earthquake, a major hurricane and a persistent cholera outbreak -- this is what migrant Haitians are facing a return to. After the disasters, the United States offered a program called Temporary Protected Status, that allowed these individuals to come to this country for relief from the various crises. But now, the current administration has decided to discontinue the TPS for Haitians and asks those individuals in New York and elsewhere to prepare to go home instead of preparing for citizenship

Other TPS statuses have recently been revoked as well for Sudanese and Nicaraguan immigrants. TPS for Hondurans is potentially on the chopping block as well. Many experts and officials are arguing that Haiti is not yet ready to accept thousands of native Haitians back onto its shores, citing continuing difficulties with health, crime and poverty. 

US immigration law being enforced in courts, and just outside

Authorities are looking for migrants wherever people are to be found. Under the new presidential administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is enforcing US immigration law more than ever. In New York, ICE agents are even making arrests in courthouses, grabbing folks on their way in or out of the courts. 

Across New York, it is reported that ICE courthouse arrests are up 900 percent in 2017. Agents are making appearances in courthouses and arresting people who simply report for minor infractions such as traffic violations. Typically, in the past, these agents have only sought out people convicted of more serious crimes. 

Police in schools increase frequency of immigration detention

Because of the recent increase in crime and violence in the nation's schools, parents have embraced the idea of police officers, called school resources officers, lingering at the entrances and patrolling the halls of their children's schools. The presence of a police officer in the building may give many a feeling of security and relief. However, for those who fear immigration detention, either for themselves or for their parents, these SROs create an atmosphere of terror.

In New York and across the country, over 17,000 SROs are employed by school systems. Their responsibilities include giving lessons on safety, preventing crime on campus and responding to any emergencies that occur during the school day. While this may seem to many a positive presence, some are noticing the increase in criminal charges against minority students who commit minor infractions at school, such as using a cell phone during class.

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