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Immigration Denver News: Obama Will Seek Citizenship Path in One Fast Push


“WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of theimmigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week.

Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats will propose the changes in one comprehensive bill, the officials said, resisting efforts by some Republicans to break the overhaul into smaller pieces — separately addressing young illegal immigrants, migrant farmworkers or highly skilled foreigners — which might be easier for reluctant members of their party to accept.

The president and Democrats will also oppose measures that do not allow immigrants who gain legal status to become American citizens one day, the officials said.

Even while Mr. Obama has been focused on fiscal negotiations and gun control, overhauling immigration remains a priority for him this year, White House officials said. Top officials there have been quietly working on a broad proposal. Mr. Obama and lawmakers from both parties believe that the early months of his second term offer the best prospects for passing substantial legislation on the issue.

Mr. Obama is expected to lay out his plan in the coming weeks, perhaps in his State of the Union address early next month, administration officials said. The White House will argue that its solution for illegal immigrants is not an amnesty, as many critics insist, because it would include fines, the payment of back taxes and other hurdles for illegal immigrants who would obtain legal status, the officials said.

The president’s plan would also impose nationwide verification of legal status for all newly hired workers; add visas to relieve backlogs and allow highly skilled immigrants to stay; and create some form of guest-worker program to bring in low-wage immigrants in the future.

A bipartisan group of senators has also been meeting to write a comprehensive bill, with the goal of introducing legislation as early as March and holding a vote in the Senate before August. As a sign of the keen interest in starting action on immigration, White House officials and Democratic leaders in the Senate have been negotiating over which of them will first introduce a bill, Senate aides said.

“This is so important now to both parties that neither the fiscal cliff nor guns will get in the way,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, a Democrat who is a leader of the bipartisan discussions.

A similar attempt at bipartisan legislation early in Mr. Obama’s first term collapsed amid political divisions fueled by surging public wrath over illegal immigration in many states. But both supporters and opponents say conditions are significantly different now.

Memories of the results of the November election are still fresh here. Latinos, the nation’s fastest-growing electorate, turned out in record numbers and cast 71 percent of their ballots for Mr. Obama. Many Latinos said they were put off by Republicans’ harsh language and policies against illegal immigrants.

After the election, a host of Republicans, starting with Speaker John A. Boehner, said it was time for the party to find a more positive, practical approach to immigration. Many party leaders say electoral demographics are compelling them to move beyond policies based only on tough enforcement.

Supporters of comprehensive changes say that the elections were nothing less than a mandate in their favor, and that they are still optimistic that Mr. Obama is prepared to lead the fight.

“Republicans must demonstrate a reasoned approach to start to rebuild their relationship with Latino voters,” said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, the director of immigration policy at the National Council of La Raza, a Latino organization. “Democrats must demonstrate they can deliver on a promise.”

Since the election, Mr. Obama has repeatedly pledged to act on immigration this year. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, he again referred to the urgency of fixing the immigration system, saying it was one of the “difficult missions” the country must take on.

Parallel to the White House effort, Mr. Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, have been meeting with a group of at least four other colleagues to write a bill. Republicans who have participated include John McCain of Arizona, who has supported comprehensive legislation in the past; Jeff Flake, also of Arizona, who is newly elected to the Senate; and Mike Lee of Utah. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida participated in one meeting last month.

Democrats in the meetings include Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat; Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado.”

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Immigration Lawyer in Denver Colorado

Deferred Action for DREAMers!

The Dream Begins: Immigration is accepting Deferred Action requests


Getting a reprieve: Young illegal immigrants see first signs of Obama’s deferred action program

A month ago, Gabriela Tepe was almost out of hope. An immigration appeals court told the 21-year-old Oklahoma State University student that she and her 20-year-old brother, Angel, would need to leave the country by July 3 or face deportation. The siblings, who have lived in Oklahoma City since they were 4 and 2 years old, would be celebrating the Fourth of July in Guatemala, a country they don’t even remember.

“My parents never talked about [Guatemala,]” Gabriela Tepe told Yahoo News. She didn’t find out she wasn’t a U.S. citizen until she was in the fifth grade, and had to do a school project that asked where she was born.

Tepe refused to let herself believe that she would actually have to leave her family, friends and country after a yearslong legal battle to stay. Deeply religious, she was holding out for a miracle. “It really scares us to go back,” she said. “We completely Americanized ourselves over here.”

On June 15, Tepe saw on the news that President Barack Obama had announced that his administration would no longer deport illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who had been brought to the country as children, graduated from high school and committed no serious crimes. “They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one—on paper,” Obama said then, adding that this class of immigrants had no control over their guardians’ decision to bring them to the country illegally.

Mitt Romney has criticized Obama’s big, election-year announcement, dubbed the deferred action plan, as just a political ploy. Others who favor stricter immigration enforcement say it sends a message that it’s acceptable to come to the country without documentation. But for the estimated 1 million young illegal immigrants who, like Gabriela and Angel, may qualify for the new temporary legal status, the program represents their best shot at a normal life.

When Tepe heard the news, she felt flooded with relief. Her parents, who were granted green cards a few years earlier, and her two younger siblings, both American-born and thus citizens, were finally able to relax.

“It’s just a big miracle,” she said. “God does really do big things when you least expect it. It was down to the wire.”

Doug Stump, Tepe’s lawyer, said that after Obama’s announcement he quickly sent Angel and Gabriela’s information to immigration officials in Washington, and was informed just two days before the Tepes were required to leave that their petition would be granted. The officials also told Stump that his clients were the first in Oklahoma to qualify for Obama’s deferred action program for young people.

“Never did it cross my mind that we would be among the first ones to get it and that it could happen so quickly,” Tepe said.

On Aug. 15, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is scheduled to begin allowing young illegal immigrants to actively apply for legal status and a work permit under the new program. The status would last for two years and be renewable, but applicants will have to prove they entered the country as children, graduated from high school and haven’t committed crimes.

A lot is still unknown about what the process of applying for legal status for these young people will be like, including how much it will cost to apply, what kind of documents applicants will have to provide, or even for how long the program will be offered. Romney hasn’t specifically addressed what he would do to the program if he were elected in November, leaving its fate unclear.

But Stump, who is also the incoming president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, thinks people who want to apply should do so as early as possible, in case backlogs slow the process. He calculates that the USCIS application workload could increase by 25 percent due to the change. (About 4.5 million immigration-related applications were filed with the agency last year, and experts estimate that between 800,000 to 1.4 million people are eligible to apply for this new status.)

The Tepes were able to qualify early because, like nearly 300,000 other immigrants, their immigration cases were already pending in court. The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to questions from Yahoo News about how many people have been granted deferred action under the program since its announcement in June.

Tepe, meanwhile, has been enjoying her deportation reprieve. She’s written a letter to her fellow churchgoers, thanking them for their support and for writing letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement on her behalf. And she’s been working seven days a week as a waitress to help pay for her college courses next year. Her dream: to attend medical school and become a pediatrician. She hopes to practice stateside.

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Breaking News for DREAMers!

Immigration Denver News

Aretz & Heise Immigration, an office of Denver immigration lawyers, is pleased to provide young immigrants with the most up to date information available regarding President Obama’s new deferred action program for youth!

Just today, August 3, 2012, Immigration held a nation-wide teleconference for immigration lawyers and advocates, providing new information on this program for DREAMers, and Aretz & Heise Immigration was there to capture all the details.

First, the basics.  On June 15, 2012, President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security announced a new program for certain young people who were brought into the U.S. as children, known as DREAMers.  Individuals who qualify for this program will receive what is known as “deferred action.”  Deferred action means that, for two years, the DREAMer will not be placed in removal proceedings, and will be eligible for employment authorization.  At the end of two years, the individual will need to reapply to remain in deferred action status.

One of the important things to understand about this program, now known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or “DACA,” is that it is not a law.  It is a program.  DACA does not provide DREAMers with lawful permanent residency, citizenship, or a path to lawful permanent residency or citizenship.  It does, however, provide recipients of the program with relief from risk of deportation, as well as work authorization, as long as the person is eligible, and has been approved under the program.

In order to qualify for DACA, you must demonstrate that you:

1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16thbirthday;
3. Resided in the U.S. continuously for the last five years, up to the present (except for     brief, casual trips abroad prior toAugust 15, 2012);
4. Are currently enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or GED, or are an honorably discharged veteran;
5. Have a clean criminal record (no felonies, serious misdemeanors, more than three  misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security); and
6. Are not in lawful immigration status.

Now, the big news.  Starting August 15, 2012, USCIS will begin accepting applications for DACA. 

Aretz & Heise Immigration is prepared to help you every step of the way.  We are now offering consultations to determine your eligibility for DACA.  Starting next week, we will be able to give you a DACA Package so that you can get started!

We expect Immigration to be flooded with many applicants.  We highly recommend that you contact us right away if you believe you are eligible for DACA, so that we can give you a consultation and get you started in the process!  Call Denver immigration attorneys at Aretz & Heise Immigration TODAY to schedule your initial consultation at 303-495-2013.

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