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News

By Jesse Jong

12/26/19

SOME LIBERIANS ALLOWED TO ADJUST THEIR STATUS TO LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENT

Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will begin accepting applications to adjust status to lawful permanent resident from certain Liberian nationals under Section 7611 of the National Defense Authorization Act (PDF) for fiscal year 2020, Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF), signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019.

To be eligible for permanent residence (a Green Card) under LRIF, a Liberian national must have been continuously physically present in the United States from Nov. 20, 2014, to the date they properly file an application for adjustment of status. USCIS will accept properly filed applications until Dec. 20, 2020, one year from the enactment of the LRIF.

Applicants must be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and be admissible to the United States. The spouses, unmarried children under 21, and unmarried sons and daughters 21 or older of eligible Liberian nationals are also eligible for Green Cards.

The following grounds of inadmissibility do not apply to applicants under the LRIF:

Public Charge (INA 212(a)(4));
Labor Certification Requirements (INA 212(a)(5));
Aliens Present Without Admission or Parole (INA 212(a)(6)(A)); and
Documentation Requirements (INA 212(a)(7)(A).

Aliens are ineligible under LRIF if they have:

Been convicted of any aggravated felony;
Been convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense); or
Ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Call me at 41LAWJONG8 to discuss. 


12/13/19

EXPANSION OF GUIDANCE FOR GOOD MORAL CHARACTER BY THE USCIS

The USCIS has expanded their policy for Good Moral Character requirements.  Good Moral Character (or GMC) is required in numerous applications made by an immigrant for immigration benefits.  One main application that good moral character is required in is the Naturalization Application.  The naturalization application is the application that we file in order to change from a lawful permanent resident (green card) to a citizen of the USA.

Now, while expanding on the law, the USCIS has indicated that 2 DUIs or driving under the influence (of alcohol) during the good moral character period can cause the USCIS to find that good moral character is lacking. (In the case of a citizenship application, the good moral character period is 5 years) 

If good moral character is lacking, this also means that the applicant will be denied for their citizenship application.  Depending on what the denial was for, different outcomes may happen.  The applicant could just be denied and they may just have to file again, or the applicant could be denied and placed into removal proceedings.  

In addition, the USCIS has called into question several other "Unlawful Acts" that would establish that good moral character is lacking, see below.

Therefore, it is important for any person who wants to file for their citizenship, or any other application with the USCIS, to allow a qualified attorney to help them with their case and help them decide whether or not filing that applicaion would be appropriate for them at that time.  

December 13, 2019 PA-2019-11
USCIS Policy Alert

SUBJECT: Conditional Bar to Good Moral Character for Unlawful Acts
Purpose

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS
Policy Manual on unlawful acts during the applicable statutory period that reflect adversely on
moral character and may prevent an applicant from meeting the good moral character (GMC)
requirement for naturalization.1

Background
An applicant who has committed, was convicted of, or was imprisoned for an unlawful act
during the applicable statutory period may be found to lack GMC if the act adversely reflects on
his or her moral character, unless the applicant can demonstrate extenuating circumstances.2 An
act is unlawful if it violates a criminal or civil law of the jurisdiction where it was committed.
The regulation addressing “unlawful acts” does not require the applicant to have been charged
with or convicted of the offense. This guidance, contained in Volume 12 of the Policy Manual, is
controlling and supersedes any prior guidance.


Policy Highlights
• Expands existing guidance on the “unlawful acts” bar to establishing GMC for
naturalization, including adding additional examples of unlawful acts.
• Emphasizes that USCIS officers determine whether an “unlawful act” is a conditional bar
on a case-by-case basis and provides guidance on that case-by-case analysis.


Citation
Volume 12: Citizenship and Naturalization, Part F, Good Moral Character, Chapter 5,
Conditional Bars for Acts in Statutory Period [12 USCIS-PM F.5].
1 See INA 101(f). See 8 CFR 316.10(b)(3)(iii). 2 See INA 101(f). See 8 CFR 316.10(b)(3)(iii). For cases arising in the Ninth Circuit, in addition to extenuating circumstances which precede or are contemporaneous with the act, USCIS must also consider and weigh all factors relevant to the determination of GMC, which include education, family background, employment history, financial status and lack of criminal record. See Hussein v. Barrett, 820 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 2016).


11/26/19

Practice Alert: U Visas

DHS recently issued two important updates regarding the U visa program: (1) an updated version of the U visa guide for law enforcement certifiers; and (2) a new directive on policies for adjudicating requests for stays of removal for U visa petitioners. This practice alert provides brief summaries of these developments.

On July 31, 2019, DHS published a new U Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide for law enforcement officials participating in U visa certification. The updated guide contains a new emphasis on the discretionary nature of U visa certification, stresses law enforcement agencies' ability to withdraw previously issued certifications and to conduct background checks on victims who request certification, and provides information on fraud detection. DHS also requests that law enforcement officials sign in blue (not black) ink for verification purposes.

On August 2, 2019, ICE issued ICE Directive 11005.2: Stay of Removal Requests and Removal Proceedings Involving U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa) Petitioners. Though the Directive has not yet been made publicly available, ICE has issued a fact sheet on the policy change. Under prior guidance, ICE was required to seek a prima facie determination from USCIS before enforcing a removal order against an individual with a pending U Visa petition who had requested a stay. Under the new guidance, ICE officers are no longer required to seek such a determination. Rather, they must simply consider the totality of the circumstances when adjudicating the request for a stay. The new directive gives ICE officers more discretion and provides fewer procedural safeguards for U visa petitioners with pending cases.

Importantly, though ICE has emphasized that the U visa regulations do not prohibit the removal of pending U visa petitioners, ICE has reaffirmed that it will not remove waitlisted U visa petitioners to whom USCIS has granted deferred action, unless a new basis for removal arises or USCIS terminates deferred action.


11/14/2019

USCIS To Raise their Fees by 21%

USCIS FEDERAL REGISTER OUT TODAY, 11/14/19.  USCIS intends to raise all fees by 21%.  The public has 30 days to submit responses to this federal register.  At which time, the USCIS may move forward and implement their new fees.

It would be a good idea to file any applications or petitions with the USCIS prior to the new year 2020 so that the fee for your case remains the same.  


1/28/19

California Driver’s License and the Real ID Act

In California, starting October 1, 2020, we will no longer be able to use just any California Driver’s License to board domestic flights.  Since the passing of the Real ID Act by Congress in May 2005, California has been required to change their driver’s license requirements quite a bit.  While we have been getting updated driver’s licenses, we have yet to comply with the Real ID Act set by Congress.  California has been getting extensions from our federal government to comply with the Real ID Act.  Our deadline is October 1, 2020.

As you may know, California has two driver’s licenses for its residents.  We have the California Driver’s License that complies with the Real ID Act and we have the California Federal Limits Apply Driver’s License that was implemented in January 2016 as the AB 60 license.

Beginning January 2016, California began issuing California Driver’s Licenses for persons who are residents of California without proper immigration status.  These licenses were issued in accordance to AB 60, which is also one of the names of the license if one was to go to a California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get a driver’s license of this type. 

On October 1, 2020, these AB 60 driver’s licenses will no longer be considered proper identification for any domestic travel, including airline flights.  You can tell if you have the AB 60 license by looking at your card.  If you see the words “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” in the upper left-hand corner, then you have an AB 60 license.  This would mean that you cannot fly on airlines by using this license as your identification alone.  If you see our California bear logo on the upper left-hand corner, then you have a Real ID driver’s license which will allow you to use this license as identification for any domestic flight.

In order to apply for a Real ID California Driver’s License that would allow you to fly and use as your main source of identification, you would need to go into the DMV and apply for one.  Online renewals will only provide for the AB 60 license.  So, be careful.  The DMV will charge additional money for you to update your AB 60 license to that of a Real ID license. 

In order to obtain a Real ID driver’s license, we must provide proof of the following to the DMV:

1. Proof of Identity – with the original or a certified copy of 1 of the following:

-       Unexpired US Passport or passport card

-       Birth Certificate from a US state or territory

-       US Certificate of consular report of birth abroad

-       Unexpired foreign passport with valid US visa and approved I-94 form

-       Certificate of Naturalization or citizenship

-       Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card (or green card) or an expired green card with a Notice of Action (I-797C) which states that you are apply for a new green card

-       Unexpired employment authorization card (EAD) or a valid, expired EAD card with a Notice of Action (I-797 C) which states that you are applying for a new EAD

-       Unexpired foreign passport stamped “Processed for I-551”

If you have changed your name, you must also provide certified legal document(s) proving the name change.

2. Proof of Social Security Number originals only – 1 of the following:

-       Social Security Card

-       W-2 Form

-       SSA-1099 form

-       Non-SSA-1099 form

-       Paystub (with your social security number on it)

3. Proof of California Residency (copies accepted) – 2 of the following:

-       Home utility bills (including cellular phone)

-       Medical documents

-       Car or Boat registration

-       Employment documents

-       Insurance documents

-       Bank and Financial institution records

-       Change of Address confirmation by the USPS

-       Mortgage bill, rental or lease agreement (signed by owner and tenant)

-       IRS or California FTB tax return

-       Deed or title to residential real property, property tax bill or statement, original copy of an approved claim for Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption (BOE-266) form filed with a local California County Assessor

-       School documents (includes Date of Birth), proof of payment of resident tuition at a public institution of higher education in California

-       A document issued by a government agency (local, state, or federal)

-       A No Fee Identification Card Eligibility Verification (DL 933) form, completed and signed

-       Faith-based documents, including name and address of organization

If your application falls short on any of the above (except for the proof of California residency), then you may be issued an AB 60 license where as of October 1, 2020, you will no longer be able to use the driver’s license as identification for boarding any domestic flights.

If you have any questions about licenses affecting immigrations please contact me at 415-295-6648.  I provide free first time consultations.


JANUARY 2018

ICE LIES: PUBLIC DECEPTION; PRIVATE PROFIT

SUMMARY

I. Introduction:  ICE's reckless fiscal management of its abusive system of immigration jails

Many of the immigrants who are detained by ICE are victims of domestic violence, children in need of emergency care, activists who spoke out, people seeking redress for wage theft, recipients of DACA, asylum seekers and their children, and other individuals who are erroneously entered into gang databases but were actually victims of gang violence.

Furthermore, ICE often engages in blanket refusals to release immigrants from detention during deportation proceedings.

ICE has failed to be transparent about their fiscal management and detention operations.  It is reported that these failures by ICE to report to the public contributes to the overall failure of ICE to account for its ongoing human rights violations.

The report lays out 3 major concerns:

  1. "Misrepresentation of its so-called operational need for detention space;
  2. Inflated detention cost estimates and willingness to prioritize demands of prison contractors over responsible stewardship; and
  3. Disregard for congressional oversight."

II. ICE artificially inflates its "operational Needs"

In 1994, about 6,800 people were held in detention.  In 2017, almost 40,500 people on a daily average were jailed by ICE.  For 2018, the White House has required increased funding to hold over 51,000 people.

ICE now wants billions of new taxpayer dollars to fund their "needs."  ICE has tried to justify its required increase in funding based on the White House's executive order, however, the executive order itself does not mention or request increased funding.  In addition ICE requests its increased funding to support 1) an increase in arrests, charging documents, and detainers issued against immigrants; and 2) an increase the average length of stay in detention centers.

ICE has further attempted to justify its needs by attempting to shift toward a policy of detaining all asylum seekers, even those who have already been in the U.S. for many years and have become productive, tax paying, members of our community.

A recent example of ICE's manipulation of their budget showed ICE, in September 2017, planning a massive nationwide enforcement operation intending to target 8,400 immigrants.  When the plan was made public, ICE immediately announced that it would postpone its enforcement operation "due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma."

III.  ICE manipulates its bed costs, benefiting detention contractors and endangering immigrants

Although ICE continues to ask for more money while claiming that its costs are rising.  In reality, 65% of ICE's jails are operated by for-profit companies.  It is well documented that for profit companies already drive down costs and maximize profits.  Therefore, like other local jails, ICE's contracts also include extremely low per diem fees, some as low as $30 per day.

IV.  ICE ignores U.S. Law and congressional oversight.

The report indicates that in the areas where Congress has attempted to provide oversight, ICE has remained non-compliant or evasive.

Fiscal Mismanagement:

In May 2017, Congress passed a supplemental appropriations bill providing ICe with $2.6 Billion to massively increase its detention capacity.  However, Congress noted that "ICE's forecasting of its daily population as well as its daily bed rate calculations were not only 'unrealistic' but 'not based on a validated cost estimation methodology,' resulting in forecasting that had 'missed the mark by wide margins' for several years." See House Report, Division F (Homeland Security), Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2017, 131 Stat. 135, Public Law No. 115-31, May 4, 2017, http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20170501/DIVISION%20F-%20HOMELAND%20
SOM%20OCR%20FY17.pdf.

Detention Standards:

Out of the over 200 detention facilities, 151 facilities are contracted to the lowest level of detention standards from 2000.  In the past year alone, Congress has paused and passed DHS Appropriations Act of 2017 and the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2011 to raise the level of care these detention centers have.  However, ICE continues to refuse to rise to the standards set by Congress.  Over the past year, ICE signed or reactivated 54 detention contracts that failed to abide by the standards set by Congress, instead requiring the outdated 2000 standards in direct violation of Congress' mandate.  The report is unaware of any reporting by ICE to Congress the provide justification for its actions.

Facility Inspections:

Since fiscal year 2009, Congress has added report language to the DHS Appropriations bill requiring that ICE terminate contracts for any facility that failed two consecutive inspections.  Congress has made clear expectations that ICE's system of detention inspections should be meaningful, transparent, and created consequences sufficient to ensure compliance with required standards.

However ICE has shown that 40% of known detention facilities have only had "Organizational Review Self-Assessment" which do not include independent monitoring or review.  Further, the remainder detention facilities are subject to annual inspections by ICE's own Enforcement and Removal Operations division.  Basically, ICE is reviewing ICE detention centers.  Furthermore, ICE notifies each detention center of impending inspections.  Even under such circumstances, ICE rarely identifies violations of Congress' standards and rarely imposes corresponding consequences.

Worse yet, a recent review of ICE investigations into deaths in detention centers found that nearly half of the contributing causes were due to medical neglect or the violation of medical standards.  Despite this, the same detention centers passed inspection both immediately before and immediately after the death. 

Recently, a limited series of unannounced spot inspections of ICE facilities conducted by the DHS's Office of the Inspector General ("OIG") revealed problems with ICE self-inspections.  In 5 of 6 facilities inspected by the OIG, the OIG found deficiencies so significant that they "undermine ICE's ability to provide a safe environment for detained individuals."

Furthermore, ICE holds final inspections pending long after the inspection thereby allowing detention centers to continue even after failed inspections.  Information from a Freedom of Information Action shows that ICE continues to exploit the loophole of terminating contracts that fail inspection by keeping the inspection report pending for more than 10 months.  Currently as of 2017, an additional 10 detention centers have been held pending for more than a year.

Clearly, ICE's policing of itself is not working and immigrants from all over the world are suffering due to ICE's evasion of Congress' mandates.

Detention Contracting:

Congress has also raised concerns about ICE's inconsistent and inadequate contracting practices.  ICE neither has a standard template for contracts nor a consistent method for calculation of their needs.  ICE has failed to allow the field officers to validate invoices. 

Given that a majority of detention facilities are operated by contractors, the basic contracting practice is to have a template.  Lack of having templates result in widespread poor practice.  159 detention center contracts do not even have expiration dates.  79% of all facilities never go through a renewal of contract.  It is further questioned whether these contractors even receive ICE's oversight.

VI.   Conclusion

Immediate oversight of bodies like ICE are immediately required.  ICE's bias toward jailing more immigrants for longer periods cause unnecessary deaths.