#ExecutiveAction: A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

Image courtesy of the internet

Image courtesy of the internet

There is rejoicing around the country this week fresh on the heels of President Obama’s announcement of executive action on immigration.  The announcement comes after years of advocacy from all walks of life- from individuals to advocacy organizations.  Immigration executive action is the biggest thing to have happened in decades and the nation (mostly) is thankful for it.

The country’s immigration system is unquestionably broken. Congress failed to act and as a result, President Obama took decisive action.  Now the benefits will be seen not just by those whose immigration status will be affected, both undocumented and documented alike, but also by the rest of us.  This temporary fix will see wages rise for everyone, individual GDP will grow, businesses will have easier times recruiting from talent that we don’t have otherwise, entrepreneurs will come and raise investment and create jobs, families will be kept together by expanding waiver provisions, and so much more.

As we all take a day or so to take a break from the humdrum of life, there is much to be thankful for. Thank you to the President for taking a bold step in the right direction on immigration.  Thank you to everyone- every individual and organization who fought for this moment. And while we take a moment to be thankful, let us not forget that we still need to fight for comprehensive immigration reform and the journey ahead is still a long one.

Tahmina Speaks to Happy Schools about #ExecutiveAction for Entrepreneurs

Raghu and Tahmina in Seattle, WA.

Raghu and Tahmina in Seattle, WA.

Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege of speaking with Raghu Sukumar, founder of Happy Schools.  Raghu and I have been blogger friends for several years now.  Find the interview at this link  here and below is a copy of the video. Please visit http://www.happyschools.com for more information. Thank you Raghu for inviting me to discuss this very important issue.

Sorry about the choppy internet connection, but hopefully you get to hear most of it!

#ExecutiveAction: #DACA Expansion

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA was revised through President Obama’s executive action last week.  Previously, a DACA applicant must have arrived in the US by June 2007 and must have been no more than 31 years old. Those provisions have been revised. So, who can apply now?

All previous DACA requirements stand:

The adjusted requirements are these:

1. No age cap.

2. Must have been in the US by January 1st 2010.

The government will provide guidance and hopefully start accepting application in the Spring of 2015.  The fee is likely to be $455.

What to do until guidance is released?

I suggest readers and potential applicants start gathering documentation to prove you have been in the US since January 1st 2010.

What is the benefit:

1. Will receive deferred action and will not be deported.

2. Will receive a work permit that should be valid for 3 years.

3. Can apply for a social security number.

 

It should be noted that the President really did try his best to give deferred action to the parents of DACA children, but the law is simply not in favor of that.

If you, your parent or anyone you know will be able to will benefit from deferred action, please ensure you write to your Congress Representative and Senator, even write to the White House thanking them for what they have done for you and your family. If you are in Washington State, I strongly recommend you write to Senator Murray’s office.

**Copyright 2014 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

 

Immigration #ExecutiveAction: Deferred Action for Parents

Through Executive Action, President Obama will confer deferred action to undocumented parents of US citizens and Green Card holders.

Who will qualify:

1. If you have a child that is a US citizen or a green card holder.

2. If you have been in the US since January 1st, 2010.

The government will provide guidance and hopefully start accepting application in the Spring of 2015.  The fee is likely to be $455.

What to do until guidance is released?

I suggest readers and potential applicants start gathering documentation to prove you have been in the US since January 1st 2010 and of course ensure you have your child’s birth certificate and translation of it, in case it is not in English.

What is the benefit:

1. Will receive deferred action and will not be deported.

2. Will receive a work permit that should be valid for 3 years.

3. Can apply for a social security number.

 

It should be noted that the President really did try his best to give deferred action to the parents of DACA children, but the law is simply not in favor of that.

If you, your parent or anyone you know will be able to will benefit from deferred action, please ensure you write to your Congress Representative and Senator, even write to the White House thanking them for what they have done for you and your family. If you are in Washington State, I strongly recommend you write to Senator Murray’s office.

**Copyright 2014 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Immigration #ExecutiveAction: Will It Help My Family-based Preference Case?

Image courtesy of internet

Image courtesy of internet

Since the announcement of immigration executive action broke, the question that I have seen most is this “will immigration reform help my family based pending petition (F1, F2, F3 and F4)?”.  Thank you for asking all your questions.

Unfortunately, immigration executive action does not affect any family-based petitions at this time.   If unused visas were to have been recaptured, then the current backlog would have been eliminated or reduced which in turn would have helped family-based cases too.

President Obama can only do so much on his own. Congress still needs to take action. If you want to see change in your immigration circumstances, you need to continue to push for immigration reform.  I am sorry I cannot give you better news.

Wrap-up of an amazing week #ImmigrationAction

With Mayor of DC and Mr. Mayorga

Dear Readers, I am sorry I have not given you detailed information and guidance yet. I have seen your questions and comments, esp. on family-based matters. I will start writing details that you are looking for as soon as I can. But I first need to tell you about this amazing week and the build up to the historic moment of immigration reform through executive action. Stayed tuned for legal details soon! 

Wrap-up of an amazing week  #ImmigrationAction

It has been a whirlwind of a week for me (and of course for my friends, colleagues and the nation).  It has been emotional and exciting to say the least.  Here is a diary of my events:

Monday-  As news of executive action becomes more and more imminent but without a date of announcement, two of my articles are published in two prominent online publications- Seattle Globalist and ILW. One advocating to recapture unused visas from the 1990s and the other advocating for immigrant entrepreneurs.  Both receive much interest and I am contacted by many with support.

Tuesday: Learn that the President will make his announcement on immigration executive action at the end of the week, likely Friday. Thrown into anxiety about time of announcement as  I am supposed to be in Washington DC attending meetings all day (I thought I was going to complain about not having executive action when scheduling these meetings!). I didn’t want to miss the live speech and details.

Wednesday: Learn that the announcements in fact will be made on Thursday. I get into a tizzy as I would be flying into DC on a red-eye tonight and am anxious not to miss it live. I then learn I will already have landed in DC so the next anxiety is whether I can attend wherever the announcement will be held in person. After many inquiries, I learned that the announcement would be made from the White House so it is not an event I can attend.

Thursday: Arrive in DC. Stomach fluttering with excitement. Go to AILA national office and learn that AILA Executive Director Crystal Williams has already attended a briefing at the White House. Learn of new provision “Entrepreneur Parole in Place” – thrown in a tizzy again that immigrant entrepreneurs are definitely included and that I couldn’t wait to see what the details will hold.  Right at that moment, CNN Money publishes article quoting me. Return to hotel to attend a conference call with the White House to get the low-down on details. Anxiously read materials of what is included specifically for skilled immigration and entrepreneurs. Watched the speech with dear friend and went to dinner with her.  Return to the hotel to read more details and write on blog. Blog going haywire. Need to sleep. Don’t want to. Fall asleep while reading memos.

Friday: Busy day of pre-arranged meetings. Attend Congresswoman Delbene’s office, have lunch with Edward Alden from Council of Foreign Relations, meet Ryan Mace from Senator Murray’s office- had a great chat. Meet with Mark Colwell, Sen. Moran’s office to discuss next phase of the Startup visa. Then meet with Aneesh Chopra former White House CTO. Quoted in CNN Money re. Startup Visa alternative.

The finale of the exciting day and week was to receive the Immigration Minority Lawyer of the Year award from the Minority Chamber of Commerce. Thank you so much Minority Chamber of Commerce! Thank you for including me in the distinguished group of awardees that included the Mayor of DC and the Director of USCIS, I am speechless. I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive the award and share the award with every lawyer who has fought for immigration reform.  But I am even more grateful that by sheer fate, the day of the award ceremony coincided with the day President Obama signed the historic immigration executive order.

What more can a passionate immigration lawyer, advocate and policy junkie ask for?

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Obama’s First Remarks on Immigration Executive Action Thursday November 20th


Copied from the White House:

Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Immigration

Cross Hall

8:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken — and everybody knows it.

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart.

It’s been this way for decades. And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders. Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law. But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law. But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President –- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent. And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally. And let’s be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic. Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time. They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs. They support their families. They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours. As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.

Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -– millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.

That’s the real amnesty –- leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I’m describing is accountability –- a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.

I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue. That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this. Americans are tired of gridlock. What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose –- a higher purpose.

Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight. But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home. Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens. So we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship.

I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw deal for over a decade. I hear these concerns. But that’s not what these steps would do. Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society. And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.

Because for all the back and forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger. It’s about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms? Or are we a nation that values families, and works together to keep them together?

Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?

That’s what this debate is all about. We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration. We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears. I know the politics of this issue are tough. But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it.

Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids. I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers. I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love.

These people –- our neighbors, our classmates, our friends –- they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life. They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva. Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old. Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on. When she started school, she didn’t speak any English. She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and she became a good student. Her father worked in landscaping. Her mom cleaned other people’s homes. They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn’t love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant –- so she applied behind their back and got in. Still, she mostly lived in the shadows –- until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported. It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -– that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless this country we love.

END
8:16 P.M. EST

Executive action items that did not make the list.

While we review and write about what executive action on immigration will do,  we can already tell what it will not do:

1. Unused visas will not be recaptured and therefore the backlog will remain as is.  I am seeing a lot of questions about family-based and employment-based backlogs.  And I am sorry to say it is not there.

2. There was much hope that the way visas are counted will change.  That will not happen.

3. Though the devil is in the details, it i hard to tell whether the Neufeld memo will be elimnated for H1b. It could be part of the section that refers to easing burden of businesses, but perhaps unlikely.

4. H4 visa holders will receive work permits, but not everyone unfortunately. EADs will be limited to those with approved green cards.

Executive Action for Entrepreneurs- Almost A Startup Visa

There will be several measures for immigrant entrepreneurs and details will emerge soon.  However, this is a significant development – this is a new program using the parole authority.   Entrepreneurs will be allowed into the US under the ‘significant public benefit’ parole authority to the following types of people who would otherwise not qualify for national interest waiver:

1. inventors

2. researchers

3. founders of startups

who have raised funding from substantial U.S. investor financing or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting­ edge research. This would be  a temporary way of allowing people to enter the US and pursue the research and development of their business.

There will be a precondition that they have threshold income or resources to financially maintain themselves so as not to become a public charge.

This is a great addition and will help some startups but it is not a visa.  Congress needs to act to create a new visa category for Startups.

More to come soon.

**Copyright 2014 by Watson Immigration Law. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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