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Jacksonville Immigration Blog

Uproar causes immigration case to be revisited

Immigrants who call Florida their home may have some understanding of how deportation works. Generally speaking, anyone who is not in the country legally could be sent back to their country of origin. This may be true even if the individual is a child. One case involving an 11-year-old was reopened after a judge initially ordered her to be sent back home without her mother or sister. It is believed that a clerical error resulted in the order to sent the child home alone.

An attorney for the girl said that it was likely a result of an overworked staff as opposed to anything done maliciously. It was a series of tweets from Houston's police chief that resulted in the immigration case gaining mainstream attention. He equated what was happening to the girl to how people were treated during World War II. According to the child's mother, the family had originally fled from El Salvador to get away from gang violence.

Visa application rejections soaring on public-charge grounds

The U.S. Department of State has been disappointing increasing numbers of visa applicants hoping for permission to live legally in Florida or elsewhere in the United States. A procedural change to the State Department's foreign affairs manual has given diplomats greater leeway to reject applications, especially if they believe that an applicant might use public services.

The procedural change came into effect in January 2018, and it appears to be accelerating the rate at which immigration authorities deny visas on public-charge grounds. Refusals based on concerns about immigrants using public assistance grew from 900 in 2015 to almost 13,500 in fiscal year 2018. This represented four times the number of public-charge denials issued in 2017.

Immigration concerns for certain populations in Florida

Florida is a city that has many immigrants, some who are documented and others who aren't. Unfortunately, immigration policies on a state and federal level have many wondering what their future holds. Fear is rooted in the heart of many here.

There are several challenges that immigrants in this state are facing. Trying to find employment, enjoying the ability to drive on the state's roads and receive benefits when needed can be a challenge. While some lawmakers are trying to make life better for immigrants, others aren't interested in doing this at all. Instead, some are proposing bills that could make life tougher for immigrants.

Judge issues injunction in immigration case

Individuals who are seeking asylum in the United States cannot be sent to Mexico while their cases are pending. Instead, they have the right to remain in Florida or other states until a judge can hear their case. This is according to a ruling from a federal judge in a matter involving 11 individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The judge has ordered that the individuals be allowed into the country within two days.

A preliminary injunction that applies to all other cases will go into effect on April 12. The judge ruled that the policy forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico was a violation of both American and international law. Specifically, it violated the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees. The ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project represented the plaintiffs in the case, and a representative from the group said that Trump cannot simply ignore the law in an effort to achieve a policy goal.

President threatens to close border with Mexico

Those living in Florida and across the nation may be aware of President Trump's desire to America's immigration policies. He has recently threatened to close the border with Mexico in an effort to stop what he perceives as a flow of drugs and criminals into the country. President Trump sent out a series of tweets explaining his position on the matter, and he blamed the immigration problem on weakness by the Democrats.

The president believes that they are failing to address the issue because it could hand him a political victory. He also urged Mexico to do more to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States. In a tweet, the president said that there was no more room for additional individuals to be placed in detention facilities. Therefore, his next step would be to close the border if immigrants from Mexico didn't refrain from trying to enter the United States.

Companies adjust to changes in H-1B process

Companies in Florida and across the country are reacting to sudden and unexpected changes to the H-1B visa program. This program is particularly important to businesses hoping to hire workers with advanced skills from abroad, especially international students educated at U.S. universities. Less than two weeks before the April 1 deadline to file for an H-1B visa, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new procedure for premium processing of applications. Many businesses make use of premium processing for a fee of $1,410, which guarantees that they will receive a decision on the application within 15 days.

Without premium processing, companies and applicants may need to wait 10 to 13 months to hear if their applications are approved. Under the new procedures, petitioners can request premium processing of their H-1B applications by filing Form I-907. The processing period will begin before or on May 20, rather than immediately after filing. Business clients are turning to law firms to help them revise existing applications to use premium processing instead.

Supreme Court rules on immigrant detention after criminal custody

Some immigrants who are living in Florida may be affected by a Supreme Court ruling that would allow them to be detained by immigration years after they have been released from criminal custody. The lead plaintiff in the case was a man who came to the United States as an infant in 1981. He had been born in a refugee camp after his family fled Cambodia. In 2006, the man was convicted for marijuana possession two times.

The man served a short sentence for simple battery years later. Although this is not an offense that leads to mandatory detention, he was still sent to immigration detention. He was eventually released, but his American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, who handled the case said the law could lead to years of detention for people who are not a flight risk. The other plaintiffs were all lawful permanent residents.

9th Circuit rules asylum seekers have right to full appeal

immigrants in Florida and elsewhere who are initially denied asylum in the United States have the right to fully appeal that decision, according to a March 7 ruling by a California federal appeals court. Current federal law only allows migrants to appeal rejections on technical grounds.

In order to be granted asylum by the U.S., migrants are required to prove they have a "credible fear" of suffering persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or political associations if they return to their home country. If they fail to prove they have a credible fear, the government will deny their asylum application, leaving them few grounds upon which to file an appeal. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found that current law violates decades of court rulings recognizing the constitutional rights of non-citizens, including the right to file a full appeal.

Venezuelan immigrants often seek asylum in the United States

According to current news reports, roughly 3 million people have already fled Venezuela because of political corruption and persecution. Other political researchers estimate another 5 million will attempt to leave the country before the end of 2019, leaving 9 million people displaced and in need of asylum or immigration abroad.

Unfortunately, immigration policies in the United States may make it harder than ever for people from Venezuela to secure a legal and safe place to go to. At the same time that the federal government is sending aid to Venezuela and railing against political corruption in the country, it is also turning a seemingly blind eye to the countless immigrants and refugees streaming out of the country.

TPS protection extended until January 2020

Individuals from Sudan, Haiti and El Salvador who are currently living in Florida will likely be able to do so for the foreseeable future. The same is true of citizens of Nicaragua who are in the country as part of the temporary protected status (TPS) program. Although President Trump has sought to scale down the program, court battles are making that difficult at the current time.

The TPS program allows individuals from countries struck by a natural disaster or other strife to live in the United States. Some foreign nationals living in the United States with TPS status have been in the country for over 20 decades. President Trump was hoping to make changes that would require participants to return home or find another way to remain in the country legally. A court order required that plan to be abandoned for the time being.

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