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Oakland CA Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Immigration and recovering from Northern California fires


As Northern Californians begin to recover from recent fires, many immigrants will face additional hurdles including losing important immigration documents and potentially missing vital appointments. While these problems may not be the same as the loss of life or a home, we have seen clients harmed tremendously by the loss of documents or failure to maintain a current address with immigration agencies. For immigrants who have lost their homes or been forced to relocate, here are some key things to know.

ICE has suspended regular enforcement activity

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced it is temporarily suspending regular enforcement activity in areas harmed by the fires, including shelters and evacuation centers. ICE made similar statements for areas impacted by recent hurricanes, and it appears it kept those commitments. Therefore, while we are generally skeptical of ICE, this announcement should be reliable.

Therefore, immigrants, even those who are undocumented, should reach out to local authorities or other resources for assistance in recovery efforts. This includes shelters for people who have been forced to evacuate.

Recovering lost documents

USCIS can replace most lost immigration documents. While most of the applications have filing fees, some applicants may qualify for a fee waiver. Forms to replace key immigration documents include:

- Naturalization Certificate- N-556

- Lawful Permanent Resident or "Green" Card- I-90

- Work Permit- I-765

- Fee Waiver- I-912

Copies of immigration files

In addition to getting new original documents, people can request copies of their immigration files from USCIS through a form G-639.

Updating addresses

While address requirements may seem like a minor issue for those who have been forced to evacuate, immigration authorities will generally hold people responsible for receiving documents sent to the most current address they have on file. Therefore, failing to update an address can have disastrous effects for those with pending immigration cases. Also, non-citizens are required to update USCIS within ten days of moving, and can use the form AR-11.

Those in removal proceedings must notify the immigration court within five days of moving, through the Form EOIR-33. This address change is especially important because the immigration court will order respondents deported if they fail to attend a hearing. The court will send hearing notices to the most recent address they have on file, and people who do not update their address can therefore be ordered deported for missing a hearing that was held without their knowledge.

For those with immigration cases pending before other agencies, including citizens who have filed visa petitions, it is a good idea to also send a change of address notice to the office which has their file because information on AR-11s is not always connected to every application before the agency.

Non-citizens with reporting requirements to ICE are usually required to maintain a current address, but it will depend on the circumstances of their cases, so please review any paperwork you have from ICE. If you have lost your documents with your ICE requirements, you can call the San Francisco office at 415 844-5512. To be clear, we only recommend calling the local ICE office if you are certain you have reporting requirements, are certain you are otherwise in compliance with any instructions from them, and have lost your paperwork. In other situations, reaching out to ICE can be very risky, and should only be done after discussion with an attorney.

Missed appointments

Missing USCIS, ICE, or immigration court appointments can have disastrous consequences. USCIS will often deny applications if people fail to attend interviews, and ICE can detain and revoke orders of supervision for those who miss interviews with them. Generally, however, people can contact the agency to explain why the appointment was missed and request it be rescheduled. While every case is different, often agencies will excuse a failure to attend an interview, but it is important to ask for rescheduling promptly. (Note- failing to comply with an interview for a deportation or voluntary departure order can have serious consequences, and be more complicated to resolve. While it is important to act quickly, people in this situation should consult with an attorney first.)

If you missed a USCIS appointment, such as a biometrics intake or interview, please contact USCIS quickly to request a new date. If you have the appointment notice, it will include instructions on how to request a rescheduling. If you have lost all of your paperwork, you can either make an in-person appointment at the local office through a system called "InfoPass", or call 1 800-375-5283.

As discussed above, non-citizens in removal proceedings will be ordered deported in their absence if they fail to attend a hearing. It may, however, be possible to reopen a deportation order by demonstrating the failure to attend was due to "extraordinary circumstances". If you missed a hearing due to the fires, you may be able to argue it was due to "extraordinary circumstances". Please note, that motions to reopen must generally be filed within 90 days of the judge's order.

For those with upcoming immigration court hearings who have been displaced or otherwise harmed by the fire, it may be possible to request your hearing be postponed. If the court has not given you a hearing date, however, you should make every effort to attend the hearing, even if it is very difficult.

Free consultation for those harmed by the fires

As explained above, some people harmed by the fires should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Therefore, until the end of November, we are offering free consultations to address immigration issues resulting from the fires. Depending on the situation, we may also reduce our legal fee for work on those cases. While it may be difficult for some displaced by the fires to come to Oakland, we offer appointments by phone and video-conference as well. Those seeking a free consultation should be sure to say that they are calling about an issue related to the fires.

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California

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DHS and privacy- new rules, old practices.

DHS recently updated their information-gathering and recordkeeping practices. This notice has received a lot of publicity because it gives the agency very broad powers- both in terms of the information they can collect, and who they can investigate.

DHS can investigate not only non-citizens, but also attorneys, naturalized citizens, visa petitioners, and the "relatives and associates" of others being investigated. Also, the information can include things like social media activity and internet searches.

Despite the recent attention, however, DHS has long had many of these powers, though they have received less attention previously. The recent rules are not entirely new, but expand a list that has been in existence for many years. The prior rules, in fact, already allowed investigation of the same people listed above. Similarly, while it has not been listed as a source before, DHS has freely acknowledged that it investigates social media and other internet presence of foreign nationals in benefit applications.

Also, the new rules explicitly include record-keeping on internet search results. From the rule, it's unclear if this means the result of DHS searches on the subject, or if they will attempt to obtain searches by the subject. The rule also includes data sharing agreements as a source of information.

Search providers such as Google, however, explicitly acknowledge that they receive requests for user information for agencies and in investigations of regulatory violations, though they may require a warrant or subpoena.

Ultimately, the rules serve as a reminder that any foreign national, citizen, petitioner, attorney, or the "relative or associate" of a foreign national should be aware that DHS may potentially be investigating them. There are, however, some key steps people can take to protect themselves.

Those who may be investigated by DHS should do internet searches for themselves to determine what is publicly available. This is essential for those applying for immigration benefits, especially if they have old information about jobs and relationships on profiles they have not updated in a long time. In some cases, it may be better to simply end one's social media presence.

Those applying for immigration benefits should ensure that all accounts reflect your current address and marital status, if appropriate. DHS has long used commercial searches of publicly available information, similar to a credit check, and if it locates a bank or other accounts reflecting different information that what has been provided, that could lead to further investigation.

Also, if immigration authorities deny a petition or application based on information from an investigation, it may be possible to contest that decision. Applicants generally have a right to review derogatory information being used against them, and may be able to contest introduction of unlawfully obtained records in removal proceedings. (One key qualification is that these rules may not always apply with national security and terrorism issues. How to address investigations and negative evidence in these circumstances is very complex, depends on the specific situation and is beyond the scope of this post.)

Finally, people who believe they have been investigated may be able view their files through the Freedom Of Information Act ("FOIA"). While non-citizens routinely do this, it may be wise for others who may have DHS files to do so as well.

In many ways, therefore, DHS's new rules continue existing practices more than establish changes. Given that they have drawn more attention to how much DHS can investigate, however, the expanded rules may have the unintended effect of motivating people to better protect themselves.

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California

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DACA's end- what we know and the most important questions that remain.

On Tuesday, the government announced the rescission of the DACA program after months of speculation and dread. While many have begun to do so already, DACA holders and those close to them should now begin to plan for the announced changes, but also know things are still not fully settled. Even though DHS has provided key details about how the rescission will be executed, The full effect of the rescission will depend on what happens in the coming months.

What we know so far:

1. DHS is no longer accepting new DACA applications after September 5th.

2. Those with DACA benefits expiring on or before March 5, 2018 can apply for a two-year extension until October 5, 2017.

3. Those with DACA benefits expiring after March 5, 2018 cannot apply for an extension.

4. Valid DACA Advance Parole documents may still be used, but USCIS will not issue any new ones. USCIS will close any pending applications for travel documents and refund the filing fees.

5. DHS has said that it will not actively pursue removal proceedings based on the expiration of DACA benefits- right now. Please read below for a more detailed explanation.

Will DACA holders be placed in removal proceedings when benefits expire?

DHS has said, "Information provided to USCIS in DACA requests will not be proactively provided to ICE and CBP for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings, unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS' Notice to Appear guidance (www.uscis.gov/NTA). This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter."

While implying the expiration of DACA benefits alone should not trigger removal proceedings, this statement raises serious concerns beyond the qualification that it may change at any time. First, USCIS officials can place foreign nationals into removal proceedings, even without forwarding the information to ICE first (though ICE would prosecute the removal proceedings themselves.) Though technical, considering the statement comes from the agency overseeing both departments, this may be a deliberate omission, rather than an error.

More importantly, USCIS has indicated that it is reviewing its current guidance for placing people in removal proceedings, which was last issued in 2011. We do not know what the new guidance will be, but given the current administration it will almost certainly be stricter than the current version.

Therefore, when DACA holders' benefits begin expiring in March, 2018 they may be much more likely to be placed in removal proceedings than DHS' current response suggests.

Will there be a DREAM Act? If so, at what cost?

While we are opposed to the end of DACA, one potential positive is that this could be a catalyst to finally pass the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act was first introduced well before DACA, and would have given people with similar qualifications to DACA holders the opportunity to gain legal status and eventually lawful permanent residency. If the DREAM Act was passed in time, DACA holders could obtain status and work authorization before their current benefits expire.

While prior efforts to pass the DREAM Act have been unsuccessful, the rescission of DACA has pushed this issue to the forefront with greater support than before. Even President Trump has given his support for the DREAM Act- presenting the rescission of DACA as an opportunity to act, rather than the termination of immigration benefits for 800,000 people.

On the other hand, though the DREAM Act seems to have a very real chance of passing, it may be paired with harsh enforcement measures. For example, Congressman Tom Cotton, a harsh opponent of immigration has supported a DREAM Act, but only together with his "RAISE Act", which would dramatically reduce legal immigration for years to come. A longer analysis of the RAISE Act is available here.

Will a potential DREAM Act come at too great of a cost for immigration advocates to support? Will it be passed, but together with harsh measures harming others in immigrant communities? It remains to be seen, but the answers to these questions will ultimately determine the true effects of today's decision.

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California

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"RAISE Act" would create 2nd (and 3rd) class citizens

President Trump's attack on immigrants continues with his support for the re-introduced "RAISE Act", which would drastically cut legal immigration. This bill has already drawn very strong opposition, and will hopefully never become law. It has enough support, however, to take seriously both for the potential changes in the law and another example of the administration's disregard for immigrants.

Others have already analyzed how the RAISE Act threatens to would-be immigrants, their family, employers, and our economy. Less attention has been paid to the fact that the bill would essentially create different classes of citizens- those who can be with their family, and those who cannot. Not surprisingly, those citizens who would be harmed are immigrants or their family members.

While recognizing that the potential harm to immigrants outweighs the danger for citizens under the RAISE Act, this aspect is also very important for two reasons. First, it shows how seemingly neutral language can do much more harm to citizens with non-citizen family members. Second, the United States citizens harmed by this bill can vote, and put even greater pressure on their lawmakers to make sure the bill does not become law.

No US citizens could petition parents- only some would be without their family.

A long-held tradition in nationality law is that all United States citizens have the same rights and responsibilities, no matter the source of their citizenship. Whether they are born in this country, have citizen parents, or naturalize, United States citizens cannot be deported, can petition family members, vote, and owe allegiance to the U.S.

Currently, all U.S. citizens can petition their parents, siblings, children (adult and minor), and spouses for lawful permanent residency. While the system is very flawed, it means that immigrants to the U.S. can naturalize and restore family ties they have made when they left. For U.S. citizens born in this country in a mixed-status household, the visa process can ensure citizens their family members will be able to remain here.

With the RAISE Act, U.S. citizens would no longer be able to petition parents, adult children, or siblings for lawful permanent residence. While harsh, on the surface this change appears to apply to all citizens equally, in keeping with the tradition described above. Indeed, one would assume a proposed law officially creating lesser rights based on the type of citizenship would generate even more uproar, and would likely be found unconstitutional.

The inequality this change creates among U.S. citizens, however, is undeniable. As explained above, the provisions would only harm those citizens whose family members do not already have status in this country. Those whose parents (or children, or siblings) are already citizens or residents can live with their family near if they choose. They may technically lose the right to petition some relatives, but that right was never needed in the first place.

To some degree, supporters of the RAISE Act have been up front about this effect- trumpeting that it will cut "chain migration", in which one immigrant brings other family members. First, "chain migration" is not negative, and is seemingly only supported by a general disregard for immigrants.

Moreover, it is vital to realize that even with the focus on immigrants, the beginning of most "chains" is a United States citizen. That the citizen is also an immigrant or member of a mixed status family does not change that they are citizens, theoretically with the same rights and responsibilities as those with citizen parents and siblings.

Temporary visas for parents- if citizen sons and daughters can afford them.

The RAISE Act does at least allow U.S. citizens to apply for a five year status for their parents, called a "W visa". The W visa is not only temporary, but will only be realistic for U.S. citizens who are relatively well off financially.

Parents with W visas will not be allowed to work, and will have to rely on citizen petitioners for their support. Regardless of their parents' finances, the U.S. citizens will have to demonstrate they can support them for the duration of their stay, including providing health insurance at no cost to the parents.

Therefore, the U.S. citizens who are already harmed because their parents are not citizens or residents as well will be divided even further- those who can afford to be with their parents, and those who cannot.

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California

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For the travel bans, airports are just the beginning....

Refugees and other foreign nationals at airports have understandably drawn the attention of those opposed to President Trump's travel bans. The real effect of those bans, however, extends well beyond the airports. Also, the full extent of the orders has yet to be determined. This means that for those opposed to the bans, the fight has just begun.

Please note, a comprehensive discussion of the January 27 order is in an earlier blog post here.

First, remember, the vast majority of those harmed by the executive order will not even make it to a U.S. airport. Instead, they will be denied entry documents or not be permitted to board a flight to the United States.

Moreover, the full extent of the bans is still unknown because of how the order is written. They could be relatively short term but have the potential to extend indefinitely. The order contains room to create large exceptions, but also the opportunity for expansion.

The bans could end in months- or be extended indefinitely.

Except for the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, the travel bans are temporary but could easily be extended. The entry ban for nationals of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya technically is for ninety days. The ninety-day window is to reduce the burden on government agencies responsible for reporting to the President about necessary security measures to ensure foreign nationals are not a security threat and identify countries which do not provide the necessary information.

If the agencies are not able to make sufficient progress in ninety days, therefore, the ban can easily be extended. What is sufficient progress? What measures will there be? How long will it take to complete this process? Keep in mind strict security measures for entry into the United States are already in place. There are no clear metrics, providing an easy justification to extend the ban.

The ban on refugee admissions is at least for 120 days, at which point only refugees from those countries with government agencies have deemed there are adequate security and identification safeguards. Again, while this sounds reasonable initially, refugees already face rigorous vetting. Without clear metrics, the refugee ban could easily extend beyond 120 days, especially for those fleeing the most dangerous conditions.

More countries may be added

In addition to the seven countries already listed in the travel ban, the order requires the Secretary of State or Homeland Security to identify, within 60 days, any others which they deem insufficiently cooperative in identity and security investigation. Moreover, the agencies can add more countries after 60 days if they find the need arises.

As discussed above, the security and identity concerns raised in the memo are already part of the vetting process, and there are no metrics for determining compliance. Therefore, the order could readily be applied to bar admission to nationals of many more countries.

Exceptions in the "national interest"

Even now, the order may be limited by establishing exceptions in the national interest. While the legality of many aspects of the order is questionable, the legal basis for the bans is a law which allows the president to deny entry to foreign nationals who would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States." Therefore, entry is permitted on an individual basis upon demonstration it is in the national interest.

In fact, "national interest" has already limited the application of the order. Initially, the travel ban extended to lawful permanent residents of the 7 named countries. That ban was quickly lifted, however, upon a finding that admitting lawful permanent residents was in the "national interest". (That it was almost certainly illegal to ban lawful permanent residents probably also had something to do with it.)

Though it is a small exception now, the "national interest" has no concrete definition and could be a tool to exempt even more people from the order.

Bean + Lloyd wholeheartedly supports, and has taken part in, efforts to help refugees and others facing travel bans at airports. The need to fight the bans, however, will extend well beyond the airports.

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Donald Trump Issues Executive Order Suspending Refugee Program and Entry to US from Certain Countries

On January 27, 2017, Donald Trump issued an executive order regarding immigration and national security. The order temporarily halts all entries of noncitizens from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the United States for 90 days. The government will then develop new permanent policies that may prohibit individuals from certain countries from entering the United States; however, as of now, it is unclear exactly what these policies will look like and which countries they will affect.

For now, non-citizens from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen-even those with permanent residency or valid visas-should not travel outside the United States, or they will not be permitted to return for a minimum of 90 days. Because there are some narrow exceptions to this order, individuals from these countries who have an urgent need to travel outside the United States should consult with an immigration attorney prior to their departure.

The executive order also stops the admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely, until the President determines that it is in the national interest to allow Syrian refugees to enter the country again. In addition, President Trump has suspended the US refugee program for all countries for 120 days. After the 120 day period, the US will only resume accepting refugees from countries that the government deems sufficiently safe.

Again, these orders have some narrow exceptions. Notably, individuals who fear religious-based persecution in countries where their religion is the minority will receive special preference and may still be able to enter the United States as a refugee even during the suspension period. Individuals who think this exception may apply to them should consult with an immigration attorney.

The President is expected to release more immigration executive actions in the coming days. In the meantime, immigrants worried about increased ICE enforcement can prepare to defend themselves now by creating an immigration file. Learn more here (English) and here (Spanish).

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California, emphasizing family-based immigration, removal defense, and naturalization.

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Prepárese ahora para defenderse de su futuro Inmigratorio

Inmigrantes preocupados por el aumento de ICE por la ejecución bajo Trump pueden prepararse para defenderse ahora comenzando un archivo de inmigración. Obteniendo información y documentos vitales ahorrará tiempo si usted es detenido, y le permitirá que un abogado de inmigración lo represente de manera más eficiente y eficazmente. (Nota, esto se enfoca en la preparación de casos de inmigración, el Centro de Recursos Legales para Inmigrantes tiene un guía útil con sus derechos legales y sugerencias de día a día para asuntos cotidianos si un extranjero nacional es detenido.)

Un desafío enorme en asistir a unas personas detenida por ICE es que los miembros de la familia que buscan ayuda en su nombre a menudo no saben toda la información necesaria para evaluar el caso directamente. Del mismo modo, pueden no ser capaces de obtener documentos esenciales para su defensa. Esto puede significar que el ser querido pasa más tiempo en detención o tiene una defensa más débil.

Por lo tanto, si usted está preocupado por ser detenido por ICE, usted debe comenzar a colectar información y documentos ahora, y ponerlos en un archivo donde su ser querido puede acceder por si usted es detenido. Además, recomiendo que se memorizar el número de teléfono celular de alguien que sabe dónde están los papeles y que le permita encontrar un abogado para usted. Si usted está detenido, es posible que no tenga acceso a los contactos de su teléfono, es por esto que tendrá que saberse el número.

Su archivo de inmigración debe de incluir lo siguiente:

1. Historia de Inmigración - Esto será vital para cualquier evaluación de inmigración.

a. Información: Cuando usted vino a los U.S.? ¿Usted alguna ves se fue? ¿Usted alguna vez tuvo contacto con las autoridades de inmigración? ¿Alguien ha sometido una petición de visa para usted o algún miembro de su familia cercana?

b. Documentos: Cualquier tipo de documento que tenga en relación con inmigración

2. Familia - Sus lazos familiares pueden hacerle elegible para beneficios de inmigración o ser una razón fuerte para argumentar que debe ser puesto en libertad

a. Información - Nombres y estatus migratorio de sus padres, cónyuge e hijos

b. Documentos - partidas de nacimientos, actas de matrimonios, copias de identificaciones de inmigración (permiso de trabajo, tarjeta de residencia, etc.)

3. Historia Criminal - Su historia criminal determinar si usted es elegible para cualquier defensa o liberación en fianza.

a. Información - Un resumen, incluyendo fechas y disposición de todas las detenciones.

b. Documentos - corte judicial y disposición de todos los arrestos

4. Temor de regresar a su país de origen - si usted tiene temor de regresar a su país de origen, esto es muy impórtate presentarlo a las autoridades de inmigración.

a. Información - Una breve explicación de por qué tienes miedo de volver. ¿Quién te haría daño? ¿por qué? ¿Alguna vez le hicieron daño en su país de origen?

b. Documentos - Si está disponible, cualquier informe médico o policial sobre incidentes de daño en su país de origen. Si no tiene estos documentos, consideré tener a alguien en su país de origen para que se los envié a usted ahora.

5. Trabajo /Impuestos - Su trabajo y una historia de pago de impuestos muestran vínculos con los Estados Unidos y buen carácter moral.

a. Información - su historial de trabajo durante los últimos 10 años, y si usted ha pagado impuestos

b. Documentos - Impuestos, solamente federales, preferible por los últimos 10 anos.

Una vez más, esto es sólo un comienzo, y no una lista completa. Si está detenido, es probable que su abogado necesite más información y documentos, pero estos materiales serán muy útiles para proporcionar consejos concretos tan pronto como sea posible y también pueden fortalecer su caso.

También, mientras que la creación de este archivo puede ser aterrador, también vale la pena tener en cuenta que este archivo podría ser muy útil si usted es elegible para los beneficios de inmigración también. Los documentos y la información anterior serían vital no sólo para luchar contra su eliminación, sino también la preparación para cualquier tipo de solicitud de beneficios de inmigración, como el ajuste de status o TPS.

Bean & Lloyd, LLP es una firma de abogados de inmigración en Oakland, California, enfatizándose en casos inmigratorios para familias, defensa de deportación y naturalización.

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Prepare now for your future immigration defense

Immigrants worried about increased ICE enforcement under Trump can prepare to defend themselves now by beginning an immigration file.  Gathering vital information and documents now will save precious time if you are detained, and allow an immigration attorney to represent you more efficiently and effectively. (Note, this focuses on immigration case preparation, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center has a helpful guide with your legal rights and suggestions for day-to-day issues if a foreign national is detained.)

One huge challenge assisting people detained by ICE is that the family members looking for help on their behalf often do not know all the necessary information to evaluate the case right away. Similarly, they may not be able to get essential documents for their defense. This can mean the loved one spends more time in detention or has a weaker defense.

Therefore, if you are concerned about being detained by ICE, you should gather information and documents now, and put them in a file a loved one can access if you are detained. Also, I strongly recommend memorizing the cell phone number of someone who knows where the papers are and is permitted to find an attorney for you. If you are detained, you may not have access to the contacts in your phone, so will need to know the number.

Your immigration file should include the following:

1. Immigration history- this will be vital to any immigration evaluation.

a. Information: When did you come to the U.S.? Did you ever leave? Have you ever had contact with immigration authorities before? Has anyone ever filed a visa petition for you or an immediate family member?

b. Documents: Any immigration-related document you have.

2. Family- Your family ties may make you eligible for immigration benefits, or be a strong reason to argue you should be released.

a. Information- Names and immigration statuses of your parents, spouse, and children.

b. Documents- birth certificates, marriage certificates, copies of immigration identification (work permits, residency cards, etc.

3. Criminal history- Your criminal history may determine if you are eligible for any defenses or release on bond.

a. Information- a summary, including dates and dispositions of all arrests.

b. Documents- court complaint and disposition of all arrests.

4. Fear of return to your home country- if you are afraid to go back to your home country, it will be important to present this to immigration authorities

a. Information- a brief explanation of why you are afraid to go back. Who would harm you? Why? Were you ever harmed in your home country previously?

b. Documents- if available, any medical or police reports about incidents of harm in your home country.  If you do not have these documents, consider having somone in your home country send them to you now.

5. Work/taxes- your job and a history of tax payment make show ties to the U.S. and good moral character.

a. Information- your work history for the last 10 years, and whether you have paid taxes.

b. Documents- tax returns, federal only, ideally for the last ten years.

Again, this is just a start, and not a full list. If you are detained, your attorney will likely need more information and documents, but these materials will be very helpful in providing concrete advice as quickly as possible, and may also strengthen your case.

Also, while creating this file may be scary, it is also worth keeping in mind this file could be very helpful if you are eligible for immigration benefits as well. The documents and information above would be vital not only to fighting your removal, but also preparing for any sort of application for immigration benefits such as adjustment of status or TPS.

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California, emphasizing family-based immigration, removal defense, and naturalization.

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Rescinding NSEERS regulations- a small, but welcome, obstacle to Trump's plans

On December 23, the Obama administration will rescind the regulations implementing a registration system which would have likely been the base of Trump's "Muslim Registry". What does this mean?

Short version- This is a welcome step, but will likely not have a major effect on Trump's plans. this is largely symbolic, and probably won't have more practical effect than delaying a Trump registry.


Longer version- By most accounts, a " #MuslimRegistry " under Trump will technically be a registry of nationals from countries with large Muslim populations. Despite the controversy, this concept isn't new. In the early 2000's, there was a similar program called the National Security Entry-Exit Systems, also known as "NSEERS" or "Special Registration".

This program required men from several designated countries to present themselves to immigration officials. The system did not result in a single terror-related conviction, but did cause tremendous upheaval and fear in immigrant communities.

Creating such a large scale program requires the government to first promulgate implementing regulations- essentially rules created by the government in accordance with governing statutes. Regulations can be timely to create, and usually require a period of notice and comment before implementation. (As a side note, much of the state suit against DACA was based on an assertion that the government failed to follow these requirements.)

The regulations implementing NSEERS (which were actually issued in the 1990's for a smaller program) allowed the DHS to designate countries subject to registration without additional the regulatory process. For NSEERS, the program ended when agency removed all countries from the program requirements, but their implementing regulations remained in place.

Therefore, the Trump administration could have simply resumed the registration program by designating countries subject to those requirements almost immediately.
Rescinding the implementing regulations will not stop a registry, therefore, but the Trump administration will need to promulgate new ones in order to create a "Muslim registry".

These regulations should take at least several months to implement, and will be subject to notice and comment requirements. It is, therefore, likely a small victory creating some poignant symbolism, chances for advocacy and perhaps a short reprieve. It will not, however, prevent a new registry program by itself.

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California, emphasizing family-based immigration, removal defense, and naturalization.

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What can you do in response to Trump's immigration plans?

Trump's election has caused a tremendous amount of fear and concern for immigrants and their advocates. Though we will not know the full impact of his election until after he takes office, here are some initial predictions on key immigration issues and steps people can take now.

As you will see, the two suggestions have two basic themes. Immigrants should use the time before Trump takes office to protect themselves as much as possible- but also recognizing the risks they may face presenting themselves to immigration authorities. Citizens should be prepared to voice their support of immigrants to Congress and the media to not only protect the non-citizens, but those in the U.S. who benefit from them.

End of DACA/ end of the road for DAPA

Trump has pledged to end DACA when he takes office. As a program created by the President's executive authority, he is permitted to do this, and there is no reason to believe he will not. Also, while the court case for DAPA (deferred action for parents of citizens) is technically still pending, Trump will presumably stop that as well.

What can you do?

Those DACA beneficiaries able to extend their applications now should do so now. It is not clear what will happen if the extensions are still pending when Trump takes office, but it is possible that USCIS will expedite the review of the applications before the change, and those with pending applications are far more likely to get an extension than someone who waits.

That being said, even those with current DACA should be prepared for the program to potentially end with both the protection against deportation and work permits being cancelled. Also, those who are considering an initial filing should review with an attorney whether it is worth the risk of presenting yourself to immigration authorities given the uncertainty.

If DACA ends, hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs. This loss will be especially harsh if their work permits are suddenly cancelled. Not only will DACA beneficiaries be harmed, but so will their family members and their employers.

Trump was elected on a pro-business platform, and a mass layoff without little or no preparation time will undoubtedly hurt business. Businesses employing DACA beneficiaries should be prepared to tell their stories and increase pressure to not only prevent sudden layoffs, but perhaps even keep the program going for those who are already enrolled.

Mass deportations

Trump has stated he will promptly deport all of the approximately eleven million people in the U.S. illegally. Not only would this be horrible for the United States, it would be nearly impossible without major changes in the law. As President, Trump could not change the law himself, but he can push Congress to do so, and can alter how the existing laws are enforced.

Generally, the government cannot simply deport people who are here illegally, because they are entitled by law to defend themselves in immigration court. Right now, the immigration court system is very backlogged, with about 400,000 cases stretching dockets past 2019. Adding over ten million people to this system would of course make the backlog far longer, with hearings scheduled well after Trump's first (and perhaps only) term.

It is possible that Trump could order changes in the immigration court to speed this process up- adding new judges, creating summary proceedings- but even those alterations would be slow, and would still have to comply with the law.

As a separate matter, Trump would have to locate people who are here illegally. Some of them may be found through criminal proceedings or if they have filed for immigration benefits and been denied, but it will be nearly impossible for them to find others without constitutional violations.

To be clear, Trump certainly could increase deportation levels. Many of the steps he would need to do this, however, provide opportunities to fight back.

What can you do?

Immigrants who are here illegally but have options to regularize their status, should consider doing so right away. This strategy, however, does carry some risk as it would require notifying the government of their status and location. Being here unlawfully has its own risks, however, and it may take some time for Trump to implement his changes. This means that those who wait may lose the chance to apply for provisional waivers or other opportunities. Whether to apply for benefits or not will therefore be a decision based on the circumstances of your case, and should not be made lightly.

If you are a lawful permanent resident eligible to apply for citizenship, please do so. As a citizen, you will be protected completely from deportation, and may be able to provide benefits to family members. You will also be able to vote.

If you are not an immigrant, still stay informed, and contact your Congressional offices to voice your support for immigrant rights. As explained above, Trump's ability to implement mass deportations will require changes in the existing law- which can only be done by Congress.

Banning Muslims, refugees, and others from entry?

There are far fewer protections for non-citizens who are outside of the United States seeking admission. Therefore, Trump's threats to ban large numbers of people from entering the country will take far less help from Congress to implement. There are some limited protections for people outside the U.S., and it's not clear an outright ban on members of an entire religion would be legal, but the extent of his powers would likely be decided by a court.

Therefore, it will very likely be much harder for millions of people to enter the United States, though we will have to see what happens to know much more.

What can you do?

Those outside the U.S. considering applying for a visa should do so soon. By extension, family or businesses looking to bring someone into the country should also move quickly and/or consider options if the visas are denied, such as working or meeting outside the U.S.

When there are the inevitable unfair denials, it will be important for those in the U.S. who are impacted to be sure to make their voices heard. This will not only include family and would-be employers, but those who will lose money if fewer people are allowed in, such as hotels, restaurants, and travel companies.

While the legal protections for those outside this country are limited, the people and businesses in the U.S. who will also suffer will have powerful stories that will hopefully influence the government's policies.

It is almost certain that a Trump presidency will be harmful to immigrants and their supporters. Nonetheless, there is still a chance to protect the immigrant rights which will be under attack.

Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California, emphasizing family-based immigration, removal defense, and naturalization.

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