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Class Action against DeSantis

October 4, 2022

Florida Governor DeSantis, a member of the Republican party, has been sued alongside other state officials in view of his new migration policy. The aggrieved migrants instituted a class action on 14th September 2022 after being flown to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Their cause of action is centered on alleged fraud on the part of Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, inducing their migration from Texas on his directive. Critics argue that the Governor’s action was politically driven at the risk of stability in the lives of their migrants. It can be considered to be a revolt against the President’s open border policy, which is largely seen as the democrats’ mandate.

Who are the parties to the suit?

This class action was brought in the Federal court in Massachusetts upon the filings of Alianza Americas, together with three non-citizens individually and on behalf of all others affected by the government’s actions. The individual plaintiffs were among the ones flown by DeSantis from Florida to Martha’s Vinyard, and the Alianza Americas is a non-for-profit defending immigrants’ rights.

Alianza Americas has its root in the Latino immigrant communities in the United States with the aim of promoting humane, just and equitable policies. Apparently, DeSantis migration policy violates the tenets of the organization necessitating its involvement in the suit. 

The lawsuit features Ronald DeSantis, Florida’s Governor, as one of the defendants. He is sued alongside Jared Perdue, the Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation; and the Florida Department of Transportation.

Key allegations against Florida’s Government

Florida’s governor, as the defendant, and the state officials have been accused of executing a fraudulent scheme that advances their personal and political interests. These accusations were made in a statement by Alianza Americas and the three migrants. It is alleged that about $615,000 was spent chartering planes, with financial assistance through the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund. The use of the funds was alleged to breach the restrictions imposed on its use.

The Migrants boarded the plane having been deceived that they were heading to Boston or Washington D.C for a better life. Their vulnerability, specifically the migrants from Venezuela, can be linked to their experiences as victims of the humanitarian crisis in their country. It explains the hope for a “better life” that guided that actions.

  1. Inducement

It is alleged that the defendants gained the plaintiff’s trust and cooperation through the provision of Mcdonald’s gift certificates to curb food insecurity as well as free hotel stays. The exploitation of their basic needs enabled the exploitative situation, with false promises of education, housing, and employment upon arrival at Massachusetts.

The defendants, through their agents, trolled streets close to the San Antonio migrant shelter and other areas to lure about 50 migrants to leave for Martha’s Vineyard. The plaintiffs alleged that they were left at Martha’s Vineyard at the mercy of the locals., with no provision made for their basic needs.

  • Violation of Rights

The  plaintiffs seek a class action status at the federal court in Massachusetts in view of the alleged ruse being tortious, a violation of federal statutes, and the plaintiff’s protection under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the American Constitution.

Oren Sellstrom in his address as the Plaintiffs’ counsel stated that the locals at Martha Vineyard did not anticipate their arrival. He also argues that the Defendants were unresponsive to calls from the migrants who wanted to make inquiries about their situation. He emphasized the deprivation of liberty, manipulative acts of the defendants, and interference with the Federal Government’s exclusive control over immigration.

 It is of interest to note that Oren Sellstrom serves as the litigation director at Lawyers for Civil Rights, a charitable legal aid group in Boston. The Legal aid group demanded that the federal and state authorities undertake an investigation into the migrants’ flights to Martha Vineyard. Images of alleged brochures that were given to the migrants to induce their departure were posted. It was said that the brochures were intended to support DeSantis’ ruse.

Plaintiffs’ claims in the Lawsuit

The plaintiffs, in their address to the court, are praying for the certification of their action as a class action, with the migrants as class representatives. In addition, a declaration that the defendant’s actions are unconstitutional and in breach of federal and state statutes. The Plaintiffs also asked the court to award damages to them, and enjoin the defendants from using fraudulent means to induce immigrants to travel across state lines.

The Defendants’ position in the Lawsuit

DeSantis defended his actions stating that there were no legal violations. One of his spokespersons, Taryn Fenske emphasized in this statement that the migrants acted voluntarily. The Defendants argue that the migration offered the migrants access to better opportunities with the sanctuary jurisdiction.

Taryn Fenske spoke against the growing interest of the activists in immigrant welfare upon their move to Massachusetts. He highlighted that the activists had failed to look out for the migrants while they suffered of hunger and abandonment in Florida. DeSantis seems convinced about the positive impact of the $ 12 million program to relocate migrants, as he undertook to continue the project.

HOW DOES ICE KNOW WHERE TO FIND YOU? APPARENTLY, YOU TOLD THEM (WELL, NOT EXACTLY)

September 6, 2022

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Many undocumented individuals residing in the United States are afraid to leave a paper trail like opening a bank account or even visiting a hospital because they are concerned that this information will be used by the government to deport them. Apparently, such worries have grounds. A lawsuit was filed LexisNexis- a data broker- to cut over allegedly selling personal data of immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The lawsuit claims that LexisNexis helped in creating a large number of surveillance files on almost every adult in the United States. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) is also accused of using this information in safe cities for immigrants. Plaintiffs in this lawsuit include Organized Communities Against Deportation, Mijente, Just Futures Law, Legal Action Chicago, and Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

It has been reported that the information provided to Immigration and Customs Enforcement by LexisNexis, is data that otherwise can only be obtained with a court order, subpoena, or some other legal processes. Access to this information allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to easily (without a due, fair process) arrest and deport immigrants without complete documentation.

Reporting at a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, a member of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Access Living identified as Michelle Garcia started how she used LexisNexis to search her records, and found an overwhelming amount of personal data collected on her. Her personal information which she found included information that she wouldn’t ordinarily share. Not only was her personal information found there, but also information on her family members and neighbors whom she shares the same apartment complex with.

In Michelle Garcia’s words, “LexisNexis collected 43 pages of information about me, my family, and my acquaintances. It was extremely disturbing, scary, and overwhelming to see everything in writing that they have collected about my life as a Cook County resident. … This information is in the hands of a third party like LexisNexis, and then potentially in the hands of ICE, putting my loved ones and other community members at risk. I have the privilege of citizenship. But if I were one of the millions of undocumented people living in the U.S., ICE could find me within a matter of hours by searching through a report like mine. ICE is still free, has free rein to go after anyone they believe is deportable.”

When asked to lay out the details of the lawsuit and the significance of filing it in the State of Illinois, Cinthya Rodriguez, the national organizer with Mijente, disclosed how LexisNexis is gathering and selling the data of over 276 million people across the United States, especially with the aid of their Accurint product.

Cinthya Rodriguez went on to state how they want to shed light on the violation of privacy and consumer rights in the State of Illinois and the state’s common laws. As one of the biggest data brokers in the world, LexisNexis is “getting rich off the backs” of people by collecting and selling personal information, especially of community members. This in turn could lead to their arrest, detention, and deportation.

Previously, commissioners of Cook County in Illinois led an investigation to unravel the local consequences of the $22.1 million contract deal between LexisNexis and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Reports also have it that LexisNexis is not the only firm entering into this kind of contract with ICE.

A major unsettling fact about the issue is the ability of these agencies to gather a vast amount of personal data, including data that is not publicly available. Hence, a major reason why various immigrant advocacy communities entered the lawsuit is that they believe that the ICE is using this information collected illegally to bypass the non-compliance of cities and towns to detain undocumented immigrants.

In her interview with Democracy Now, Cinthyia Rodriguez further highlighted some ways data are collected. She described organizations like LexisNexis as a one-stop shop for data items such as phone numbers, addresses, license plate information, medical information, credit scores, and more. She stated that “tabs are kept on immigrant communities, communities of color, and protesters.” This is harming the well-being of these persons. Besides, none of this information including items such as social security numbers is collected without the owner’s consent.

It is sad to note that the privacy of the common U.S. citizen is severely threatened by such acts of impudence demonstrated by a government agency and data broking establishment. This is a breach of the fundamental rights of people, a right to privacy.  

IMMIGRANTS NUMBERING THOUSANDS CAN BE DETAINED INDEFINITELY ACCORDING TO THE SUPREME COURT’S RULINGS

June 22, 2022

IMMIGRANTS NUMBERING THOUSANDS CAN BE DETAINED INDEFINITELY ACCORDING TO THE SUPREME COURT’S RULINGS

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

As the issue of immigration in the U.S. seems to be a never-ending rigmarole subject, new developments are expected at every turn. Most recently, the Supreme Court ruled that immigrants detained in the United States are not entitled to a bond hearing in certain situations. This ruling means that the thousands of immigrants currently held in detention facilities with open immigration cases can remain in detention indefinitely! It does not apply to all immigrants, but rather to those who already have orders of removal, but cannot depart or have additional hearings that must be conducted.

In addition to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the high court also ruled that federal courts do not possess the legal authority to grant class-wide relief to immigrants held in detention. This means that, if detainees want to petition their right to a bond hearing in the future, they can only present their cases individually. This is coupled with the fact that immigrants are not allowed to have legal representation during immigration proceedings.

The ruling of the Supreme Court seems to maintain the existing state of affairs as it concerns the issue of immigration. Many immigrants are currently detained in facilities that are more like prisons. Many immigrants have not been charged with any crime but do not possess the right to a hearing to justify their detention. Some of the immigrants are held in facilities belonging to for-profit corporations such as Geo Group and a host of others. The Court ruling also maintains that immigrants can’t have a bond hearing unless the U.S. government says so. This means that the U.S. government has the discretionary right to decide the fate of detainees. In other words, it will be up to DHS/ICE if the person is released from the detention or not, and if ICE/DHS does not want to release the person, they can keep them there technically, forever.

These  rulings dashes the hopes of immigrants who have been held long enough in detention. The cases which are Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez and Garland v. Aleman Gonzalez were brought to court by undocumented immigrants who contested they are being held in detention centers for far too long. Their argument was focused on the fact that immigrants who have been held in detention for up to six months or more should be entitled to an individualized bond hearing where the U.S. government has to prove the need for their continued detention.

The immigrants sued the U.S. government while leveraging on a 1996 immigration statute which states that an unauthorized immigrant “may” remain in detention for an extended period if they fail to meet certain criteria. The immigrants argued that since the statute uses “may be detained” instead of “shall be detained,” the right of discretion rests with the judges, hence entitling them to a hearing. The case was further appealed to the Supreme Court where representatives of the Biden administration argued that the law permits the Attorney General of the United States to indefinitely detain illegal immigrants while their cases are undergoing litigation.

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2020 that detainees are entitled to a bond hearing. Since the Garland case was presented as a class-action lawsuit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a class-wide relief, thereby extending the right to a bond hearing to every person named in the suit.

However, the Supreme Court countered this ruling declaring that detainees are not entitled to such a bond hearing, hence a class-wide relief can’t be granted on that basis. Therefore anybody who wishes to exercise their right to a bond hearing in whatever form has to do it individually.

Certain observers feel that it is a bit unfair not to grant unauthorized immigrants the right to legal representation, whereas criminals in the U.S. are allowed legal representation. “Especially since their only offense is that they are in search of greener pastures,” according to an observer. Leah Litman, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School filed a brief in support of Gonzalez. She holds the opinion that the decision of the Supreme Court is completely unworkable and unrealistic. Furthermore, she asserted, “It makes it impossible to ensure that everyone who is potentially entitled to a bond hearing will get one.”

Aside from being denied a desired fair hearing, immigrants and advocates have since raised an alarm concerning the manner of treatment meted out to immigrants at the detention centers. Several facilities have been accused of abusing detainees. The Irwin County Detention Centre was shut down alongside another in May 2021. A gynecologist was accused of carrying out forced sterilization on the detained women at the Irwin Center.

Matt Adams, the legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project who argued the Garland case opines that the decision of the Court raises ethical questions. This is a result of the fact that the ruling contradicts the fundamental principles upon which the U.S system is founded- “that government officials may not lock up a person without at least providing them their day in court to contest whether their confinement is justified.” Although he gives reassurance that the matter will still be pursued as it is not over yet.

Border security, backlogged courts and the political divide over immigration

May 27, 2022

Border security, backlogged courts and the political divide over immigration

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Since the end of the fiscal year 2021, the number of people who stopped trying to cross the southwest  of the United States border has not gone down. People fleeing the consequences of the failed governments in their home countries, climate change and aggressive and uncontrollable gangs. The Trump administration tried to stop the migration by proposing to build a physical barrier and involving Title 42- legal barrier to immigration. The Biden administration rejected the idea of a physical barrier, but continued with the legal barrier, trying to find solutions that would be acceptable for both democrats and republicans. It happened that the “border security” argument became the main point of discussion when both sides are trying to address the much needed immigration reform in the United States.

Undocumented non-citizens

Thousands of undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. Many entered the United States without inspection through the “border”, many overstayed their visas but initially entered “legally”. Some were ordered deported or removed on paper but have never been physically removed from the United States. The issue becomes not only an administrative law issue, but an issue of Human Rights: because of the years- long delays in the processing of the migrants’ cases, undocumented non-citizens often develop deep social and economic ties with the United States, and their physical removal can occur decades after their initial entry becomes more akin to criminal punishment in its consequences rather than administrative citation. When addressing the “security” at the border, one can successfully argue that a physical barrier, can slow down the migration to some extent, but will not and cannot resolve the problem. The problem of global migration can be resolved only through an effective processing system of the non-citizens, and creation of favorable conditions in their home countries, where the need to move and uproot your family would not exist in the first place.

These are hard goals to accomplish, as they require talent, resources, effective management, and dedication. One would have to carefully balance the due process rights of non-citizens, human rights laws, and government interests in establishing procedures that would be effective and fair.  We can all remember draconian measures of Trump administration where children, sometimes, only months-old young, were separated at the border from their parents, many of those children were never united with their parents ever again. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/us/migrant-children-separated.html. At the same time,  Biden’s administration’s policy to allow non-citizens to entered the United States and then wait for months for their Notices to appear in court, also is not a good solution: the persons were placed in a limbo status where the document that has to initiate the court proceedings against them in a court would not be filed with the court for months and months, preventing persons to present their cases and obtain relief for those who qualify.  It seems such a policy was installed to allow the courts to artificially reduce the amount of pending cases, reporting a smaller backlog…  But it is obvious that without hiring more Immigration judges, border security personnel, and asylum officers, the backlog will not and cannot be eliminated. Cases of non-citizens require human review, they cannot be rubber-stamped by a computer, and human review requires humans, it means MORE personnel. The questions become ones of resources rather than morals.

Why There is No Immigration Reform?

Many can remember promises Biden made during the elections… the US Citizenship Act of 2021 sounded too good to be true… and of course, it never, to date materialized. But why? The obvious answer would be that the parties cannot agree on the terms of the proposals. But if you read the proposals from both sides, at times, they are not so different. So, what is really in the way of passing Immigration reform? Some say it is an issue of border security… However, it is obvious that the “border security” is only one side of the many-sided shape of the Immigrant land shaft we are dealing with. What about people who have been in the United States for decades and paid taxes, and do not have any criminal convictions. Still, even for those people, who are essential workers, TPS holders, seasonal farmers or DACA holders still, there is no relief…. At the time, the Congress can approve in a matter of hours spending bills and surpass any relief necessary to let’s say small businesses in the United States. The logical answer to this question is that neither side wants to pass a bill that would solve an immigration issue in the United States. Perhaps, some believe that administrative violators should not be awarded, some cite economic consequences and labor market collapse in case migrants who are already in the United States, are employed and will receive an official authorization to work and pay taxes… (does not make any sense, but the argument still pops up). Perhaps, the true reason would be that the situation is comfortable for those who have never felt the burden of being a reject, a “half” citizen, who works for people with voting rights and serves them well, but those with the power to change their fellow-non-documented residents fate are reluctant to do so in fear of losing some advantages…

So if this is the true answer, do you believe that a true, comprehensive reform is ever possible? What has to change for it to happen? The author believes that it is possible, but only when the need for it will outweigh the benefits of non-action. Without advocacy, true dedication to reform the society, implement innovations, and spend money on internal issues, the Immigration reform will not happen. Underfunded courts cannot be effective. USCIS, Asylum and border security personnel need salaries and training. Perhaps, the root of the issues lies in the constant ignoring of needs in the administrative sector on a Federal and local level.  

Jumpstart Legal Immigration System Act

April 6, 2022

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Jumpstart Legal Immigration System Act

Just recently a new Immigration reform proposal was introduced by the House Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) introduced H.R. 7374. The Bill is called the “Jumpstart our Legal Immigration System Act”. The proposal recaptures hundreds-of-thousands of unused family- and employment-based visas and allows individuals who are in the U.S. and eligible for a green card – but for the lack of an available visa number – to apply for their green card upon paying a fee. 

Watch more here:

U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT CEASES DEPORTATION TO RUSSIA, UKRAINE, AND SEVEN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, DHS ANNOUNCED TPS FOR UKRAINE

March 7, 2022

U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT CEASES DEPORTATION TO RUSSIA, UKRAINE, AND SEVEN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, DHS ANNOUNCED TPS FOR UKRAINE

With the large awareness of the Russia-Ukraine dispute, the current situation of the world is no longer news to anyone. Worst still, the insecurity caused by the Russia-Ukraine feud does not only affect both parties but also their surrounding neighbors. The affected countries include; Belarus, Georgia, Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia.

Due to the insecurity posed by this feud, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has temporarily ceased the deportation of persons to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia. Illegal immigrants of all nine countries have been granted a temporary stay in the United States pending further decisions.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cessation Of Deportation

While publicizing the matter, a spokesman of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) said that “amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis occurring in Ukraine, US ICE has paused repatriation flights to Ukraine. ICE will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and make operational changes as necessary.” One fact awaiting clarity is how long the temporary cessation of these flights would last.

Following a briefing earlier reported to CBS News, not only will the deportation of persons to Ukraine and Russia be halted, but also to seven other nations bounding the region of the continuous violence. As mentioned above, these nations include Belarus, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, and Georgia. This halt of the repatriation process is in other to protect deportees from the fierce violence raging between Russia and Ukraine. It would rather be unfair, unsafe, and against the U.S. “ethics of national security,” to send deportees to such areas.

As of 3 March 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had reportedly set up a Temporary Protected Status(TPS) scheme. The TPS scheme was enacted to allow Ukrainians to access deportation protection and job permits. This was done to temporarily impede their return to their war-infested country, while also possessing a means of livelihood. The Temporary Protected Status was developed for non-permanent and does not permit recipients to acquire permanent residency in the United States.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary reassured in a statement that continued help and protection will be extended to the Ukrainian citizens in the United States in a period of uncommon times such as this.

The Russia-Ukraine Feud

Almost a million persons have reportedly fled Ukraine and more are believed to flee the country in the coming weeks. Hundreds have been reported dead. All thanks to the feud between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine were both parts of the old Soviet Union of which Russia was a major power.

Historical precedence suggests that war has never been the answer to any problem. Rather it has only destroyed the lives of many. War rarely ever solves any problem peace could not. Of a certainty, many world leaders aren’t particularly war-hungry people but people who just want to better their society to the best of their ability. A better understanding amongst leaders would help achieve a peaceful co-existence.

RELIEF FOR THOSE IN THE US

Here are possible solutions who are affected by this conflict.

  1. Asylum for those who can qualify. If for example,  a Russian national possesses strong political views in opposition to the current Russian government, he/she may seek asylum in the US if can prove persecution (past and/or future).
  2. Asylum may also be available for Ukrainian nationals depending on the controlling in Ukraine powers, and other qualifications.  At the time of conflict itself, however, it is too soon to tell how it may affect the asylum eligibility for the nationals of Ukraine.
  3. TPS for Ukrainian nationals. TPS for Ukrainian nationals will be available once the announcement and special notice are published in the Federal Registry. Currently, the announcement states that a person would have to show that they have resided in the US since March 1, 2022. TPS is not a green card; it will not (without a reform) lead to a green card. It will provide protection from the removal; will provide an open market work authorization, and the ability to apply for advance parole. As a rule, there are only very limited circumstances that would disqualify one from receiving TPS: certain criminal convictions.
  4. Humanitarian Parole may help those overseas.
  5. Non-Immigrant and Immigrant visas. Department of State periodically refreshes its guidelines on how and where to apply for Non-Immigrant and Immigrant visas for the nationals of Ukraine.

It is possible that the US government will announce more programs that would benefit Ukrainians, such as refugee status or parole. However, usually, it takes significant time for a person to qualify for refugee status: the vetting may take years.

References

For More information on TPS:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.republicworld.com/amp/world-news/russia-ukraine-crisis/us-suspends-deportation-flights-to-ukraine-russia-and-seven-other-european-nations-articleshow.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/policy/national-security/596801-ice-pauses-deportations-to-russia-ukraine-amid-invasion%3famp

https://www.npr.org/2022/03/03/1084409254/tens-of-thousands-of-ukrainians-can-stay-in-the-u-s-without-fear-of-deportation

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-grants-temporary-protected-status-to-ukrainians-as-war-rages/2523265

Immigration News USA: Biden Helps STEM Students, New Guidelines on How to Expedite A Case With USCIS, and More!

January 26, 2022

New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova shares the most recent Immigration news

Biden Administration announced a set of new regulations that help STEM students or students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to qualify for an extended OPT, O-1 visa, EB2 green card with National Interest Waiver. In addition, 22 new fields of study are added to the STEM list of occupations that will allow graduates to seek STEM benefits: extended OPT or work permits following graduation, and easier qualifications for employment-based green cards where a job offer is not required if an NIW is granted.

Immigration Reform Build Back Better Bill: Democrats Move With Plan C: Big Step Or Failed Expectations?

November 25, 2021
Immigration Reform: To Be Or Not To Be…

Immigration Reform Build Back Better Bill: Democrats Move With Plan C: Big Step Or Failed Expectations?

Author: NYC Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

The Build Back Better Bill passed by the House of Representatives contains the most comprehensive immigration reform offered to the non-documented residents of the United States in 35 years.

The bill would cost around $100 billion dollars, along with other measures which will cost around a whopping 5 trillion dollars. While some economists suggest it to be the most expensive event in American history, the immigrants are finally having a sense of relief, which may not last for a long time though. Democrats chose to include plan C  with measures that will temporarily protect the immigrants from deportation and which will not lead to a green card or citizenship.

The BBB bill contains three major immigration provisions:

1. The most widely discussed Immigration innovation contained in the BBB bill is known as “Plan C” or parole.  Parole is a deferred action/protection from deportation through which approximately 7 million people living in the United States who are undocumented and who entered the US before January 1, 2011 will be able to reside safely in the US for 5 years  (which is extendable to another five years) and receive work authorization and travel authorization. Parole is not lawful non-immigrant status. It is unclear at this time if it also will serve as “admission” for adjustment of status purposes, and it is unclear if it people in removal proceedings or with outstanding orders of removal will be able to qualify for it.

2. Recapturing unused green cards and reduction in visa backlogs: it is estimated that over 2 million unused green cards will now be recaptured, which will be a big relief to the lottery winners, families and workers who were eligible for permanent status but struck in a backlog of cases.

3. “Super Fees” (some people started referring to these premium fees as super fees, while it is a cute name, it reminded me of  The “Super Size Me”, the famous documentary). Those who are tired of waiting for their priority dates to become current will be able to pay premium fees to speed up their adjustment of status and immigrant visas cases. The fees will depend on the type of visa sought and be ranging from $1,500 to $50,000.

Many Immigration reform advocates and immigrants are disappointed by this proposal as it falls short of delivering comprehensive Immigration reform. The cut-off date of 2011 seems to be too far away, and most applicants with asylum pending status will simply not meet the residency requirement. Also, parole is not a green card or permanent residence. There will be no opportunity to convert it into citizenship, and no opportunity to sponsor family members even if you receive it. It is more like a bargain to keep the worrying immigration community still for a while…

The Republicans, however, are opposing even these curtailed measures, they argue that the labor market is going to crash due to the infusion of millions of new workers; they are asking not to condone “illegal” behavior and not to encourage “illegal” immigration…. https://theeagle.com/opinion/columnists/build-back-better-bad-for-americans/article_b69558c4-480b-11ec-9c82-1ba8aaa58178.html .

While we cannot discard those concerns, the fact remains that the absolute majority of the people who would qualify for the parole are in fact employed, and many are already paying taxes using IRS tax ID numbers. The “newcomers” will not be able to benefit from the BBB bill at all, and recapturing of the visas is only fair as these are not newly created visas but unused visas from the previous years…

The most important question is: Could Democrats do better? Having a controlling majority in the House, and a tie in the Senate with the Vice President technically representing the Democratic party, perhaps now is the time to be more aggressive with their agenda and make the push for more comprehensive immigration reform. Perhaps, it is time to be grateful for the senate parliamentarian ruling, and move on with the plan? It has been done in the past, so why not now? In fact, the 92 scholars called on Harris, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) not to “overrule” Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, whose rulings are non-binding, but for the presiding officer of the Senate to issue a ruling contrary to her advice.  https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/575347-92-legal-scholars-call-on-harris-to-preside-over-senate-to-include. However, there is no consensus on this Bill even among the Democrats! The only hope is that the disagreeing parties will list at the negotiation table and resolve their differences.

“The House did a very strong bill. Everyone knows that Manchin and Sinema have their concerns, but we’re going to try to negotiate with them and get a very strong, bold bill out of the Senate which will then go back to the House and pass,” said Charles Schumer, the House majority leader. https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/21/politics/chuck-schumer-build-back-better-manchin-sinema/index.html .

He also stated according to the same source, that he would like to see this issue be resolved by Christmas. So, do you think we will have a good Christmas present or immigrants will end up on a “naughty list”?  

For more information on the recent Immigration News, visit our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBSrIQswMdYh_T1qToEZRrQ