Tag: Biden administration

Biden Administration Expands Protected Areas

 

Church as one of the protected areasThe Biden administration recently issued a new guidance barring immigration enforcement in certain protected areas.

This protected areas includes places offering social services (domestic violence shelters, food banks, facilities for disabled individuals), places where children gather (bus stops, playgrounds, childcare centers, after-school programs, foster care facilities), medical treatment centers (hospitals, doctor’s offices, COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites, mental health providers, urgent care centers), civil ceremonies (funerals and weddings), public demonstrations (parades, rallies, political demonstrations), emergency response shelters, and places of worship.

Immigration agents cannot make arrests, conduct searches, or serve subpoenas in these places. There are a few exceptions, such as matters constituting a serious threat to national security, and enforcement officers must refer to agency headquarters to be granted an exception.

The guidance is a major expansion of a previous Obama era policy, which technically remained in effect during the Trump administration but was mostly ignored. In an interview right before the official announcement, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that “individuals should not be restrained or limited in their access to essential services.” The shift could improve the lives of millions of immigrants, especially those whose access to important resources have been affected by anxiety.

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-714-4375 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Biden Sends Top Officials to Latin American Countries Amid Surge in Migration at Southern Border

 

Biden Sends Top Officials to Latin American Countries Amid Surge in Migration at Southern BorderPresident Biden will be dispatching top officials to various countries in Latin America as the number of migrants arriving at the United States southern border swells. Roberta Johnson, the National Security Council member overseeing border concerns, will be heading to Mexico to “develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration” with the Mexican government. Meanwhile, the White House’s senior director of the Western Hemisphere, Juan Gonzales, will be traveling to Guatemala to discuss the “root causes of migration” and to develop plans to “build a more hopeful future in the region.” Ricardo Zúñiga, the State Department’s envoy to the Northern Triangle region of Central America, will also be involved in the efforts, according to National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne. In addition, the White House has run thousands of radio ads across Latin America and hundreds of social media ads urging people to stay in their home countries.

However, despite these efforts to reduce migration, the Biden administration remains compassionate towards the individuals crossing the border. While many Republican lawmakers describe the influx of migrants as a “crisis,” the Biden administration has avoided such derisive terminology. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explicitly stated the situation was “not a crisis,” and went on to affirm that the government has a “responsibility to humanely approach this circumstance and make sure [migrants] are treated and put into conditions that are safe.” It is important that this rhetoric is maintained throughout the presidency. The Biden administration must remain committed to the lives of the immigrants at the border, instead of the political pressures in Washington.

The Fight For Family Reunification In the United States

 

This Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a new policy regarding family reunification. Separated migrant families will now have the option to be reunified in either the United States or their home countries. Furthermore, the Biden administration plans to offer families reuniting within the United States more support and opportunities to stay in the country. The decision came from the Biden administration’s reunification task force, established solely to reunite the families separated under the harmful policies of the Trump administration. In his briefing, Secretary Mayorkas described this separation of families under Trump as “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration.”

The decision to offer migrants the opportunity to reunite in the United States follows the admirable efforts of the teams of pro-bono lawyers representing migrant families in a federal lawsuit. The attorneys stressed the difficult choice migrants are forced to make–parents must either bring their children back to dangerous situations in their home countries, or remain separated. These lawyers have been calling on the Biden administration to take action immediately to offer these families restitution and protection. 

Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security’s statement was brief and lacked exact details. Secretary Mayorkas also warned that progress will take time. Despite these disappointments, however, the decision is a promising update in the Biden administration’s “moral imperative” to reverse Trump’s harmful family separation policies. There will surely be more positive changes to come, as indicated by the Department of Homeland Security’s consideration to extend the policy to separated siblings.

Hopes for the Biden Administration

“I feel hope that a new administration will narrow the inequity I see, the inequity I have lived. Maybe it’s a new day of compassion for the marginalized. Maybe all children, regardless of where or to whom they are born, will find refuge and opportunity, not disadvantage and suffering.”   We are moved today by these powerful words from David Velasquez, a fellow at the Center for Public Leadership and a graduate student at Harvard University.  His essay in Sunday’s Boston Globe inspires us but perhaps, more importantly, it reminds us that we have so much more to do.  The perseverance he and his family have shown, the will that brought him to where he is today, must be met by a society that reaches out to lend a hand of compassion.  One that seeks to ameliorate the inequities and lift up those that are struggling.  We need an immigration system that reflects these values.

Biden to Unveil Path to Citizenship for Millons!

Yesterday the Boston Globe reported: “President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status, a massive reversal from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies.”

I am thrilled by this news, and I will hold out hope that the Biden administration can get this initiative passed.

Contact your local, state, and federal legislators to let them know that you support a path to citizenship to our many neighbors who work with us, live near us, and add enormous value to our communities.

 

An Immigration Attorney’s Five Suggestions for the Biden/Harris Administration

An Immigration Attorney’s Five Suggestions for the Biden/Harris Administration

 

 

On January 20, 2021, we hope for our country to move forward and to heal after four years of intolerance, fear, inequality, impunity, and violence. We hope our country uses the lessons learned to create a fairer and safer home for all who live in the US, but especially for our most vulnerable and exploited neighbors.

 

Immigrants are some of the most powerful and successful citizens in the US (Madeleine Albright; Dr. Sanjay Gupta; Sergey Brin; Natalie Portman, Wolf Blitzer; Arnold Schwarzenegger; countless entrepreneurs, inventors, doctors, teachers, writers, entertainers, celebrities). However, millions more immigrants are exploited and marginalized, despite what they have already contributed to the US and despite what they still have to give our country.

 

Our immigration policies must recognize the value of immigrants, and for the past four years they have not. To get there, an immigration attorney provides some suggestions for the Biden/Harris Administration.

 

  1. Use inclusive speech that recognizes the existence of and value of diversity in our communities.

This is a complicated request because language is steeped in anachronistic or hidden meanings, assumptions, and stereotypes. But, it starts with an easy rule for the President of the United States: Don’t speak like a racist.

 

  1. Reinstate Obama’s prosecutorial priorities.

Obama’s tenure has been derisively dubbed the “deportation administration” because of the record number of deportation/removal orders it issued. However, the reason why his administration reached high numbers is because it focused on deportation cases that were easier to win than a deportation case against a grandmother who entered the US illegally 30 years ago, married a US citizen; raised children who became a doctor, a lawyer, and a teacher; ran her own business; and now cares for her husband with terminal cancer.  That case is cruelly unsympathetic and hard for the government to win, and it takes years for the Immigration Court to figure that out. Obama created a list of priorities that focused on non-citizens who posed national security threats and had criminal convictions that rendered them deportable. Those cases are fast for the government to win; often times for good—and bad—the non-citizen has absolutely no defense to deportation, and the government swiftly wins and moves on to the next case.

 

  1. Expand DACA eligibility, at minimum; create a path for lawful permanent residence for DACA recipients.

The President can expand DACA eligibility to include children who entered too late, or were too old, or left the US for some other reason. The President should lead Congress in passing a statute to provides for more protection, more safety, more promise for DACA recipients: lawful permanent residence.

 

 

  1. Create a path for lawful permanent residence for TPS holders.

TPS prevents an otherwise deportable non-citizen from being deported (absent certain ineligibilities mainly relating to criminal history), grants the person authorization to work in the US, and in some cases provides a way for the person to leave and re-enter the US. However, it does not give the TPS holder any path towards lawful permanent residency or citizenship. That person lives in the US knowing that her status is subject to the whim of the current presidential administration. That person lives in the US knowing that she will never be a US citizen. There are hundreds of thousands of TPS holders in the US. Some TPS holders have had that status since the 1990s. TPS creates an institutionalized slave class. The message of TPS is stay here for as long as we want you; work in a low-paying job (generally); and never think that the US will ever truly welcome or protect you.

 

  1. Create an I-751 or marriage-based naturalization option.

As an immigration attorney, I am always annoyed that lawful permanent residents who must renew their marriage-based green cards after two years are then eligible for US citizenship one year later. Both stages require expensive filing fees and burdensome applications. Why not combine those two steps to reduce the burden on the couple and also to streamline the government’s work?

 

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