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  • Article: The Best Way for Trump to Offer “Love and Sympathy” is to Repeal the Muslim Ban By Cyrus Mehta

    The Best Way for Trump to Offer “Love and Sympathy” is to Repeal the Muslim Ban by Cyrus Mehta In the aftermath of the killing of 49 people who were peacefully praying in two mosques in Christchurch by a white supremacist, it is worth reflecting on Trump’s travel ban again. Trump’s travel ban, also known as the Muslim ban, and all of his other immigration policies, are based on promoting white nationalism. It is thus little surprise that Trump did not firmly denounce white nationalism and did not view it as a worrying trend in the world and instead blamed a small group of people “with very, very serious problems.” He did not show any revulsion for the suspected killer, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, even though in his manifesto Tarrant praised Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” When Trump was a candidate he said “I think Islam hates us.” He also lied about Muslims across the river in New Jersey celebrating after the September 11 attacks. As a candidate, Trump audaciously called for a “total and complete shutdown for Muslims entering the United States.” It was this animus towards Islam that played to Trump’s electoral base that served as the backdrop for Trump’s executive orders banning people from mostly Muslim countries when he took office. The first two executive orders were struck down by courts. A modified third executive order was fashioned to survive court scrutiny, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii even though two lower courts of appeal struck it down as unconstitutional. The ban has empowered extremists and Islamophobes worldwide. This may also be the reason why Trump did not specifically express empathy with Muslims in his tweet expressing condolence after the Christchurch massacres, which he tweeted shortly after an interview with Brietbart News where he suggested that his supporters would resort to violence: My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all! Neither does Trump condemn the killer in this tweet. He insensitively says “best wishes” as if it is a wedding and ends with “God bless all.” One can see white supremacists taking some comfort in this equivocal message. Recall his other infamous equivocal message when he defended neo Nazis in Charlottesville by stating that there are “very fine people on both sides.” Compare Trump’s statements with those of New Zeala...
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  • Article: Appeals Court Says Asylum Seekers May Now Challenge Their Deportation in Federal Court By Emma Winger for Immigration Impact

    Appeals Court Says Asylum Seekers May Now Challenge Their Deportation in Federal Court by Emma Winger for Immigration Impact Many asylum seekers who travel to the United States seeking protection often receive something much less—they are arrested by immigration officials and provided no meaningful way to challenge their deportation in federal court. Last week, in Thuraissigiam v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals became the first federal appeals court to say that depriving these asylum seekers of federal court review violated the U.S. Constitution . This decision adds a key level of protection for a vulnerable population currently under attack by the Trump administration. Because of their circumstances, asylum seekers are often unable to meet the legal requirements to enter the United States. If they lack proper documentation, they are forced into an expedited removal process. A single asylum officer decides whether their fear is credible and there is only a cursory review by an immigration judge. In Fiscal Year 2016, 41 percent of all deportations were through this expedited removal process. The process is deeply flawed. Immigration officers routinely violate even the minimal protections in place for asylum seekers in expedited removal proceedings. Immigration officers fail to inform migrants that they may seek asylum in the United States, do not inquire about their fear of persecution, provide inadequate interpretation, and fail to correctly record the results of the interview or explain the reasons for denying a claim. When an asylum seeker asks for review by an immigration judge, they often do not have an immigration attorney. Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, an asylum seeker from Sri Lanka, faced this flawed expedited removal process. In his case, the asylum officer and immigration judge failed to follow the required procedures and failed to apply the correct legal standards when they evaluated his fear claim. He tried to challenge it in federal court, but the district court held that it could not consider Mr. Thuraissigiam’s claims under the immigration laws. When he appealed that decision, the Ninth Circuit r...
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  • Article: Federal Judge Rules Government Must Reunite Thousands More Separated Families By Katie Shepherd for Immigration Impact

    Federal Judge Rules Government Must Reunite Thousands More Separated Families by Katie Shepherd for Immigration Impact In recent weeks, alarming stories have surfaced indicating that thousands more children were forcibly separated from their parents at the southern border than originally thought. In response to this and earlier reports that the government had begun separating parents as early as 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal judge to expand the scope of its lawsuit challenging family separation. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw did just that, adding hundreds of separated families to the class action lawsuit which led to the ostensible end of last summer’s family separation policy. What does this groundbreaking court ruling mean? It confirms that the government was in fact implementing a policy of family separation far in advance of any formal announcement—despite assurances that a policy never existed . It also means that the government may now be required to reunite all migrant families who were separated between July 1, 2017 and June 25, 2018. The ACLU’s lawsuit, Ms. L v. ICE, was originally filed to challenge the government’s policy of separating families, alleging violations of the Constitution’s due process clause and federal law protecting the right to seek asylum. The newly expanded class covers any family that was separated by the government after July 1, 2017. This development comes as we near the one-year anniversary of the Trump administration’s announcement of their “Zero Tolerance” policy. Last October, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a government watchdog group, reported about the earlier family separation: “Thousands of children may have been separated [from their parents] during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the Court, and the [Department of Health and Human Services] has faced challenges in identifying separated children.” The inspector general exposed this “ pilot program, ” which operated in the El Paso, Texas sector. The program outlined in the OIG report ran from June to November 2017. According to Judge Sabraw , “like the current class members, they too were separated from their children.” Even though they were not found to be unfit or present a danger, “they were not reunited with their children.” Meanwhile, earlier this month, twenty nine parents from Central America who were separated from their children and then deported returned to the U.S. border, demanding asylum hearings and to be reunited with their children. These families represent just a fraction of the parents reportedly deported without their children. Just last week, the government identified an additional 471 parents who had been deported without their children who may be covered under the Ms. L v. ICE order. It remains to be seen how many of the separated families will actually be reunified by the U.S. government. Officials with the HHS, the agency charged with the care and custody of unaccompanied and separated children, failed to keep track of whether separated children were released to other family members or reunified directly with their parents. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s recent refusal before Congress to acknowledge that the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was a policy of family separation suggests that courts and advocates must continue to keep the pressure on to deliver justice to those harmed by family separation. This post originally appe...
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  • Article: After Shutdown Loss, Trump Doubles Down on Immigration in His New Budget By Aaron Reichlin-Melnick for Immigration Impact

    After Shutdown Loss, Trump Doubles Down on Immigration in His New Budget by Aaron Reichlin-Melnick for Immigration Impact After weeks of tense negotiations, Congress averted a second government shutdown last month by reaching a bipartisan agreement on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget—a budget which gave President Trump very little of his border demands . Undeterred, the president made a budget request for the next fiscal year on Monday. He called for $8.6 billion in border wall funding , far more than what Congress agreed to in February. In addition to astronomical wall funding, the Trump administration is requesting funds for an even greater expansion of immigration detention than ever before. Although the FY 2019 budget requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to lower the amount of people they detain to 40,520 by September 2019, the new budget would allow ICE to detain up to 54,000 people—the highest level in the history of the agency. Another major change would be the creation of a border security slush fund that would permit ICE to expand detention even further. The slush fund, which the administration calls “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Fund,” would essentially take money from legal immigrants. The slush fund would be bankrolled by mandatory fees immigrants pay to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for legal immigration benefits, such as visas or citizenship applications. This new slush fund would allow ICE to expand detention capacity beyond the 54,000 beds requested from Congress, up to 60,000 beds. The money would also to be used to increase family detention beds to 10,000. This would triple the administration’s current capacity to lock up parents together with their children. All of this would be paid for by immigrants and American businesses applying for benefits, placing the costs of locking up children on many of those who oppose it. In addition, the budget request calls for a significant increase in personnel, calling for $192 million to hire 750 Border Patrol agents and 171 new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at ports of entry. However, the Border Patrol has struggled for years with hiring more agents, despite Congress repeatedly budgeting for new hires. From FY 2017 to FY 2018, the Border Patrol managed to hire a net 11...
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  • Article: David Nachman's Top Ten Reasons Why Willing Prospective H-1B Employers Should Do H-1B Visas For Willing H-1B Candidates By Michael Phulwani, Esq., David Nachman, Esq.and Ludka Zimovcak, Esq.

    David Nachman's Top Ten Reasons Why Willing Prospective H-1B Employers Should Do H-1B Visas For Willing H-1B Candidates by Michael Phulwani, Esq., David Nachman, Esq.and Ludka Zimovcak, Esq. Every year at about this time, U.S. Employers approach the Immigration and Nationality Lawyers and Immigration Attorneys at the NPZ Law Group often asking us for the reasons why they should consider doing the H-1B visa. Here are the TOP TEN REASONS we give to them. David Letterman, eat your heart out . . . 10. By doing an H-1B visa sooner, rather than, later, the prospective H-1B employer and employee allow themselves time in the event that the H-1B is not approved in the current H-1B cycle. Some employers delay the process and have prospective H-1B employees remain in OPT status. While, in some cases, this may be good for tax purposes, it decreases the chance of getting an H-1B because the prospective H-1B employer and employee miss-out on a "second bite at the apple" by not being able to make a second (and sometime third) H-1B cycle petition. 9. H-1B Employers and H-1B Employees do NOT displace U.S. workers. The LCA Form 9035 requires that the H-1B employer represent that the federally mandated prevailing wages are being paid to the prospective H-1B employee so as NOT to displace any U.S. workers. The U.S. employer is also required to make other attestations in connection with the LCA to...
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  • Article: Advancing a “Social Group Plus” Claim After Matter of A-B- By Cyrus Mehta

    Advancing a “Social Group Plus” Claim After Matter of A-B- by Cyrus Mehta In Matter of A-B – , 27 I&N Dec. 227 (A.G. 2018), former Attorney General Jeff Sessions overruled a prior Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) precedent, Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014), which held that victims of domestic violence can qualify for asylum based on their particular social group (PSG) of “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship.” Although victims of domestic violence has been recognized as a particular social group in US asylum law as well as in the asylum laws of other countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, Sessions set aside Matter of A-R-C-G resulting in a setback for persons fleeing domestic violence. There is much commentary revealing how the reasoning of Matter of A-B was dicta. The application of Matter of A-Bhas been successfully challenged in the context of credible fear claims in Grace v. Whitake r . Therefore, despite Matter of A-B, an applicant must still assert membership in a particular social group when fleeing domestic violence. In Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N 227 (BIA 2014), the Board acknowledged that whether a particular social group exists is a case-by-case determination and the AG’s decision should not be read to foreclose alternative particular social group formulations for victims of domestic violence where the facts of the case support it.Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N 227, 242 (BIA 2014); Matter of A-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 227, 319 (AG 2018) (noting that this decision is consistent with Matter of M-E-V-G-). It may however be prudent for an applicant fleeing domestic violence to assert other grounds of asylum in addition to membership in a particular social group. As brief background, in order to be granted asylum, the applicant must show that they have suffered past persecution or have a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, and that he or she is unable or unwilling to return to, or avail himself or herself of the protection of, their country of origin owing to such persecution. 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(1) & (2) . The agile immigration law practitioner must endeavor to invoke grounds in addition to particular social group when representing an asylum claimant fleeing domestic violence such as race, religion, nationality or political opinion. This is what I refer to as a “social group plus” claim. Often times, the additional ground can be blended and intertwined with the particular social group ground that would only strengthen this ground, and enable the client’s claim to be readily distinguished from Matter of A-B. Religion and Ethnicity It may be worth exploring whether an applicant can claim asylum on account of race, religion or nationality. Many app...
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  • Article: Case Study: The Specialty Occupation EXPERT is NOT a PROFESSOR By Sheila Danzig

    Case Study: The Specialty Occupation EXPERT is NOT a PROFESSOR by Sheila Danzig Last year, USCIS responded to an unprecedented number of H-1B cap-subject petitions with RFEs regarding specialty occupation. These RFEs were successfully answered with expert opinion letters from the RIGHT kind of expert while other expert opinion letters were rejected. The letters that were rejected were written by professors in the field of the H1B job. Letters that were accepted by USCIS came from experts who WORKED IN THE FIELD rather than taught it. Letters from professors who ALSO have extensive field experience were also accepted by USCIS. The key here is that the expert must be working in the field currently and have notable depth of experience working in the field for USCIS to accept their opinion as credible. At TheDegreePeople, all our experts our vetted based on their field experience and rapport within the current field. This gives weight to their opinion regarding the H-1B beneficiary’s specialty occupation and wage level. Without this experience and respect within the field, USCIS does not c...
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  • Article: DHS Secretary Denies Responsibility for Family Separation, Asks Congress to Limit Asylum Protections By Aaron Reichlin-Melnick for Immigration Impact

    DHS Secretary Denies Responsibility for Family Separation, Asks Congress to Limit Asylum Protections by Aaron Reichlin-Melnick for Immigration Impact In a combative hearing before Congress on Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified for the first time since Democrats became the majority in the House of Representatives. During the House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Nielsen refused to admit culpability in family separation , denied reports that asylum seekers are being turned away at the border, and called on Congress to roll back humanitarian protections that she claimed are leading to a “crisis” at the border. In her last appearance before Congress in December, Secretary Nielsen struggled with basic facts . She admitted she didn’t know how many children had died in DHS custody and that she was unfamiliar with studies showing undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than American citizens. She was even stumped by a question about how many ports of entry there are along the U.S.-Mexico border. At Wednesday’s hearing, Nielsen was substantially more prepared and rattled off multiple figures when asked whether there was a national emergency at the border. However, when Democrats pressed her on data that contradicted her point of view, she frequently told them she was unaware of those numbers and would get back to them. This led one frustrated member of Congress to suggest that Nielsen was deliberately only answering Republican lawmakers’ questions. Nielsen’s testimony came the day after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released data showing that the number of apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border in February was the highest in years. This was driven almost entirely by record numbers of families crossing the border and then immediately asking for asylum. Even though apprehensions are still far lower than 20 years ago , Nielsen seized on this data at the hearing to call for Congress to fund new border barriers, limit asylum protections, and allow for lengthy detention of families by ending the Flores settlement. Despite Nielsen’s desire to move forward from last year’s disastrous family separation policy, many Democrats still demanded answers on the policy’s implementation. As with previous hearings, Nielsen repeatedly insisted that there was no “family separation policy,” and that family separation was just a secondary consequence of the Zero Tolerance policy, saying “The consequence of any adult going to jail is being separated from their child.” Of course, unlike what happens in the criminal justice system, parents separated from their children at the border remained separated even months after they had been released from jail, with many depo...
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  • Article: ICE Releases Infants in Its Custody Following Civil Rights Complaint By Katie Shepherd for Immigration Impact

    ICE Releases Infants in Its Custody Following Civil Rights Complaint by Katie Shepherd for Immigration Impact Nothing is more delicate or worthy of comprehensive care than a newborn. Yet, over the past several weeks, detention watchdogs and public health experts have noticed an alarming uptick in the number of infants—some as young as five months old—being held in prison-like detention facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On-the-ground staff in these facilities report mothers complaining that their babies are sick and not eating properly because of abrupt changes in food and living conditions. One mom even described her baby’s weight loss—a significant indicator of infant health. In response, the American Immigration Council and other organizations filed an administrative complaint with two oversight branches of the Department of Homeland Security last week. The complaint demanded the immediate release of the infants and their families, noting grave concerns about the detention center’s lack of pediatric medical care. Following this public outcry and the fact that children have recently died in custody due to government neglect, 15 of the infants and their families were reportedly released from the Texas detention center. However, two infants remain in detention. The complaint was accompanied by an affidavit from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which advocates against the detention of children—including infants—in immigration detention centers. PHR stated: “PHR is alarmed about the inherent health risks for infants in detention, as infants have specific health needs which detention centers are ill-equipped to meet. The Department of Homeland Security’s medical and psychiatric experts have extensively documented the significant threats of harm to children from detention, after visits to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement family detention centers.” Senator Merkley of Oregon issued a statement to coincide with last week’s complaint, calling on ICE to release the infants and their families from custody immediately. The senator stated: “Babies don’t belong in jail. Period. No infant should ever be locked up in a detention center. ICE is putting these babies’ health and well-being at risk by keeping them trapped in facilities with inadequate infant medical care.” This is not an isolated problem, however. Advocates and medical experts have long documented the government’s failure to provide adequate medical care to families jailed in detention centers. Earlier this year, PHR also wrote a letter to the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus with concerns about the medical and mental health impacts of detention on children. They note alarming examples of neglect in...
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  • Article: The Demand for Highly-Skilled Foreign Workers Is Undeniable By Walter Ewing for Immigration Impact

    The Demand for Highly-Skilled Foreign Workers Is Undeniable by Walter Ewing for Immigration Impact There is little doubt that highly skilled natives and immigrants have worked together for years to drive innovation in a broad range of fields and to build America’s private sector. However, despite ample evidence of the complementary nature of the work done by highly skilled foreign-born professionals, the anti-immigration community in the United States is once again attempting to cast doubt on the value of their economic contributions. One of the latest attacks is a report that calls into question the worth of degrees awarded by colleges and universities virtually anywhere outside of the United States. Yet this attempt by the anti-immigration crowd is marred by the use of an irrelevant data set that in no way measures a foreign-born worker’s professional knowledge or subject matter expertise. The data set used in the report comes from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)—an English-language test of literacy, numerical proficiency, and computer savvy administered in the United States and 23 other countries. PIAAC is not intended as a measure of specialized knowledge in any particular field of study. Rather, it assesses the practical, day-to-day, “core competencies” of adults in reading, writing, math, and using a computer—in English. The report finds that, among college-educated natives and immigrants who took the test in the United States in 2012 and 2014, natives significantly outperformed immigrants on all measures. The report also finds that this performance gap persists even for immigrants who have been in the country for more than five years before taking the test and who presumably had time to improve their English-language skills. While all of this may be true, the report uses the gap in PIAAC scores to support a conclusion that goes far beyond what PIAAC actually measures. Namely, that “policy-makers should therefore be cautious in treating foreign degrees as evidence of ‘high-skill’ immigration.” Yet PIAAC doesn’t measure the specialized skills of degree holders; it only measures core competencies in the use of the English language, ...
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