Dream Act Introduced in the Senate

Dream Act of 2017 Introduced in the Senate

On July 20, 2017, two senators, one a democrat from Illinois (Durbin) and a Republican from South Carolina (Graham), introduced a new bill to protect and provide a path to citizenship to immigrants that were brought here as children. The legislation seeks to provide a path to citizenship and protection as a conditional resident for up to 8 years.  Requirements for the Dream Act of 2017 are similar to that of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The bill outlines a three step process that would end with applicants applying for citizenship. The first step is Conditional Residency (CR) status. People who currently have DACA would automatically become Conditional Residents. This requirements for CR are more broad than that of DACA, making more people eligible for conditional residency. For example, under the proposed bill, there is no cap on age like that of DACA, which requires that an applicant be under the age of 30 to apply. The bill also proposes that a person be here before the age of 18, not 16 like DACA. This will increase the number of eligible immigrants for this program.

To obtain CR status, a person must have:

  • Entered the US prior to the age of 18
  • Entered and lived continuously in the U.S. for 4 years prior to the enactment of the Dream Act of 2017,
  • Not have been convicted of a crime where the term of imprisonment was more than a year (felony level) or 3 offenses where the combined sentence was more than 90 days,
  • Graduated high school or obtained a GED, been admitted to an institution of higher education (college/university/vocational), or currently enrolled in secondary school or program to obtain a GED

 

Once a person obtains CR either through their current DACA status or applying under the proposed law, they can maintain that status for up to 8 years and includes work authorization. The next step is to become a Legal Permanent Resident.

If a person with CR can demonstrate that they have completed two years of higher education or two years of military service, they can apply for Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) status. If a person doesn’t complete the two year requirement based on education or military service, they can still obtain LPR status if they can show that they have been working for at least three years as a CR.

If a person doesn’t meet the work, military, or education requirements to become an LPR, they can apply for a waiver if they can show that their deportation would result in extreme hardship to a spouse, parent, or child who is a United States citizen. Many women who are stay at home mothers for their children would need this waiver.

Once a person obtains and maintains LPR status for 5 years, they can apply for Naturalization to be come a U.S. citizen. The requirements to become a citizen through naturalization will not be changed by this proposed law.

A bill similar to this was proposed in 2001 and failed horribly in Congress. It was also a bill put forth with bipartisan support. The Dream Act of 2017 has an uphill battle but the important thing to remember is to be proactive and call your senators and representatives to let them know you support the young people that were brought here at no fault of their own.

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Bars to Admission: Voluntary Departure and Orders of Removal

Bars to Admission: Orders of Removal and Voluntary Departure

Often times I get asked how long someone must wait until they can apply to come back to the United States after they get caught at the border or they are ordered removed by an immigration judge.  How long you must wait depends on the way you left and where you were ordered removed or given voluntary departure. Also, you must prove that you waited outside of the United States. It’s about location and time.

Below is a brief overview of how long someone must wait until they are eligible to apply to come back to the United States after a removal order or voluntary departure.

Expedited Removal Order or Removal Order at the border: 5 years.

Ordered Removed more than once: 20 years

Removal Order NOT at border: 10 years

Left the US while Order of Removal was outstanding:  10 years

In Absentia Removal Order: 5 years

Ordered Removed, leave, and enter or attempt to enter the United States:  Permanent (Forever)

Granted Voluntary Departure but do not leave: 10 years

If someone is granted voluntary departure and leaves when required but has been unlawfully present in the United States, they may be subject to the 3 or 10 years bars for unlawful presence.  Sometimes waivers (pardons) are available for inadmissibility and you may not have to wait the required time.  Waivers are complicated and the advice of an immigration attorney should be sought.

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New Obama Immigration Policy Goes Easier on Parents

On August 23, 2013, The Obama Administration released a memo giving greater leniency on parents who are in ICE detention. Specifically, the memo from John Sandweg, Acting Director of ICE, states that the goal of the guidance is to ensure that immigration laws are enforced fairly with respect to family laws.

The memo further states that ICE should ensure that particular attention be paid to enforcement activities involving:

  1. parents or legal guardians who are primary caretakers’
  2. parents or legal guardians who have a direct interest in family court or child welfare proceedings
  3. parents or legal guardians whose minor children are physically present in the United States and are United States Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents

The memo states that ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations will designate a specially trained coordinator in each Field Office to serve as a Point of Contact (POC) for Parental Rights. The memo also urges each Field Office Director (FOD) to review previous memos on prosecutorial discretion and to take into consideration, specifically, if a person in ICE detention is the primary care giver  of a minor or if the person is the guardian of a United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) minor. If this is the case, the FOD should use prosecutorial discretion in detaining the person in ICE custody early in the case.

ICE must also assist in helping a person who has been ordered removed or deported, if asked, to arrange for guardianship of the persons minor children in they are to stay in the the United States. If the children are to be returned to the parents country of origin, then ICE must help them obtain travel documents to accompany their parent to the country of removal.  ICE should also provide sufficient notice of a removal itinerary, when safety is not an issue,  to the person being removed or their attorney so that travel arrangements may be made for the minor children.

ICE must also ensure that while the person is detained they attend any and all family court hearings. The memo states that in person appearances are the best, if practicable, but if not, then teleconferencing is the next best option if the family court allows it.

 

 

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Senate Agrees to Hear Debate on Immigration Bill

Last week the US Senate approved the motion to proceed with the Gang of 8 immigration bill.  There was overwhelming approval to move forward with meaningful immigration reform!

In a vote of 84 yeas and 15 nays, the US Senate agreed to move forward and hear the Gang of 8 immigration bill. The Senate will now debate and discuss the bill and decide if any changes are to be made before a final vote to present it to the House.

The bill was authored by 8 US Senators, which comprised of 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans. This is the first time that an immigration bill was a bi-partisan effort by the current Congress.

Who are the Gang of 8 members? They are:

To find out more about immigration reform or how you may be eligible for immigration benefits, see Immigration Attorney Jennifer A. Gutierrez. Call 713-974-1151 for a free consultation.


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Immigration Bill Passes Senate Judiciary

On May 21, 2013, the Senate’s Immigration Bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Most bills die in committee so this is a significant step towards passing meaningful immigration reform.

Today, Senator Chuck Schumer (D- N.Y.) stated that the Bill will be passed by the Senate by July 4, 2013. Then it will move on to the House of Representatives. The Bill was authored by a bipartisan group, known as the Gang of 8, of 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans.

The trouble will come when the Bill hits the House of Representatives. Many believe that it won’t survive or will be changed dramatically from it’s current substance. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R- FL.) stated that the Bill will be stalled in the House. The House is planning on reviewing and writing their own immigration bill, piece by piece. This could hinder the passing of any immigration reform until the beginning of next year.  The Chair of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-VA.) stated that it is better to look at the Senate’s Bill and review it  piece by piece, step by step and add the House’s own priorities.

Keep in mind that Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House of Representatives.

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Senate Immigration Bill and Path to Citizenship

A Group of 8 Senators, known as the “Gang of 8”, both Republican and Democrat, have devised a new immigration path to citizenship.

The three ways to get your green card are:

  1. Dreamer
  2. Standard Path
  3. Agricultural Worker

All paths require registration as a Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI)

Dreamer

Under this path to citizenship, the fastest track to citizenship is 5 years (5 yearsto get green card, then apply for citizenship). You must have been under the age of 16 when you came to the US and have completed high school or got your GED. Also, you must have completed 2 years of college or served in the US military for 4 years. You may also be required to pay back taxes if you worked at any time and did not pay taxes. 

Standard Path

Under this path, the fastest track to citizenship is 13 years. Your RPI status will last 6 years before you must reapply. To reapply for RPI status, you must not have been unemployed for more than 60 days or haven’t spent more than 180 days out of the country AND you aren’t likely to become a public charge, AND your income is higher than the federal poverty level for all six years. After 10 years, you can apply for your green card if you you met all the requirements listed and your income has been 125% of the poverty guideline for the last 6 years. After 3 years as a green card holder (Legal Permanent Resident), you can apply for Citizenship.

Agriculture Worker

This track is also known as the “Blue Card” path. Under this path, the fastest track to citizenship is 8 years. To qualify for this track, you must have worked 100 days between 2011 and 2012 as an agricultural worker. You will receive your Blue Card, then after 5 years, you can apply for your green card if you performed agricultural work for at least 150 days for 3 out of the last 5 years as a Blue Card holder. You must pay any back taxes if you worked and did not file taxes. Three years after you receive your green card, you can apply for Citizenship.

FOR ALL PATHS:

You  must first register as a Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI). Also you must meet the requirements below:

  • never been convicted of a felony
  • never been convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors
  • never been convicted of unlawful voting
  • never been convicted of an offense under foreign law
  • not be considered a potential terrorist by DHS
  • not arrived in the US in 2012 or 2013
  • not lived in another country in 2012 or 2013
  • paid all back taxes if worked in US and not paid taxes in US

Questions?

Contact Immigration Attorney Jennifer A. Gutierrez at (713) 974-1151 

Office/ Ofincina:

Jennifer A. Gutierrez

2909 Hillcroft, Suite 350

Houston, Texas 77057

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Temporary Protected Status for Nicaragua and Honduras

Department of Homeland Security USCIS has extended Temporary Protected Status  for Nicaragua and Honduras for 18 months from July 6, 2013 through January 5, 2015.

Immigrants that currently have TPS can re-register to extend their status. Also, employment authorization cards (EADs) are extended for another 6 months from July 5, 2013 through January 5, 2014,

Honduras:

“The extension allows currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through January 5, 2015. The Secretary has determined that an extension is warranted because the conditions in Honduras that prompted the TPS designation continue to be met. There continues to be a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in Honduras resulting from Hurricane Mitch, and Honduras remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals.”

Nicaragua:

“The extension allows currently eligible TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through
January 5, 2015. The Secretary has determined that an extension is warranted because
the conditions in Nicaragua that prompted the TPS designation continue to be met. There continues to be a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in Nicaragua resulting from Hurricane Mitch, and Nicaragua remains unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return of its nationals.”

Questions?: For further information on TPS, including guidance on the application process and additional information on eligibility, please visit the USCIS TPS Web page at
http://www.uscis.gov/tps.

Or contact immigration attorney Jennifer A. Gutierrez at (713) 974-1151 for a free consultation.

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