Appeals Court Refuses to Lift Injunction on Public Charge Rule

A panel of federal judges has denied a request to lift the injunction on the implementation of the public charge rule while the a lawsuit over the rule plays out in court. Under the new rule, announced in August, an immigrant would be considered a public charge — essentially dependent on government aid and, therefore, inadmissible — if he or she received at least one public benefit for more than 12 months within any three-year period, among other things. The new rule also authorizes DHS to conduct a more thorough and burdensome examination of the immigrant and his or her sponsor’s financial history, health, and education. The net result of the rule, if implemented, would be to increase the burden on most immigrants and increase the number of application denials on public charge grounds.

DHS to Review State Laws Issuing Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has ordered a review of state laws that allow undocumented aliens to obtain driver’s licenses and restrict data-sharing with Federal immigration authorities. Wolf’s memo follows the enactment in December 2019 of New York’s “Green Light” law, which authorized the grant of licenses for undocumented immigrants, among other things. Similar laws exist in a dozen other states. The Trump Administration has clearly indicated its disdain for such laws and is studying them at present, likely looking for an avenue to challenge their enforceability.

DHS Proposes Additional Mandatory Bars to Asylum

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed seven new bars to asylum in addition to those already existing (e.g., serious crimes, security threats, terrorism, etc.) under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.  The proposed rule would bar asylum for aliens who are convicted of:

  1. A felony under federal or state law;
  2. An offense related to alien smuggling or harboring;
  3. An offense involving illegal reentry;
  4. A Federal, state, tribal, or local crime involving criminal street gang activity;
  5. Certain Federal, state, tribal, or local offenses concerning the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant;
  6. A Federal, state, tribal, or local domestic violence offense, or those who are found by an adjudicator to have engaged in acts of battery or extreme cruelty in a domestic context, even if no conviction resulted; and
  7. Certain misdemeanors under Federal or state law for offenses related to false identification, the unlawful receipt of public benefits from a Federal, state, tribal, or local entity, or the possession or trafficking of a controlled substance or controlled-substance paraphernalia.

The proposed rule not only adds to the list of offenses, it would also remove the requirement to conduct a second review in cases where an immigration judge issues a discretionary denial of the application. The net result of the rule, if it goes into effect, will be fewer aliens with criminal records being eligible for asylum.  Comments on the rule are due January 21, 2020, so stand-by for further updates.

Happy New Year!

As 2019 comes to an end, and a new decade approaches, we would like to take the time to reflect and express our gratitude to everyone who has helped make this year so special. It is truly a privilege to have such great friends and clients that make our growth and continued business success possible. We look forward to all the opportunities that 2020 brings and hope that you and your family have the best New Year!

Proposed USCIS Rules Increase Financial Burden on Immigrants

Two new proposed immigration regulations would profoundly affect employers, international students, H-1B and L-1 visa holders, EB-5 investors, asylum seekers, and others. The first rule would make changes to the USCIS fee schedule. In this rule, DHS proposed to adjust USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 21 percent, add new fees, and make other changes, including form changes and the introduction of several new forms. The second would make multiple changes to the regulations governing asylum applications and eligibility for employment authorization based on a pending asylum application.  These new DHS proposed rules will place additional burdens on employers seeking to sponsor nonimmigrant and immigrant workers and those seeking asylum. More information is available via the follow links on the proposed fee rule and the proposed rule regarding asylum employment authorizations.

Disclaimer: The ethical rules by which Alabama attorneys are governed mandate that no communication concerning a lawyer's services shall be published...unless it contains in legible...language the following: "No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers."