April 22, 2014

ICE Agrees To Limit Use Of Shackles On Immigrants In San Francisco Immigration Courts

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agreed to avoid shackling immigrants at the San Francisco immigration court in many hearings. Immigrants will still be shackled at a type of brief, procedural hearing in which several detainees are addressed at the same time.

In 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and others filed a lawsuit against ICE. The lawsuit says detainees at the San Francisco court wear metal restraints on their wrists, ankles and waists and that most are bused from jails several hours away, spending hours in shackles before, during and after their hearings.

A federal judge in San Francisco was scheduled to consider Thursday whether to approve the settlement in the lawsuit, ACLU attorney Julia Harumi Mass said the agreement applies only to the San Francisco court, which serves more than 2,000 immigrants a year who are in ICE custody at three county jails in Northern California.- Huff Post

Juana Villegas wears handcuffs while demonstrating outside the Tennessee Supreme Court building on Thursday, June 14, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. In 2008, Villegas was jailed in Nashville and kept in shackles while in labor with her son, Gael Carachure, now 3 years old. Inside the Supreme Court chamber Thursday, a Nashville immigration attorney argued that the Davidson County sheriff should be barred from participating in a federal program that lets deputies perform some of the duties of immigration | ASSOCIATED PRESS

April 15, 2014

Immigrants Make San Francisco One of the Top Metropolitans for High Tech Entrepreneurs

Researchers at the Kauffman Foundation have found that the importance of highly skilled immigrants is growing "because immigrants are far more likely to start businesses – particularly high-tech companies – than are the native-born".

This can serve as a lesson for metro areas trying to attract these types of entrepreneurs. Foreign born entrepreneurs are more likely to locate in areas that have ethnically diverse populations. It is not surprising then to find that San Francisco along with Los Angeles and New York was home to about a third of all immigrant high-tech entrepreneurs in the country in 2011.

Source: Kauffman Foundation

April 01, 2014

Chile Added to Visa Waiver Program

On February 28, 2014, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State designated Chile as a country that is eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program.  Accordingly, this rule updates the list of countries designated for participation in the Visa Waiver Program by adding Chile. This final rule is effective on March 31, 2014.

Eligible citizens, nationals and passport holders from designated Visa Waiver Program countries may apply for admission to the United States at U.S. ports of entry as nonimmigrant aliens for a period of ninety days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission under applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. 


March 28, 2014

Start-Ups and H1-B Visas

Two years ago USCIS announced it would increase its efforts to optimize visas for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in an attempt to encourage investment and bolster the economy. Despite the governments efforts there are still a number of barriers to start-ups obtaining H1-B approvals.

In the last issue of  American Immigration Lawyer's The Voice,  they pointed out several important factors USCIS will look at when adjudicating an H1-B petition:

1. Is there a bona fide job offer?

There must be a bona fide offer, it cannot simply be an accommodation for a friend. If the financial condition of the start up is questionable USCIS will request evidence of the petitioners financial condition to determine if there is a bona fide offer.

2. Employers Actual Need and Sufficiency

USCIS may also question whether the employer actually NEEDS the H1-B position. USCIS wants to see that there is enough specialty occupation work for the beneficiary throughout the period of validity of the visa and that the beneficiary will not be performing non-specialty occupation work, such as sales, administrative tasks, etc.

3. Facilities for Work

USCIS also often asks if the employer has facilities to accommodate the work of the beneficiary. If there is, evidence should be provided of the facility. If not, as is often the case with start-ups, then there will need to be an explanation of alternative work arrangements.

For the full article by Ekaterina Powell click here.

March 26, 2014

Obama Deportation Review Crucial to Hold Latino Support

Elections are approaching and Democrats need to find a way to maintain Latino support in light of their inability to make any progress on immigration reform.

At a private meeting on March 11th, Senate staff told administration representatives that Obama’s options include stopping the deportations of parents of U.S. citizens and others who would be protected under a Senate bill that passed last year. Read the full story here.

Photographer: Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images

March 07, 2014

Retreat by Attorney General on South Carolina's Arizona -Like Show Me Your Papers Immigration Law

In a win for civil rights immigration advocates, South Carolina has abandoned several key provisions of its Arizona-like harsh immigration law. Many states have taken a state-by-state approach as of late to immigration law enforcement. South Carolina was one of the harsher ones, like Arizona, having passed a law in 2011 that made it a crime to harbor or transport unauthorized immigrants, and for legal immigrants not to carry their papers. It also required state and local police to check the immigration status of people they suspected were here illegally.

South Carolina's Attorney General, Alan Wilson, has acknowledged his state is not likely to defeat the array of legal challenges facing the law since the Supreme Court has already struck down similar provisions of an Arizona law. Mr. Wilson went even further and issued a formal opinion in which he clarified that South Carolina's show me your papers provision did not allow police officers to detain someone solely to check their immigration status. If a police officer has conducted a lawful stop and he has no other reason to hold a person, they must be released, they cannot be further detained to determine their immigration status. 

This is a big win for immigrants rights' which are being threatened nationwide by the efforts of local police and government to enforce federal immigration law. 

Source: NY Times