PIERCE'S IMMIGRATION LAW E-NEWSLETTER is free. It is published by the Law Offices of Curtis Pierce, Certified Specialist, Immigration & Nationality Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.
If you do not wish to continue receiving this monthly e-newsletter on immigration law, please click "Leave mailing list" on the bottom of this page and you will be IMMEDIATELY removed from the mailing list.
Obama Delays Immigration Action Until After Election
WASHINGTON (AP) — Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.
The move is certain to infuriate immigration advocates while offering relief to some vulnerable Democrats in tough Senate re-election contests.
Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president's decision before it was announced, said Obama made his decision Friday as he returned to Washington from a NATO summit in Wales.
They said Obama called a few allies from Air Force One and informed them of his decision, and that the president made more calls from the White House on Saturday.
The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year.
In a Rose Garden speech on June 30, Obama said he had directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to give him recommendations for executive action by the end of summer. Obama also pledged to "adopt those recommendations without further delay."
Obama faced competing pressures from immigration advocacy groups that wanted prompt action and from Democrats worried that acting now would energize Republican opposition against vulnerable Senate Democrats. Among those considered most at risk were Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
Obama advisers were not convinced that any presidential action would affect the elections. But the officials said the discussions around the timing grew more pronounced within the past few weeks.
Ultimately, the advisers drew a lesson from 1994 when Democratic losses were blamed on votes for gun control legislation, undermining any interest in passing future gun measures.
White House officials said aides realized that if Obama's immigration action was deemed responsible for Democratic losses this year, it could hurt any attempt to pass a broad overhaul later on.
Partisan fighting erupted recently over how to address the increased flow of unaccompanied minors from Central America at the U.S. border with Mexico. The officials said the White House had not envisioned such a battle when Obama made his pledge June 30.
Obama asked for $3.7 billion to address the border crisis. The Republican-controlled House, however, passed a measure that only gave Obama a fraction of what he sought and made it easier to deport the young migrants arriving at the border, a provision opposed by Democrats and immigration advocates. In the end, Congress adjourned without a final bill.
The number of minors caught alone illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States has been declining since June. That decrease and Congress' absence from Washington during August has taken attention away from the border for now.
Still, the dispute over how to deal with the surge of Central American border crossers threatened to spill over into the larger debate over immigration and the fate of 11 million immigrants in the United States who either entered illegally or overstayed their visas and have been in the U.S. for some time.
The Democratic-led Senate last year passed a broad overhaul of immigration that boosted border security, increased visas for legal immigrants and a provided a path to citizenship for immigrants illegally in the country.
But the Republican-controlled House balked at acting on any broad measure and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, informed Obama earlier this year that the House would not act in 2014. That led Obama to declare he would act on his own.
During a news conference Friday in Wales, Obama reiterated his determination to act on his own even as he avoided making a commitment on timing. He also spelled out ambitious objectives for his executive actions.
Obama said that without legislation from Congress, he would take steps to increase border security, upgrade the processing of border crossers and encourage legal immigration. He also said he would offer immigrants who have been illegally in the United States for some time a way to become legal residents, pay taxes, pay a fine and learn English.
"I want to be very clear: My intention is, in the absence of ... action by Congress, I'm going to do what I can do within the legal constraints of my office, because it's the right thing to do for the country," he said.
The extent of Obama's authority is a matter of debate among legal experts and in Congress. Some Democrats say it would be best for Obama to let Congress act.
But pro-immigrant groups called on Obama to stick to his end-of-summer deadline, and weighed in with a strongly worded appeal to him on Friday.
"Being a leader requires making difficult and courageous decisions," said the letter, whose signers included the National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens. "It is your time to lead, Mr. Preside
Success Stories: J-1 Waiver Approved For National From China Who Fears Persecution
Law Offices of Curtis Pierce Succeeds in Obtaining J-1 waiver for Chinese National Based on Persecution
Jane Lee is a national from China. She entered the United States many years ago as an exchange visitor with a J-1 visa. Like many other individuals with a J-1 visa, Jane was subject to the two year foreign residency requirement.
The two-year home residency requirement (or 212(e), as it is referenced in the immigration regulations) means that those who come the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status in the U.S., or get work or family-based visa status such as H, L or K until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively.
Since Jane’s American citizen husband of many years was here in the United States, and since she would be persecuted if she returned to China, going back to China for two years was not an option.
Why was Jane subject to this 2 year foreign residency requirement?
An exchange visitor is subject to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement if any of the the following conditions exist:
· Government funded exchange program - The program in which the exchange visitor was participating was financed in whole or in part directly or indirectly by the U.S. government or the government of the exchange visitor's nationality or last residence;
· Graduate medical education or training - The exchange visitor entered the United States to receive graduate medical education or training;
· Specialized knowledge or skill: Skills List - The exchange visitor is a national or permanent resident of a country which has deemed the field of specialized knowledge or skill necessary to the development of the country.
Fortunately, the 2 year foreign residency can be waived. One of the ways in which the requirement can be waived is through demonstrating that the applicant would be persecuted if she returned to her country. That said, our research indicated that J-1 waivers based on persecution are both difficult to obtain and few are granted.
After a long hard battle, our office recently obtained a waiver of the two year foreign residency requirement for Jane. This waiver had to be approved by both USCIS as well as the Department of State.
Since entering the United States, Jane became a acquainted with the spiritual practice known as Falun Gong. Falun Gong is not tolerated in China. In addition, Jane has openly protested the policies of the Chinese government.
Because of Jane’s fears, Jane remained in the United States after her J-1 visa expired and eventually found herself in removal proceedings. She applied fo withholding of removal in immigration court. The immigration judge found that her claim had merit.
He found that there was evidence that she would be persecuted if she returned to China. As a result, he granted the relief known as withholding of removal. This grant of withholding of removal meant that the Immigration Judge was persuaded that there was clear probability that Jane would be persecuted if she returned to China.
In our application for J-1 waiver to USCIS, we pointed out all the reasons Jane would be persecuted if she returned to China. We of course emphasized that a strict immigration judge saw fit to grant Jane’s request for withholding of removal. In addition, we included an expert opinion of a top university professor of Chinese history who obtained his Ph.D from Harvard. He wrote the following on behalf of Jane:
“Lee’s fear of being detained by the authorities is consistent with my understanding and research. As long as the police believe that Lee was supportive of Falun Gong, she would be at risk of being arrested and detained.…. Ms. Lee’s concerns that Chinese authorities are aware of her having participated at protests in front of the Chinese embassy is consistent with my research and supported by articles from numerous sources indicating that China monitors dissent abroad. There is no doubt that Chinese embassies and consulates abroad have been tasked with the surveillance of Falun Gong activities.”
In spite of this, USCIS denied the application for a waiver. We appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of USCIS and argued among other things that the evidence was not properly evaluated. The appeal was sustained. But that was not the end of it. The Department of State would also have to agree with this decision (by USCIS) after independently evaluating the case. Thankfully, the State Department agreed with USCIS that a waiver of the 2 year foreign residency requirement was warranted.
As a result, Jane Lee is now eligible to apply for a green card without having to leave the United States.
The Law Offices of Curtis Pierce recently represented a young woman from Western Europe who sought benefits under The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
VAWA allows battered immigrants to petition for legal status in the United States without relying on abusive U.S.citizen or legal permanent resident spouses, parents or children to sponsor their Adjustment of Status (Form I-485)applications.
Our client had been psychologically mistreated by her American citizen husband. This mistreatment consisted of insults and other forms of verbal and emotional abuse. The onslaught of extremely inappropriate and hurtful comments began shortly after the applicant got married. However, there was no battery or physical harm.
When we undertook this case, we advised our client that this would be an uphill battle and the chances of success were not high.
In VAWA cases, the victim typically presents evidence of physical abuse including photographs as well as a police report. In this particular case, there were no photos reflecting physical mistreatment. The applicant had no visible scars. And since law enforcement was never contacted, there was no police report.
The application was documented with a lengthy declaration from our client detailing her psychological ordeal. Additional evidence included statements by friends and individuals who had knowledge of the mistreatment or had overheard the disparaging comments. Also submitted was a report by a psychotherapist with whom our client had consulted.
After a long and intense battle, the case was approved. Our client is now preparing to file for status as a Lawful Permanent Resident.
Emotional abuse even in the absence of physical scars can be construed as evidence of "extreme cruelty." If the claim is detailed and credible and supported by evidence, emotional abuse can sometimes provide the basis of a successful VAWA case.
For many immigrant victims of domestic violence, battery and extreme cruelty, the U.S.citizen or lawful permanent resident family members who would sponsor their applications will threaten to withhold legal immigration sponsorship as a tool of abuse. The purpose of the VAWA program is to allow victims the opportunity to “self-petition” or independently seek legal immigration status in the U.S. Victims of domestic violence, battery and extreme cruelty whose Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) self-petitions are approved may file Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications directly (self-petition). Once a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) VAWA self-petition is approved, the immigrant victim may file an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) application to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) directly.
Curtis Pierce'sIMMIGRATION LAW E-NEWSLETTERis free.
It is published by the Law Offices of Curtis Pierce, 213-327-0044.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this newsletter is analysis and commentary of a general nature. Nothing in this newsletter applies to a specific case nor does it constitute legal advice.
Schedule appointment: For legal advice on your case, please schedule an appointment with Curtis Pierce, Certified Specialist, Immigration & Nationality Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.
“The only title in our democracy superior to that of President (is) the title of citizen”.
Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. (In the case Ng Fung Ho v. White, 259 U.S. 276, 284 (1922), Justice Brandeis wrote that deportation can deprive an individual of "life, or of all that makes life worth living.")
In the words of President Kennedy,
the United States is a "nation of immigrants."
IMMIGRATION LAW E-NEWSLETTER curtis f. pierce
Attorney At Law
certified specialist, immigration & nationality law
the state bar of california board of legal specialization
THE PACIFIC CENTER
523 WEST SIXTH STREET, SUITE 348
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90014