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A person with legal US citizenship status cannot be deported – yet it happens. There are numerous cases where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has wrongly detained persons and deported many who were, in fact, lawful US citizens.

Although individual rights can be significantly affected under immigration laws, constitutional legal protections are not guaranteed when a person faces detention and deportation under immigration laws.

Serious reforms are needed in order to better protect those vulnerable to the often random enforcement and largely unchecked deportation authority wielded by ICE.

In a case entitled Borden v. United States, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) recently clarified the level of mental awareness that persons must have in order to be convicted under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In that case, the Court was interpreting the meaning of the language used to describe the commission of a “violent felony” under the ACCA (a federal statute).

While SCOTUS was not ruling on an immigration law specifically, the language that was being interpreted was very similar to language used in immigration laws to describe criminal behavior that can result in deportation. Therefore, the Court’s ruling may have applicability in immigration deportation proceedings where a noncitizen is being deported for committing a crime of violence.

Noncitizen Deportation for Criminal Activity

Starting approximately March 2020, the United States and Canada agreed to restrict border crossings for all nonessential travel in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 between the two countries. Canada’s ban included travel by air, land, and sea. Interestingly, the US never banned Canadians from flying to the US.

On August 9 Canada reopened the border to US residents who have been fully vaccinated and provide results of a Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. The US, however, did not respond in kind. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the restrictions until October 21, 2021. The US ban applies to land ports of entry, passenger rail, ferry terminals, and pleasure boats. The ban does not apply to air, freight rail or sea travel.

Why Can Canadians Fly to the US But Can’t Drive Across the Border?

As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, thousands of refugees are also desperately trying to leave the country. Since 2009 the US has admitted qualifying Afghan allies and their families under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The program offers resettlement in the US to Afghans who assisted US military operations and are in danger of retribution from Taliban forces.

However, the processing of SIV applications has been slow and wait times long. It’s estimated that 300,000 Afghans provided assistance to the US yet only about 20,000 SIVs have been issued since the inception of the program. And many who worked with the US and are in need of assistance do not qualify for SIV.

In response to the extreme danger many Afghans are facing as the Taliban has rapidly regained control of the country, the Biden administration has taken steps to streamline the processing of SIV applications and has opened a new avenue of entry for Afghan refugees through the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Eligible Afghans who don’t qualify for SIV can now apply for a Priority 2 (P2) designation under the USRAP.

In March of 2020, as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and President Trump declared a national emergency in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used its authority in the name of the protection of public health to suspend migration of foreign nationals across the borders from Canada and Mexico.

The migration ban has been extended several times since it was initially imposed. Opponents argue that the ban unfairly targets non-citizens while millions of other travelers are still allowed to come into the U.S. across the northern and southern borders.

Amid criticism and opposition from immigration advocacy groups, the Biden administration recently extended the ban indefinitely citing the rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant as justification.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established by President Obama in 2012. The program provides legal status for noncitizens who were brought to the US as children and are otherwise without immigration documentation.

DACA status is available to those who meet specific criteria regarding age and entry into the US. DACA recipients, often called “Dreamers,” are given an initial 2-year period of protection that can be renewed in 2-year increments. DACA allows recipients to live, work and attend school in the US. However, DACA status does not provide a way for recipients to achieve permanent residency status.

DACA was stalled by the Trump administration but had been back up and running since December 2020. Facing a backlog of applications that had grown to more than 80,000 by the end of June, the Biden administration had committed additional resources when a Federal Judge ruled that the program was illegal and must not accept or process any new DACA applications.

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Biden

Under “The US Citizenship Act of 2021,” legislation that began making its way through Congress in February of this year, the Biden administration is attempting to revamp an outdated immigration system and help make right the immigration wrongs imposed by the previous administration Important issues addressed by the new legislation include the need to keep immigrant families together and to make an effort to reunite families that were previously separated while trying to immigrate The new law would also make the screening process more efficient and cut down on long wait times And, the law would empower immigration judges to have more discretion to consider individual circumstances and make decisions as appropriate under the circumstances of each case.

One of the biggest changes proposed by the bill is the ability for those who are undocumented nationals (“noncitizens”) currently in the United States to earn their way to citizenship.

The L-1 Visa offers a relatively quick solution to employers in the United States with multinational operations who need to bring foreign employees from company affiliates in other countries to America for a limited time. Similarly, foreign companies can also use the L-1 Visa to send employees to the US to start operations. The L-1 Visa is an important part of business immigration because the ability to move non-immigrant employees to the US on a temporary basis is considered essential to economic prosperity.

To qualify for an L-1 Visa, both employers and employees need to meet certain qualifications in order to be eligible for benefits. Employers apply for the visas and there are no limits on how many of the visas an employer can request. The L-1 Visa is able to be extended up to a maximum number of years depending on the type of L-1 Visa that has been authorized.

Types of L-1 Visas

If you are an immigrant in the United States, you’re subject to the basic criminal laws that apply to everyone else and also federal immigration laws which have their own definitions of criminal behavior. Thus, a criminal conviction carries much more significance for an immigrant than a United States citizen.

The main penalty under immigration laws for a qualifying criminal conviction is deportation (i.e. “removal”) from the United States. All deportations occur through the immigration courts and require adjudication by an immigration judge.

In 2020, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) processed 185,884 “removals” reporting 92% of those removed had criminal convictions. What this demonstrates is that the immigration authorities are most focused on deporting those persons with criminal convictions. For this reason, if you’re facing criminal charges, it’s very important to have a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in your corner.

Just this past month, March 2021, President Biden made good on his campaign promise and granted temporary protected status (TPS) to the more than 300,000 Venezuelans currently living in the United States. Venezuela has been in political and economic turmoil since current president Nicolas Maduro took over in 2013. The government in Venezuela is regarded as corrupt and crime and poverty are rampant. People have been fleeing the country in huge numbers. In fact, about 5 million of the country’s 28 million people have already left and the situation doesn’t look to get better any time soon.

Persons in the United States from Venezuela who are eligible for TPS have until September 5, 2021 to register for relief with the government. Applicants must show they have been physically present in the United States since March 9, 2021. TPS will be good through September 9, 2022.

What Is Temporary Protected Status?

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