This week, the United States Supreme Court issued decisions in not one, but two (!!) immigration cases for the immigration lawyers at Fong & Aquino LLP claire-anderson-60670-300x200to chat about.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Maslenjak case.  During oral arguments, the justices seemed extremely skeptical regarding the government’s position that ANY misrepresentation could lead to an individual being stripped of citizenship.  The justices — in a 9-0 smackdown — decided that the lie “must have somehow contributed to the obtaining of citizenship.”  The justices acknowledged that sometimes folks tell minor falsehoods out of “embarrassment, fear, or a desire for privacy.”  The Supreme Court left it to the lower courts to craft rules regarding the effects of lies in the naturalization process, but opined that adopting the government’s rule would give “prosecutors nearly limitless leverage — and afford newly naturalized Americans precious little security.”

In Lee v. United States, the Supreme Court overturned a conviction for an individual facing deportation.  Jae Lee, who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, was told by his criminal defense attorney that accepting a plea deal would not jeopardize his lawful permanent resident status.  Lee discovered that his attorney was “dead wrong” when the government immediately began removal proceedings.  This does not mean that Lee is in the clear: he will need to either negotiate a new plea deal, or go to trial.

This week, the Trump Administration summed up its policy on undocumented immigrants inside the United States as follows:  “We are coming after you!”  The immigration lawyers at Fong & Aquino LLP have a response:  “What do we say to the four horsemen of deportation?  Not today.”

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At a Congressional hearing, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said “If you’re in this country illegally and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable.  . . . You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”

As further evidence that the Administration seeks to make life more difficult for undocumented immigrants — even those who have lived in the country for many years and have children who are United States citizens, the Administration formally terminated the program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (or DAPA).  Although the program had been on hold due to a lawsuit, the Secretary of Homeland Security has rescinded the memorandum and will no longer seek its implementation.

StockSnap_VGRTZ3SVU1-183x300Not too long ago, the immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino opined that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be seeking to arrest more people due to immigration violations.

Folks, this is no longer a remote possibility.  It is happening and with increasing frequency.  As noted in the article:

At the current rate, arrests under Trump are set to outpace the peak number made under Obama, according to the New York Times’ analysis published last week.

The immigration lawyers at Fong & Aquino LLP have handled many applications for naturalization for our clients in the Los Angeles area as well as the Coachella Valley area.

I have always chuckled about Question # 22:  “Have you EVER committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit, a crime or offense for which you were not NOT arrested?”  Chewing gum in court?  Jaywalking in New York City?  As it turns out, this is not a trivial matter.

Just how far the government would be willing to go to take away someone’s citizenship if it later discovered that an individual had fibbed is a question that went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.   During recent oral arguments in Maslenjak v. United States, this exchange occurred between the government’s lawyer and the Chief Justice:

Within his first 100 days in office, President Trump has signed more executive orders than his three most recent predecessors.  For immigrants, the executive order that should cause the highest level of concern was signed on January 25, 2017 and titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”

alessio-lin-167186-300x200Under the previous administration, immigration enforcement was guided by the “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP), which focused limited resources toward the apprehension and deportation of individuals with convictions involving violence or drugs, individuals who were a security threat, and individuals who had recently entered the United States.  The PEP allowed some discretion towards individuals who had lived in the United States for a long period of time, had extensive family ties, and who did not pose a threat to the community.

The PEP has since been rescinded.  Trump has delineated a new set of enforcement standards.  If one still has doubts about the administration’s plans to make life more difficult for immigrants, all one would need to do is take a look at the whiteboard behind Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon.   An expansive reading of the executive order suggests that all persons who have no legal status inside the United States are subject to deportation.  The executive order targets any individual who might “otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security” (even if not specifically mentioned in the executive order) to be detained by immigration officers.

 

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo.

The law office of Fong & Aquino has noticed that many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals are taking a very long time.  Cases in Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs are taking over six months.  We have had no official explanation for this delay.  US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is also very slow to schedule the Biometrics appointment.

If your DACA Employment Authorization Document (EAD) needs to be renewed, please contact your attorney to begin the DACA renewal process as soon as possible.  –jcf

Business tricks

Business tricks

Over many years of practicing immigration and nationality law, the attorneys at Fong & Aquino have met all kinds of immigration officers and border guards.  These are unique individuals who receive government training to get at and spot what they believe to be the truth.  They are trained to use certain techniques in their interrogations.  Clients at both our Pasadena and Palm Springs offices have asked us about some of these tactics. Even tourist visa and C-visa holders have been interrogated this way.

Make an accusation.  I have often heard clients say that the border guard just barked out, “we know you’re lying!”  They know no such thing.  Border guards love to use this one.  First of all, it insults you, because they are calling you a liar.  Second, it makes you angry, and if you are angry, your judgment is often compromised.  If you are telling the truth — and of course, you should never lie to any government official — then control your anger, look the officer straight in the eye, and say, “I am sorry you feel that way officer, but I am telling you the truth.”  Don’t let them trap you into saying that you are lying.

Nobel PRize 2

The US political dialog is ugly and divisive this year.  It is also full of misinformation.  One  political party would want you to believe that immigrants are bad for our nation, that they make no contribution to our nation.  Whether they come to the US on a  B-visa, C-visa, extraordinary worker visa, or EWI, immigrants make our nation vibrant, diverse, and accomplished!

Don’t believe me?  Note that this year, six Americans won Nobel prizes for their work in the sciences.  All of these Nobel prize winners are American immigrants! 

Take that, Donald Trump!  –jcf

 

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Both Los Angeles and Palm Springs are popular destinations for visitors from all over the world.  Some visitors, from certain trusted countries, are allowed to visit the USA without a B-1/B-2 Visitor Visa.  At both our Pasadena and Palm Springs offices, we’ve gotten quite a few calls about a change that went into effect today.

Beginning 1 April 2016, citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries who wish to visit the USA without a visa must travel using an e-passport, a passport issued by the country of nationality that meets certain security standards.  An e-passport still looks like what you would expect a passport to be.  However, an e-passport is machine readable and has an RFID chip embedded into it, with digital information about the passport holder.  There are many fraud-resistent features built into these passports, such as images that change color and symbols that show up only under UV light.  To know if a passport is an e-passport, look on the front or back cover for the symbol shown on the graphic at the top of this little blog.

If you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver-eligible country, but you do not have an e-passport, you must contact the US Embassy in your country to obtain a B-1/B-2 visitor visa.  Border guards may deny you entry if you do not have the proper passport and could send you back on the next plane.  Alternatively, you should contact the passport authority in your country to obtain a new passport.

In the past, F-1 foreign students graduating from universities would receive a one-year permit to work in the USA to develop and use their skills.  Here at the immigration law offices of Fong & Aquino we have had many inquiries from students here in Pasadena as well as the Palm Springs office, asking about the validity of those work permits.

A new rule goes into effect today to allow science, technology, engineering, and math (the so-called “STEM” majors) graduates of accredited universities in the fields of  to obtain a two-year extension on their work permits.

This rule helps the country attract and keep the brightest and best-educated students, so that they can stay and innovate in the USA.  –jcf