By: Maria M. Odom
Part 1 of a multi-part series on the unauthorized practice of law.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the launch of the Federal campaign against the unauthorized practice of law. An unprecedented, multi-agency effort, the campaign brings powerful players together from the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and the Federal Trade Commission. As I listened to the leadership from USCIS, ICE, EOIR, DOJ’s Civil Division, and the FTC explain their plans for collaboration to fight unauthorized “practitioners” who harm immigrants, I couldn’t help but think: “it’s about darn time!”
By: James Porter
Over 8 years ago, Abeba arrived in the United States with a visitor’s visa at New York’s JFK Airport, en route to Washington, DC. She came by herself from Ethiopia leaving behind her family, and everything she knew. Abeba was granted asylum in 2004 and later received a green card in 2005. With the help of distant cousins, she began to settle into a community with other Ethiopian nationals in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. Abeba currently works for CLINIC in the Office of Finance and Operations. She became a citizen last Friday, July 8th in Baltimore, Maryland with family, friends, and the extended CLINIC family proudly looking on.
By: Alexander Cohen
The motto of Haiti is “L’union fait la force” which translates to “the union makes the strength.” In the wake of the January 2010 earthquake, the people of Haiti struggled with a humanitarian crisis that no union could solve unilaterally, much less a country that was the poorest in the western hemisphere before the tragedy.
By: Allison Posner*
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti, killing 230,000, injuring 300,000 and leaving another million people homeless. The immediate response was overwhelming, with many countries and humanitarian organizations offering rescue and medical assistance, then food, shelter and other aid.
By: Allison Posner*
With close to 1.5 million individuals currently in active service, the United States has the second largest military in the world. Thousands of the individuals – nearly 8% – who serve and protect our country every day were not born in it. Immigrants have a strong and proud tradition of military service to the United States. As of June 30, 2009, there were 114,601 foreign-born individuals serving in the U.S. armed forces.
Eighty-one percent of these are naturalized U.S. citizens and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced earlier this week that in fiscal year 2010, it added the greatest number of military naturalizations the U.S. has seen in over five decades. Between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010, USCIS granted citizenship to 11,146 members of the U.S. armed forces. The ceremonies took places all across the United States as well as in 22 countries where service men and women are stationed. This is the highest number of naturalizations since 1955 and a six percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
Photo Credit - usmilitary.com
By: Natalia Ricardo*
On Friday, September 24, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its final rule on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) fee schedule, first proposed on June 11, 2010. The rule results in an average 10% increase in fees. Additionally, the rule establishes three new fees associated with the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, the Civil Surgeon Designation, and processing of Immigrant Visa requests. There is also an adjustment of the Premium Processing service fee. USCIS maintained that the fee increase was a necessary means to recover operating costs. The rule will take effect on November 23, 2010; meaning that all applications or petitions mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed on or after November 23, 2010 will be subject to the fee increase.
By: Hiroko Kusuda, Helen Chen, and James Porter
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Southeast Louisiana ravaging parishes, towns, and cities across the Gulf Coast. When the levees broke that protected the city of New Orleans from the surrounding waterways, 80% of the city wound up under water. The city has begun to rebound with the population at 90% of its pre-Katrina numbers. This year, CLINIC had its annual convening in downtown New Orleans, and it was a major success.
By: James Porter
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an asylum seeker is “a person who has left their country of origin, has applied for recognition as a refugee in another country, and is awaiting a decision on their application.” There is often much attention paid to refugees by those in the nonprofit sector. However, asylum seekers are unique from refugees and face unique challenges of their own such as detention in the U.S. and the uncertainty of the asylum adjudication process.
By: Christie Valentine* and Allison Posner**
Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. TPS Workshop
This week, Alejandro Mayorkas, the Director of USCIS, announced that the agency has extended the deadline for Haitians filing applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) until January 18, 2011. Previously, Haitians had until July 20, 2010 to apply for TPS. This is an important step in ensuring that the needs of this vulnerable population are being met in a timely manner. Already over 35,000 applications have been approved, and another 20,000 are awaiting adjudication. However, these numbers represent only a fraction of the individuals who are eligible for TPS benefits. It is estimated that there may be an additional 15,000-45,000 people in the U.S. who may still apply.
By: Allison Posner*
Out of many, one. This phrase was suggested by the committee appointed by Congress to design a seal for the United States of America on July 4, 1776. Yesterday, President Obama reminded us of this motto found on our nation’s coins in his first speech about immigration since taking office last January. The President stated that “being an American is not a matter of blood or birth. It’s a matter of faith. It’s a matter of fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear.”