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    Published on 10-16-2017 02:14 PM

    Employment-Based Green Card Interviews are Coming – What We Learned from the Ombudsman’s Teleconference


    USCIS recently announced that, beginning October 1, 2017, it will expand in-person interviews for employment-based Form I-485 applications for adjustment of status (“AOS”). Since the 1990s, common practice was for USCIS to adjudicate employment-based AOS applications at service centers, without in-person interviews. However, as part of USCIS’s efforts to comply with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” all employment based AOS applications will now be scheduled for in-person interviews at local field offices.

    On September 28, 2017, the USCIS Ombudsman’s Office held a teleconference with USCIS to discuss this new policy. Here are five things ...

    Published on 10-13-2017 11:05 AM

    Attorney General Sessions Attacks Asylum Seekers and Calls for More Fast-Track Deportations


    During a public appearance at the Department of Justice on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on Congress to curb due process for immigrants by making it more difficult for an individual to seek asylum and to increase fast-track deportations.

    In his speech, Sessions focused heavily on America’s long-standing system that provides asylum to those seeking safety and protection, claiming it is “subject to rampant abuse and fraud.” He argued that increased claims of “credible fear”—where an individual apprehended at the border expresses fear of persecution if returned to their home country—are an indicator of asylum seekers abusing loopholes in the immigration system. ...

    Published on 10-12-2017 11:27 AM

    4 Tips for EB-5 Principal Applicants with Diminished Capacity, Such As Autism


    In the past few months, our firm has been approached by parents with children with Autism or other special needs on whether such children are able to obtain an EB-5 visa. Although we have not received affirmative guidance from the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) or USCIS, it appears this is a viable option, though each situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

    Here are four things to know on this topic:

    1. Can Child with Special Needs be Principal Applicant for EB-5? It’s potentially viable for such a child to be the principal EB-5 applicant with the appointment of an appropriate legal guardian who can act on the child’s behalf. Prior to making an EB-5 investment, the legal guardian should ask the Regional Center to affirmatively ...
    Published on 10-12-2017 11:15 AM

    “A Killer Deal” for EB-5 or a “Deal Killer”?


    Just revealed… the “last, best and final offer” for the EB-5 program from the judiciary leadership of the House and Senate. During the past few weeks, the EB-5 industry stakeholders representing urban and rural interests have been busy meeting with Chairman Grassley and Chairman Goodlatte, behind closed doors whereupon the “ last, best and final offer” was formed. Senator ...

    Published on 10-12-2017 11:05 AM

    When To Use Comparable Evidence in EB-1A cases?


    There are many interpretations of “comparable evidence.” Some immigration attorneys interpret this alternative criterion to mean that it is only applicable if the profession, not the particular type of evidence, doesn’t fit into the other criteria. For documentary evidence submitted for a particular EB-1 regulatory criteria, as outlined in Policy Memorandum PM-602-0005.1, USCIS recognizes that, "In some cases, evidence relevant to one criterion may be relevant to other criteria set forth in ...

    Published on 10-11-2017 11:56 AM

    The End of DACA


    Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (also known as DACA), ordered by the Obama administration in 2012, is a program that has offered temporary protection from deportation to nearly 800,000 people who were brought to the country illegally as children, allowing them to obtain work permits, be eligible for driver’s licenses, and complete schooling.

    To have been eligible for DACA, applicants must have entered the U.S illegally before their 16th birthday, been younger than 31 before 2012, haven’t been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanors, and must have been in school, graduated from school or are honorably discharged veterans of the armed forces or Coast Guard.

    New York State has almost 42,000 DACA recipients. Of those 42,000 recipients, 30,000 live in New York City.

    Published on 10-11-2017 11:50 AM

    Competency Evaluations In Immigration Proceedings: Matter Of M-a-m Cases


    Competency evaluations in immigration proceedings is similar to competency evaluations in criminal cases, however, a specific case – Matter of M-A-M – serves as the guiding principle for the mental health evaluator with immigration clients. This chapter will consider (1) criteria in the Matter of M-A-M case, (2) special challenges in the competency evaluations in immigration proceedings, (3) major psychiatric issues that require scrutiny, and (4) malingering and factitious disorder as alternate diagnostic considerations.
    Case Example
    In an effort to integrate theory and practice, a case example is presented at the outset. Factual mental health issues from this case are interwoven at various points in this chapter. The case concerns a 32-year-old man - John - who relocated from Jamaican as a young adult. He has a long history of psychiatric illness, which is well-documented during his incarceration. At the time of the evaluation, the client had been incarcerated for about eight years and he was interviewed in an ICE detention center in Batavia, New York. Prior to the evaluation, this evaluator obtained a parallel history from the client’s mother and stepfather, which proved extremely helpful. The client was cooperative throughout the evaluation, however he was floridly psychotic and could provide little meaningful information regarding his personal history, mental health issues, and he could not adequately assist this evaluator with regard to his own case.
    Matter of M-A-M Criteria
    3 Prong Test
    Matter of M-A-M 25 I&N December 474 (BIA 2011) provides a three-pronged test for the competency analysis in immigration proceedings.
    First, does the respondent have a rational and factual understanding of the nature (process) and object (aim) of the proceedings. This prong is quite complex because it requires that the respondent possess an understanding about immigration proceedings, which may be difficult to fully understand even by individuals familiar with the law. As a forensic evaluator, I am often shocked by clients who do not have an understanding about asylum proceedings, deportation cases, 601-waivers, and much else. Asylum clients rarely have a full understanding about the criteria, deportation clients refer to their cases as a “ten-year case” without understanding that they must prove the very high bar of exceptional and extremely unusual hardships, and many of my South American clients refer to the 601-A waiver petition as “perdon” so that the client believes that only a simple pardon is needed. As such, even clients with a high school education and without mental health issues by and large do not have a clear understanding about immigration proceedings, goals, process, or what actually needs to be proven. As such, it would seem that an individual with serious and chronic mental health issues could not understand the reason or manner of the goal, purpose, and aim of immigration proceedings, especially when such clients also invariably did not complete their educations and find it quite difficult to properly advocate for themselves and/or negotiate their community in a meaningful manner.
    Second, can the respondent consult (that is, assist) with the attorney or representative. “Consult” is a broad term and can mean many things, however it generally suggests that the client has the capacity to provide meaningful feedback and input about his case based on an understanding about the factual issues and process, as noted in the first criteria. Again, many of the clients I evaluate can provide little or no “consult” to the attorney and/or evaluator, but rather such information and assistance must be carefully elicited from the client by the attorney and/or evaluator given the client’s rather limited understanding about the process. For individuals who have serious and chronic mental health issues consultation will be all the more challenging and perhaps even impossible.
    Third, would there be a reasonable opportunity for the respondent to examine (adverse) evidence, present favorable evidence, and cross examine government witnesses. Again, this is a high standard because the capacity to examine evidence and cross-examine witnesses is something that even experienced attorneys struggle with on a regular basis. The individual who has suffered with psychiatric illness may not have the cognitive capacity and/or psychological wherewithal to undertake ...
    Published on 10-10-2017 12:22 PM

    Tenement Museum - Under One Roof


    Under One Roof

    1. What is Tenement Museum?

    · Established in 1988 and with the hub of two historic tenements on Orchard Street in NYC’s Lower East Side, the Tenement Museum tells the story of American immigration through the personal accounts of immigrant families

    • (Tenement Museum)

    2. What is the exhibit about?

    • Opened in September, 2017, Under One Roof “ is the first permanent exhibit of the museum highlighting real-stories of modern-era immigrant, refugee, and migrant families;

    · Based on oral histories of living family members, the exhibit tells the stories of three immigrant and migrant families during the 1950s to 1970s: the Epstein family, Polish refugees and Holocaust survivors; the Saez-Velez family, Puerto Rican migrants; and the Wong family, Chinese immigrants

    (the Epstein family: Regina and Kalman Epstein)

    (the Saez-Velez family: Ramonita with Jennie and Andrea)

    (the Wong family: Mr and Mrs Wong)

    · The three families all lived in the same apartment building at 103 Orchard Street in NYC’s Lower East Side, which housed an estimated 15,000 people from more than 20 nations between 1863 and 2000;

    · The guided tour takes visitors through an apartment that has been subdivided into three sections. The first section recreates the Epstein home in the late-1950s; the second section features the Saez-Velez family home in the late-1970s; and the third section recreates the Wong family home in late-1970s. Since each family had one parent who worked in the Lower East Side’s garment industry, the 90-minute tour concludes in a recreated garment shop.

    • (the Epstein family bedroom)

    (the Saez-Velez family living room)

    (the Wong family bedroom)

    • (the Garment Shop)

    3. Why this exhibit is relevant to immigration?

    · This exhibit tells about the first urban immigration story ever happened in American history;

    • (the Saez –Velez family living room window with urban views outside)

    · Many visitors might think the early immigrants went through great hardships living under 103 Orchard Street residence during that time. However, the Chinese immigrants were actually pleased to live “under one roof”. This is because first the residence was offered with fairly cheap price. Second the particular door-to-door structure of the building was very similar to Chinese neighborhood. It bound up people together, creating a nest for social networking and information exchange which were especially previous to Chinese when they were outside their own country;

    (the Wong family: Mrs Wong and daughter Yat Ping – at graduation ceremony)

    · Chinese visitors will take away with them these two main points from the exhibit: 1. As America is a country built up by immigrants all over the world, this is the true story of America itself, not merely a story of immigrant families; 2. Nor is it a story of the past. It is an account of whoever is now living in America. If those immigrants succeeded in the past, every immigrant in America today can succeed as well. Among all the American immigrants, the question is not whether to succeed, but who to succeed.

    4. The connection with Squirrel NYC

    · Squirrels are actually not home to NYC. The Great Squirrel Migration in 1970s witnessed millions of squirrels swimming across the Connecticut River and other bodies of waters and settled down in NYC ever since then;

    · Squirrel NYC, naming after this immigration legend of the squirrels, is a newly established Chinese WeChat lifestyle platform Chinese immigrants living in NYC

    About The Author

    SquirrelNYC SquirrelNYC is a New York resident who has a furry tail. It is the one-stop portal for information on New York mainly in Simplified Chinese. It is dedicated to provide readers the latest city news, dining recommendations, leisure, events, and other aspects of a New Yorker life.

    Published on 10-09-2017 01:07 PM

    DHS Wants to Monitor Immigrants’ Social Media. No One Knows What They Will Do With This Information


    In a sweeping encroachment upon privacy, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it is planning to dramatically ramp up its surveillance of virtually anyone in the United States who is not a U.S. citizen by birth.

    In a rule which appeared in the Federal Register on September 18, DHS announced that it will begin gathering information on the “social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results,” of all immigrants in the country—even green card holders and naturalized U.S. citizens. This constitutes a tremendous violation of privacy not only for the foreign-born, but for any native-born U.S. citizen who happens to be communicating with an immigrant via social media.

    According to Faiz Shakir, national political director at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the agency is going to put a freeze on free speech by defining an enormous group of people whose online presence is now subject to ...

    Published on 10-06-2017 11:37 AM

    The White House Has Slashed Refugee Admissions to Record Lows


    The White House announced late last week that for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, beginning Oct. 1, 2017, the United States will only admit a maximum number of 45,000 refugees . This represents the lowest refugee admissions ceiling ever set by the U.S. government, despite record numbers of forced displacement around the world. The UN Refugee Agency estimated 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2016.

    Those limited refugee visas will be allocated with 19,000 for Africa; 17,500 for the Near East/South Asia; 5,000 for East Asia; and 2,000 for Europe and Central Asia. Despite countries like El Salvador and Honduras being plagued by rampant gang violence and impunity, Latin America and the Caribbean were only allocated 1,500 visas. Unlike years past, there is no “unallocated reserve” of refugee visas which previous administrations routinely authorized to provide flexibility to the U.S. Refugee Program for unexpected refugee flows.

    This new refugee cap is a

    Published on 10-05-2017 02:54 PM

    “Credibility” Training Module For Asylum Officers Released After A Freedom Of Information Request


    A 90-page Asylum Officer Training Module on “Credibility,” dated June 20, 2016, was recently released after a FOIA request by Catholic Charities of Washington DC. A copy is available at the Louise Trauma Center website: www.louisetrauma.com.

    “No witness is perfect,” is the essence of the first 13 pages of this training module. Minor discrepancies can be ignored. If the testimony was largely consistent “throughout the examination and cross-examination, consistent with his written declaration, and contained no embellishments,” find the applicant credible. Page 13.

    The “normal limits of human understanding and memory may make some inconsistencies or lack of recall present in any witness’s case.” Page 59.

    A retelling of a story “will inevitably have some flaws.” Page 14. If you think you see a flaw, “inform the applicant of your concern [and ask her] to explain.” Page 15.

    A person who was actually ...

    Published on 10-05-2017 10:12 AM

    How A Bond Hearing Saved Me From Deportation By Mark Hwang


    The ACLU blog has an interesting post on Jennings v. Rodriguez, the immigrant detention case argued in the Supreme Court today.

    How A Bond Hearing Saved Me From Deportation By Mark Hwang

    Today the Supreme Court will hear Jennings v. Rodriguez , a case that will decide the fate of thousands of men and women locked up in immigration prisons across the country. The federal government is challenging a 2015 Ninth Circuit ruling , in which the American Civil Liberties Union secured the right to a bond hearing for people in deportation proceedings after six months of detention.

    Bond hearings allow people to go before a judge so that he or she can decide if imprisonment is necessary, weighing factors like public safety and flight risk. It's basic due process. Bond hearings are a vital check on our country’s rapidly-expanding immigration system. I’ve seen their power firsthand, because not too long ago, I was one of the people locked up.

    In February 2013, I was driving with my one-year-old son when we were stopped by an immigration officer. He said that I hadn’t used my turn signal when changing lanes and asked to see my identification. When he came back to the car, he asked if I had ever been convicted of a crime.

    I answered truthfully. More than a decade ago, when I was in my early 20s, I was convicted of marijuana possession with intent to sell. I had served a short sentence and had remained out of trouble since. Still the officers ...

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