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The new immigration order: A disaster in the making | Aretz and Chisholm Immigration LLC | 303-495-2013

The new immigration order: A disaster in the making | Aretz and Chisholm Immigration LLC | 303-495-2013

Some of the darkest chapters in U.S. history have involved forcibly relocating minority populations: the slave trade, the Trail of Tears, Operation Wetback and the internment of citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Each was considered legal and justified in its time. Now they are condemned as assaults on the values that define our nation.

President Trump’s first executive order on immigration and the draft enforcement memos signed by Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly promise to similarly tarnish our nation’s character. The memos call for expanding the nation’s deportation forces by 15,000 to round up, detain and deport the undocumented immigrants living among us. Instead of focusing on criminals, they make all undocumented people priorities for enforcement, and through a process called “expedited removal,” they severely reduce due process protections.

The policy is based on falsehoods about the threat and costs of undocumented immigrants. “The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” stated Kelly’s memorandum.

Read More: Washington Post

WHAT THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION MEANS FOR IMMIGRANTS AND ADVOCATES

Today marks one week since we learned that Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. Most of us did not expect this result, and many of us feared it. Over the past year, Mr. Trump has said many hurtful and aggressive things against immigrants. He has talked about building a wall, banning Muslims, deporting millions of people, further limiting the already unworkable employment-based visa system, and cancelling DACA. As the Chair of the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), I am concerned for the futures of my clients, their families, and their employers, but I also see the incredible talent and heart of the immigration lawyers and community activists I work with in Colorado and across the country. In this time of insecurity, this is my message of hope and unity.

To the immigrant community: Many of you already have an AILA member as your lawyer, but even if you do not, know that we advocate for all of you. For more than 70 years, AILA has worked with leaders from both parties to promote a fair and just immigration system, one that reflects the values on which our country was founded. We will continue to do this by working with any federal, state, or local government that is developing policies that affect you. AILA has more than 14,000 members, and the hundreds of members in the Colorado Chapter are prepared to stand up against any laws or policies that violate our fundamental principles of fairness and due process. We will oppose any rhetoric that denies the important role immigrants have played in building this great nation. Our shared prosperity relies on the innovation and creativity of immigrants from all over the world, from all walks of life, and from all faiths and cultural traditions.

During the next few months, there will be many questions and few answers. While we wait to see what changes the next administration will make, I offer these practical suggestions:

  •   remain calm – do not make any important decisions based on fear;
  •   do not believe anyone who calls you claiming to be from ICE;
  •   beware of “notarios” or other “immigration experts” trying to benefit from the current uncertainty – only

    a licensed lawyer can give legal advice;

  •   if you have a lawyer, keep in touch and make sure he or she has your current contact information;
  •   if you have DACA, there is currently no change to the program, but you should consult with a reputable

    immigration lawyer before making any future decisions.

    To immigration advocates: We have faced challenges before, so we know the invaluable and unlimited resources at our disposal: the talents, ingenuity, passion, and persistence of over 14,000 AILA members and the community organizations and elected leaders with whom we collaborate. Looking forward, we must continue to support one another as we always have, coming together to share stories and inspiration, and taking every opportunity to advocate for fair and just treatment for all immigrants. Together we must promote this message of unity and perseverance to the federal immigration agencies, to Congress, to the courts, and to the public at large.

    Whatever challenges we might face in the next four years, AILA Colorado will continue to live our mission: to promote justice and advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy.

    Sincerely,
    Katharine Speer Chair, AILA Colorado

Ignoring Alternatives & Increasing Detention of Families

Although the number of families being detained on the U.S.-Mexico border has dropped, the government is moving forward with plans to increase its capacity to detain families, with plans to open a new facility to house 2,400 women and children in Dilley, Texas, next month. Many of the women and children who would be housed in this facility are fleeing domestic abuse or gang violence. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement has the option of releasing individuals on bond or providing an ankle monitor, detention is clearly the preferred solution. Detention is not only an expense that falls on the shoulders of tax-payers; it also exposes detainees to the risk of sexual abuse. In fact, a complaint from earlier this month alleges recent sexual abuse in the Karnes City, Texas, facility, and other centers were previously closed after numerous allegations of abuse. Meanwhile, an alternative program from 2004 known as ISAP (Intensive Supervision Appearance Program) has proven to be widely successful, with 93% of participants showing up to their scheduled hearings on their own accord.

Bond determinations are made based on an assessment of an immigrant’s potential danger to the community and the risk that they will not attend their removal proceedings, but instead going into hiding. In many of these cases, women and children have come to this country seeking protection and have turned themselves in at the border. They have very few resources. The chance that they will post a bond and not attend future court hearings is highly unlikely. A denial of bond, or a very high bond, should be reserved for individuals with a criminal history who have already proven that they pose a danger to society, or that they are likely to not show up for a scheduled hearing.

Expense and risk are not the only issues that cause concern to many; detention in these remote facilities means less access to paid or pro bono legal services. Although detainees at the Artesia center are provided a list of pro bono services, the services listed are hours away and the detainees often have no means of contacting them. If they elect to hire private counsel, they will have to look elsewhere as well, as the nearest immigration attorney is approximately an hour away from the facility. Volunteer attorneys who have traveled to Artesia to offer pro bono services note that there is not even a business center in the town of Artesia where an attorney can make photocopies or send faxes.

In response to the proposed development of the Dilley facility, several prominent Democratic senators recently wrote a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security. In that letter, found at http://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/101614-to-johnson-re-dilley-detention-center, the senators wrote:

“The administration’s practice of opposing bond in all of these cases, even those cases in which credible fear has been established and where there is no evidence of danger to the community or risk of flight, furthers the injustice for those families detained and unnecessarily increases the demand for bed space. Concerns over flight risk can be ameliorated through Alternatives to Detention (ATD), which help ensure the appearance of asylum seekers in immigration proceedings and are more cost effective.”

From the outside, it certainly seems that inexpensive and humane alternatives are low on the administration’s priority list, and one can’t help but wonder why – or wonder what priorities are more important. Several Democratic senators, at least, are left wondering.

Immigrant Flood Victims Should Seek Assistance

Were you affected by the recent floods in Colorado? Even undocumented persons are eligible for federal and local assistance.

If your home and belongings were damaged or destroyed, you are eligible for assistance from the federal government through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Although people without immigration status do not qualify for cash assistance from FEMA, they can receive benefits in many other forms. FEMA is encouraging all flood victims, regardless of status, to register for assistance. If one member of the household is a citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR), the entire household may qualify for assistance from FEMA, since only one member of the household must be eligible for assistance. An attorney can assist you in determining if you qualify for FEMA assistance. To apply for more information on FEMA’s program, go to: http://www.disasterassistance.gov/.

Other benefits available to undocumented persons include crisis counseling, disaster legal services, transportation, emergency medical care, food, water and other emergency supplies. Many large charities, including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army will also assist any victim of the floods without revealing their immigration status. You can receive medical assistance, food and supplies from these and other organizations.

If you are an immigrant and flood victim in need of legal services, free legal assistance is available through Colorado Flood Legal Relief.  Aretz & Chisholm Immigration has offered their legal services through this non-profit effort. For assistance, you may contact the hotline at (855) 424-5347 or request help online:: http://colofloodlegalrelief.org/contact/.

For more information on the situation of immigrants affected by recent flooding, see http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24126943/flooding-brings-fear-and-devastation-colorado-immigrants.

TPS Re-Registration Periods Closing Soon

Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) is currently available to nationals of the following designated countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria.  TPS has been extended for Syria and El Salvador, and the re-registration periods are closing soon. Re-registration for El Salvador ends July 29, 2013, and TPS protection has been extended through March 9, 2015. Re-registration for Syria ends August 16, 2013, and TPS protection has been extended through March 31, 2015. Please keep in mind that continuous presence dates have changed, and the last day for initial registration for Syrian TPS is December 16, 2013.  Applications must be post-marked by that date.  For more information, visit http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/, and select “Temporary Protected Status” in the “Humanitarian” category.

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