Articles Posted in Immigration News

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.

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.

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?

Girl waving US Flag
On September 4, 2020, in a case styled Gomez v. Trump, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted a legal challenge to the Trump Administration\u2019s decision to deny visas to persons who won the right to apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States through the diversity visa lottery program. In the ruling, the court directed the Trump Administration to immediately process the visa applications of all persons that were selected under the lottery program in 2020. The decision marks a significant victory for winners that were previously notified by the Trump Administration that their applications for a green card would be denied.

What Is the Visa Lottery?

The diversity immigrant visa program, also commonly referred to as the “green card lottery,” is a government program that randomly selects applicants (winners) who apply through a lottery program for the right to permanently live and work in the United States. The program is administered through the United States Department of State and was established through the Immigration Act of 1990.

Biden for President
With the 2020 election having just ended and with former Vice-President Joseph Biden appearing to be headed towards victory as the next President of the United States, many immigrants might be wondering what it all means for them. Given the stark political contrast between Mr. Biden and soon to be former President Donald Trump, the impact of this election upon the lives of millions of immigrants and non-immigrants alike will undoubtedly be profound.

During the past four years President Trump made a restrictive immigration policy the cornerstone of his administration. There was not a week that went by during the Trump Administration when there was not some news about an initiative or policy intended to restrict or curb immigration to the United States. President Trump’s Senior Advisor on immigration policy, Stephen Miller, proclaimed a second term for Trump would mean a much more aggressive immigration policy. With the results of the 2020 election favoring a President Biden, it appears Mr. Miller’s hopes will be dashed.

PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP FOR “DREAMERS”

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