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Jacksonville Immigration Blog

Supreme Court rules in favor of immigrant

Undocumented immigrants who live in Florida or any other state are not allowed to purchase or possess guns. This is true even if the individual originally came to the country on a valid visa that later expired. However, if an immigrant doesn't know that what they are doing is illegal, the government may not be able to get a conviction. That was what the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving a man who spent time at the Florida Institute of Technology.

However, the school did not allow him to continue his studies after posting failing grades. According to the dissent in the case, the man was told that he would need to enroll at another school to remain in the country legally. Despite this warning, he decided to move to a hotel near a firing range. Records show that he spent more than $11,000 over a period of 53 days at a hotel near an airport and firing range.

New rules could make it harder to get asylum

If President Trump gets his way, it may be harder for immigrants to make their way to Florida or other states to seek asylum. Under a "safe third country" plan, immigrants would be required to first apply for asylum in Mexico or another country. The president also wants immigrants to wait in Mexico until their cases are resolved, which can take months or years to occur.

It is worth noting that migrants in the European Union must ask for asylum in the first country they reach. Those who study the issue say that countries in Central America may not have the resources that European countries do to take on large number of immigrants. Under current United States policy, an individual merely needs to be present in the country and qualify as a refugee to ask for asylum.

Florida is one of the top six states for undocumented immigrants

Florida often has a heavy-handed approach toward immigration enforcement. Officials and lawmakers often use immigration as a talking point to impress their voters. Recently, despite no major cities in Florida participating in the sanctuary city program, Florida lawmakers began considering a ban on participation for Florida municipalities.

It may come as some surprise, then, for the average person to learn that the state is one of the six states in the country with the highest rates of undocumented workers or immigrants. However, despite a political climate that is openly hostile toward undocumented immigrants, there are a large number of them in the state.

Special protections limited for some migrant children

For some migrant children entering the United States alone in states like Florida, special protections will no longer be available. This new policy means that some children will no longer get to make claims in front of a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officer instead of an immigration judge. U.S. immigration authorities, under direction from the Trump Administration, continue to implement further restrictions on immigration in an effort to reduce the amount of people coming over the southern border.

USCIS stated that they are rescinding an Obama memo that extended special protections for migrant children even if they turned 18 or reunited with a parent. The Trump Administration considered this policy, among many others, to be a legal loophole that encouraged more children to cross the border. Trump has also threatened to implement tariffs on incoming Mexican goods if Mexico doesn't do more to reduce migration of people from Central America.

Proposal could eliminate backlogged green-card applications

Many people in Florida are concerned about how proposed immigration reforms might affect their own status, especially people waiting on long-backlogged lists. One plan proposed by the Trump administration would eliminate the applications for over 4 million people currently waiting for green card approval in family-based and employment-based immigration categories. Even people who have been waiting for years to have their applications reviewed would have them canceled. They would be required to resubmit their applications under a new system, based on points.

Trump announced that current categories for immigration based on family and employment would be eliminated and replaced instead with a point system. The White House indicated that people currently waiting would receive some kind of point bonus, but no details have been announced. In order for this plan to go into effect, it must be approved first by Congress, as it would mark a major change to U.S. immigration law. No bill has yet been introduced in Congress, so details about how the point system would work are not yet available. Most believe that Democrats will oppose the bill due to the elimination of family-based immigration categories as well as the eradication of the green-card waiting list.

Immigration reform may benefit those from India

About 12% of immigrants who come to Florida or other states are thought of as highly skilled. President Trump wants to see that number increase to 57%. The push to base immigration decisions on skill as opposed to keeping families together could be a benefit for those who are currently living in India. Indians apply for about three-quarters of employment-based green cards and just 7% of green cards based on family connections.

Currently, people from India receive more than three out of every four H-1B visas that are awarded to foreign workers. Those who have such a visa are allowed to stay in the United States for up to six years for employment purposes. It is believed that updating the immigration process would allow individuals from India and China to get to the United States faster. Currently, applicants from India could wait up to 150 years to have their applications processed.

Apprenticeship program may be funded by higher visa fees

Increased fees for H-1B visas could be used to pay for apprentice programs for people in Florida and across the United States. The budget for the 2020 fiscal year includes $160 million for the Department of Labor to expand apprenticeship programs that began in 2018. However, it is unclear if the proposed budget will look the same as the one that is eventually passed.

There are some who would like to see the H-1B visa program scrapped entirely, but that would likely face resistance. In 2020, the H-1B visa cap was hit in a matter of days, and this has been the case in previous years as well. Therefore, increased fees to fund domestic programs may be among the best available compromises. Each year, 85,000 visas are granted with applicants being placed in a general pool of 65,000 and a master's cap pool of 20,000.

Florida lawmakers look to embrace federal immigration rules

There is no question that immigration continues to be a major point of contention in domestic politics across the United States. Florida's position in the southeast of the country, growing economy and warm climate make it a popular destination for immigrants from many locations. Even those who come to the country through other points of entry may eventually find themselves in the Sunshine State.

Some of these people will come to the country without appropriate documentation. They may hope that by working hard and avoiding legal trouble, they can give themselves or their families a better life. However, they may have to take drastic actions so that they can avoid legal conflicts and the potential for deportation.

Additional 30,000 H-2B visas to be issued in 2019

Many employers in states like Florida with economies that are heavily dependent on tourism have been petitioning Congress for years to increase the annual H-2B visa quota. Due largely to a surging economy and plummeting unemployment rates, the departments of Labor and Homeland Security supported increased H-2B allocations in 2017 and 2018, and 15,000 visas were added to the 66,000 yearly cap. On May 8, a temporary rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register that increases the 2019 H-2B visa quota by 30,000.

These visas are issued to allow foreign workers to take jobs in seasonal industries like agriculture and hospitality. The additional 30,000 visas authorized by the temporary rule will be granted to former H-2B recipients who have worked in the United States before, did not overstay their visas and require minimal vetting. Initial media reports do not make clear whether employers seeking the extra H-2B visas will have to establish that they could suffer irreparable harm if they are unable to hire more workers. This was a condition imposed in both 2017 and 2018.

Trump wants changes to asylum system

Florida residents may be aware that President Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a top priority. Recently, the Trump administration has called for changes to the way that asylum seekers are processed. Among those changes include a proposal to charge individuals seeking asylum a fee as well as not allowing some to work in the United States. This has drawn criticism from immigration advocates as well as some lawmakers.

The president believes that the current way that immigrants ask for asylum is dangerous and ineffective. He has also stated that seeking asylum is akin to a loophole in the immigration system. The Immigration and Nationality Act does allow the United States to charge fees for those seeking entry into the country. However, those who are opposed to the idea say that it may not possible for most immigrants to pay them.

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