Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Illegal Immigrants Leave and Return Legally: Sounds Good, But Won’t Work!
{3:12 minutes to read} Donald Trump said during his campaign and has repeated as President that he wants people who are illegally in the United States to leave, get in line behind others wishing to come to the US, and return legally. Although it sounds great, the reality is that under current law, it is virtually impossible for many people to do this.

The reason is that, since 1996, the law provides that people who have been illegally in the United States and acquiring “unlawful presence” for a year or more, and who need to leave the United States in order to become legal, are not permitted to return for up to 10 years. Before that, people could leave the United States, get their green cards in their home countries after a few weeks and re-enter legally, resuming their lives. Since the 1996 law, it's virtually impossible for many millions of people to “get legal” without leaving the US for at least 10 years.

There are some exceptions to that rule, the most notable of which allows an individual to apply for a waiver or a pardon of that 10-year bar if that person has a “qualifying relative,” defined as spouse or parent who is a US citizen or permanent resident. The immigrant must show that the qualifying relative will suffer exceptional hardship if the 10-year bar is not lifted. The number of people who can apply for a waiver or pardon of the 10-year bar is limited, which leaves many, many millions of people simply unable to obtain permanent residency without leaving the United States for 10 years. Even if you are a mom with multiple US citizen children, it is impossible for you to get a green card unless you have a spouse or parent who can be one of these qualifying relatives.

If Donald Trump wants to follow through on his pledge, then the logical thing to do is to remove the 10-year bar, so that people can leave the United States and then re-enter legally without spending 10 years outside the United States. Removing this 10-year bar would be a quick, effective way to amend the law and bring about the kinds of requirements that Donald Trump says he wants.

In the weeks and months ahead, we're going to be talking about families caught in this 10-year penalty, who have family members and/or employers who desperately need them to get legal, but who simply can not get legal because of this law.

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.
5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

DACA and the Sacrificial Lambs

{1:30 minutes to read} The reported discussions between President Trump and the Democratic leadership to extend protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients was welcome news but hardly cause for celebration. As always, the devil is in the details.
Most importantly, it leaves unanswered the issue of the other 10 million undocumented immigrants. Are they to be sacrificed to obtain status for Dreamers?

In addition, we need to understand exactly what status the Dreamers will receive under the proposed legislation. Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that Dreamers should not get “amnesty” or a “path to citizenship.” What then will they receive?
  • Will it just be an indefinite extension of the current quasi-legal status that will never lead to anything more?
  • Will it be more like Temporary Protected Status that at least opens the possibility of permanent residency in the future?
  • Will it be a path to a new form of permanent residency that will never lead to citizenship or will it be an eventual path to citizenship?
Finally, what happens to the parents and spouses of Dreamers? Are they to be sacrificed as well?
Optimism is nice, but details are critical.
Mitchell C. Zwaik Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C. 5014 Express Drive South Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Demise of DAPA Wasn’t Enough?

{1:54 minutes to read} The decision by the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a nasty, mean-spirited act that does nothing to:
  • Increase US security;
  • Support the rule of law; or
  • Help the US economy.
And the fact that the Attorney General mentioned in his announcement that these Dreamers were taking jobs away from US workers was the vilest lie of all.
So, let's be clear. That's what it is. A lie. It’s not a difference of opinion or a mistaken interpretation. It’s a lie by people who want to curtail immigration for racial and social reasons.
  • The US economy is growing by 150,000 to 250,000 jobs per month; the Dreamers feed this growing economy.
  • Dreamers pay taxes.
  • Dreamers often take jobs that US workers don't want.
  • When illegal workers become legal, employers can no longer pay them substandard wages, and it, therefore, raises the wages for all workers.
So, let's at least put an end to that lie.
People with DACA, Take Immediate Action!
Perhaps more importantly, people with DACA need to take immediate action. If their DACA will expire on or before March 5, 2018, they only have until October 5 of this year to file to extend DACA. Filing for your extension in December, January or February will be too late.
Contact an Immigration Attorney
Finally, if you have DACA or TPS, you need to speak with an immigration attorney immediately to know your rights before these programs expire and you lose these rights forever.

Mitchell C. Zwaik Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C. 5014 Express Drive South Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

Thursday, August 31, 2017

H-2B Visas: Too Little, Too Late?

{2:54 minutes to read} The administration finally issued its regulations regarding the process for allocating additional H-2B visas during the late summer and early fall. H-2B visas are visas for seasonal or peak workers in the New York metropolitan area. They're most commonly used on Long Island and the East End for hotels or pool companies, for example, that do all or most of their business during the summer months. These workers come up, usually from the Caribbean or Central South America, work for up to 10 months, and then go back once the season is over. It's a win-win. The employers fill a need during the busy season and the workers are legal, paying taxes, and return home when the season is over.
The problem is, Congress has only allocated 66,000 visas, and most years 100,000 or more applications flood in. This year, in particular, a lot of companies were frozen out, but Congress allocated additional H-2B visas and now, finally, procedures have been issued that provide for these additional visas.
The process, however, is very cumbersome, requiring a new round of recruitment, which means additional newspaper advertisements in order to determine whether US workers are available. It also requires submission of an attestation that says that the employer's business will suffer "irreparable harm" if they can't hire these additional H-2B workers.
The total additional H-2B allocation is 15,000, which will certainly help those businesses that rely on these workers. But as a practical matter, by the time these applications can be submitted, approved and sent to the consulate, employers will be lucky to get workers started in mid to late September and on into the next fiscal year. They are not going to benefit very many people, including companies on the East End of Long Island where the season will be over before the additional workers arrive.  
Once again, we have another example of an administration that continues to drag its feet and erect roadblocks even to legal immigration. These are visas, by the way, which the President himself continues to use in order to help run his businesses.  

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.
5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

300,000 Legal Immigrants Fear End of TPS

{2:24 minutes to read} Over 300,000 individuals from Haiti and Central America, living legally in the U.S. under TPS, are fearful of losing their status under the Trump Administration. U.S. immigration law provides for a special program called Temporary Protected Status also known as TPS. This program allows the DHS Secretary to provide temporary legal status and work authorization to citizens of a country, or countries, suffering through the devastation caused by a political or natural disaster. Currently, people from Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua are benefiting from this program. These are people who were in the U.S. when these disasters occurred.

Some of these designations extend almost 20 years—Honduras first received TPS in 1999 due to Hurricane Mitch. The law requires DHS to review the TPS designation every 18 months and to announce its decision to extend or not, 60 days before the current expiration date.
TPS is set to expire in January 2018 for Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and in March 2018 for El Salvador. The TPS beneficiaries living in the U.S. are frightened that this administration, which has shown little humanitarian support for immigrants, may refuse any further extensions. Obviously, many of these people, living legally in this country for so many years, raising families, starting businesses, buying homes and paying taxes, are rightfully concerned.
Apply for permanent residency now!

I urge people who are from these countries and have TPS to begin the process of trying to get permanent residency as soon as possible. The federal courts have indicated that someone who is here with TPS can adjust status and get a green card without leaving the United States.
People who have certain family relatives and/or employer sponsors should begin the process of trying to get green cards through these sponsors immediately before the administration pulls the rug out from under them by denying the extension of TPS. 

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.
5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779 


Friday, July 28, 2017

The Demise of DAPA

{3:18 minutes to read} Thursday, June 22, the President issued a policy directive that essentially extended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is the program that granted safe status for young people who had entered the United States as children. At the same time, he terminated Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which is the executive action President Obama had announced that extended safe status for parents of US citizens.

The DAPA program is the one that had been held up in the federal courts for more than a year, and which was due to be decided by the United States Supreme Court. However. the Supreme Court “tabled” it last year when Justice Scalia passed away. At this point, that Supreme Court case is not going to go forward, and so the policy is not going to go forward either. In fact, the President has withdrawn the policy.

For people who are dreamers, the DACA is good news. They'll be able to remain in the United States legally for the time being. We assume they're going to be able to get work cards going forward, and hopefully, some of them can obtain legal status.

The loss of the DAPA program, however, is a huge blow to millions of people who have lived in the United States for years. Many now have no way of obtaining legal status, despite the fact that they have children who are US citizens.

This ties in with what we've been talking about the last several months. Although they have US citizen children, and although those children can petition for them when they turn 21, the parents who have been in the United States illegally for a year or more still have no path to permanent residency.

They would have to leave the United States and stay out for as long as 10 years before they could get their green cards. So again, we're talking about a situation that makes it virtually impossible for millions of undocumented immigrants to ever get their green cards.

There are waivers available that allow certain people to get around or waive the 10-year bar, but those waivers are not available to parents of US citizens. The citizen child is not one of those qualifying people that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for the waiver.

Although the President's action is good news for people with DACA, it's very bad news for millions of others who were hoping that, somehow, Donald Trump would change his mind and allow that program to go forward.

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.
5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Supreme Court Allows a Limited Portion of the President’s Travel Ban

{2:24 minutes to read} The Supreme Court recently allowed certain parts of the President's travel ban to go into effect. That travel ban had been halted or stayed by lower federal courts that claimed it was discriminatory and unconstitutional. What the Supreme Court has said in effect is that they will deal with that issue in the fall, but over the summer, they are going to let a small part of the travel ban go into effect.

The Court didn't permit the entire executive order to be implemented. All it said was people from the six countries that are designated by the travel ban (Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen) can come into the United States freely if they have already been processed for a visa. If you are from one of these six countries and have not yet been processed, the government can prevent you from entering the United States.

The decision has a very limited effect. It does not apply to anyone from any country other than the six named and does not affect people who have green cards. The people most affected will be those who have been processed for refugee status or other visas but have not yet had visas issued to them.

The most important thing that I want to get out to people is: Do not be afraid to travel if you have visas, green cards, or advanced parole that has already been issued. We are getting hysterical calls from people in various countries, particularly Muslim countries, where visa applications are being processed. We are even getting calls from green card holders who are frightened that they will not be allowed to return to this country. To them, we say there is no reason to panic because it is safe for them to return.

As to the validity of the rest of the executive order? Stay tuned!

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.
5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779