Filing fee increases go into effect December 23, 2016! Visit https://www.uscis.gov/forms/our-fees to see a complete list of fee increases. All applications post-marked 12/23/2016 and after will be subject to the higher fees. Don't delay in filing your benefit application!
With the recent, surprising election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, many non-citizens in the United States are left wondering...what comes next? Mr. Trump's harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric on the campaign trail, coupled with a few (frightening) names floated to head the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Attorney General's office, have many people fearing the worst.
At this point, very little is known about the exact nature of the changes in store. The one thing we are confident of is that changes are indeed coming. What happens to President Obama's DACA program? How will enforcement priorities change? To what extent will the use of detention expand? Can he really build a wall?
Check back here frequently for updates. In the coming weeks, we plan to write regularly as appointments are announced, as policies shift, and as the realities of this election begin to play out on the ground in our community.
And, as always, if you are in need of legal advice or representation in your immigration matter, please don't hesitate to call to arrange a consultation. Likewise, if you are a non-citizen facing criminal charges or in need of post-conviction representation, call to schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney who understands how your criminal case impacts your immigration status. Now more than ever, we recognize the importance of informed, honest, and diligent legal representation.
How the Supreme Court made it “Harder” to Deport Noncitizen Criminals and “Easier” to Deport Undocumented Parents of United States Citizen Children
On the same day last month, the Supreme Court issued two separate decisions with far-reaching implications for immigration practitioners everywhere. In one case, the Court strengthened and reaffirmed use of the “categorical approach” in determining removability on the basis of a criminal conviction, while in another case, the Court split and upheld the injunction halting President Obama’s proposed executive actions intended to shield millions of undocumented parents of United States citizens from deportation.
Ironically, these decisions seemingly make it “harder” to deport noncitizens with criminal convictions in the United States and “easier” to deport undocumented, non-criminal parents of United States citizen children.
In Mathis v. United States, No. 15-6092 (U.S. June 23, 2016), the Supreme Court added another entry to its long line of precedent decisions reaffirming and strengthening use of the “categorical approach” as it applies to both the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). See, i.e., Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990), Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13 (2005), Moncrieffe v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 1678 (2013), Descamps. v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2276 (2013). In Mathis, the Court confirmed that under the categorical approach, a State criminal conviction cannot trigger removal from the United States unless the elements of the State offense categorically match the elements of the generic offense referenced by the INA.
For seasoned immigration practitioners and Federal criminal defenders, this likely sounds like nothing new. However, the Mathis decision is useful in that it clearly establishes that the focus of the categorical approach is upon the “elements” of the offenses in question. The Court helpfully defines “elements” as “the constituent parts of a crime’s legal definition – the thing the prosecution must prove to sustain a conviction…[a]t trial, they are what the jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt to convict the defendant…and at a plea hearing, they are what the defendant necessarily admits when he pleads guilty.” Slip op. 2 (internal citations omitted). Elements, according to the Court, are distinct from means (or facts) which are “extraneous to the crime’s legal requirements” and otherwise have no “legal effect or consequence.” Id.
This distinction between elements and means is crucial, particularly when tasked with determining whether a criminal statute is divisible, thus allowing for use of the “modified categorical approach.” See Shepard v. United States, 544 U. S. 13 (2005). Under the modified categorical approach, “a sentencing court looks to a limited class of documents (for example, the indictment, jury instructions, or plea agreement and colloquy) to determine what crime, with what elements, a defendant was convicted of.” Slip op. 4. What Mathis makes clear is that when a statute lists alternative factual means of committing a single element or offense, the statute is not divisible and the modified categorical approach does not apply. On this point, the Mathis ruling rejected contrary decisions from the Sixth, Eight, and Tenth Circuits and effectively closed a loophole left open in the Court’s prior decision in Descamps that allowed for reliance on the modified categorical approach when a statute of conviction merely lists alternative facts in the disjunctive. See Descamps, 133 S.Ct. at 2285 n. 2.
The practical effect of Mathis in the immigration context is that it in many cases it has now become more difficult – rightfully so, some would argue – for the government to prosecute removal of a noncitizen based on a predicate criminal conviction. Yet, any celebratory cheers for Mathis emanating from the immigration bar were immediately stifled by the same Court’s decision – or lack thereof – in United States v. Texas, No. 15-674 (U.S. June 23, 2016). In a one-sentence order, the Supreme Court affirmed by an equally divided Court the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, leaving intact a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of President Obama’s executive actions granting “deferred action” to potentially millions of eligible undocumented parents of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents and expanding the previously-implemented deferred action program for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children.
The Texas case began when 26 Republican governors filed suit in the friendly confines of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Brownsville, Texas, challenging the President’s legal and constitutional authority to implement the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive programs. Under the President’s proposed action, eligible applicants would be exempt from the threat of removal from the United States and would receive authorization for employment in the United States. It is estimated that some 11 million undocumented immigrants would have qualified for protection under both DAPA and the expanded DACA. However, the District Court issued a preliminary injunction halting implementation of the programs. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, and the Supreme Court split, leaving intact the order of the court below. The Obama administration has since asked the Court to grant rehearing when (if) the Court again has all nine Justices.
The case remains far from over, as the merits of the case – including important issues related to standing, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the President’s Constitutional authority – have yet to be fully litigated. In the meantime, however, the practical effect of the Supreme Court’s “punt” in Texas is that millions of undocumented (and non-criminal) parents of natural-born United States citizen children remain at risk of deportation.
June 23, 2016 at the United States Supreme Court provided quite the exemplar of irony.
Application fees for most benefit applications filed with USCIS are expected to increase in fiscal year 2016/17. The average fee increase is projected to be 21%, though many applications and petitions will increase even more. For example, here are the current new proposed fees for some of the most common immigration forms:
For a list of all proposed fee increases, visit:
Maryland State Bar Association:
Immigration Fundamentals & Advanced Topics of Discussion
Thursday, May 19, 2016
8:30 am – 5:30 pm
University of Baltimore, School of Law
8.5 CLE Credits, 7.5 VA Credits
1:45 pm – 3:00 pm
Adam Crandell, Esq., Law Office of Adam N. Crandell, L.L.C and Gabriela Kahrl, Esq., Maryland Office of the Public Defender Collateral Unit
Maryland State Bar Association:
2016 Joint Bench/Bar Conference
June 15-18, 2016
Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel
Ocean City, Maryland
Friday, June 17, 2016, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
IMMIGRATION DETENTION 101
How does my client's noncitizen status change the way I look at their criminal case?
Program Sponsor:Immigration Section
Program Chairs:Klaudia Hall, Esq.
Conference Room:Conference Room #2
Lunch will be served.
Links to coverage of oral arguments at the Supreme Court today over President Obama's 2014 Executive Actions to defer action and enforcement of removal against qualifying "Dreamers" and "Parents of Americans:"
As an immigration attorney – no, strike that – as a citizen of the United States, I could not be more disappointed in or dumfounded by the response of the 30 or so state governors who have decided to “refuse” to accept Syrian refugees in their states. Leaving aside the fact that these governors have exactly no legal authority to overrule or undermine the Federal government on the issue of immigration, the entire premise itself is utterly absurd.
In response to the horrific criminal acts of terrorism carried out in Paris on November 13, 2015, the political right in this country, including Maryland’s own governor, Larry Hogan, has decided to vilify an entire population of people who themselves had exactly nothing to do with the Paris terror attacks. As of this writing, none of the alleged attackers have been identified as Syrian, let alone are they suspected of having crossed into Europe from Syria under cover as refugees.
Even so, the refugee resettlement program in the United States is perhaps the most strenuous of any of the country’s various immigration programs. As David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, wrote in a recent New York Daily News op-ed, “[t]here are many ways to come to the United States. Comparatively the refugee resettlement program is the most difficult short of swimming the Atlantic.”
Finally, as has been pointed out by many commenters already, refugees from Syria are fleeing the exact type of violence and extremism on display in Paris last week. Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, estimates are that nearly 12 million Syrians have been displaced, with more than half of those children; nearly 4 million Syrians have fled their country; and nearly 240,000 people have been killed. This is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. For the United States (of all places) to turn its back and cower in xenophobic fear is disgraceful; even more so when such a reaction makes no logical sense.
The political reaction in the United States to the Paris attacks is completely and unapologetically unmoored from any sense of reality or decency. And it isn’t just a bunch of cowardly governors. Every Republican presidential candidate, and now a majority of the Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives, has come out in support of stopping Syrian refugee resettlements in the United States. By (stark) contrast, French President Francois Hollande announced yesterday that his country would respect its commitment to continue to take in Syrian refugees, calling it a “humanitarian duty.”
From 1952 to 1960, a Republican was President of the United States, when a communist dictator took control of Cuba and sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing to the United States in search of refuge. It’s a good thing for at least one current Republican presidential candidate that the United States recognized its humanitarian duty then.
If only we could be so decent and courageous now.
Original post at http://asyleewomen.tumblr.com/
Immigration law does not specify driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) as grounds for deportation or removal from the United States. In recent months, however, DUI and DWI have become de facto grounds for deportation.
Why is a DUI/DWI guilty finding, or conviction now such a problem? In November 2014, the Homeland Security Secretary issued new guidance for all of DHS, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), concerning the agency’s “enforcement priorities.”
In fact, below is a link the acutal memo should you care to read additional information:
It is very important to note that among those considered as the second-highest priority for apprehension and removal are noncitizens convicted of DUI.
What does this mean? ICE is now actively searching for, arresting, detaining, and prosecuting removal against non-citizens with convictions for DUI and DWI. The following groups of non-citizens with a DUI or DWI conviction are all being adversely affected:
· Non-citizens without immigration status in the United States are being arrested and detained without bond (or with a very high bond, sometimes in excess of $25,000.00). In immigration court, requests to lower the bond amount are frequently denied if the DUI conviction is recent and/or there are no significant mitigating factors. Requests for voluntary departure are likewise frequently denied. Non-citizens without any other recourse for relief in removal proceedings are being deported without first being released from ICE detention.
· Non-citizens with outstanding final orders of removal are being arrested and detained without bond, and oftentimes removed from the United States within weeks of their arrests.
· Lawful permanent residents with old criminal convictions are being subjected to removal proceedings, because their conviction for DUI or DWI makes them a target for ICE investigative officers.
· Non-citizens who would otherwise qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) do not qualify if they have a conviction for DUI or DWI.
What should you do? The bottom line is that we always encourage potential clients to hire the team of Jeremy Eldridge and Adam N. Crandell. We have worked together for many years providing great results for clients. With Mr. Crandell’s extensive experience and knowledge of immigration law, and Mr. Eldridge’s experience as a former prosecutor, you will have two of the very best lawyers on your side.
As a citizen of the city of Baltimore, it has been a difficult week to think or read or write about anything other than the events occurring since Freddie Gray’s tragic death. The uneasy peace that has descended upon the city since Monday night’s frightful rioting, has given space for contemplation of the various and numerous ills from which this city – and much of this country – have suffered for far too long.
What is happening in Baltimore now is not just about Mr. Gray. It is not about race. It is not about the war on drugs, or bad policing. It is not about a crippled system of justice. It is not about lack of economic opportunity and the widening prosperity gap. It is not about parental accountability or the perceived lack thereof. It is not about access to adequate employment, education, or health care. It is not about a physical urban environment that literally and figuratively poisons its children. It is not about lack of political leadership or adequate social and economic policy prescriptions.
It is about all of these things. And more.
I am an immigration attorney in Baltimore. I represent individuals who came to, or want to come to this country in search of a better life for themselves and for their families. Many of my clients are seeking better jobs, better schools, or better health care than their home countries can provide. Other clients – my asylum-seekers – come to the United States out of fear – fear for their lives and the lives of their family members, fear for their freedom and their right to live peacefully, regardless of their race or nationality, their religion or political opinion, or some other immutable, defining characteristic.
For all of these reasons, my clients choose to come to the United States, and many of them come to Baltimore. For them, the United States is a beacon – of hope and of opportunity, of freedom and of justice. And as Americans, we take great pride in our own perception of our country as such. Increasingly, though, the facts on the ground belie this notion. The disconnect between the perception of America that serves as such a magnet for many of my clients and the reality of the difficulties here that far too many people, Mr. Gray included, face is undeniable. If we are to continue to be that beacon, that symbol and source of freedom and justice and opportunity, for people around the world, then we have some hard work to do.
In Baltimore now, fear and panic have given way to a renewed sense of hope. Hope that Mr. Gray did not die in vain, that the problems – all of the problems – that his case has revealed will remain in the forefront of all of our minds, and that we will continue to search for solutions. We owe that Mr. Gray. We owe that to ourselves. And we owe that to the beacon of freedom and justice and opportunity that the United States is and always ought to be.
Original post at http://asyleewomen.tumblr.com/