by Moses Apsan, Esq.
A Manhattan immigration judge adjourned a deportation proceeding against Monica Alcota, the spouse of American citizen Cristina Ojeda in order to permit the U.S. immigration service to adjudicate a I-130, Petition for Alien Relative marking the first time a married, same-sex, couple has achieved such a triumph. Form I-130 is used by the USCIS for citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States to establish the relationship to certain alien relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States. In this case the relative is a spouse.
The postponement of the her deportation proceedings was based on the emerging legal debate surrounding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Currently married, heterosexual, couples are eligible under DOMA to apply for green card, but married same-sex couples are deprived of the same opportunity.
The couple’s attorneys, Noemi Masliah and Lavi Soloway contended that the couple’s marital status qualifies for permanent residency status. After the adjournment, Soloway discussed the judge’s decision to Gay City News and said:
“It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of what happened in there… An adjournment based on an I-130. It would never have happened a year ago. I don’t think I even would have filed it.”
Attorney Soloway says that if the couple’s DOMA challenge is ultimately unsuccessful he will argue, in the alternative, that asylum is required here due to a “provable fear of persecution” in her home country of Argentina.
Last year US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro in Boston knocked down the DOMA terms that bars federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages. He found that this section of DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the constitution and impermissible interfered with right of the state of Massachusetts to grant recognition under joint state-federal benefit programs.
The ruling was appealed by the Department of Justice to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, where the established precedent regarding claims of sexual orientation discrimination is that plaintiffs must show there is no rational basis for the difference in law they are challenging.
In Connecticut and New York , the courts in the 2nd Circuit when confronted with comparable lawsuits, where there is no existing precedent on anti-gay bias claims concluded that such claims should appropriately be held to a heightened level of scrutiny, and that under that type of review, DOMA’s constitutionality was not be justified.
The Department of Justice (DOJ), however, opined that there was a violation of the equal protection rights of same-sex couples. Attorney General Holder stated that would no longer defend DOMA in federal court.
It’s difficult to tell how long this case will last in court. If the USCIS denies the I-130 application, as it will probably do, there will be an appeal and the case will last for many years.
No matter what, it is the beginning of a new era for same sex marriage and the immigration service. Time will tell whether gay people will really be granted equiality to heterosexuals in America.
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
February 21, 2011 - Arkansas lawmakers are attempting to prohibit the state from providing non-emergency benefits to illegal immigrants. John Selig, director of the Department of Human Services, explained his opposition to the bill is a cut off funding for prenatal care for women who are in the country illegally. Referring to the unborn children Selig stated “Our concern is they are going to be American citizens and Arkansas citizens.”
According to a DHS spokeswoman other programs that could be affected by the legislation. These programs include child welfare and protection and services for developmentally disabled children.
Undocumented immigrants in need of medical assistance find themselves in a very difficult situation. Each year, millions of immigrants need medical assistance, and many have no medical insurance. Not having medical insurance in this country can result in big and permanent problems, especially for people who suffer from chronic illness.
Charity care, however, does exist. Last year hospitals in New York and Pennsylvania granted almost $2 billion in emergency and short-term treatment to uninsured patients, including a large number of immigrants. The hospitals generally pay off these debits, known as charity care, which are separate from expenses related to Medicaid and other insurance plans maintained by the government.
It is not known how many immigrants, documented or undocumented, depend on charity care, because the hospitals normally do not report the numbers. In New Jersey, where approximately 18 percent of the population was born overseas, charity care for immigrants is a major issue. Under federal law, any hospital that receives federal funds should provide emergency or short-term treatment to any person – regardless of whether or not they are documented.
However, when it comes to permanent and long-term treatment, the problem is greater. To qualify for most insurance plans, like Medicaid, an individual must be an American citizen, refugee or legal resident. According to national studies conducted recently by a health economist from the University of Pennsylvania, 44 percent of uninsured patients could be undocumented immigrants. A rather high number.
The difficult situation of illegal immigrants varies depending on the state in which they live. For emergency care, some states do more than others to help hospitals lower their costs treating the uninsured. New Jersey, for example, reimbursed its hospitals about one third of the $965 million in charity care bills last year.
But there are states, like Pennsylvania, that have no reimbursement programs for private hospitals, whose charity care bills run as high as $975 million a year. The uninsured can be sent away if the hospital believes they do not need emergency care.
The situation as a whole needs some kind of reform. It seems almost obvious that no palliative solution will resolve this epidemic problem until our country deals with the issue of illegal immigration in an affirmative way, accepting that immigrants are here to stay.
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
President Obama's dismal failure with the growing immigration reform controversy is leading our country towards what feels like a modern day civil war. It's true that most legal scholars agree that immigration issues are federal in nature and it is the federal government's duty to to weave the immigration laws in a way that is best for America. But it is also true that under the Tenth Amendment powers not granted to the United States were reserved to the individual States or to the people. It is this clause of the constitution, accompanied by the federal government 's non-action, that has given rise to the individual states' efforts in controlling immigration.
Let's review what's happening in the different states. In Arkansas lawmaker are attempting to prohibit the state from providing non-emergency benefits to illegal immigrants. They simply ignore the chief argument against his proposal: that it would cut off services for children and pre-natal care the state provides. Even their governor, Mike Beebe oppose the bill saying that it would go too far by denying other essential services to some of the most vulnerable in the state.
"You're talking about taking health care away from unborn children, you're talking about taking health care away from disabled children, you're talking about taking mammograms away from women to detect breast cancer," Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said. "And that's all pretty dangerous stuff. ... By just his conscience, the governor cannot support any bill that deprives unborn children of health care or deprives developmentally disabled children from the help they need." Another Arkansas lawmaker, Rep. Justin Harris, sponsored a bill that would exclude illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition. But the Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations Richard Hudson of the University of Arkansas opposed the bill.
Georgia is attempting to implement immigration legislation similar to the highly controversial and court condemned Arizona legislation that caused division between many states and eventually resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in state revenues. The Georgia law, HB-87, attempts to encourage law enforcement officers to use routine traffic stops to verify immigration status where an officer has “reasonable suspicion” or in the senate bill “reasonable cause” to suspect that the individual might not be a legal U.S. citizen. Many off Georgia's public officials, community organizations and citizens believe that such a law would evolve to the abuse of traffic stops and routine detentions for both unreasonable search and seizures as well as racial profiling.
In Utah, the House of Representatives passed HB70 which directs law enforcement officers to make a judgment call when checking immigration status, but after much debate was reduced to only requirie police officers to review the immigration status of anyone involved in an arrest for a serious crime.
At the same time opposite sentiments and legislation are developing throughout the country. In New York City Mayor Michael Rubens Bloomberg joined forces with giants of the fashion industry such as Oscar de la Renta, Malia Mills, Brooks Brothers, and Diane von Furstenberg to advocate for immigration reforms. "New York City is the fashion capital of the world, and that means thousands of jobs for our city...if international fashion companies face too many visa problems in America, they will simply move their billions in revenue and thousands of jobs to our competitors overseas. We need an immigration strategy that supports our businesses, instead of getting in their way," Bloomberg commented.
And in Virginia, Del. Jackson Miller was upset after a Senate subcommittee killed his anti-immigrant legislation. Miller stated that “The state Senate has let us down again, They’ve chosen political correctness and expediency over public safety. More Virginians will die, and more will be raped, as a result of their actions – or should I say, failure to act." The Bill would have mimicked Arizona's SB 1070 and required Virginia State Police to work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in enforcing federal immigration laws.
In Utah, the fight for comprehensive immigration reform has just begun. Thirty four years old Sen. Luz Robles, has developed a unusual state solution to the immigration dilemma that has caught the interest of legislators across the country. If her approach works it could change the tone of the nation's immigration debate. Her proposed bill SB60, would required the issuance of an "accountability card" to illegal immigrants living in Utah. The card would allow the immigrants the right to work without requiring a change in their legal status. The bill mandates a thorough criminal background check and learn English in order to obtain the permit.
Immigration proponents have hailed Robles' immigration bill as "ground breaking" and "creative" and in perfect harmony with what immigrants want most; the opportunity to work and live without fear. If this bill were to pass, immigration experts believe that it may have a similar national reaction as Arizona's SB1070, which attempted to get local police to enforce federal immigration laws and deport illegal immigrants.
Now, why couldn't Obama think of that?
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
If recent political activity means anything, then the rumors of the death of immigration reform have been greatly exaggerated. Republicans McCain (Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) who took an about face on comprehensive immigration reform last spring, are showing signs that they may be on the verge of revisiting this hot issue. Graham told Politico that he has been talking to New York Senator Chuck Schumer and followed these comments with a statement to CNN that he would consider immigration reform, once the borders are secure. ((Is this the opening that proponents for comprehensive immigration reform have been waiting for or is it just another Red Herring, ))The border issue has been the republicans matador's red flag since the passage of the 1986 Reagan program called Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). IRCA granted an estimated 3 million unauthorized immigrants amnesty. As part of IRCA, a border fence was required to be constructed. Yet after over 25 years, the border was never constructed. Is this what McCain is refering to when he says that he would consider immigration reform AFTER making the borders secure? Or perhaps he is being genuine.
Well now, it seems that McCain is talking about creating a mutually agreeable set of benchmarks with Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano. What type of border security and what level he is considering, we will soon find out.“We have to agree on certain criteria on what is successful securing of our border,” McCain said during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing. “I think it would be very helpful to all of us if you could lay out what is necessary, what assets need to be devoted and what statistics could show us that the border is being secured, and at that time I think we could move forward with comprehensive immigration reform.”
This comment alone was enough to change the wind of opportunity and if said in earnest, could open a dialogue on the issue which would lead to a possible reform bill in the New Congress.
McCain has been a fierce opponent of Napolitano and the current administration. In June he said “Statistics can be manipulated to prove anything,..But the cold hard fact is that our border is far from secure.”
At the hearing McCain seemed to soften his anger against Reno and said that she "quite appropriately" pointed out the efforts the federal government has made over the last two years on border enforcement; however, he was unhappy at it's involvement and success in his state.
In the past Napolitano has rebuffed McCain and other proponents of the "first secure the border theory," but at the same meeting she seemed to indicate a willingness to to meet and talk with McCain and others to find a common vision of what "securing the border" entails.
Well there certainly is a future for comprehensive immigration reform and the rumors of it's death have greatly been exaggerated.
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
New York - February 9, 2011 - Arizona, the center of the anti- immigrant network and it's head henchman, Senator Russell Pierce are at it again with an attack at a segment of u.s born children by trying to strip away their citizenship; in an apparent effort to create an underclass. Pierce and his loyalist know that their battle is futile and un- Americanizing U.S. children will never happen, but they want to make a statement that is loud and clear. From their vantage point any one that is illegal the United States, no matter how long they have resided here, no matter the extent of their family, whether they are criminals or priests, are not welcome in this country under any condition. He wants them out, but if that is not possible, at least relegated to lower class, similar to the infamous "untouchables" in India's past.
Pierce, the architect of Arizona’s infamous and controversial immigration law, SB 1070, which, among other things, allows police to profile with impunity, is a sponsor of the citizenship legislation.
Just a few months ago, Pearce said that the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which addresses citizenship, was never meant to include he children of people who live in the United States illegally.
“This is a battle of epic proportions,” Pearce, a Republican, commented at a press conference in Arizona. "We’ve allowed the hijacking of the 14th Amendment.”
The bill, SB1309 creates and defines an “Arizona citizenship.” A second bill, SB1308, will require that the Arizona’s governor to enter the state into agreements with other states to basically create two sets of birth certificates, one for children whose parents are here illegally, and another for those whose parents are citizens or who are legally in the country.
The legislative effort is part of a national strategy by anti-immigrant politicians desirous of finding a way to "ged rid of" illegal immigration by getting the US Supreme Court to review and opine on the issue of American citizenship. But the debate is deeper, it seeks to redefine who is an American citizen.
The bid to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants failed to flourish on Monday when advocates could not get the votes of a Senate panel.
The central issue can be described as a disagreement of interpretation over whether jus soli, a legal concept that grants citizenship to those who are born within a territory, also extends to the 14th Amendment. The bills’ backers say it doesn’t while the bill’s opponents said it does.
After three hours or more of testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, pulled measures. Gould lacked the backing of four other members of the Republican-controlled panel, which he is the chairman.
Interesting enough, the drafting of the legislation would apply to Arizona residents and U.S. citizens who hold a dual citizenship, such as children born to U.S. soldiers in bases overseas.
What have these anti-immigrant, and some even call them anti-Americans created? Kevin Sandler, president of Exhibit One, said "We've created a toxic environment,"…"Businesses don't want to move here."
"What we've really done is create a not-open-for-business environment here."
Most all of the testimony at the hearing was in opposition. Activist Salvador Reza likened the debate over the children citizenship s "not very dissimilar to the debate that happened in South Africa not too long ago." "Young kids like this were denied citizenship for whatever reasons," Reza said.
Jennifer Allen, executive director of the Border Action Network, said that in essence, denying citizenship to children born in this country based on a parent's citizenship would create "a permanent underclass" of people in the state
The U.S. may soon find itself in a civil war when it comes to the issues surrounding U.S. immigration laws. No other topic of discussion can create such antagonism between man and woman, brother and sister, neighbors and friends, then a discussion of the 12 million illegal aliens in the U.S. The US seems to be revisiting the civil war were the nation practically split in two because of the issue of slavery. Now, with the federal government ‘s failure to take charge of the immigration issue, each state has decided to resolve it on their own leading to a checkered countryside of pro and anti immigrant cities and states.
Most recently cities and states have been staking their sides by providing some sanctuary to the illegal aliens living in their community.
A Sanctuary city protects illegal aliens through local resolutions, executive orders or city ordinances. City police departments may also issue their own special orders, policies and general orders to the similar effect. Some cities have formal sanctuary policies. Others have informal sanctuary policy that does not exist on paper but none-the-less is carried out by the actions of government workers (administrative, service, or safety).
As of this writing the following cities are considered Sanctuary Cities.
Sanctuary Cities, USA
· Anchorage, AK (6/13/07 Congressional Research Service) (7-29-10 The Municipality of Anchorage disputes the listing. See notes at bottom of page for details.)
· Chandler, AZ (Added 5/30/07, Congressional Research Service Report, 2006 )
· Mesa, AZ (Added 10-18-09, Sources: Judicial Watch; East Valley Tribune article,1-4-2008)*
· DeLeon Springs, FL
· Deltona, FL
· Jupiter, FL (Added 4-13-09. Previously on watch list.)
· Lake Worth, FL (Added 4-13-09.)
· Ann Arbor, MI (6/13/07 Congressional Research Service)
· Detroit, MI (6/13/07 Congressional Research Service)
· Albuquerque, NM (6/13/07 Congressional Research Service; 8-14-07 KOB-TV 4 Eyewitness News report)
· Aztec, NM (Added 5-8-10, Identified by CRS in 2006 report to Congress)
· Rio Ariba County, NM (6/13/07 Congressional Research Service)
· Santa Fe, NM (6/13/07 Congressional Research Service)
· Albany, NY (Added 7-22-09 Source: Council adopts don't ask policy, Times Union report by Jordan Carleo-Evangelist)
· Carrboro, NC (Added 11-12-07 Source: Towns differ on illegal aliens by Patrick Winn, The News & Observer)
· Chapel Hill, NC (Added 11-12-07 Source: Towns differ on illegal aliens by Patrick Winn, The News & Observer)
· Columbus, OH (7/5/07 Source: 5/10/07 Columbus Dispatch article stating illegal aliens in misdemeanor cases are not reported to ICE)
· Dayton, OH (Added 1-11-10 Source: Dayton Daily News story by Lucas Sullivan. Police chief prohibits officers from asking about immigration status.
· Lima, OH (Added 10-28-08 Note: City administration opposes County Sheriff's efforts to remove illegal aliens.)
· Oberlin, OH (Added 1-25-09. Source: City Resolution adopted January 20, 2009)
· Painesville, OH (7-19-07 Source: 7-18-07 Cleveland Scene article)
· Oklahoma City (de facto)
· State of Oregon * (8-9-07 Congressional Research Service) *(See note below)
· Philadelphia, PA* (7-15-10 Source: Mayor Nutter's, November, 2009 Executive order: Policy Concerning Access of Immigrants to City Services .)
Salt Lake City, UT
· Alexandria, VA* (Added 10-6-08, Source: City Resolution No. 2246 adopted 10-9-07)
· Madison, WI (Congressional Research Service) Update: In June, 2010, the city council passed a resolution reaffirming its policy.
Washington, D.C. (Update: The Washington D. C. city council has voted to prohibit its police department from participating in the Secure Communities program in July, 2010 according to an AP story by Ivan Moreno dated 7-26-10.)
Cities under review
Diamond Bar, CA (6/26/07 Disputed by city. Currently being researched to verify.)
DesMoines, IA (Added 11-28-07 Source: Proposal seeks banning immigration raids in D.M., by Nigel Duara, DesMoines-Register)
Bridgeton, NJ (Added 6-3-07) [7-27-07 Disputed by a reputed farm worker advocate, see note below.]
Peekskill, NY [Disputed, being researched]
San Antonio, TX [Note: The Sanctuary status of San Antonio is disputed, being researched.]
Watch List Cities Note: This is a new list started 8-14-07 and was updated on 12-2-10.
Sanctuary Cities, USA: Additional Notes
The Municipality of Anchorage sent OJJPAC a letter disputing the city's listing postmarked July 29, 2010. It claims that the Congressional Research Service's listing of the city as a "sanctuary" was based on a Resolution adopted by its Assembly (AR 2003-223) in 2003. The Municipal Attorney Dennis Wheeler says that that Resolution was rescinded on December 18, 2007.
Mesa Arizona has been added as a sanctuary city list because of its reported "don't ask don't tell policy" and criticism by the local sheriff that the city is not enforcing the law. The sheriff has arrested illegal aliens working in city buildings (as contract workers for a private cleaning company), reportedly after the city police department refused to investigate complaints of illegal hires by a whistleblower.
Philadelphia's Mayor signed an Executive Order in November 2009 that provided additional protections to illegal aliens in the city. However, the City of Philadelphia does have an existing Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS) agreement with ICE. Mayor Nutter objects to the PARS computer technology agreement which is now up for renewal. The Mayor apparently believes that the access of data by ICE will result in increased immigration violation investigations and deportations. Here is an article by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Tucson Arizona has been added to the sanctuary city list because the Tucson police have instituted a new policy which prevents their officers from calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement to schools and churches.
Tulsa city councilor Jim Mautino was quoted in a Tulsa World article by P.J. Lassek, that he believes Tulsa is a sanctuary city and that the Police don't verify legal presense during traffic stops. Mautino wants to crack down on illegal aliens and introduce an ordinance mandating the use of E-Verify because the resolution that was passed cannot be enforced.
State of Oregon
According to a CRS report (October, 2005), Oregon passed a law in 1987 that prohibits local and state law enforcement from using state resources for locating and capturing illegal aliens. Law enforcement was permitted [but not required] to "exchange information" with federal immigration agents if an illegal alien was arrested for a crime.
San Bernardino, CA.
San Bernardino was added to the list on June 6th of 2007 as a result of a readers submission. On September 5th 2008, the city administration contacted me to dispute its listing. OJJPAC has asked the city's law department to forward copies of the city's policies regarding its processes when illegal aliens are encountered in its city.
Bridgeton, NJ 7-27-07 Disputed by a reputed farm worker advocate who sent me this email:
"I just wanted to point out an inaccuracy on your website's listing of sanctuary cities. You have Bridgeton, NJ listed as a sanctuary city, and indeed it is most definitely not. I work with CATA - The Farm workers' Support committee (www.cata-farmworkers.org) and we have an organized group of membership in this town. One of our goals is working towards making Bridgeton an sanctuary city, but the local government is quite unfriendly towards the immig
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
New York, NY - December 24, 2010. Steve Fischbein, a legal resident of the United States traveled to England to take care of the estate of his deceased mother. He planned on returning within six months, but because of unforeseen legal problems, he had to stay 18 months until everything was resolved. During these months he never returned to this home in New York City. On Christmas eve his plane finaly landed in Kennedy Airport.
He waited on the line to show his passport, but to his dismay, an immigration officer pulled him aside into a special room were he was interrogated and given a notice to see an immigration judge; they wanted to take away his Green card.
It can happen to anyone. A family emergency and you are flying back home to be with relatives. The trip should have been a quick one, but one thing led to another and you were obliged to remain out of the U.S. for over one year. And, when you return and least expect it, you find yourself in a position that may cost you your green card. The trip ends with a frightening note as you enter the U.S. A USCIS (immigration service) official tells you that you have abandoned your lawful permanent residence (LPR) status and sends you to see a judge, who will decide if you are to keep your green card.
While an extended absence alone is not good enough reason for revoking permanent residence, it is one factor the USCIS considers very important. So, when planning a long trip abroad, it is necessary to plan ahead to avoid abandonment.
Among the many factors that influence the decision on abandonment are the length and reason for the absence as well as the number and type of connections you maintain in the US. There are many steps you can take to show your intention to maintain their status in the US.
It is a commonly mistakenly belief that a visit every year to the US will preserve LPR status. While an LPR needs only the green card to reenter the US after an absence of less than one year, this is not enough to indicate the requisite intention to remain a resident of the US. The LPR must take additional steps to preserve their status.
A most important factor in preserving permanent residence is to continue filing tax returns in the US. Due to international tax laws, in most cases, there will often be no tax owed to the US government. Failure to file a return, on the other hand, is almost always considered a sign that LPR status has been abandoned. Bank accounts also play an important role making the maintenance of a bank account practically a requirement. Credit cards are also a factor to consider. Every LPR should maintain a US credit card. These accounts should be as active as possible. For example, if the LPR is employed abroad, the salary should be deposited in the US account. The LPR should continue to renew their US driver’s license. Ownership of real estate helps in establishes the requisite connection with the US.
If the LPR’s absence is due to employment, a letter from the employer detailing the terms and length of employment is very important. If the absence is for family or personal reasons, proof of the illness should be obtained. These reason are, however easy to manufacture, so good documentation is most important.
If you know for sure that you will be staying out over one year, a reentry permit is advisable. (Form I-131) However, many of these same factors are involved in the decision of whether to issue such a permit, and even with a reentry permit the LPR can still be deemed to have abandoned status.
It is important that the LPR traveling abroad for an extended period is prepared to document their intent to remain a US resident if questioned by immigration or consular officials. It is wise to carry copies of relevant documents in a single location that can easily be presented to officials. Among these documents should be copies of past tax returns, deeds showing property ownership, records of bank account activity, relevant letters from employers, and letters explaining the purpose of the extended absence.
A caveat – Congress changed the law a few years ago to hold that permanent residents who leave the US for more than six months can be held inadmissible if there is something in their background now that would bar them from getting a green card . This can happen if you were convicted of a crime before the changes in the immigration laws occurring in 1997. Therefore it is imperative that anyone with a prior conviction should consult with an attorney before traveling.
For everyone else, bon voyage.
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
Washington- December 18, 2010 - When the Senate failed to approve the Dream Act the "baby was thrown out with the bathwater." The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act would have granted illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who entered the United States before the age of 16 and graduated high school, the right to apply for conditional legal status and if they complete two years of service in the military or two years of college they would be able to apply for permanent legal status.
But for no logical reason, those that opposed the Dream argued successfully that the bill is an amnesty and that it's approval would oppose enforcement of immigration laws and failed to include a resolution to the problem of border security. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., on the Senate floor said that “this bill is a law that at its fundamental core is a reward for illegal activity.”
In the end, the vote was 55 to 41; five votes short of the 60 votes required to take the DREAM Act from bill to law. And even though many blame the republicans for the loss, five democrats voted against it's passage while three Republicans backed the bill. The defeat was a loud victory for conservatives who have worked successfully to label the bill as an amnesty. It was a blow to the Obama administration and for the democratic party in general and a continuation of the republican strategy to vote against any Obama legislation, no matter if it is, in reality, good for our country or economy.
Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Jon Tester of Montana, Max Baucus of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska , whose no vote made the difference between life in the shadows or life as an American to over 2 million children will now join those to blame for this nightmare.
Sens.Robert Bennett of Utah, Dick Lugar of Indiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted in favor of the Dream Act; displaying a glimmer of hope that the republican controlled congress of 2011 may yet provide some relief for these children and perhaps for the 12 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S.
Earlier this month the House's passed a similar bill and paved the way for today’s vote in the Senate. Along with Don't Ask Don't Tell it was an eleventh-hour effort to pass the measure before Republicans and the Tea Party take control of the House and seats in the Senate come the 112th Congress in January.
Advocates for the Dream Act aimed their arguments to senators from states with high Latino populations, saying that passage of the DREAM Act only rewards the hard work these young adults have displayed; children who were brought to the United States by their parents with no fault of their own.
Democrat Dick Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip tried to no avail to convince the holdouts that the law would have helped millions of young immigrants. “This is the only country they have ever known and all they’re asking for is a chance to serve this nation… that is what the DREAM Act is all about,” Durbin Said. “To say that we’re pushing and rushing a vote for them … it can’t come too soon! Their lives hang in the balance.” In the end he stated that “I’ve known the names of most people and how they would vote for a long, long time … we’d hope for a few more on our side of the aisle, but we didn’t achieve it today.”
After ten years of frustrating attempts to pass the Dream Act immigration activists and Hispanic leaders vowed to get even with the senators who voted against the Dream in the 2012 election and in the future.
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
A young couple came to my office recently with a familiar story. The husband, a United States citizen, sponsored his wife for the Green Card. As she entered the U.S properly, with a visa, she was allowed to "adjust her status" in the United States. Basically this means that she would be receiving her Green Card without having to leave the country. An application was filed, and an interview date scheduled.
At the interview however, some problems developed. In a short while the interview was over. Apparently the immigration official suspected that this was marriage of convenience. The official took the passport and stamped it. The stamp read "245 interview." The applicants were escorted out.
As a parting word the interviewer said, "You will be notified through the mail." Months passed and finally a letter arrived directing them to appear for a second interview.
They show me the notice and asked me what to do, what to say, what is going on. And I explain: The first interview is the standard interview and should have been their last but obviously the examiner was not satisfied. Instead of denying the application on the spot, which they have been known to do, the case was forwarded to the investigations unit of the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) for a second interview called a "Stokes" interview.
A Stokes interview is taped. The USCIS. official will thoroughly scrutinized the husband and wife in an attempt to arrive at the "truth." After all persons, including the attorney states his name and address the examiner asks whether any documents are being submitted in support of the petition. This is a good opportunity to "stuff" the record with documents in your favor.
Remember that the decision to deny or approve can only be based on the evidence in the record of proceeding. Examples of appropriate documents are: birth certificate of children, leases for apartments which indicate both names along with rent receipts, life insurance policy showing the spouse as beneficiary, joint bank account, cancelled checks showing both parties use the checkbook, joint credit cards, family medical insurance, letters from the employer (on their letterhead, signed by an official of the firm stating date employment began, marital status, and whom to notify in case of emergency), copy of income taxes (filed jointly if they were married at the time filing is required), and photographs of the wedding and other photographs since marriage.
Once the documents are submitted, the actual interrogation of the couple really begins. First, one is taken into a room with only the examiner and lawyer present. The examiner begins by initially asking innocuous and simple questions. Eventually the questions become more detailed, more personal delving into all aspects of the couples relationship. Questions range from who woke up first this morning to what side of the bed you sleep on. Questions about other family members, such as mother, father, sisters and brothers are common. They may even ask to see the keys in your pocket and ask what each key is used for. They may ask that you empty your wallet and look at the papers and documents you carry. They are always searching for discrepancies, such as a driver s license with a different address. When the inquisition is completed then the other spouse is questioned in the same fashion.
Again, with the lawyer present. The identical questions are asked again. This time to see if the answers are substantially the same. The attorney listens carefully for any inconsistency and if necessary, re-words the question or clarifies it in order to assist his client. The attorney is there to take notes in preparation of a future appeal should it become necessary. Once the second spouse has been questioned then both people are brought together.
If there were discrepancies or inconsistencies in the individual answers the parties are asked to explain. Here again the lawyer may be able to assist in clarifying the questions and answers given.
If all the doubts of the official are satisfied then the petition should be approved. If the examiner still believes that the couple only got married to get a green card they are sent home without an approval and will eventually get a notice of intent to deny in the mail. The parties have another chance to explain the discrepancies to the USCIS. If they are satisfied with the answers, they may either approve the case or send it back for another interview.
If it is denied ,an appeal can be made. If the appeal is denied, many cases are forwarded to the deportation unit to commence deportation proceeding. And during the deportation proceeding the couple has yet another opportunity to present their case to the judge and be granted the Green card. It is important to remember never make anything up at the Stokes hearing. If you forget or don t know tell the examiner just that. For example, if you forgot what your wife gave you for Christmas say that you don t remember. Because if you make up something you spouse s answer will be different and your case may be denied.
Let those who want to apply for a Green Card through marriage take note; Proper preparation is the key to success. Many a cases of real marriages have been lost because of improper preparation. Just because you have a good marriage does not mean that you will be able to answer all the questions properly. You must always prepare.
by Moses Apsan, Esq.
New York - December 4,2010 - The final moments of the battle to approve the Dream Act are coming near as Democrats and even Republicans brace themselves to survive the almost inevitable Republican filibuster.
The White House has finally drawn the line in the sand and has taken an aggressive stance on approval of the law during the remaining days of the lame duck congress before a more conservative Congress takes over in January.
On Monday, the White House held a Web chat on the DREAM Act with Cecilia Munoz, the director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
"We have engaged members of the president's cabinet," Munoz said, rattling off people and agencies like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, each of which has said the DREAM Act is crucial to their missions." It's kind of an all hands on deck moment here in the administration, involving multiple agencies," Munoz said. "The president himself is engaged.
"We're going to do everything we can to lay the groundwork and create the space for people who know this population of students to do what they know is the right thing to do," Munoz said.
During the short window of opportunity before the 112th congress begins, some Latino Republicans are taking the bold step and crossing the aisle in order to help pass the DREAM act. Along with President Obama and thousands of religious and educational organizations, they want to bring the tragedy these children suffer to a close.
Although Reid vowed earlier this month to bring a vote on a stand-alone Dream Act bill during the lame-duck session, he has been unable to keep in line his 58-member caucus. It's in doubt if he'll be able to get the 60 votes needed to defeat a GOP filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Reid has fought tirelessly for the Dream Act, even during his difficult campaign against Sharron Angle, an anti-immigration candidate. Were it not for the Latino votes, he might have lost the election. Reid released a statement that spoke to Republicans directly:
"Last time we sought to bring up this bill, all Republicans blocked our effort, even though many have been supporters of the DREAM Act in the past. I hope that our Republican colleagues will join me, Sen. Durbin and Democrats in passing this important piece of legislation, now that we have a stand-alone version and that political season is over."
At the same time, in the House, there is an almost frenetic movement toward passage of a Dream Act-type bill. According to the DREAM Act's most vocal congressional advocates, they are positive but cautious.
"The core group of House members who support immigration reform and the DREAM Act have been reaching out throughout the Democratic House caucus," Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez told ColorLines "From what we are hearing back, I am encouraged by the breadth of Democratic support."
Rep. Gutierrez has been the loudest voice in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. He is the Chair of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force, and is the Party's leading strategist and spokesperson on immigration issues. Gutierrez has long fought for a comprehensive immigration reform solution, and has emerged as the DREAM Act's most active advocate.
((Republican are moving toward support of the Dream Act. Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) contacted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in support of the Dream Act)). Another Republican congressman-elect, David Rivera of Miami, also supports the DREAM act, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
"The drumbeat is getting louder," Frank Sharry , executive director of America's Voice told the Sun Sentinel. "Now is the time for Congress to step up to the plate and secure America's future with the extremely popular, bipartisan DREAM Act."
It is expected that a version of the DREAM Act could be on the floor for a vote in the House Wednesday or Thursday this week, where it appears that there is greater support than in the Senate. House Democrats are conducting a study to determine the bill's exact numbers. 218 is needed to pass the Act in the House, but insiders say that the numbers look good so far.
Will the White House support, Gutierrez's mania and the diligent work of Sen. Harry Reid surmount the anti-immigrant attitude of the Republicans? It's impossible to foretell. Most Republicans want complete security of the border before any type of aid for these undocumented children, a goal that simply is unreachable -- and they know it.