Religious workers have faced various delays in the permanent residency process under the current administration. In particular, applicants are going through additional steps when filing Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident. The Form I-485 is the final step in the green card process for religious workers. After the I-360 petition is approved, Form I-485 is then filed to request that the applicant’s status be changed to permanent resident. Lately, the processing times for Form I-485 have been steadily increasing. In fact, the average processing time was 12.2 months by Dec. 31, 2018.
By the end of fiscal year 2019, self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments will be a thing of the past. In Oct. 30, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the expansion of its Information Services Modernization Program to more field offices. The ISMP would require a person to first speak to the USCIS National Customer Center—now the USCIS Contact Center—by calling its 800 number before being able to schedule an in-person appointment, or InfoPass appointment, at a local field office.
Ever wonder how many religious workers obtain permanent residence in the United States every year? Me too! While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service may not always operate as smoothly as we would like it to, it does provide annual reporting data that is useful to identify immigration trends. For instance, the annual number of all religious workers, and their spouses and children, obtaining permanent residence fell approximately 44 percent from 2008 to 2017. You may recall that 2008 was a significant year for the religious worker visa program. That year, USCIS implemented new regulations for these programs. If the intended effect was to curtail those numbers, it seems to have had that result.
Parents, family members and other potential sponsors of immigrant children held in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR—the agency tasked with the care and custody of unaccompanied immigrant children apprehended by immigration authorities—fear immigration enforcement actions if they volunteer to be a sponsor. CLINIC published a new fact sheet with information on the risks of ORR sponsorship and guidelines to important resources.
Holy Cross Sister Kathleen Moroney is one of many professionals whose service exemplifies the contributions of Catholic sisters in our communities. Perhaps one of her most significant roles has been a legacy of immigration justice work as part of the Holy Cross Ministries of Salt Lake City Legal Immigration Program, a CLINIC affiliate. Her legacy there included starting and directing the immigration department at Holy Cross and expanding it to provide for the needs of a growing Latino/a immigrant community in the state.
In the eyes of many, the zero tolerance policy and the family separation crisis came and went as one of the darkest times in U.S. policy toward families, children and asylum seekers. The latest news reviving the issue, particularly Judge Sabraw’s decision to expand the class in Ms. L v. ICE to include thousands beyond the 2,800 separations previously acknowledged, reminds us that our work to bring justice to these families is far from over. CLINIC, along with partners and affiliates, has built a multi-faceted response to the family separation crisis that supports hundreds of families and stands to help thousands.
Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC and Justice for Immigrants promote immigrant integration through leadership by empowering, strengthening and educating members of the community.
On March 19, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Nielson v. Preap, held that immigrants with certain criminal convictions can be detained without bond, even if their release from criminal custody occurred long before their arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Clients who are inadmissible or deportable for old criminal convictions should be aware of the risk of mandatory detention.
Are you going to Convening this year? Has the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in your local courtrooms and community made your clients anxious? Has your community experienced ICE sweeps and raids in workplaces? How can community members reach out to others and offer support in times when a quick and informed response is needed? To learn more and share your perspective, join us at Convening for a brown bag lunch to dialogue about the power of community preparedness and offer feedback on a new CLINIC resource.
After two years as a project within Training, Litigation and Support, Defending Vulnerable Populations on March 1 became a separate department within CLINIC. Though it comes as an acknowledgment of the importance of the work DVP has developed, the change primarily affects administrative functions within CLINIC.