Musings on Immigration

Our Globally Recognized Team of Immigration Lawyers Sharing Knowledge and Providing Counsel on Immigration Issues that Affect You, Your Business and Your Family

Tres Vias de Prepararse por La Reforma Migratoria!


Todo el mundo ha escuchado del nuevo proyecto de la ley del Senado de Inmigración, la Seguridad Fronteriza, la Oportunidad de la Economía, el Acto de la Ley de Modernización de Inmigración del 2013 (BSEOIMA) propuesta por la Banda bipartidista del grupo 8. La clave aquí es recordar que se trata de una propuesta, aun no es ley. Sin embrago, nada ha cambiado. Nuestras leyes actuales de inmigración, así como sean de malas, siguen vigentes. No hay necesidad de salir corriendo a contratar a un abogado, no hay nadie quien pueda trabajar en su bajo de este proyecto de ley, entonces no hay que pagarle a nadie, y no hay necesidad de pánico sobre sus calificaciones. Antes de que BSEOIMA se convierta en ley, habrá muchos cambios, algunos buenos y otros malos, y la única ley que importa es la que llega al escritorio del Presidente para su firma. Esto dicho, veamos a algunos puntos de clave sobre BSEOIMA.

En primer lugar, todo el mundo se ha centrado en la propuesta reciente del nuevo Provisional del Inmigrante Registrado (RPI) para los inmigrantes indocumentados y sobrepasados. RPI es un pasaje de 10 años a la residencia permanente que viene con permisos de trabajo provisionales y permiso de viaje, pero con una multa de $2,000, el costo regular para procesar aplicaciones (probablemente por lo menos $1,000), la necesidad de aprender Inglés y pasar el examen de civismo, no tener delitos graves y máximo tres delitos menores y lo requerido de que todos los impuestos atrasados ​​sean pagados. Recuerde: prepararse para la reforma, recuérdeles a sus amigos y familiares que califican para el RPI que ahorren su dinero, haga cita con contadores para presentar y/o fijar impuestos atrasados ​​(por lo menos 3 años y posiblemente más), reúnase con un abogado de defensa de inmigración con experiencia, y aprenda Inglés!

En segundo lugar, y quizá lo más importante que el estado de RPI, son las modificaciones sustanciales a nuestro sistema legal de inmigración actual, como las nuevas visas "de comienzo inicial", un recuento de sólo solicitantes principales y no de familias hacia el número total de inmigrantes de visas, un aumento en el número de negocios de inmigración, la eliminación de la lotería de la diversidad, y muchos otros cambios buenos de inmigración que ayudaran a los inmigrantes legales emigrar más rápido a los EE.UU.. Hay un entre cambio de los números de inmigración familiares con la eliminación de la categoría de hermano y hermana, y tal vez los hijos casados ​​de la categoría de ciudadano. Pero no es una eliminación inmediata. La clave es que TODOS en la "línea" para legalización migratoria van a obtener la residencia permanente antes de que alguien en el estado de RPI. Recuerde: fije/archiva las aplicaciones para su familia AHORA, si cumplen con cualquiera de las categorías, anqué la "línea" aparezca larga. Va a ser mucho más corta que la de RPI!

Por último, hay más de 400 diferentes nuevas exenciones en este proyecto de ley. BSEOIMA incluye el perdón a las personas con órdenes de deportación, el permiso para regresar a los EE.UU. si han sido previamente deportados, un bajó a las normas para las renuncias, nuevas renuncias para de los falsos reclamos de ciudadanía, y muchas otras modificaciones positivas y necesarias a nuestras leyes de inmigración excesivamente estrictas. Recuerde: si usted o su familiar tiene órdenes de deportación o han sido deportados, reúnase con un abogado de inmigración con experiencia, obtenga sus archivos de inmigración, y plañe para la reforma ahora.

La reforma no va a suceder por muchos meses, pero tenemos que hacer que suceda. Llame le a sus senadores y congresistas (hoy y mañana) marcando 202-224-3121 e insístales que apoyen la Reforma Migratoria.

Three Ways to Get Ready for Immigration Reform


Everyone has heard of the new Senate Immigration bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIMA), proposed by the bi-partisan Gang of 8.  The key to remember is that this is a proposal, NOT a law. Nothing has changed yet.  Our current immigration laws, as bad as they are, are still in place.  There is no need to run out and hire an attorney, there is no one to pay to work on a case under this bill, and there is no need to panic about your qualifications. Before BSEOIMA becomes law there will be many changes, some good some bad, and the only law that matters is that one that ends up on the President’s desk for signature.  That said, let’s look at some key points of BSEOIMA.

First, everyone has focused on the newly proposed Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status for undocumented and overstayed immigrants. RPI is a 10 year path to permanent residence that comes with interim work permits and travel permission, but with a $2,000 fine, regular filing fees (probably at least $1,000), the need to learn English and pass a civics test, have no felonies and maximum three misdemeanors and a requirement that ALL back taxes are paid!

The take awayto get ready for reform, have your friends and family who might apply for RPI save their money, meet with accountants to file and/or fix back taxes (at least 3 years and possibly more), see an experienced immigration defense attorney, and learn English!


Second, and possibly more important than the RPI status, are the substantial modifications to our current legal immigration system, including a new “start up” visas, a counting of only principal applicants and not family toward the total number of immigrant visa numbers, an increase in business immigration numbers, an elimination of the diversity lottery, and many other good immigration changes that help legal immigrants immigrate faster to the US.  There is a trade off of family immigration numbers with the elimination of the brother and sister category, and perhaps the married children of citizen category.  But it is not an immediate elimination.  The key is EVERYONE in the “line” for legal immigration will obtain permanent residence before anyone in RPI status. 

The take away:  file applications for your family NOW if they qualify under any category, even if the “line” appears long.  It will be a lot shorter than RPI!


Third, there are over 400 different new waivers in this bill.  BSEOIMA includes forgiveness to people with deportation orders, permission to return to the US if previously deported, lowered standards for waivers, new waivers for false claims to citizenship, and many other positive and necessary modifications to our overly stringent immigration laws.

The take away:  if you or your relative have deportation orders, or have been deported, meet with an experienced immigration attorney, get your immigration files, and plan for reform now.


Reform will not happen for many months, but WE have to make it happen.  Call your Senators and Congressman today (and tomorrow) at 202-224-3121 and insist that they support Immigration Reform!  

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (BSEOIMA) An Outline

The bill is hard to come by still, but here is an outline of the bill. Rather that reinventing the wheel, here it is in all its glory.  As soon as we get the full bill, which we hear has 1,500 pages, we will summarize it in more detail and look at some of the items that have not made it into this summary.  http://www.dreamactivist.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/revised-outline-of-immigration-bill-4-15-2.pdf


Why Governor Deal Must Veto SB 160


The Georgia State Legislature passed SB 160 this last session.  SB 160 manipulates the way HB 87 is implemented, will bring great hardship to many businesses that contract with those who contract with the state, increases the scope of influence of the Immigration Enforcement Review Board (IERB), and likely violates federal law.  

Simply put, SB 160 is Bad for Georgia Business, Bad for Georgia's Economy, Bad for all Immigrants in Georgia, and bad for Georgia's national image.

It is important to understand why SB 160 is bad in so many ways.

Section 1 expands HB 87 (Georgia’s Anti-Immigration law) by modifying its “Definition” of “contractor” to which entities HB 87 applies, and more importantly modifies the requirement in HB87 that the E-Verify requirements for state contractors for building projects to now include all sub and sub-sub contractors of such contractors in EVERY state contract for construction, products or services, with the exception of the lawyers!!  Really, they accepted the lawyers from the law’s application!  This provision means that THOUSANDS of private businesses, essentially because of their privy of contract with a state contractor, will not be subject to the state’s mandatory E-Verify requirement, even if they have less than 11 employees!  The Chamber of Commerce, and the Association of City and County Government should be outraged at this expansion, which is MORE work, MORE compliance, and MORE cost, with no compensation form the state, and with no showing that such extra efforts have ANY value!   For this anti-business provision alone, Governor Deal should veto SB 160.

Further Section 1 can easily be read to expand the scope of complaints that can be submitted to the IERB, a make work group designed to give outlet to anti-immigration gadflies to harass state and local officials on alleged non--compliance with state immigration laws.  I doubt Governor Deal wants to give more power to an unsupervised, non-oversighted government panel.

Section 2 extends HB 87’s E-Verify Requirement and purports to make it the Legislature's intent to require that ICE's overbearing, labor sapping and non-productive IMAGE program become mandatory for every employer in Georgia. While it is not MADE mandatory here, the "intent" of the legislature just might make its way to the IERB in the form a complaint by the anti-immigration gadflies, who seek all Georgia employers to enroll in a program designed for and used by ICE-determined immigration hiring violators.

Section 3 does achieve what the original purpose of what SB 160 was, fixing the problems caused to public entities by the compliance requirements of HB 87, but at what cost?

Section 4 limits HB 87’s compliance requirement to NEW licenses, thus making the Secretary of State's job easier, but again, at what cost?  

Section 5 reemphasizes that the Immigration Enforcement Review Board has an enormous ability to substantially punish state agencies, and county and city governments, should it ever find a "violation" of the state's Anti-Sanctuary policy (a violation of such policy that has never existed in Georgia).

Section 6 eliminates the Federal and Georgia’s Attorney General’s definitions of “Public Benefits” and greatly expands what are prohibited “Public Benefits” under HB 87.  Section 6 adds as “Public Benefits” Grants, Public and Assisted Housing, Retirement Benefits, and State Driver Licenses.  The clear intent of Section 6 was to take away Driver’s Licenses from federal DACA beneficiaries who already have driver’s license under current state law.  Fortunately, this revision to state law cannot do so, because the REAL ID act, a federal law, requires that all individuals granted Deferred Action, are authorized to be granted a driver's license, as it is "lawful presence" under state law.  Also remember that ALL applicants for Georgia driver's licenses must already be run through the Federal SAVE database, causing untold hardship to many legal applicants because of the errors in the database.  Including Driver's Licenses as a state benefit is, essentially, meaningless.  But, Section 6 will require thousands of Georgians who live in public and assisted housing to prove their legal immigration status (including citizens) to continue to receive this "public benefit."  How that saves the state money is yet to be seen, since there were no public hearings on SB 160 in its current version, AND there is no financial impact study concerning its economic consequences.  

Oddly enough, Section 6 also attempts to bar ALL undocumented students from attending any Georgia college or university even if they pay in-state tuition and even if they are DACA beneficiaries.  However, line 238 of the bill is poorly thought out.  It now includes 8 USC 1623 in state law.  This federal statute says, essentially, that no undocumented student can get an in-state tuition benefit if the same opportunity is not offered to an out-of-state student.  This means, then, that if the State of Georgia gives in-state tuition waivers to out-of-state students to entice them to attend Georgia colleges and universities, it can do the same to undocumented students in Georgia! It is quite clear that many state colleges and universities already do this.  Maybe will only take an enterprising undocumented plaintiff to bring this litigation against the Board of Regents to force in-state tuition for “undocumented” students.  Really Governor Deal, SB 160 does not mean what the legislators thought it meant!

In its most controversial part, Section 7 eliminates the use of a foreign passport as a secure and verifiable document, without an accompanying Form I-94 (which WAS proof of status, but which will no longer be issued by Customs and Border Protection agents when they admit someone into the US), or other proof of  "lawful immigration status" OR "lawful presence" in the United states.  The clear intent of this section is to eliminate the ability of any undocumented foreign national from signing to obtain lawful benefits for their US Citizen children.  These benefits include enrolling children in school, receiving WIC benefits for their children, or any of the other benefits the children are legally entitled to receive. 

The Legislature’s use of “lawful immigration status” and “or lawful presence” are also quite interesting.” Under federal immigration law “lawful status” and “lawful presence” are NOT the same thing.  This statute says that EITHER, along with a foreign passport, shows someone’s identity.  While it is not necessary to get into a dissertation on the definitions of and the differences between status and presence, suffice it so say that the legislature has left SB 160 open enough to fly a 747 through.   Many pages, and many court cases, are devoted to these two words and their meaning.  For example, DACA beneficiaries do not have  “lawful status” but they do have “lawful presence” according to DHS. 

Besides being mean-spirited, confusing, and without any merit whatsoever, Section 7 may also be unconstitutional and may involve the state in further federal court litigation.  Specifically in 1835, the Supreme Court of the United States defined a passport as:
A document, which from its nature and object, is addressed to foreign powers; purporting to be only a request that the bearer of it may pass safely and freely, and is to be considered rather in the character of a political document, by which the bearer is recognized in foreign countries, as American citizen; and which, by usage and the law of nations, is received as evidence of the fact. 
Urtetiqui v. D’Arcy, 34 U.S. (9 Pet.) 692, 699 (1835).
This definition lives on today in the United States Code where a passport is defined as:
Any travel document issued by competent authority showing the bearer’ s origin, identity, and nationality if any, which is valid for the admission of the bearer into a foreign country.  8 USC 1101(a)(30). 

The question is can a state within the United States treat the acceptance of a passport differently than the federal government.  At present, the federal government recognizes an expired foreign passport, and a foreign passport without immigration stamps, status or presence information as evidence of a person’s identity.  Just ask the folks at the TSA, or at any of the government agencies who administer federal benefits.  As a country, we also have international treaty obligations that call for us to recognize the identity of the bearer of a foreign passport.  You also have to wonder why Attorney General Sam Olens, when he was asked to create a secure and verifiable document list last year, INCLUDED a foreign passport without limitation?  Perhaps it is because the Attorney General understands federal law and U.S. treaty obligations and sought not to enmesh Georgia in a further nightmare of federal litigation and international embarrassment.  This provision alone is enough to make a veto of SB 160 absolutely necessary.

Section 7 does correct a problem in HB 87 that has caused many problems for the Secretary of State in renewing all kinds of professional licenses, by allowing the Secretary of State to accept copies of these documents, rather than just originals.  Of course, this is a good part of SB 160, but again we ask, at what cost?

Section 8 mandates creation of a new immigration compliance system, which is unfunded but which attempts to resolve a problem caused by HB 87.  Again, a solution everyone agreed on, included in a bill with odious and possibly unconstitutional violations.  Is it worth the trade off Governor Deal?

Section 9 implements all these changes on July 1, 2013.

Finally, Section 10 repeals all contravening laws and statutes, without mentioning them.  
However, there is a key provision missing from this bill -- a severability clause.  Without such a clause, if any part of SB 160 is declared unconstitutional, then the entire bill could well be struck down.  The lack of a severability clause is a serious oversight by the drafters for sure, but perhaps it was done on purpose.  

In light of all of this, it seems that erring on the side of justice, constitutionality, and fairness, Governor Deal should veto SB 160.  After all, the motto of the State of Georgia, the pillars upon which we place our Constitution, are Wisdom, Moderation and Justice.  SB 160 is not wise, or moderate, and certainly does not promote justice.  Governor Deal should lead out on this issue and demand the legislature redo this piece of legislation, disconnect from the anti-immigration rhetoric of the recent past and focus on correcting the errors in HB 87, without causing further damage to Georgia's businesses, economy and national image.