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CLINIC Newsletter - September 2015

News from the Catholic Network

Agency Recognition

CLINIC congratulates Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida (Pensacola), Panama City sub-office on receiving Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) agency recognition on 8/18/2015.

 

Staff Accreditations

Betsie Kummer, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida (Pensacola) was approved for partial BIA accreditation on 8/4/15.

Ouranitsa Abbas, Pro Bono Coordinator at Immigration Legal Services-Esperanza Center, Catholic Charities of Baltimore, received full BIA accreditation on 8/7/2015.

Xenia Wickline, Community Advocate, El Pueblo-Immigration Legal Services, Biloxi, MS, received partial BIA accreditation on 8/18/2015.

Jessica Erickson, Nancy Gaytan and Janette Martinez, Immigration Specialists for member Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, received first time partial accreditation on 9/1/2015 for all 5 program locations in Chicago, Cicero, Waukegan, Melrose Park and Des Plaines, Illinois.

 

New Member

CLINIC has accepted a new subscriber, South Bay Giving Church, Torrance, CA. The church supports the North Koreans in America Collaboration. The church is seeking BIA recognition for a staff member who is also in law school.

 

Network Affiliate Profile

CLINIC values the dedication and commitment to service demostrated by our affiliate agencies in their work with their communities. We wish to highlight outstanding programs in a series of profiles appearing monthly in Catholic Legal Immigration News. This month we feature Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charoltte, North Carolina.

 

 

 

Question Corner

Q.  A student was petitioned by her LPR father over 25 years ago. At the time of the interview, she was married. She had married two months before her interview. She claims the official never questioned her about her marital status. Now she wants to naturalize, but she fears she will be denied and put into proceedings. What do you suggest?

 

Updates from the Center for Immigration Integration

Get the Center for Immigration Integration's updates for September.

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CLINIC Newsletter - August 2015

News from the Catholic Network

Agency Recognition and Staff Accreditation

CLINIC congratulates the following affiliate program staff who received initial and renewed BIA accreditations:

  • Victor Bugandwa, Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio (Cincinnati) was approved for partial accreditation on 6/11/15. 

  • Eleonor Ramirez, Catholic Charities Cleveland, was approved for partial accreditation on 6/16/15.

  • Eva Jacobson, Citizenship Integration Coordinator, and Diana D. Ali, Immigration Counselor, received initial partial accreditation on behalf of subscriber Hartford Public Library in Hartford, Connecticut on 7/18/2015.

  • Felicia Castricone, Program Director, of Refugee Resettlement for member Catholic Charities of Onondaga County in Syracuse, NY received partial accreditation renewal on 7/10/2015.

  • Timothy Winn, Supervisor, and Flor Bickel, Immigration Counselor, for member Catholic Charities of Indianapolis, Indiana received partial accreditation renewal on 7/28/2015.

 

Question Corner

Q.  Maryanne was born in the United States in 1946 and moved to Spain in 1970 after getting married to Pedro, a citizen of Spain. Julia, their daughter, was born in Madrid in 1977.  Julia married a Spanish citizen, Enrique, in 2007.  They have a son, Martin, who was born last year. Two months ago Julia, Enrique, and Martin traveled to the United States on their Spanish passports through the visa waiver program. Julia has come to you for advice.  They are living with her uncle at the moment, but Julia would like to stay and work here.  Her husband would also like to work here since he is currently unemployed and the job market in Spain is very tight. Their I-94W permits expire next month. What advice do you have for her?

 

Updates from the Center for Immigration Integration

Get the Center for Immigration Integration's updates for August.

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CLINIC Newsletter - July 2015

 

News from the Catholic Network

Agency Recognition and Staff Accreditation
  • CLINIC congratulates new subscriber Project Citizenship of Boston Massachusetts receiving Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) agency recognition and partial BIA accreditation credentials for Program Manager Matthew Jose on 6/16/2015.

  • The following staff of subscriber United Farm Worker Foundation (UFWF); Fresno, CA received partial BIA accreditations in June 2015:  Marichel Mejia, Julie Morales, Fabian Sanchez, Victor Valdez, Uriel Lopez, and Hedizabth Orozco

  • Afshan Qureshi, Board Member of subscriber Saathi of Rochester, Inc.in Dansville, New York received partial accreditation as of 6/16/2015.

  • Gabriela Rosa, Program Coordinator of subscriber Family Focus in Aurora, Illinois received initial partial accreditation as of 6/16/2015.

  • Renee Young, Office Manager, and Bethany Parry, Immigration Counselor, of subscriber Immigrant Hope in Brooklyn, New York received initial partial accreditation as of 6/18/2015.

  • Malgorzata Ulbrych-Luczynski, Paralegal, Catholic Charities Community Services, New York, New York received initial partial accreditation as of 6/15/2015.

  • Bharati Verma, RCNA Program Coordinator, Catholic Charities of Rochester, New York received initial partial accreditation as of 6/16/2015.

 

Accreditation Renewals

John Donnelly and Dairamar Jordan-Douglas, both Immigration Counselors of member Catholic Charities Diocese of Metuchen, received renewal of their partial accreditation at all 3 locations of their Immigration Legal Services program in Perth Amboy, Phillipsburg and New Brunswick, New Jersey on 6/18/2015.

 

New Members

CLINIC has accepted the following new subscribers:

  • The Shelter for Abused Women & Children in Naples, Florida. The agency is pursuing BIA recognition with one accredited representative candidate. The program is supported by an onsite attorney.

  • The Guatemalan-Mayan Center in Lake Worth, Florida. The agency is pursuing BIA recognition with two staff as candidates for partial accreditation.

  • Project Citizenship in Boston, Massachusetts. The agency submitted a BIA recognition and accreditation application in March. It is still pending.

  • Federación de Clubes Michoacános en Illinois in Chicago. The agency has a BIA recognition and accreditation application pending before the Board.

  • ACCESS California Services in Anaheim, California. The agency holds BIA recognition as of June 1, 2007. It has two BIA partial accreditation applications pending.

  • Immigrant Rights Network of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa. The agency is BIA recognized with one person holding partial accreditation.

  • Canal Alliance in San Rafael, California. The agency employs two immigration attorneys. It is BIA recognized but without accredited staff at this time.

 

 

 

Updates from the Center for Immigration Integration

Get the Center for Immigration Integration's updates for July.

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CLINIC Newsletter - May 2015 - VOL. XIX No. 5

The Five Most Common Mistakes in Completing the I-864

Immigration Law Updates

News From the Catholic Network

Center for Immigrant Integration

Technical Assistance and Trainings

  • Upcoming Trainings                                                                                                  

Visa Bulletin

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - March 2015 - VOL. XIX No. 3

In this issue…         

In-Country Refugee Processing: What Can You Do?

Immigration Law Updates

News From the Catholic Network

Question Corner

Center for Immigrant Integration

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Visa Bulletin

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - November 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 11

 In this issue…                       

BIA Issues Three Decisions on Recognition and Accreditation

Haitian Family Reunification Program To Be Implemented in 2015

News From the Catholic Network

Update from Ciudad Juarez  

USCIS Updates DACA FAQs

Immigration Updates

Law and Practice Feature

Question Corner

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Resources

Position Openings

                                                                                

Visa Bulletin                                                                                                                                                             

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - October 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 10

In this issue…                        

Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God's Creation

Obama Announces In-Country Refugee Processing for Central American Children

News From the Catholic Network

Unaccompanied Children's Issues

Advocacy Update 

State and Local Issues

Law and Practice Feature

Immigration Law Updates

Question Corner

A lawful permanent resident files an I-130 for his spouse in 1994 with his daughter (DOB September 28, 1978) named as derivative.  The priority date is July 15, 1994.  The daughter ages out in 1999 before the F-2A category for Mexico becomes current.  The LPR dad files second I-130 for aged-out derivative daughter in the F-2B category and is able to retain the original priority date. The LPR father subsequently naturalizes in 2012 converting the F-2B petition to the F-1 category. The priority date was close enough to becoming current in 2012 that it triggered the NVC sending out a fee bill to the daughter.  The daughter didn’t receive the notice since she had changed her address.  In September 2014 the NVC sent a final notice indicating that it had terminated the case and destroyed the file.  Assuming you are not able to convince NVC to undo what they did, is there any relief for child?

Stumped?  Find Out Here!

Visa Bulletin

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Position Opening

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - July 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 7

In this issue…                        

Protecting the Vulnerable:  Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

U. S. Department of State Updates Foreign Affairs Manual Guidance

News From the Catholic Network

  • New Subscribers
  • Network Affiliate Agency Profile                                                                                                                                                                      

Advocacy Update


Immigration Law Update

                                                                                                                                                  
Technical Assistance and Trainings

 

Resources

Visa Bulletin

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - May 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 5

In this issue…                        

Parole in Place – Evaluating Successful Parole Requests

News From the Catholic Network

Advocacy Update                          

  • NSC Teleconference on Student Issues                                                                                                     

State and Local Issues

Immigration Law Updates

Law and Practice Feature

  • Update on Waiver Adjudication from the NSC                                                                                                                                                                                           

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Visa Bulletin                        

 

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - April 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 4

In this issue…                        

 

USCIS Releases Second Revised Form I-821D and Outlines DACA Renewal Process

 

Advocacy Updates                                                                                                   

 
News From the Catholic Network                                                                                 

  • BIA Agency Recognition and Staff Accreditations
  • New Subscribers
  • Affiliate Profile - Paz Padilla                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Law and Practice Feature

  • FOIA Updates: Changes and Delays                                                                                         

                                                                                                       
Immigration Law Updates

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Visa Bulletin                                                                                                                                              

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - March 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 3

In this issue…                        

USCIS Releases “ICE-Granted DACA Renewal Guidance”

Our Lenten Pilgrimage
 
News From the Catholic Network                                                                                  

  • BIA Agency Recognition and Staff Accreditations
  • Affiliate Profile: TJ Mills                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Advocacy Updates

Capacity Building

Immigration Law Updates                                                

Visa Bulletin

                                                                                                                                        
Technical Assistance and Trainings                                                                                                    

Position Opening

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - February 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 2

In this issue…                        

  • Visa Bulletin                                                                                              
Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - January 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 1

In this issue…                        

  • Technical Assistance and Trainings
    • Trainings
    • National Migration Conference
      • Monday, July 7, 2014 through Thursday, July 10, 2014, Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel.  Join us in 2014 when CLINIC and USCCB/MRS co-sponsor this grand event that joins members of these networks and others to share information and hear from experts regarding services to immigrants and refugees, as well as public advocacy.
  • Visa Bulletin                                                                                                                                                             
Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - December 2013 - VOL. XVII No. 12

In this issue…                        


 

Resources by type: 

Adjustment for Visa Waiver Entrants

By Kristina Karpinski

On November 14, 2013, USCIS issued a policy memorandum on adjudication of Form I-485, Application to Register or Adjust Status, filed by immediate relatives of U.S. citizens admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  This long awaited guidance clarifies USCIS's position on adjudication of adjustment cases filed after the applicant's 90-day period of admission has expired and outlines when a case should be referred to ICE.

Under INA § 217, nationals of designated countries are allowed to enter the United States as visitors for a maximum period of 90 days without having first obtained a visa.  To enter under the VWP, the visitor must meet certain requirements and waive his or her right to contest removal from the United States, except when requesting asylum.  Those admitted under the program are ineligible to extend or change their nonimmigrant status. Further, under INA § 245(c), VWP visitors are not eligible for adjustment unless they are immediate relatives.

The policy memo instructs field offices to adjudicate adjustment of status cases filed by immediate relatives who were last admitted to the United States under the VWP, including I-485 applications filed after the 90-day period of admission. The memo acknowledges that ICE has authority to order the removal of a VWP overstay, including immediate relatives, but points out that USCIS can exercise its discretion and not seek removal but grant adjustment of status. The guidance instructs that adjudication shall occur before referral to ICE unless:

  • ICE has previously issued a removal order
  • The adjustment applicant is under investigation for, been arrested for, or been convicted of an egregious public safety offense as described in USCIS Policy Memo, "Revised Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissibility and Removable Aliens" (November 7, 2011), or
  • There are fraud or national security issues to resolve.

The memo explains that if ICE has issued a removal order for violation of the VWP rules, USCIS should deny the I-485 as a matter of discretion.  However, if a removal order is withdrawn or rescinded by ICE, USCIS can approve the adjustment if the applicant is otherwise eligible.

The policy guidance goes on to explain that a VWP overstay whose I-485 is denied by USCIS, cannot appeal the decision and may not be placed in section 240 removal proceedings before an immigration judge.  However, there is an exception for some cases filed in the Ninth Circuit. A VWP overstay who is an immediate relative and who files the I-485 within the 90-day period of admission in the Ninth Circuit is entitled to be placed in section 240 removal proceedings if the case is denied.  Freeman v. Gonzales, 444 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2006).  This includes applicants who lived in the Ninth Circuit when the application was filed but move to another jurisdiction before the I-485 is adjudicated.   For cases outside of the Ninth Circuit, USCIS will refer denied I-485 applications of VWP overstays to the local ICE office for consideration of a section 217 removal order.

The policy memorandum can be found on the USCIS website by following the link under "Laws" for "Policy Memoranda," and will be incorporated into the USCIS Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) at Chapter 10.3, section (j).

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Network Profile (December 2013)

CLINIC values the dedication and commitment to service demonstrated by our affiliate agencies in their work with their communities.  We wish to highlight outstanding individual agency staff in a series of profiles appearing monthly in Catholic Legal Immigration News.       

Sandra Sanchez

Case Manager, BIA

American Friends Service Committee, Des Moines, IA

 

How many years have you spent working in immigration?

I have spent 18 years working in immigration.

 

Why do you do this work?

While I was applying for my Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status through my husband, my mother, who was in Mexico, became very ill. I applied for advanced parole and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) required written proof that it was an emergency. My sister sent a telegram, but I never received it, and getting a letter from the hospital where my mother was receiving care would have taken months.

In any event, I called my congressional representatives to advocate for me, to no avail.

A few weeks later, my mother died. I had not seen her after leaving Mexico, two years earlier.

I am doing this work because I promised myself that I would do everything I could to prevent another person from experiencing the terrible pain, sadness, frustration, and powerlessness I experienced. Needless to say, over the years things have gotten worse for immigrants and not better!

 

What do you love about your job?

I love that, thanks to my work, many families have reunited or have had less traumatic experiences relocating if they end up being deported/removed (I developed a resource called “Repatriation Guide”). Even for those who have no legal remedy, the fact that someone gives them answers in a clear, respectful, and non-judgmental way makes me feel like I can honor their human dignity and help them better understand their situation. Also, I have responded to numerous workplace raids and defeated various law enforcement tactics tried first in the Midwest. I have been in the middle of history in the making!

 

Tell me about a client’s case that has stuck with you over the years?

One such memorable case involved a victim of domestic abuse who was a teacher in Mexico. I identified her case while I was working for the Des Moines School District. A colleague and friend of mine reached out to the woman in various ways. The woman was completely isolated.  Eventually the husband found out and threatened to kill my colleague and me if we continued reaching out to her.  That very day, the husband had set their house on fire, so we took his threats seriously. After the fire, the family moved somewhere else and we, unfortunately, lost track of them.

For years we didn’t know if the woman was dead or alive. Later on, we learned that she was alive but had started drinking heavily to cope. As her sons grew up and started acting like their father, the woman finally realized that she had to do something. The woman used the information we had given her years before to get to a shelter and petition for herself based on domestic abuse. She and her older daughter eventually received legal status and my friend and I got a big respite knowing that she and her daughter had survived!

The woman’s words continue to encourage me: “Your words and support never left me, they gave me hope but I just needed to gather the courage to take the final step: conquering my fears to leave him.  Knowing that he could kill me if I left him was not easy but I finally did it!” Now she has quit drinking, is working, and her daughter is a mother of two and in a healthy relationship.

 

How do you engage CLINIC?

Before webinars and email lists were available, my colleague and I took several trainings from your staff. I am especially grateful to Susan Schreiber. As technology advanced, we joinedyour email list and became CLINIC affiliates to have access to CLINIC’s full array of resources.  We absolutely love webinar trainings because there are not many resources as far as learning immigration law in Iowa and our small program cannot afford to travel. I am very glad that I have CLINIC as a reliable resource on immigration law and that we can get timely and accurate information!

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BIA Accreditations (December 2013)

CLINIC congratulates the following program staff on receiving partial BIA accreditation:

Madelyn Hennessy and Robert Cronin of Catholic Charities of Worcester, MA were both approved for partial BIA accreditation in October 2013.

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2D Barcode Technology and Third-Party Software Compatibility

By Allison Posner

 

On November 6, 2013, USCIS held a stakeholder engagement on its new 2D barcode technology.  The new technology is part of the agency’s Forms Improvement Initiative, intended to enhance the agency’s ability to conduct intake at the lockboxes quickly and accurately.

Barcodes will be added initially to the most high-volume forms: I-90, G-28, and I-131.  The agency plans to add the barcodes to additional forms as they come up for revision.  The next form to be barcoded will be the N-400, followed by the I-821, I-765, I-130, and I-485. 

Data typed into the forms will be readable in a barcode at the bottom of each page.  USCIS will scan the barcodes and upload the data directly to its system.

Applicants may change or delete information from a partially completed form; the barcode will change to reflect the changes.  Further, applicants may change information on one page of the form after it has been completed and printed out.  There is no need to re-do the entire form.  The barcodes are page-specific. 

USCIS is looking into technical issues that have arisen through use of the barcoded forms, including problems from damaging or attaching anything to the form; fields left blank causing data to shift; and handwritten information not able to be captured.  The system will automatically check the first three fields on each form; if the information there does not look accurate, the form data will be entered into the system manually.  The agency has put together a working group to address issues as they come up.

The agency confirmed that where a submitted Form G-28 is incomplete or otherwise contains errors, officers are instructed to place the form in the A-file, but not to honor it.  It is important to note that currently, USCIS does not contact the attorney or applicant to let them know that the form is incomplete and not being honored.  The agency is looking into options for letting the applicant know.

At this time, the agency is encouraging applicants to use the fillable forms on its website, though use of the barcoded forms is not yet required.  Applicants should not, however, provide both typed information and handwritten information on one application. 

USCIS will consider further stakeholder engagements on this issue, as well as additional information, such as FAQs on the website.

USCIS has posted the 2D barcode requirements and specifications for third-party vendors’ use to accurately reproduce the barcode.  That page will be updated as additional forms containing the 2D barcode are published.

Issues: 
Resources by type: 
Programs: 

States, Cities, and Counties across the U.S. Limit Cooperation with ICE

By Jen Riddle

 

One of the positive trends in state and local immigration policies this year has been an increasing number of states and localities that are refusing to do the federal government’s job of enforcing immigration laws.  Over the past several years, two states, the District of Columbia, at least eight cities, and twelve counties have passed anti-detainer measures. These laws and policies limit the extent to which local and state law enforcement officers may cooperate with ICE by honoring Form I-247 immigration detainers.  Sometimes called “ICE holds,” an immigration detainer is a request that a local law enforcement agency continue to hold an individual in criminal custody for up to 48 hours beyond when he or she should otherwise be released so that ICE can place the person into immigration custody – even if the individual was never convicted of any crime.  Many local law enforcement officers do not know that immigration detainers are discretionary, not mandatory, and more often than not comply with ICE’s requests.  The unfortunate result is the deportation of increasing numbers of often innocent immigrants.

Among the many concerns cited by policymakers who support anti-detainer measures are burdens on limited local police resources; the undermining of public safety; the destruction of trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities; the separation of families; and the questionable constitutionality of ICE detainers.  The chart below summarizes the states, cities, and counties that have passed measures limiting their compliance with immigration detainers.  These anti-detainer laws and policies range from very broad limitations prohibiting local law enforcement from honoring any ICE detainer requests to more narrow measures restricting compliance to cases in which the individual has been convicted of a certain felony or other serious crime.  Such policies reflect a growing trend of recognition that turning state and local law enforcement officers into immigration agents is harmful to public safety.  These policies are also an important first step in attempting to rebuild trust between immigrants and local police.

JURISDICTION

ANTI-DETAINER LAW OR POLICY

DATE PASSED

STATE LAWS 1

California

“Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools” (TRUST) Act

Oct 5, 2013

Connecticut

TRUST Act

Jul 19, 2013

CITY AND COUNTY POLICIES

California

 

 

City of Berkeley

City Council Policy

Oct 31, 2012

City of Los Angeles

LA Police Department Policy

Dec 11, 2012

City of San Francisco

Board of Supervisors Due Process for All Ordinance

Oct 8, 2013

San Francisco County

San Francisco Sheriff’s Policy

Jun 1, 2011

Santa Clara County

Board of Supervisors Policy

Oct 18, 2011

Sonoma County

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Policy

Jul 20, 2011

District of Columbia

D.C. Act 19-379

Jun 15, 2012

Florida

 

 

Miami-Dade County

Memorandum from County Attorney

Jul 15, 2013

Illinois

 

 

Champaign County

Sheriff’s Office Policy

Mar 8, 2012

City of Chicago

City Council Ordinance

Sep 12, 2012

Cook County

Cook County Ordinance 11-O-73

Sep 7, 2011

Louisiana

 

 

New Orleans Parish

Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office Policy

Aug 14, 2013

Massachusetts

 

 

Town of Amherst

Town of Amherst Resolution

May 21, 2012

New Jersey

 

 

City of Newark

Police Department Policy

Jul 24, 2013

New York

 

 

New York City

Local Law No. 21

Mar 18, 2013

New Mexico

 

 

Town of Mesilla

Board of Trustees Resolution

Sep 9, 2013

San Miguel County

Detention Center Policies and Procedures

Dec 10, 2010

Taos County

Adult Detention Center Policies and Procedures

Jan 4, 2011

Oregon

 

 

Multnomah County

Board of County Commissioners Resolution

Apr 4, 2013

Washington

 

 

King County

King County Council Ordinance 2013-0285

Dec 2, 2013

Wisconsin

 

 

Milwaukee County

Board of Supervisors Resolution

Jun 4, 2012




[1] Similar legislation was introduced this year in Florida, Massachusetts, and Washington but has not yet passed.
 
 

For an overview of collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement agencies through the Criminal Alien Program, 287(g) partnerships, and Secure Communities, and the use of ICE detainers to identify potentially deportable individuals in state or local custody, please visit the recording of CLINIC’s November 8, 2013 Webinar: Recent Trends in State and Local Immigration Enforcement.  In addition, you can find strategies to advocate against the implementation and continuation of these programs in your community in CLINIC’s Toolkit for Communities to Advocate Against ICE Partnerships with Local Law Enforcement Agencies

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Law and Practice Feature: Update from Ciudad Juarez

By Susan Schreiber

 

CLINIC conducted its fifteenth annual family-based immigration law conference in El Paso on November 12-14, followed by a tour of the US consulate in Ciudad Juarez (CDJ) on November 15.  Justin Williamson, Deputy Immigrant Visa (IV) Chief, U.S. Consulate, CDJ, gave a presentation and answered questions from participants.  The following unofficial minutes represent some of the highlights of Mr. Williamson’s presentation. 

Overview of Workload

Consular officers are responsible for reviewing approximately 500 IV applications per day.  The consulate adjudicated 91,000 IV applications in FY 2013, which is below normal levels.  In FY 2012 the consulate adjudicated 123,000 IV applications, which represents a 35 percent decrease for 2013.  The reasons for the decrease include implementation of the provisional waiver program, expectations about comprehensive immigration reform, and the state of the economy in both the United States and Mexico. Mr. Williamson expects the number of applications to increase in 2014.

Tips for the Visa Applicant

Make sure your client only deals with staff from the Application Support Center (ASC), medical clinic, or officials inside the consular building.  No consular personnel are ever located outside the consulate. People will approach your client in the vicinity of the clinic or the consulate trying to offer advice.  These people are all scammers trying to take advantage of your client.  They will offer to sell fake appointment letters and other documents, to provide assistance with transportation or expedited processing, and will charge outrageous application assistance or photo fees.  Scammers will often wear badges and present themselves as consular officials to dupe the applicants.  Advise your client to stay in a legitimate hotel near the consulate rather than at a guest house; guest house owners have been known to take the documents from clients and hold them until they pay a fee. If there are questions regarding procedures, there are two information windows available at the consulate.

Review the ASC procedures fully before traveling to the consulate for the appointment, or even before the appointment is made.  Each U.S. consular post in Mexico has extensive detailed information on the ASC process that can help your client avoid any surprises when you arrive. Double check to make sure you have your client's correct contact information while in Mexico so you can communicate with each other. Have clients come to the consular interview prepared.  Review the immigrant visa pages at the CDJ website: http://ciudadjuarez.usconsulate.gov/immigrant_visas.html. Discuss all potential inadmissibility grounds with your client (e.g., unlawful presence, convictions, deportations) so you can advise him or her of the possible options.  If your client has a criminal conviction, the applicant should bring in arrest reports and/or court records. Applicants should be counseled to be forthcoming with all of this information at the interview to set proper expectations of waiver eligibility or timing of potential visa issuance.

Applicants also need to be forthcoming with the panel physician. If the consulate discovers something during the interview – a DUI, drug arrest – that the applicant did not reveal to the doctor, the consular official will send the applicant back for a new medical exam, thus delaying the process.  The panel physicians record moles, scars, and tattoos.  If the consulate makes a finding of gang membership, it will be based on more than just the presence of tattoos.  All of these cases are sent to Headquarters in Washington, DC for a final determination. There is a very low refusal rate and very strict standard for this ground of inadmissibility.

Applicants who have been in the United States or attempted to enter the United States should have a complete written timeline of all entries and exits to facilitate the interview. This information should be consistent with what was stated on the DS-260. Include when they entered the United States, where, how, how many times, how long they stayed, how old were they, when they left, how they left, whether they were deported or voluntarily removed, and when they returned.  If the consular officer has questions on the timeline and the applicant is not clear or forthcoming, the officer will issue a request for more documentation or information and will refuse the applicant pursuant to section 221(g).  Applicants should consider bringing documents, such as rent receipts, to verify that they were living in Mexico on a given date.

Review the Affidavit of Support carefully to ensure that it matches the income tax returns and that all required documents are attached. Inadequate financial support is the most common reason a case is refused pursuant to 221(g). Make sure the applicant’s joint sponsors are not sponsoring multiple people and failing to disclose this.

Applicants should come with original documents to present to the consulate (birth, death, marriage, adoption, etc.).  Lack of documents is often a source for the delay in visa issuance.  It is always a good idea to bring copies of documents that have already been submitted, as well as current tax returns.  The applicant can request return of the original documents if he or she provides a duplicate copy and the officer verifies and stamps it as a copy.

Set reasonable expectations for how long it will take your client to complete the process and for the consulate to issue the immigrant visa. Generally, applicants with no small children should plan on the process taking at least three days, while applicants with small children (who will need the PPD test results) should plan on it taking at least five days.  Delayed medical results due to the need for additional testing, such as TB, can cause a delay. Generally, allow one day for taking the fingerprints by the ASC, another day for the medical exam, and then a third day for IV visa interview.  The applicant designates a DHL location for receipt of the visa package, and that location may determine how long it takes to receive the visa.  It is possible to be in and out of the consulate on the day of the interview in less than an hour, though sometimes it might take up to four hours. The consulate very rarely does same-day visa issuance, but it may expedite issuance if it is justified, like a medical emergency.  After the interview, it could take between two days to a week to receive the visa packet, depending on how long it takes to arrive at the designated DHL location.

Use the CDJ inquiry form to communicate with the consulate.  That is on the CDJ website at http://ciudadjuarez.usconsulate.gov/feedback-form.html.  Complete the form making sure to include the immigrant visa case number, which starts with either CDJ or MEP.  Use only the form to correspond with CDJ unless otherwise instructed. Inquiries that are not received on the form can get buried.  Don’t attach anything unless requested. If you have documents you want to send CDJ, just state that you have documents in support of the case and the consulate will request them if they need them.  Don’t pose as the visa applicant; the consulate has received legal inquiries where the body of the inquiry states the person is the applicant but the email is from an attorney.  Always include the name of the attorney or representative that is on the G-28 in the body of the inquiry.  If you have a CSPA concern and you want to confirm eligibility, use the legal inquiry form to confirm that the consulate agrees that your client is eligible.  If you need to call the consulate, use these phone numbers:  from the U.S.: 703-439-2313; from Mexico: 656-325-6300.  If sending by regular mail: American Consulate General, P. O. Box 10545, El Paso, TX 79995.  E-mail:  cdjpublic@state.gov.

Last year 246 applicants for IVs were determined to be U.S. citizens.  An estimated 12 percent of the population in Cd. Juarez is U.S. citizens.   So question your client for possible acquired citizenship before applying for an immigrant visa.

The consulate is starting to adjudicate IV applications from persons with approved I-601A waivers.  The consulate adjudicated about 100 applications before November, about 200 this month, and is scheduled to adjudicate about 400 in December.  Less than five percent of those with approved I-601A approvals have been found inadmissible for other grounds.  When an applicant is found inadmissible for another ground of inadmissibility, it is after a team of officers has reviewed the case and verified the analysis.  Advise all applicants with approved I-601A’s to remind the adjudicator that the waiver has been approved.  Of the 22,634 I-601A’s that have been filed, 16, 902 are designated as processing at CDJ. 

If an immigrant visa is refused, and the applicant takes more than a year to resolve the issue, then the applicants will need to provide a new medical report and re-pay the IV fees.

Tour of the Consulate

Approximately 75 participants in the family-based immigration conference visited the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez on November 15.  Our tour took us through all the steps an IV applicant follows in the days preceding the appointment, including visits to the following: Servicios Medicos, one of two medical clinics that serve visa applicants at CDJ; the Applicant Support Center (ASC), where applicants come for their photos and biometrics; and the "Sala de Espera" or waiting room, where all visa applicants must report before appearing at the consulate for their visa appointment.  We also toured the consulate to see where applicants enter the facility, wait to be called for their appointments, submit their passports and civil documents, and get interviewed by a consular officer.  Some highlights from the tour are listed below.

Medical Clinic

The Servicios Medicos clinic is located about a block away from the consulate entrance and adjacent to the other medical clinic for visa applicants.  Visa applicants do not need an appointment for their medical examinations, but they do need an appointment letter and their passports to enter the facility.  Note that no medical clinic staff work outside the clinic, so clients should be advised that anyone approaching them outside the clinic who is offering services related to the medical exam is necessarily an imposter.  After entering the clinic, visa applicants are photographed and meet with data entry personnel who record basic identification information into their computer files. Applicants are then provided with a bracelet with an identifying bar code, which is scanned to confirm the applicant's identity at each stage of the medical exam.  The subsequent exam, which typically takes about an hour and a half, includes an x-ray for those visa applicants age 15 or over, or a TB skin test for younger applicants; a blood draw to screen for syphilis and, at times, for controlled substances and pregnancy; a physical examination; and, where applicable, required vaccinations.  Applicants will need to disrobe for the physical examination, and if a parent and child are each reporting for a medical exam, the parent will be examined first in order to be with the child at his or her physical exam. Applicants with any kind of chronic medical condition should be advised to bring medical records and a list of medications they are taking to show to the examining physician.  The medical report will note any applicant tattoos, as well as scars, but they are not photographed.  Presently, all the Servicios Medicos doctors performing physical examinations are women, and not all are bilingual.

In the first instance, issues related to use of controlled substances and alcohol use, including DUIs, are assessed through the consultation with the doctor performing the physical examination.  Advocates may want to caution any visa applicants who speak only English to request an examination by an English-speaking doctor to avoid any miscommunication during the physical examination.  Applicants who are viewed as potentially inadmissible based on their disclosures to the examining physician will be referred to the clinic psychologist for a further consultation and may also have to submit to urinalysis.  In the event of a finding of inadmissibility due to drug abuse or a disorder with associated harmful behavior (e.g. as a consequence of a DUI history), the applicant needs a year of remission in order to overcome inadmissibility.  Applicants need to demonstrate complete abstinence from the illegal drug use or alcohol abuse that triggered the inadmissibility finding to satisfactorily establish remission.  The clinic psychologist recommended that applicants participate in some kind of rehabilitation program during this period and, in the case of drug use, also have monthly urine tests taken to show they remained drug-free.

Before departing the clinic, applicants are told when to report back for exam results.  At the Servicios Medicos clinic, where exams are performed between 6 and 11 a.m. Monday - Friday, applicants will often be able to receive their medical reports later that afternoon. In cases involving a Class A finding of health-based inadmissibility, the clinic will send the report directly to the consulate.  Applicants under the age of 15 who have to take the TB skin test are advised on the consulate website to have their medical exam taken at least four business days before the scheduled consular interview.  This is to allow enough time for the test results to be available before the interview.  

Applicant Support Center

The ASC is located in the plaza adjacent to the consulate and a few storefronts away from the Sala de Espera.  Adjacent businesses also appear to be offering official services related to consular processing, so caution your clients accordingly.  Applicants should make their ASC appointment online and can do this before or after the medical exam, but they are advised not to wait until the same day as the consular interview because of the likelihood that the biometrics results will not be available in time for review by the consular officer.  The ASC is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday - Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.  Each visa applicant should bring his/her passport, DS-260 confirmation page, the visa appointment letter, and the ASC appointment.  All applicants are photographed; biometrics are taken of applicants age seven and over.  Applicants can expect the ASC appointment to be completed within ten minutes. 

Sala de Espera

The consulate waiting room, or Sala de Espera, is run by the municipality and staffed by municipal employees. All visa applicants must report here before their consular appointment, and they are then escorted to the consulate entrance in groups based on their appointment time.  Applicants who forgot or lost their appointment letters may go to the consulate information window, which opens at 7:30 a.m., to obtain a new one.

The Sala de Espera has lockers for safeguarding items that may not be taken into the Consulate, and it has snacks for purchase, bathrooms, and a safe place for family members to wait while visa applicants attend their interviews. Applicants and family members who believe they have been the victim of a scam or fraud may report this to waiting room staff, who provide the information to local law enforcement.

Consulate Interviews

The first IV interviews are scheduled for 7:15 a.m.  Upon entering the consulate, applicants receive a ticket with a four-digit case number and proceed to an outdoor covered waiting area if the interior waiting area is full, or to a waiting area directly inside the consulate.  In both waiting areas, large electronic boards flash case numbers that direct applicants to particular numbered windows with the consular officer sitting on the other side.  Applicants are first called to a document review window for submission of their passports and civil documents.  The applicant then returns to his or her seat to wait to be called to the designated window for the visa interview.  If an applicant missed seeing his or her number on the electronic board, the applicant's name and/or case number will be called by loudspeaker if necessary.  Currently, there are about 24 officers conducing IV interviews; applicants should be prepared to be at the consulate for at least two hours and possibly as long as three and a half hours.  Consular officers are scheduled for up to 30 interviews per day, and in a straightforward case without any apparent inadmissibility issues, the interview may be completed in a few minutes.  Consulate officials stressed the importance of preparing applicants to be familiar with the dates of their entries to and exits from the United States so that their interviews are not delayed or their cases placed in administrative processing until the information can  be provided.   In certain situations where an applicant needs a family member's assistance to provide information requested by the consular officer, the applicant may be provided with a "blue ticket" to exit the consulate and then return to the interview with the family member.

Generally, applicants approved for visa issuance who are waiting in Cd. Juarez should have their visa packets available for pick-up within two-three days.  The consulate tries to keep local CBP informed about the number of visas issued so that they are staffed appropriately for visa holders seeking admission at the port of entry.

The Consular Information Unit (CIU) has three staff responding to legal, congressional, and public inquiries. Approximately 1,000 inquires are received monthly, and it currently takes up to ten days to respond to a legal inquiry.  Advocates should submit inquiries using the form on the consulate website, and include the applicant's name and case number.  It is not necessary to know or include the name of the consular officer who interviewed your client.  If you do not receive a response within ten days, you may follow up with a second inquiry.

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CLINIC Newsletter - November 2013 - VOL. XVII No. 11

In this issue...

  • News From the Catholic Network

    • BIA Accredidations

    • Network Profile                                                                                                                                               

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CLINIC Newsletter - October 2013 - Vol. XVII No.10

In this issue…

 

  • Visa Bulletin                                                                                                                                                           

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News From the Catholic Network

New CLINIC Member

CLINIC has accepted and welcomes a new member, Lafayette Urban Ministries in Lafayette, Indiana.  LUM is “an ecumenical organization of 42 church congregations following Christ’s mandate to love and serve.” Six Catholic congregations are members of LUM.  As such, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty wrote CLINIC asking that LUM be recognized as a Catholic member to CLINIC’s network. LUM is preparing itself to apply for BIA recognition and accreditation.   

Joe Micon, MSW, is the Executive Director and Susan Brouillette, M.Div. (potential BIA accreditation candidate) is the Program Director of the agency’s Open Arms Immigration Services Program. Jay Grow, Esq., is their Volunteer Advisor.

New CLINIC Subscribers

CLINIC has accepted and welcomes the following agencies as new subscribers:

  • Redlands Christian Migrant Association

CLINIC has accepted a new subscriber, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Immokalee, Florida. Barbara Mainster, Executive Director, advises that the agency is seeking to become BIA recognized with one accredited representative in Immokalee prior to contemplating expansion to other sites in the state.  Interestingly, Redlands Christian Migration Association is known as Florida’s largest daycare provider network in addition to its other services to foreign-born and low-income wage earners. Their RCMA Immigration Assistance Program, Inc. is staffed by Kristina O’Hern, Community Learning Coordinator (potential BIA applicant); Gloria Padilla,Area Coordinator; Ivette Galarza, MSW, Director of Program Quality; and Lourdes Villanueva, Director of Farmworker Advocacy.

 

  • Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON)

CLINIC has accepted a new subscriber, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON).  JFON is a national network with a national office in Springfield, Virginia and 15 field offices in as many states.  The offices are led by attorneys with one or more staff in each. 

 

  • Hispanic Unity of Florida

CLINIC has accepted a new subscriber, Hispanic Unity of Florida, Hollywood, Florida.

Hispanic Unity of Florida is pursuing BIA recognition with at least one person scheduled to apply for accreditation at the same time.  Josie Bacallao, Executive Director, lists staff:  Luis Felipe Pinzon, Pathways to Citizenship Program Director, and Magaly Alvarado. 

Laura Burdick is the Field Support Coordinator

 

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States Continue to Expand Immigrants’ Access to Driver’s Licenses

By Jen Riddle

Despite the lack of federal comprehensive immigration reform so far, 2013 has been a year of positive, pro-immigrant laws and policies on a state level.  One of the year’s top issues has been access to driver’s licenses.  In fact, more states enacted laws pertaining to driver’s licenses and state identification in 2013 than on any other immigration-related topic.  A majority of these laws served to expand driving privileges to all state residents, including those without immigration authorization. 

 

Currently, 11 states have passed laws permitting all residents to drive regardless of immigration status:

-          Washington (currently issues state driver’s licenses to all residents)

-          New Mexico (currently issues state driver’s licenses to all residents)

-          Utah (currently issues the undocumented driving privilege cards that may not be used to prove identity)

-          Illinois (driver’s license law will go into effect Nov 28, 2013)

-          Maryland (driver’s license law will go into effect Jan 1, 2014)

-          Nevada (driver’s license law will go into effect Jan 1, 2014)

-          Vermont (driver’s license law will go into effect Jan 1, 2014)

-          Oregon (implementation of driver’s license law delayed until after November 2014 referendum)

-          Colorado (driver’s license law will go into effect Aug 1, 2014)

-          Connecticut (driver’s license law will go into effect Jan 1, 2015)

-          California (driver’s license law will go into effect Jan 1, 2015)

 

The District of Columbia City Council is expected to vote on a bill extending driver’s licenses to the undocumented on November 5, 2013.

 

By ensuring that individuals without immigration status can pass driving exams, obtain insurance, and legally drive to work and elsewhere, such measures make our roads safer for everyone, stimulate the economy, and promote fuller integration of immigrants into our communities.  Immigrant families can carry on with their lives without the fear of being stopped by the police, fined or charged with driving without a license, and possibly referred to ICE for removal proceedings. 

 

It is important to note that the driver’s licenses issued by all of the above states (except Washington and New Mexico) either are or will be distinguishable from the standard driver’s license issued to those with social security numbers.  The licenses will be marked in some way.  Most will contain language on the front or back such as “Not valid for federal purposes” in order to ensure states’ compliance with the federal REAL ID Act.  That law sets forth minimum security enhancements for driver’s licenses.  Only licenses that meet the REAL ID requirements can be used as identification for the purpose of accessing Federal buildings or airplanes. 

 

Advocates are concerned that marked licenses will identify their holders as undocumented and may expose undocumented drivers to discrimination by local police, potential employers, and others.  CLINIC will be closely monitoring the issuance of driver’s licenses – starting in Illinois in November and continuing into 2014 – for potential unintended consequences including discrimination or selective prosecution. 

 

Despite these concerns, it is encouraging to see states acknowledging the contributions made by their undocumented residents and taking steps to incorporate them more fully into society. States are also making a statement to our members of Congress. For example, according to Governor Brown of California (the most recent state to pass a driver’s license law), “When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of the country will have to stand up and take notice.  No longer are undocumented people in the shadows.  They are alive and well and respected in the state of California.”  We expect to see more states introducing (and hopefully passing) driver’s license laws next year including Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island. 

 

Go to www.nilc.org for a map of current state laws and policies on driver’s licenses for immigrants prepared by the National Immigration Law Center.  For affiliates in states that do not yet have a law providing driving permission to undocumented immigrants, please reach out to CLINIC to support your advocacy in promoting the passage of such initiatives.

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USCIS Workload Transfer

By Allison Posner

USCIS recently began transferring Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by U.S. citizens for their eligible immediate relatives (spouse, child, or parent) from the National Benefits Center to the Nebraska, Texas, and California Service Centers to balance the agency’s overall operational workload.

 If your client’s case was transferred, USCIS will send a notice listing the transfer date and where the case will be processed. The receipt number will not change and there should be no further delay in case processing. 

 

If you have filed a Form I-130 and you receive a request for evidence or any other type of communication from USCIS, please read the notice carefully to ensure that you respond to the same service center that sent you the notice.

 

USCIS has recently updated its website at http://www.uscis.gov with processing times for the transferred Forms I-130.   Remember that if you have not received a decision on your case within the published processing time, you may submit an inquiry to USICS using e-Request or contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283.

 

CLINIC members who do not receive a response or receive an unsatisfactory response should contact me at aposner@cliniclegal.org.  The format for sending Allison an inquiry can be found in CLINIC’s Advocacy Guide

 

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November 2012 Newsletter

Volume XVI, Issue 11.

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September 2012 Newsletter

Volume XVI, Issue 9.

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