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CHANCES OF COMPROMISE IN IMMIGRATION REFORM: SEPTEMBER 2013 UPDATE

September 19th, 2013

Democrats consider pathway to legalization, not citizenship according to the article written by Steve Taylor of the Rio Grande Guardian on September 16, 2013.

Some Congressional Democrats are contemplating a compromise on immigration reform that would put undocumented immigrants on a path to legalization but not, directly, citizenship.

Under the plan, the 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. could come out of the shadows and become legal residents, allowing them to work legally and travel freely. They would not be able to apply for citizenship. To become a citizen, they would have to wait and go through the normal process that legal residents have to follow.

One of the Democrats looking at the “compromise,” is U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. At a recent news conference held jointly with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in Mission, Cuellar said he has set up a meeting with U.S. Rep. Robert Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to discuss the residency/citizenship issue. Goodlatte has said his committee will take a piecemeal approach to immigration reform, working on a series of small bills, rather than create a comprehensive bill like the U.S. Senate did.

“I support a comprehensive bill, but if we do it piecemeal and do not call it pathway but call it taking them (undocumented immigrants) out of the shadows and giving them legalization, I can support that. I have got to be flexible,” Cuellar said.

Cuellar said he does not support amnesty for undocumented immigrants. “What I do support is taking these people out of the shadows. I want to know who those people are,” he said.

Asked if there would be anyway for undocumented immigrants that become legal to apply for citizenship in the future, Cuellar answered in the affirmative. “At some time in the future, yes. We have to legalize these folks first. There are always things in the law that can allow these people to become citizens. You let them become a legal resident first. The system will allow them to get to that point (citizenship) eventually.”

Cuellar said he hopes U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, will also attend the meeting with Goodlatte. Gutierrez has been the Democrat immigrant rights groups look to on the issue. Cuellar said there will have to be give and take from Democrats and Republicans alike if immigration reform is to pass in the House. He said a bipartisan approach is called for because there are about 65 to 70 Tea Party Republicans in the House who will try to block

“I asked if I could sit down (with Goodlatte) and see if there is any way we can salvage this. Right now, the clock, the calendar, is the biggest enemy of immigration reform. If we do not pass it now, it is going to be hard to do anything before 2017. I hope we can get both sides together,” Cuellar said.

Cuellar said he would support a piecemeal approach “as long as we accomplish everything.” In addition to the question of what to do with the 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants, there is likely to be legislation in the House addressing border security, a guest worker program, and updating the e-verify laws to ensure only those permitted to work are doing so.

“The most difficult part is what to do about the 11 or 12 million undocumented persons. I have told my friends, we are not doing amnesty and that if we do not do something about those 11 or 12 million you are going to give them a de facto amnesty because they stay here,” Cuellar said.

“I hope that, at the very least, we bring them out of the shadows so we know who they are. I will be the first to say, if they have a criminal record, kick them out, deport them. But the rest of the people who are here, who have laid down roots here, let’s have a sensible way of doing this.”

Cuellar also discussed the prospects for immigration reform at an immigration forum in Port Isabel recently. Other members of Congress at the forum were Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, Gene Green, D-Houston, Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, and Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville.

Cuellar said few Congressional Republicans have an electoral incentive to pass immigration reform because very few of them represent districts with a high Latino population. He said the chances of passing such legislation is diminished because of an unwritten rule that says the only House bills that will be taken up by the leadership are those that garner the support of a majority of the ruling majority.

“Look at what happened to Congressman John Carter, a good friend of mine. He had a town hall meeting in his constituency and was attacked by Tea Party folks for supporting a pathway to citizenship. He is trying to do the right thing,” Cuellar said. Carter is a Republican from Round Rock, Texas.

At the immigration reform forum, Cuellar discussed a possible approach by Goodlatte. “What he (Goodlatte) said was very, very interesting. He said, I do not support a pathway but I think there is a way. I do not know if they (Republicans) will let him get to that point, which is take them out of the shadows, we are not using the word ‘pathway,’ become legalized, where they can work and travel, and then the system can do its thing. It’s a compromise,” Cuellar said.

“I have talked to Luis (Gutierrez). If you talk about a pathway to citizenship the Republican leadership is going to say no, N, O, no. We have to get to a conference committee. Let’s see what he (Goodlatte) comes up with. They control what is on the calendar.”

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), which works to empower tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in colonias in Hidalgo County, held a news conference on immigration reform on Monday. Group members are participating in a 40-day fast in support of a pathway to citizenship and against further militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Asked what she thought of a pathway to legalization, rather than a pathway to citizenship, Tania Chavez, LUPE’s special projects coordinator, said: “It all depends on what they mean by a path to legalization. With the amnesty under President Reagan, undocumented immigrants were legalized and they then had a pathway to U.S. citizenship. If that is the same thing then we welcome that. But, if we block absolutely a path to citizenship in the future, we cannot support that. We do not want to create second class citizens,” Chavez said.

“If the idea is to create a permanent underclass – that is not what we want. It is not a compromise we can support. We all for legalizing them, giving them permanent legal residency, and after a few years be able to acquire their citizenship, like everybody else does in the immigration system.”

Chavez said under the current system, legal residents have to wait five years before they can apply to become citizens. That wait is only three years if an immigrant’s spouse petitions. She said the same time frame should be in place for undocumented immigrants under new immigration laws.

“If the compromise is legislation first and then, years down the road, a path to citizenship, by all means but if there is absolutely no way to get your citizenship, then no, that is not we want,” Chavez added. “My fear is that there will be a tiny little clause that says, after legalization you will never be able to get your citizenship. That is my fear. We need to be careful with the way the bill is worded.”

 

Attorney SID GARBANZOS is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law and is admitted to practice in New York and Washington, D.C. Practice areas include: Civil Litigation, Landlord-Tenant, RN & Medical Profession License Defense and Immigration. Please note that this article is written for a gratuitous purpose only and no attorney-client relationship is created in this publication. This article is not, nor intended to be legal advice. The reader should consult with a reputable lawyer based on his or her individual circumstances. Please call Garbanzos Law Firm at (718)725-7324 if you have any questions about this article.

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SPOUSES AND CHILDREN OF PERMANENT RESIDENTS UNDER 21 YEARS (NOT MARRIED) CAN NOW GET THEIR GREEN CARDS

July 23rd, 2013

The Visa Bulletin for August 2013 that summarizes the availability of immigrant visas for the month of August 2013 is now CURRENT FOR THE PHILIPPINES for spouses and children of permanent residents under 21 years of age and not married.

This means that the husbands or wives and children of permanent residents under 21 years of age and not married WHO HAVE APPROVED PETITIONS CAN NOW APPLY TO ADJUST THEIR STATUS and APPLY FOR THEIR GREEN CARDS if they are  presently in the United States and have a lawful immigration status. For those spouses and children of green card holders waiting in the Philippines should have received a notice from the US Visa Center that their green cards are now available for consular processing at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THOSE WHO HAVE APPROVED PETITIONS MUST APPLY ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 31, 2013 AS THE VISA CATEGORY FOR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN UNDER 21 MAY CHANGE OR RETROGRESS AFTER AUGUST 31, 2013.
Attorney SID GARBANZOS is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law and is admitted to practice in New York and Washington, D.C. Practice areas include: Civil Litigation, Landlord-Tenant, RN & Medical Profession License Defense and Immigration. Please note that this article is written for a gratuitous purpose only and no attorney-client relationship is created in this publication. This article is not, nor intended to be legal advice. The reader should consult with a reputable lawyer based on his or her individual circumstances. Please call Garbanzos Law Firm at (718)725-7324 if you have any questions about this article.

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U.S. SENATE PASSES IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL: WHO ARE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR “PROVISIONAL GREEN CARDS” AND WHAT SHOULD IMMIGRANTS PREPARE TO DO?

July 3rd, 2013

The U.S. Senate passes their version of the immigration reform bill that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country,  increase the number of visas available for those who have approved petitions to reduced the backlog from countries like the Philippines, Mexico, China and India as reported in the New York Times  and Washington Post on June 26, 2013.
Some Democratic and Republican members of Congress anticipate that the current proposal will be enacted into law by September of this year 2013.
The Senate’s immigration bill include fines, the payment of back taxes, criminal background checks and other hurdles for immigrants who would apply to legalize their status. The Senate version would only allow  those who are here illegally to apply for permanent green cards  10 (ten) years after the bill is enacted into law.  For the young “dreamers” (those who were brought here as children), they would be able to apply for “green cards” two (2) years after the bill becomes law.
Under the Senate bill, those “illegals” or “out of status” who would apply for ”permanent green cards” would be granted “provisional or temporary status,” known as Registered Provisional Immigrants or RPI, issued working permits and would be allowed to travel outside the United States.  Under the Senate version, only those immigrants who are “illegals” or “out of status”  who are here on or before December 31, 2011 can apply.  If those immigrants are eligible, the same immigrants can be granted “provisional status” for 10 years and can apply for citizenship three (3) years after that time.
The Senate bill also allows those in the country who have been working legally for 10 years (such as those in temporary H1B/H2B status) can be granted green cards or legal permanent residency if those immigrants apply.
More importantly, the Senate bill increases the family and employment visa caps to reduce the back log of countries like the Philippines, India, China and Mexico whose family members have been waiting in some cases for more than 15 years. The Senate version, however plans to eliminate the category where a US citizen can petition for a sibling brother or sister.
The Senate bill would also allow  highly skilled immigrants and those who graduated from U.S. universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to stay and apply for “green cards.”  The plan would also impose a nationwide verification of legal status for all newly hired workers and would also create some form of guest-worker program to bring in low-wage immigrants in the future.
WHAT SHOULD IMMIGRANTS PREPARE TO DO? Below are few pointers provided by the experts from the National Immigration Forum and the ILRC Network:

1. HAVE A RELATIVE OR EMPLOYER FILE A PETITION IF YOU QUALIFY BECAUSE CONGRESS WILL ALLOCATE VISAS TO THOSE ALREADY IN LINE. QUALIFYING RELATIVES INCLUDE BROTHER OR SISTER, MOTHER OR FATHER AND SON OR DAUGHTER.
2. KEEP RECORDS OF YOUR PRESENCE IN THE U.S. such as  Checking or Savings Account, Money Remittances (Western Union), Money Order Receipts, Cell Phone or Cable Bills, Credit Card Bills, Utility Bills such as Electric or Gas, Medical Records (doctor’s/hospital bills/children immunization records), Lease, School Records (Transcript of Records), Your Children’s School Records (Report Cards), State Issued driver license or  State ID even if expired or Passports issued by your Country’s Embassy or Consulate in the United States
3. DO NOT LOSE YOUR I-94 ARRIVAL DOCUMENTS
4. GET A PASSPORT FROM YOUR CONSULATE OR EMBASSY AND OBTAIN A CERTIFIED COPY OF YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES (If Married)
5. AVOID USING PHONY NAMES ON OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

6. LEARN ENGLISH. Attend English as Second Language (ESL) Class.

7. PAY TAXES. YOU CAN OBTAIN AN INCOME TAX IDENTIFICATION ITIN) NUMBER IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

8. IF YOU WERE ARRESTED, GET AN ARREST DISPOSITION FROM THE CLERK’S OFFICE OF THE COUNTY WHERE YOU WERE ARRESTED

9. BEWARE OF IMMIGRATION SCAMS

10. SAVE FOR FEES AND PENALTIES (Fees and Penalties could be up to $5,000 or more)

Attorney SID GARBANZOS is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law and is admitted to practice in New York and Washington, D.C. Practice areas include: Civil Litigation, Landlord-Tenant, RN & Medical Profession License Defense and Immigration. Please note that this article is written for a gratuitous purpose only and no attorney-client relationship is created in this publication. This article is not, nor intended to be legal advice. The reader should consult with a reputable lawyer based on his or her individual circumstances. Please call Garbanzos Law Firm at (718)725-7324 if you have any questions about this article.

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