Thursday, November 21, 2013

Obama Suggests Immigration Reform Could be Done in Steps

November 21, 2013 -   Speaking at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Summit, President Obama on Tuesday indicated he would be willing to accept immigration reform in stages, rather than the all-inclusive comprehensive immigration reform he's been touting for close to a year. Cognizant of the fact that the Republican-led House of Representatives and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have openly signaled they are opposed to a comprehensive immigration reform bill, President Obama said "They're suspicious of comprehensive bills. But you know what? If they want to chop that thing into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like."

This stands in start contrast to the numerous statements he's made over the course of this past year suggesting he would oppose any legislation that fell short of a comprehensive immigration bill. As this author has noted time and time again, one side had to budge, and it appears as if the President and his Democrat allies in Congress will be the ones to do so.

Speaker Boehner, who supports immigration reform, albeit a piecemeal approach, stated last week that he is "trying to find some way to get this thing (immigration reform) done", but he alluded to the fact that any immigration legislation could face fierce opposition in the House, adding it is "not going to be an easy path forward.

Immigration reform now appears as if it will take place in steps, rather than a full-blown comprehensive plan that Democrats thought they had after the November 2012 Presidential elections. The botched roll-out of "Obamacare" and misstatements regarding the plan have damaged the President's credibility and his signature legislation is danger of becoming unraveled. Perhaps his acquiescence now to a piecemeal approach to immigration reform is indicative of the troublesome past few months he's faced - some form of immigration reform would at least serve to divert attention from the troubled Affordable Care Act and provide him with a much-needed boost in his approval ratings (at an all time low of 37% according to the latest CBS poll).

Now the next question is when would any immigration reform bill make its way into the Congress. With Thanksgiving around the corner and Congress's Winter Break soon to follow, it is unlikely any immigration reform bill would be considered until 2014.

So, as has been mentioned frequently on this blog before, existing US immigration laws are still being enforced. These laws, especially regarding removal (deportation) are very harsh. For example, did you know that a Green Card holder, say one who has been here since he was 2 years old and is now say 50,  can be deported for having only one specific misdemeanor? A misdemeanor that may have not even resulted in any jail time can lead to his removal? With little to no hope of relief? Yes, neither did I until I became an immigration attorney. That is why it is so critical to consult with an experienced Orange County Immigration Lawyer. If you or a loved one is not a US Citizen and is charged with ANY crime, call 949-440-3240 and speak to a licensed immigration attorney, one who fully understands the immigration consequences of state crimes. Visit for more information.

Also, for readers in Texas that are facing immigration matters, please consult with a Dallas Immigration Attorney, Vinesh Patel, a graduate of a top-ten law school (University of Michigan) and an attorney who is specializes in removal and deportation issues in Texas.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform Dead?

I've been blogging close to a year about comprehensive immigration reform, and while there's been ups and downs for immigration reform, I haven't seen it this close to dead since the discussion began in earnest (right after the Republicans took a thumping in the November 2012 Presidential election). So, is immigration reform really dead? The answer to that depends upon who you ask. Immigration reform activists continue to remain hopeful that Republicans in the House of Representatives will get their act together and show the Hispanic electorate that they are in tune with the problems and issues facing the growing Hispanic population. However, this is wishful thinking at this point.

In June, right after the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" reached a consensus on immigration reform, which allowed for passage in the Senate, I remained cautiously optimistic that we would have a comprehensive immigration reform bill on the President's desk by about Thanksgiving. Back then, the major hurdle to overcome was House Republican opposition to perceived amnesty (i.e. a "Path to Citizenship" for the 11 million undocumented immigrants). With conference committee talks, backdoor negotiations, and President Obama using his bully pulpit if and when needed, I thought that in due time, both sides would eventually come together with some type of agreement.

That was then, this is now. Enter the Syria chemical weapons showdown, government shutdown, and most recently, the debt ceiling crisis - all-in-all taking up about 2-3 months of congressional time, replete with the typical bickering, blame game, and finger-pointing - and we end up back where we were in June, with little progress in the House. We've scarcely heard from the media about immigration reform with those three issues dominating the news cycle. Now that those crises are over, there appears to be little momentum from the House Republicans regarding comprehensive immigration reform. It doesn't look better moving forward either.  Don't forget the Holiday season is upon us, the "Obamacare" website has glitches, Congress will take another monthlong vacation, and the government shutdown/debt ceiling crises will again be front and center in 2014 when the Senate and House reconvene after Winter recess. Doesn't leave much time to pass a landmark immigration overhaul bill does it?

And not to add fuel to the fire, but Washington politicians primarily care about themselves, their lobbyists, and their powerful jobs. It's not going to help that we're about to enter another election cycle in 2014, which will be dominated by debates about spending cuts, entitlement programs, the debt ceiling, budget, and of course, Obamacare. Politicians will have little stomach, especially House Republicans in competitive districts, to engage in talks about such a hot-button issue as immigration reform. Oh, and then there's the Tea Party.

What does this all mean? It appears likely that a true comprehensive immigration reform bill is as good as dead for now. Whether the Congress can pass certain measures - such as heightened border security, enforced E-Verify compliance, and perhaps some form of probationary status for the undocumented immigrants - remains to be seen. Democrats have by and large indicated they will not pass piecemeal immigration reform measures, but after these last battles, may be willing to compromise a little.  But don't hold your breath waiting for comprehensive immigration reform anytime soon. Existing US immigration laws remain in force, many of which are quite harsh for those convicted of a whole host of crimes. If you or a loved one is facing deportation, don't think immigration reform will help you. You need aggressive representation now, contact an Orange County Deportation Lawyer now or call 949-440-3240. Thanks to all my loyal readers out there and feel free to leave comments (note: comment spam will be deleted).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fiscal Crisis Over: So What's Next for Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

October 17, 2013: With the House and Senate finally agreeing on a bipartisan bill to end the budget and debt ceiling crisis, Congress's focus will now hopefully shift to other pressing national priorities. And one of the most important issues Congress will have to tackle is comprehensive immigration reform. Stalled by debates on a Syria intervention, and for the past month, the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis, comprehensive immigration reform has by and large taken a back seat. But that's about to change. Speaking on Univision this past Tuesday, President Obama indicated that Comprehensive Immigration Reform would again become a top priority once the debt ceiling crisis was over. "Once that's (debt ceiling crisis) done, you know, the day after, I'm going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform" the President said to the Spanish language news network.

A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the Senate in June, due in part to the efforts of the "Gang of Eight" - a bipartisan group of senators including Sens. Marco Rubio, John McCain, Charles Schumer, and Dick Durbin - but has been stalled in the House, due in part to Republican reluctance to so-called "amnesty" or a path to citizenship. Recent world and domestic events have only served to delay any bipartisan negotiations, but it didn't stop President Obama from again pointing the blame to House Speaker John Boehner. "We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate," the President said, but added "[t]he only thing right now that's holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives." Boehner has, on numerous occasions, indicated that the Senate's bill would not pass the House, and that the House was committed to its own version of comprehensive immigration reform, minus a pathway to citizenship and in a "piecemeal" fashion, something Senate Democrats and the President have said is unacceptable.

Just like the recent debacle in Congress involving the economy, the passage of comprehensive immigration reform (if it passes at all) will endure plenty of back and forth between the House and the Senate, spurred on at times by the White House, with each side blaming the other for any lack of progress. But unlike the debt ceiling crisis, which had almost the entire country, if not the world, united to see Congress increase the debt ceiling and avert a financial meltdown, comprehensive immigration reform does not have that "Armageddon-like" feel to it. And without a significant grassroots push to see its passage, comprehensive immigration reform may succumb, much like the other failed attempts at immigration reform, to public and political indifference. Adding to the uncertainty, there's only a few months left before the Congress has to yet again deal with budget and debt ceiling issues.

Will comprehensive immigration reform ever become a reality? The jury is out on this one and this author simply does not know as of yet. Let's just hope no other crisis flares up and pushes immigration reform back to the end of the line again. Keep checking this weekly blog for updates and insight into comprehensive immigration reform, and another important news concerning US immigration matters. And should you need to speak to an Orange County immigration lawyer, please call 949-440-3240 or visit

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

California Governor Brown Signs Sweeping Immigration Bill

October 9, 2013: Late last week, California governor Jerry Brown signed one of the most sweeping immigration bills in the nation's history, allowing undocumented immigrants to become lawyers, prohibiting law enforcement from "detaining" people charged with minor crimes (commonly known as ICE holds), and making it a crime for employers to threaten to report someone's immigration status. And just the previous day, the governor also signed a law allowing undocumented workers to get their California drivers licenses. 

"While Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead" Brown stated in response to the federal government's lackluster progress on comprehensive immigration reform.

As expected, critics of the new laws were quick to point out that the bill would send the wrong signals to those seeking to enter the country unlawfully. "It's sending the wrong message to the world" said Robin Hvidston, Executive Director of We the People Rising. "This is a message to the global community to come to the state of California illegally and you will get documentation and protection."

Immigrant rights activists saw things differently however. "Today marks the dawn of a new era in California's immigrant communities", said Reshma Shamasunder, Executive Director of California Immigrant Policy Center.

Among other provisions of the law are new protections for those that use the services of immigration law professionals in gaining legal status, a measure that was seen by some immigration attorneys as actually hindering immigrant rights by placing more burdens on practitioners.

But the major impact of the law will be felt by those who come into contact with law enforcement. Under the federal government's "Secure Communities" program, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "request" that local law enforcement "hold" undocumented immigrants (prior to their release) for up to 48 hours so ICE can make a determination on whether to take the person into federal immigration custody. But the "Secure Communities" program had the effect of deporting many low-level criminal offenders, much to the anguish of immigrant rights activists. From now on however, only those individuals charged with violent felonies or certain crimes would be subjected to an ICE hold.

Stay tuned to this blog to see how the law plays out and to find out the latest on comprehensive immigration reform. And if you need to speak to an experienced and trusted Orange County immigration attorney, please visit or call 949-440-3240.

Friday, September 27, 2013

San Bernardino County Sheriff to Partner with ICE in Immigration Enforcement

September 27, 2013 - According to an article in the Press Enterprise, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved, without debate, a controversial program wherein the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department will receive training in immigration enforcement from the US Immigration and Custom's Enforcement agency, commonly known as ICE. Under ICE's 287(g) program, state and local law enforcement enter into a partnership with ICE under a joint memorandum of agreement and receive delegated authority from the federal government for immigration enforcement within their jurisdictions.

San Bernardino County is one of only 35 or so law enforcement agencies nationwide that participate in the program. Sheriff's Deputies will receive training on how to determine whether any of their inmates are in the US illegally. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department already participates in ICE's "Secure Communities" program, which screens the fingerprints of all incoming inmates through a federal immigration database. However, those who recently entered the country illegally or who have had no prior contact with law enforcement, would not show up in the Secure Communities database. Hence, 287(g) proponents advocate its use as another tool in apprehending those who are in the country illegally.

Already, nine San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department employees have received ICE training on conducting immigration interviews with potential immigration violators who enter the county jail system. Opponents of the program say that the 287(g) program unfairly singles out Hispanics for extra scrutiny and makes no distinction between lower level crimes and felonies. Opponents also state that programs such as these diminish the community's trust in law enforcement, especially when they see local law enforcement collaborate with ICE.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department, whose agreement with ICE ended July 22, has yet to make a decision on whether to enter a new 287(g) agreement with ICE, and as such, has stopped conducting immigration interviews at their jails.

In the world of removal (deportation) defense, convictions for certain crimes can carry severe immigration consequences, with many crimes making one removable (deportable). It is therefore essential to consult with an immigration attorney the moment you or a loved one are arrested for most any crime. For example, a simple plea down to battery can avoid the deportation consequences associated with domestic violence, a removable offense per INA 237(a)(2)(E)(i). Only an Orange County immigration attorney who has the experience and familiarity with the immigration consequences of state criminal law should be trusted to handle a criminal matter for those aliens, documented or undocumented, given the extreme outcomes of certain convictions.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or is in immigration proceedings, contact an Orange County Immigration Lawyer at 949-440-3240 to speak with a licensed attorney about your immigration or criminal matter.

To read the Press Enterprise article, click on the link below.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


September 14, 2013: The California legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would allow almost two million undocumented immigrants to receive their drivers licenses. Governor Jerry Brown late Thursday has indicated he would sign the bill into law. By passing this law, California becomes joins only a handful of states, 10 currently, that issue drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. The new licenses will have special features that distinguish these licenses from others. Among the new features will be recognizable wording indicating that the ID is for "driving privileges" and not a traditional license. Also included will be a notice stating "this card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits." Critics of the new features have warned it could lead to discrimination and spur an increase in deportation. While that remains to be seen, the new law has led many vocal critics of immigration reform to cry that the new law is akin to "quasi amnesty". Proponents of the bill, while somewhat dismayed by the new security features, are nevertheless pleased that undocumented immigrants will no longer drive in fear of having their cars impounded upon a traffic stop and believe it will lead to a higher level of cooperation now between those here unlawfully and law enforcement personnel. Keep in mind, this license will only be issued upon successful completion of a written and driving test.

While a victory for immigration reform activists, this new law could have the unintended consequence of increasing deportations. If you or someone you know is in deportation proceedings, contact an Orange County Immigration Lawyer to see if relief from deportation is available to you. Call 949-440-3240 to speak to an immigration attorney.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DUIs and Immigration

September 11, 2013: DUIs (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs) are perhaps the nation's most common criminal offense. Many people from all walks of life - rich, poor, educated, young, old, Hispanic, Asian, you name it - have been convicted of DUIs. It's no wonder then that aspiring immigrants, or those already in the United States as nonimmigrants, undocumented, or lawful permanent residents ("Green Card" holders), are routinely faced with having to deal with DUIs in an immigration law context. So this week's post will focus on this how DUIs impact one's immigration status or application for immigration benefits.

DUIs, at least in the world of immigration law and according to the Board of Immigration Appeals and various federal appellate courts, are not "crimes involving moral turpitude" (also known as "CIMT's" and is defined as "conduct which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or society in general. See Matter of Franklin, 20 I&N Dec. 867, 868 (BIA 1994)." Fraud, theft, embezzlement, forgery are typical CIMTs. Further, simple DUIs (no injury or death to others) are not aggravated felonies for immigration purposes. And numbers don't matter either, whether it's a1st, 2nd, or 3rd DUI, so long as the maximum sentence and time served for the DUI does not exceed one year, then the DUI will not be considered an aggravated felony (perhaps the harshest classification of a crime for immigration purposes, and one in which there is very limited form of relief from deportation).

So if a DUI is not a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony in an immigration context, what impact does it have? Well, the Obama Administration's "Deferred Action of Early Childhood Arrivals" or "DACA" program, wherein if a person came to the US before age 16 (either lawfully or unlawfully) and then graduates high school and has lived in the US for the previous 5 years (among other things), specifically states that applicants who have 3 or more misdemeanors, a felony, or a "significant misdemeanor" will not be eligible for the program. And unfortunately, a DUI is considered a "significant misdemeanor" for the DACA program, which provides undocumented immigrants a "stay of deportation".

A second area of concern for immigrants who have DUIs is a closely related crime to DUIs. In California, this crime is VC14601.2(a). 14601.2(a) is "Driving When Privilege Suspended or Revoked for Driving Under the Influence, With Excessive Blood Alcohol, or When Addicted". It is routinely found for repeat DUI offenders who choose to drive knowing that their license is currently suspended or revoked and the reason for the license suspension or revocation is because of a prior DUI offense. What makes 14601.2(a) special is that in a 2009 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, that court held that when DUI offenses are committed with the knowledge that one's drivers license has been suspended or otherwise restricted, that crime is a crime involving moral turpitude. See Marmolejo-Campos v. Holder, 558 F.3d. 903, 909-12 (9th Cir. 2009). And one need only look to sections 212 and 237 of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) to see that one CIMT makes a person inadmissible (not allowed into the country), and either one CIMT where the sentence imposed is > one year within 5 years of admission or two CIMTs at any time after entering the US, makes a person deportable. Suffice to say, CIMTs are very serious offenses for immigration purposes.

As criminal defense and immigration are so intertwined, this office routinely handles both Orange County DUI offenses and, of course, immigration matters. If you or a loved one is being charged with a DUI, especially immigrants who are repeat DUI offenders and those immigrants who drove on suspended licenses and got charged with a DUI, it is imperative that you speak to an Orange County DUI Attorney, one who has a vast knowledge of immigration law, to prevent you from having a crime involving moral turpitude appear on your record and possible subject you to exclusion and/or deportation. If you need to speak about DUIs, or another immigration matter, visit Orange County Immigration Lawyer Kapesh Patel's website at or call 949-440-3240.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Immigration Reform Talks Stalled by Syria Intervention Debate

September 4, 2013: Comprehensive immigration reform talks came to somewhat of a standstill amid talks of missile strikes and intervention in Syria. August was a busy month for advocates of immigration reform with ads and town hall meetings occurring nationwide. But as Congress prepares to end their summer recess, the hot debate in Washington is whether the United States should launch cruise missiles against the Syrian regime, led by Bashar Al Assad, in response to the purported use of chemical weapons. With committee meetings taking place in both the House and Senate, talk of immigration reform has come to a near halt. Adding to the quandary, Congress will also engage in fierce debate over  the budget and certain provisions allocated to fund the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as "Obamacare".

So what does this mean for comprehensive immigration reform? Well a delay is obvious. What some pundits thought might be a Thanksgiving passage of some type of reform, is now looking like December or even early 2014. Immigration reform activists are likely scratching their heads over Syria, after an arguably successful August in which more Republican house members indicated their support for comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that the Syrian crisis, if mismanaged or if an attack leads to wider regional implications, could have the effect of derailing immigration reform, which (August aside) was facing an already uphill battle from House Republicans accusing the bill of providing "amnesty to illegals".

So as has been said here many times before, do not rely on any expectations of there being comprehensive (or even piecemeal) immigration reform. If you are facing an immigration matter that involves waivers of inadmissibility, deportation or removal, or are willing to sponsor loved ones (remember, the Senate bill eliminates the "brother/sister category" for green cards) who wish to immigrate to the United States, an Orange County Immigration Attorney can provide you with the best possible assistance to see that your immigration case sees a successful resolution. To learn more about immigration matters, visit or call 949-440-3240.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Immigration Law Basics: What is "Cancellation of Removal"?

August 27, 2013: Whenever I receive a phone call and topic revolves around "my husband is being deported, help!" or "I received an NTA (Notice to Appear) from the Department of Homeland Security, what can I do", one of my first thoughts is whether the person in question is eligible for "Cancellation of Removal". So what exactly is Cancellation of Removal? Cancellation of Removal is an immigration "benefit" if you will for those persons who are faced with removal (commonly known as deportation) from the United States before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (or immigration court).

There are two forms of Cancellation of Removal: 1) Cancellation of Removal for Certain Permanent Residents (green card holders) pursuant to Section 240A(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (or INA); and 2) Cancellation of Removal for Certain Non-Permanent Residents (all others) pursuant to Section 240A(b) of the INA. In many cases of removal, these may be the most viable way to remain in the United States and avoid being deported to one's country of origin. One of the best benefits of Cancellation of Removal, other than not being deported, is if you win your case and you are not a permanent resident (e.g. you win under INA 240A(b) for Non-Permanent Residents), you will also receive legal status in the United States in the form of a "Green Card".

Cancellation of Removal for Certain Permanent Residents requires that the Respondent (individual in immigration court proceedings) meet three general criteria, which are:

  1. The person must have been a lawful permanent resident ("Green Card" holder) for at least 5 years;
  2. Prior to being served with the Notice to Appear or committing the criminal violation that led to removal proceedings, the applicant has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after being lawfully admitted in any status; and
  3. The individual has not committed an "Aggravated Felony" (which is beyond the scope of this article and will be addressed in a future post).
These are the minimum requirements in order to be eligible for Cancellation of Removal (for the Green Card holders). The immigration judge will then look to several other factors in order to determine whether the Respondent deserves a favorable exercise of discretion and is awarded the Cancellation of Removal Benefit. Those factors are, but not limited to: family ties in the United States; residence of long duration in this country; evidence of hardship to the Respondent and family if removal occurs; a solid history of employment; the existence of business and property ties; evidence of value and service to the community; proof of genuine rehabilitation; and other evidence attesting to a respondent’s good character (See e.g. Matter of C-V-T). If the applicant is awarded Cancellation of Removal, then the removal proceedings are terminated and he is allowed to remain in the United States. If not, then the individual is deported to their country of origin.

Cancellation of Removal for Certain Non-Permanent Residents is a much higher threshold to overcome and is less frequently awarded by immigration judges (perhaps owing to the difference between Green Card holders who are on a path to US Citizenship versus other non-immigrants, legal or otherwise). In order to demonstrate eligibility for this form of Cancellation of Removal (Non-Permanent Residents), the Respondent must, at a minimum, demonstrate the following eligibility criteria:
  1. Must have resided in the United States for at least 10 years;
  2. Has been a person of "Good Moral Character" for this period;
  3. Has not committed certain criminal offenses covered under INA 212(a)(2) and INA 237(a)(2) relating to crimes involving moral turpitude, firearms offenses, controlled substance violations, aggravated felonies, among other things, and INA 237(a)(3) relating to falsifying documents; and
  4. Removal would result in "exceptional and extremely unusual" hardship to a qualifying United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, child, or parent.
As one can see, even if you avoid the criminal barriers to Cancellation of Removal (which are far-encompassing and broad), you still need to meet residency requirements and show "exceptional and extremely unusual" hardship to qualifying immediate family members. And no, "they will miss me" or "won't be able to pay rent" won't work here. Think along the lines of an elderly family member (US Citizen or LPR) who solely depend on you for their support or a child with mental and//or physical limitations solely depending on your assistance. There are numerous other factors that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has set forth in rulings, but one thing remains: the bar is set incredibly high to show "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship".

As one can see, in addition to meeting the eligibility standards, ample amounts of supporting documentation and evidence are needed to meet the discretionary factors listed above. By consulting with and retaining an experienced Orange County immigration lawyer, you stand the best chances at winning relief for you or your loved ones case. For more information on this, or other immigration matters, call 949-440-3240 or visit Orange County Immigration Attorney Kapesh Patel at

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mexican Asylum Seekers Accused of Abusing "The System"

August 13, 2013 - Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has in recent days accused Mexican immigrants of abusing US immigration laws by stating they have a credible fear of persecution from drug cartels if they are forcibly returned to Mexico. A well-known critic of comprehensive immigration reform, Sen. Sessions has argued that the House of Representatives should not advance comprehensive immigration reform until this "loophole" is addressed. He said the recent surge in asylum cases originating from Mexico has "exposed another grave flaw" in federal immigration laws. Sen. Sessions added "They must use every power they have to end this absurdity. No immigration bill should advance until these abuses are ended."

Generally, when an immigrant enters the US unlawfully and is apprehended, a Customs and Border Patrol Officer will ask the person if they have a fear of persecution if returned to their home country. If so, they will have an interview with a USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Services) officer who will make an initial "credible fear determination" to see if there is a "significant possibility" that the individual will be eligible for asylum. If so, then the immigrant will have a hearing before an immigration judge who will make the final decision on whether to grant asylum (or other associated forms of relief such as withholding of removal or the Convention against Torture). However, before they see an immigration judge, the immigrant will either be placed in a detention facility or released. Those released promise to appear for their hearing, but that is not always the case, with many just disappearing, forcing an immigration judge to order the immigrant "removed in absentia" (in effect, an order which has no real force since the immigrant is nowhere to be found). Very few Mexican nationals are found eligible for asylum, unlike say those individuals from Syria or China.

Fox News on August 13 also ran an "exclusive article" on the surge of Mexican asylum seekers. In its report, Fox News reported that some Mexican asylum seekers are being placed in $99/night hotels in the San Diego area due to overcrowding - a fact that is sure to fire up those opposed to immigration reform. The report also mentioned that illegal immigrants have recently learned that by using a few keywords - "credible fear of persecution from drug cartels" - they can extend their stay in the United States by applying for asylum and possibly being released into the community before their court dates.

Asylum seekers, who truly have valid claims, are wise to seek the advice and counsel from immigration attorneys. This office has handled numerous asylum applications and know what the immigration judges are looking for. If you have a credible (truthful) fear of persecution if returned to your home country, speak to an Orange County Immigration Lawyer at 949-440-3240 who is best positioned to determine the merits of your case and put you in the best position to be granted asylum.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Good News and Bad News for Immigration Reform

August 5, 2013 - Good news and bad news impacted immigration law last week as the nation still awaited action from the House of Representatives over comprehensive immigration reform. Let's start with the good news. Secretary of State John Kerry, while on a visit to London, England, announced that the US visa system will now treat same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples. This would be a major development in US immigration law, which for as long as the laws have been on the books, has denied immigration benefits to gays and lesbians. Secretary Kerry said that the State Department was "tearing down an unjust and unfair barrier that for too long stood in the way of same-sex families being able to travel as a family to the United States." He went on to add that "[i]f you are the spouse of a US Citizen, your visa application will be treated equally." Just last month Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that the Department of Homeland Security (which is also involved in the immigration process) would also treat same-sex couples as heterosexual ones. Kerry's announcement follows the landmark Supreme Court decision which overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), effectively recognizing same-sex couples for the first time on a federal level.

Same-sex visas have been a lightning rod in the comprehensive immigration reform debate, which is the "bad news" referenced above. For seemingly months I've been reporting that comprehensive immigration reform would face a challenge in the Republican-led House of Representatives and it most certainly has. On Sunday's edition of CBS' "Face the Nation", Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) stated that inaction from the House of Representatives didn't necessarily mean the House did not support the Senate's immigration reform bill, just that the House would take the comprehensive immigration reform issue step-by-step. And as has been noted on this blog before, that approach is certain to encounter fierce opposition from House and Senate Democrats who want a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, as well as a path of citizenship.

With no end in sight to stalled developments in immigration reform, as well as 5 weeks of Congress' summer recess, we won't have an answer to the nation's immigration reform efforts until well into September now. And as many an undocumented immigrant knows, the Department of Homeland Security, through it's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, is still deporting undocumented immigrants regardless of their criminal background. If you or a loved one are in removal proceedings, an Orange County Immigration Lawyer can be the only protection you have from being forcibly removed from your family and employment. Call 949-440-3240 or visit if you would like to speak to a licensed immigration attorney.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Immigration Reform Enters Critical Period

July 22, 2013 - With the Senate passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform this past June, the debate has entered the fractious House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has indicated on numerous occasions that the Senate's version of the immigration reform bill would not pass. Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation", Speaker Boehner was repeatedly questioned about his personal views on the so-called "Path to Citizenship", but failed to answer the question head on. "It's not about me, it's not about what I want...This is about allowing the House to work its will", he said, avoiding any personal views about the contentious "Path to Citizenship", which has many House Republicans screaming amnesty.

Speaker Boehner had hoped to push through some form of immigration legislation by August, but that increasingly appears unlikely. Further adding to the uncertainty, Speaker Boehner stated that the House would pass immigration reform in "chunks", something the President and Senate Democrats have said is unacceptable.

So what's the future for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the 11 million plus undocumented immigrants in the country? As of now, it is appearing more and more unlikely that the Senate's version of immigration reform will become the law of the land. Compromise is going to be essential, but with Democrats and Republicans at odds over almost any substantive issue, a compromise (as of now) does not appear likely. One side is going to have to cave in, my thoughts are that the "Gang of Eight" and the Senate Democrats are going to have to play along with the House if they hope to see any provisions of Comprehensive Immigration Reform come into effect, delivering a victory of sorts to Boehner and House Republicans. But anything's possible in Washington and the month of August is going to be critical for any immigration reform. For now, all we can do is wait and see.

Current US immigration laws are still in effect and can have serious ramifications on one's ability to reside in the US. If you or someone you know has an immigration matter, please call 949-440-3240 or visit for more information.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


July 27, 2013: The Senate has just passed their version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The bill passed the Senate 68-32, which was expected, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans voting for the measure. Backers of the bill were hoping for 70 votes, in order to put some pressure on the House of Representatives, where the bill will head next. House leaders, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, have said the bill will be "dead on arrival". "The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes," Boehner said. Instead House leaders say, they will pass their own version of comprehensive immigration reform in a step-by-step fashion, something Democrats and the President said would be unacceptable.

As the measure now heads over to the House, it's anyone's guess what will happen next. Stay tuned to this blog for updates over the coming weeks. And if you are in need of an immigration attorney, call 949-440-3240 or visit

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Will the House of Representatives "Kill the Bill"?

May 29, 2013. While the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill has moved out of committee and begins the floor debate process, the House of Representatives is still hammering out details of their bill. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday stated that passing an immigration reform bill would be "pretty easy". But he was likely referring to passage in the Senate with a 55 member Democrat majority. And as most Americans (hopefully) are aware, it takes three to tango in American politics: the House, the Senate, and the President. Just because the Senate may pass their own version of immigration reform by no means assures passage in the House, with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warning last Thursday that the Senate bill would not pass in the House. He went on to state that the House would have their own version of immigration reform designed to appeal to conservatives.

The House immigration bill would likely eliminate any proposed "path to citizenship" for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and that alone would force backers of immigration reform, notably Democrats, against the House bill.

So essentially, it all boils down to this: if the Senate bill passes (with almost a guaranteed provision for a  pathway to citizenship), then it's up to Speaker Boehner to convince enough Republicans to vote in favor of it, which, according to current reports, is unlikely to happen. On the flip side, if the House bill is passed and does not, in all likelihood, include a viable pathway to citizenship, then once it reaches the Senate, the bill would essentially be "dead on arrival", with most of the 55 Democrats demanding a path to citizenship be included in any comprehensive immigration reform bill.

People often ask me if comprehensive immigration reform will pass. In my opinion, now, I just don't know. It looked promising a few months back with the "Bipartisan Gang of 8" hammering out their differences, but now it looks like comprehensive immigration reform has a major hurdle to overcome  with House Republicans.

If you have questions about this, or any other immigration matter, please visit or call 949-440-3240.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Amendments to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Could Sink Bill

May 8, 2013. More than 300 amendments to the "Gang of Eight's" bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill have been filed ahead of this past Tuesday's deadline. The Senate's Judicial Committee will begin considering and voting on the bill starting this Thursday, May 9. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the Senate by proposing 77 amendments to the bill. Not to be outdone, plenty of Democrats also submitted their own amendments too. Some of the proposed changes include Senator Jeff Session's (R-AL) amendment to limit the number of immigrants gaining legal status under the bill and Senator Mike Lee's (R-UT) proposal to significantly increase the number of low-skilled workers allowed into the country on temporary visas.

The sheer number of amendments could possibly derail the fragile compromise reached by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" in the Senate alone, notwithstanding the uncertain outcome in the House of Representatives (which too has promised a more stricter version of comprehensive immigration reform, but has yet to deliver).

Leading immigration advocates remain hopeful nonetheless that the bill will clear this hurdle, due in part to the "Gang of Eight's" influence in the Senate, public opinion, and pressure from the White House. The Judiciary Committee indeed is comprised of four of the eight senators who crafter the comprehensive immigration reform bill.

And while critics are quick to point the finger at Republicans for potentially derailing immigration reform, it is an amendment from Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that quite possibly has the biggest potential to derail the bill. His proposal seeks to allow same-sex couples to petition for green cards for their foreign partner, much the way straight couples do. Already the Republican members of the "Gang of Eight" have threatened to derail the bill if gay couples are included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Said Dick Durbin (D-IL) about the same-sex couples provision "[w]e never discussed that. We never took a vote on it", criticizing his Democrat colleague's proposal.

I've said it quite often on this blog that immigration reform is by no means a certainty. We haven't even dealt with the House yet (perhaps the biggest challenge to immigration reform) and now find the bill in danger in the Senate. How this all plays out, one can only guess. For now though, if you have an immigration matter that requires a lawyer, please visit or call 949-440-3240.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What can you do now, in case comprehensive immigration reform passes?

I've blogged before about a tentative passage date for comprehensive immigration reform. In that piece, I noted that a few sources have suggested that a Thanksgiving signing date by the President makes sense, given the numerous legislative hurdles facing any new major legislation, and the timing of congressional breaks. Further, the United States Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) would need (in my estimation) anywhere from 3-9 months to implement any new regulations and set up policies and procedures for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants to join a path to citizenship. So in essence, we'd be looking at date sometime in early 2014 for people to apply for immigration reform benefits, assuming it becomes law. So there is a long ways to go.

But for those non-procrastinating individuals who like to get a head-start on any major project, what can you do now in order to take full advantage of any proposed relief by Congress? Well if comprehensive immigration reform is anything like the latest Administration program, Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals ("DACA" or colloquially and mistakenly referred to as the "Dream Act") - the program that allows those who entered the US at young age and are generally in school/have graduated - then the documentary requirements will be quite challenging to meet.

For example, comprehensive immigration proposals from both the Senate and White House, have indicated there will be continuous residency requirements. In other words, you will have to prove that you've lived in the United States for a certain number of years. And no, your word will not be good enough. Applicants will likely have to produce written, credible evidence in the form of bank statements, W2s, rent receipts, school transcripts, mortgage payment receipts, credit card or utility bills, in order to satisfy the continuous residency requirement. While that may be easy for some people, others may have considerable difficulty procuring such documents. And requests for documents, say over 5 years old, may need to be acquired directly from the source, further adding to delays.

Next, comprehensive immigration reform, will in all likelihood, require that applicants not have extensive criminal backgrounds. Felonies will all but sure disqualify applicants from seeking relief under any proposed bill. If a person has a few misdemeanors, then odds are that the USCIS will want to see certified court dispositions (court records) or arrest records. These can take weeks to get and different courts have different procedures for acquiring such documents.

And we can't forget the English language requirement. While measuring one's ability to speak and understand English can take many forms, it will most likely be given as a written test for comprehensive immigration reform purposes. If your English isn't quite up to speed, it would wise to learn English ahead of any potential immigration reform (and, since English is the de facto national language of the United States, even if comprehensive immigration reform does not pass, it won't hurt you or your loved one to pick up some English).

While this list is by no means exhaustive, the aforementioned suggestions, if followed ahead of any immigration reform bill, may help you to be among the "first" of those who are at the "back of the line."  And while the complexity of applying remains unknown, if history has taught us anything with respect to immigration law, it will be tough to navigate and understand the various procedural requirements. Accordingly, it would be wise to seek out professional legal services to assist with what is likely to be a very long, detailed, and confusing application.

Keep in mind the above is for informational and hypothetical purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. If you need legal advice on an immigration matter, you should speak to an immigration attorney. Please visit or call 949-440-3240. To view more of my blog entries, visit

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Boston Bombing's Impact on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

April 23, 2013: Last Monday's bombing of the Boston Marathon was a horrific act that claimed the lives of three people, injured well over 200 more, and disrupted a major US city for well over 3 days. In addition to disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bostonians, the bombings have cast a dark shadow on proposed comprehensive immigration reform, with some pundits claiming this could derail the whole process. This is due to the fact that the suspected bombers are from Dagestan and of Chechen descent, two very volatile and restive neighboring federal republics in Russia. The suspected bombers came to the US in the early 2000's seeking asylum, which was ultimately granted, with one of the bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, actually naturalizing into an American citizen. Some lawmakers have claimed that the new proposed comprehensive immigration reform could lead to more security lapses and allow more would-be-terrorists into the country.

On Monday, in committee hearings over the immigration bill, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) accused opponents of the bill as to trying to exploit the bombings in order to derail comprehensive immigration reform. "Last week, opponents of comprehensive immigration reform began to exploit the Boston Marathon bombing" said Sen. Leahy, adding "I urge restraint in that regard...Let no one be so cruel as to use the heinous attacks of these two young men to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hard-working people."

His accusations were met angrily by Senate Republicans, with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) arguing "I want you to take note of the fact that when you proposed gun legislation, I didn't accuse you of using the killings (referring to the shootings at Sandyhook Elementary School in Connecticut) as an excuse."

I've always believed there was going to be a fierce debate about comprehensive immigration reform, but adding this latest US terrorist attack into the mix, certainly muddies any eventual outcome. Immigration has always been a hot-button issue. From claims by unemployed American workers, to fears of crime, to questioning an immigrant's ability to assimilate and embrace American culture and traditions, there has always been plenty of avenues to oppose liberalizing immigration policies. But to have a major terrorist attack occur on US soil, the very week that Senators introduced a proposed immigration reform bill, is sure to galvanize opponents of comprehensive immigration reform and give them more ammunition to oppose a reformation of US immigration law.

I will continue to blog about the uncertain path to comprehensive immigration reform, along with other important news and developments concerning immigration law. In the meantime, if you have an immigration matter that requires a lawyer's services, please call 949-440-3240 or visit

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


April 17, 2013. After months of negotiating, speculation, and closed-room meetings, the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" released their version of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, clearing the first major hurdle in what is expected to be a long, fragile process. Within moments of release, criticism of the proposed legislation began pouring in from both the left and the right, with certain media outlets reporting that opponents would try to "kill the bill" with "poison pill" amendments or delay tactics.

The 844 page bill, officially known as the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act", addresses four principle areas: 1) Border Security; 2) Legalization and Legal Immigration; 3) Interior Enforcement (Employment Verification); and 4) Substantial Changes to Nonimmigrant Visas (temporary visas such as H1-B visas).

As to the most significant provision in the proposed legislation, border security, the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to "secure the Southern border" with Mexico before any undocumented immigrant could begin the "path to citizenship". This provision is going to be key in winning over conservative members of Congress and is a two-part requirement: 1) "Persistent surveillance in High Risk Sectors along the Southern Border"; and 2) An Effectiveness Rate of 90% in a fiscal year for all High Risk Sectors along the Southern Border." Essentially, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, would have to certify that the border is secure by implementing fencing in high risk areas and placing additional border patrol agents, unmanned aerial surveillance, and electronic detection measures before the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants could begin the process of legalization.

Once the border is secure, those people who arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011 and have no felonies, have not been convicted of 3 or more misdemeanors, and have not unlawfully voted, among other things, could apply to get "Registered Provisional Immigrant Status" (RPI) and begin the 10 year process of becoming a lawful permanent resident, which would in turn then lead to eventual citizenship. In simple terms, the process to become legalized would take, at a minimum, 13 years or more, depending on if and when the Southern border becomes secure.

Other highlights of the bill include increasing the number of H1-B visas (temporary visas for those in specialty occupations, typically those who work in the IT industry) from the current 65,000 figure to 110,000 annually. Also, the bill would eliminate the backlog for employment and family-sponsored immigrant visas, a welcome relief to those who have been waiting upwards of 15 years for a chance to immigrate to the United States. All employers in the United States would also be required to use an enhanced version of the E-Verify system to check for legal status before employing new workers, with agricultural companies being subject to this rule. And last, there would be new visa categories, including a "W-Visa" for low-skilled workers, most likely aimed at farm workers.

This bill is in no way finalized, and the House version would need to be incorporated into a final comprehensive immigration reform bill, before Congress would be able to vote on its passage. There will likely be more obstacles in the weeks and months to follow, stay tuned for further developments. In the meantime, existing immigration laws continue to be enforced. If you or someone you know needs the services of an immigration lawyer, please visit or call 949-440-3240 for further assistance.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Senate's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Proposal Imminent

According to numerous sources from within Congress and the media, the "Gang of Eight's" comprehensive immigration reform proposal is set to be unveiled this week. According to a report from the "The Hill", sources have stated that the proposal will be released this Thursday, April 11, 2013.

There are conflicting accounts as to exactly how long the path to citizenship would take for the over 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Most news organizations are reporting a 13 year path to citizenship, however other sources, including the Atlantic Wire, say that 20 years is realistic. The Wire's number comes from the fact that in order to begin processing these applications for legal status, the Mexican border would need to be secure. No, not what this administration considers "secure"- "secure" as in stopping 90% of all illegal crossings from the southern border with Mexico, not to mention the tens of thousands of people who "overstay" their nonimmigrant visas.

According to an April 10, 2013 Reuters article, border security would be linked to the path to citizenship and the standards would be set by Congress. At the onset, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be tasked with preventing substantially all illegal border crossings. If, after five years, DHS was unable to meet border security criteria set up by Congress, then a commission would be set up to implement this secure border provision. Border security would be, sorry to use contractual lingo, a "condition precedent" to the path to citizenship. Only when the border was adequately secure, could undocumented immigrants apply for legal status and begin the arduous trek to citizenship.

Comprehensive immigration reform is no doubt linked to national politics. The Republicans fully understand that hey need the Hispanic vote in order to remain viable on a national stage. Strict border provisions have probably been introduced to appeal to the more conservative factions of the party in order to secure the necessary votes needed to ensure passage.

These are exciting times to be an immigration attorney, I for one anxiously await the final, publicly released proposal, and will be sure to write about its provisions when the "Gang of Eight" releases it.

For more information on this and other immigration matters, please visit

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H1-B Visa Cap Already Met - Lottery to Decide the Fate

The much-sought after H1-B visa has already met the statutory 65,000 visa quota, all within a week, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is the first time the cap has been met within one week of the initial filing period since 2008, highlighting the extreme importance of this nonimmigrant visa category. 20,000 cap-exempt H1-B visa applications were also received in this time period under the advance degree exception.

According to the USCIS, approximately 124,000 H1-B visa applications were filed during this initial filing period. Since only 65,000 H1-B visas can be allotted for any given fiscal year, this means that the USCIS will have to use a computer-generated system, or lottery if you will, to decide who will receive these coveted visas.

USCIS will reject visa petitions that are subject to the cap and are not selected, as well as petitions received henceforth.

With comprehensive immigration reform around the corner, many technology companies are hoping that the H1-B cap provisions are increased, as they were in 2001-2003 when Congress increased the H1-B cap to 195,000 (but was never reached). Businesses are desperate to fill specialized positions that US Citizens and Nationals are not qualified to, or unwilling to, work for. This means that they have no choice other than to look abroad to fill these critically needed positions.

If you have any questions about the H1-B process, employment-based immigration in general, or need other immigration law advice, please call 949-440-3240 or visit You are more than welcome to visit our Orange County office too located in Irvine, CA, but please call for an appointment first.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Immigration Reform By Thanksgiving?

According to an April 1, 2013 article posted by ABC News' Jim Avila, a comprehensive immigration reform bill coming out of Congress can be expected sometime around Thanksgiving. Sen. Charles Schumer D-NY seems ready to roll out a bill, crafted by the Senate's "Gang of Eight" this Monday, April 8. Over the weekend, Schumer mentioned that certain thorny issues, involving a guest worker visa program (the proposed "W-Visa") and tightening border security, had been agreed to in principle by business and labor leaders. Sen. Marco Rubio R-FL cautioned against such optimism however by stating immigration reform was not complete and that reform can't be rushed. Such mixed messages from Washington can be expected however, given the enormous political implications of comprehensive immigration reform, and the fallout expected from voters on the right.

Rubio aside, it does appear that immigration reform is moving forward and major hurdles have been overcome. If Schumer is to introduce a bill next Monday, the bill still needs to go to the full Senate for hearings. Sources expect a full vote on the Senate's bill to occur around June.

And the House's own "Gang of Eight" is also ironing out details on their own version of comprehensive immigration reform, with House sources stating that their version of the bill will be introduced about a week after the Senates. Insiders expect the House's comprehensive immigration reform bill to be voted on in the fall. Then both bills would need to be reconciled in conference committees, thereby giving a final vote and Presidential signature sometime around Thanksgiving, according to the ABC piece.

Expect more political wrangling in the days and weeks ahead, and by all means, do not assume, no matter what the press is reporting, that immigration reform is a done deal. One only needs to turn back the clock to 2007 to see how quickly reform, in this case immigration reform, can be derailed and forgotten about.

To learn more about immigration law or if you need help with an immigration matter, please visit or call 949-440-3240.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Obama Turns up the Heat on Immigration Reform

March 25, 2013 - Using his bully pulpit, President Obama made remarks at a naturalization ceremony in the hope it would get stalled immigration reform talks back on track. The so-called "Gang of Eight" senators appeared to be making headway with their discussions on comprehensive immigration reform, only to have their talks stalled over a guest worker visa program and how to secure the Nation's border.

Obama noted that "immigration makes us stronger. It keeps us vibrant. It keeps us hungry. It keeps us prosperous. It is part of what makes this such a dynamic country."

The White House has threatened to introduce their own comprehensive immigration if Congress doesn't  present him with a bill in the near future. For the most part, other than flowery rhetoric, the President has deferred to the Senate and House to get a comprehensive immigration bill drafted and to his desk. But he's begun to turn up the heat on Congress in an effort to get them to draft a bill in a climate that is ripe for comprehensive immigration reform.

And has been mentioned before on this blog, "it takes two to tango" (well three if you include the President) - an immigration bill originating from the Senate is in no way assured of House passage, as many Representatives hail from districts that unequivocally oppose any sort of amnesty for the country's estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants.

Nevertheless, there has never been a better moment for the federal government to overhaul this Nation's oft-criticized immigration laws, as a majority of Americans support immigration reform and calls to fix the current system are heard from both sides of the aisle.

But until then, the Department of Homeland Security is enforcing current immigration laws, which in certain circumstances, can be very unforgiving and complex to understand. If you or a loved one needs to speak to lawyer about any immigration-related matter, please call 949-440-3240 or visit our website at

To view the full article, visit,0,7503326.story

Until next week......

Sunday, March 17, 2013

End to Green Cards for Brothers and Sisters of US Citizens?

According to an Associate Press article published March 15, 2013, key senators working on comprehensive immigration reform have indicated they may limit green cards to certain family-sponsored immigration applicants. Currently, immediate relatives (spouses, parents, unmarried children under 21) of US citizens are eligible for immediate immigrant visas, meaning there's no wait times. A second large group of intending immigrants are, for instance, brothers and sisters of US citizens who are over 21 years old and spouses/minors/unmarried children over 21 of lawful permanent residents. These applicants face wait times ranging upwards of 24 years for certain immigrants.

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, a key member of the bi-partisan Senate "Gang of Eight" has suggested that perhaps it's now time to revisit how green cards are allocated, saying "Green cards should be reserved for the nuclear family (immediate relatives as discussed above). Green cards are economic engines for the country." He further added "this is not a family court we're dealing with here. We're dealing about an economic need."

Not everyone shares Senator Graham's stance on overhauling the green card process though. Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized the proposal  stating "What the senator's not taking into account is the social costs for not preserving families in the immigration system, which is not as tangible or measurable as an economic benefit, maybe, but immigrant families do strengthen our social fabric."

If certain immigrant visa (green card) preference categories are eliminated as part of the wider comprehensive immigration reform, it would have a monumental impact on immigration trends in the United States. The United States is unique among industrialized nations as it proportionately issues more famiy-sponsored green cards than it does for people seeking employment in the US.

If you are a US citizen and are considering sponsoring a brother or sister for a green card, it might be wise to start the process before changes are made to current immigration laws that may prevent future sponsorship of certain family members. If you would like to sponsor a family member for an immigrant visa, please call this office at 949-440-3240 or visit to see how an Orange County immigration attorney can assist you.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Deportation Protests Escalate

As the "Gang of Eight" US Senators continue to hammer out the blueprint for comprehensive immigration reform, locally in Southern California, protestors have stepped up efforts against deportations ahead of any proposed immigration bill. In light of the Obama Administration's record number of deportations (most by any president in one term), Inland Empire activists from San Bernardino and Riverside counties are alleging that Customs and Border Patrol agents are targeting undocumented immigrants, especially Latino workers, without proper evidence.

According to a March 12, 2013 article in the Press Enterprise, activists want an end to all deportations for undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes - a moratorium of sorts - while comprehensive immigration reform talks continue in the halls of Congress. They also want authorities to stop targeting "day laborers", a proposal that is met with mixed opinion.

On the flip side, one Congressman, Representative Duncan Hunter R-Alpine, has called for increased border security ahead of any comprehensive immigration reform. Public opinion falls somewhere in the middle of this debate between increased border security and halting deportation, according to Dan Schnur,  director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and a former Republican strategist.

The Obama Administration has repeatedly said it only targets those undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes, recent border crossers, and those who have violated US immigration laws in the past. However, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics invalidate those claims: only 19% of those deported in 2012 were convicted of the most serious crimes (murder, rape, drug trafficking, etc.), 12% were convicted of less serious felonies or multiple misdemeanors, and 41% were recent border crossers or had violated US immigration law in the past (re-entering the US after being deported). That leaves 28% remaning - those who do not fit into the aforementioned categories - deported for relatively minor violations and a rather large exception to the Administration's oft-stated policy on deportation.

Arguments rage on both sides in this heated debate over immigration. While this office attempts to take a neutral stance on this blog, we still nevertheless believe that those convicted of minor offenses, no offenses, and are not recent border crossers or repeat violators, should not strain an already burdened immigration removal system when there are "bigger fish to fry". Nor should people who are lawful permanent residents (have a "green card") and have resided here for lengthy periods of time, be torn apart from their families for relatively minor drug offenses (see e.g. INA Section 237(a)(2)(B)(i) "General Classes of Deportable Aliens: Offenses Related to Controlled Substances).

Deportation is a thorny issue, is emotional charged, and can have the possibility of tearing families apart. It would be relieving if existing US immigration laws regarding deportability are re-written as a part of comprehensive immigration reform - in a way that ensures fairness, compassion, accountability, and allows for some real and honest flexibility in certain cases - while also keeping our country safe and secure.

If you or a loved one are apprehended by ICE and placed into removal proceedings, it is essential that you consult with a qualified and experienced immigration attorney who can advise you of all possible forms of relief. We hope you consider calling this office at 949-440-3240, an attorney would be happy to speak to you. You can also visit to learn more about removal (deportation) and other areas of immigration law such as employment-sponsored immigration and family-sponsored immigration.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Immigration Reform and the Pathway to Citizenship: Reality or Political Posturing

Since the November 2012 national elections, calls have come in from both Democrats and Republicans both seeking to pass some version of comprehensive immigration reform. And more often than not, these proposals have all included a "pathway to citizenship". Pundits are taking it as a given that a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill will absolutely have to include a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million plus undocumented immigrants in the United States. But a new book authored by former governor Jeb Bush, a vocal advocate for immigration reform and potential GOP Presidential frontrunner in 2016, sheds new light onto whether a pathway to citizenship will be a prerequisite to a new comprehensive immigration reform bill.

In his book, "Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution", Gov. Bush reverses his stand on providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Instead, he argues for providing "legal residency" This is quite stunning since he previously championed a pathway to citizenship, but then did an about face in his book. Upon closer inspection though, it is not at all surprising that Gov. Bush takes this stance - in the weeks and months leading to the November elections, the GOP was veering hard to the right, with candidate Romney even suggesting a program of "self-deportation". Bush's book, penned during this time, went to the printers BEFORE the outcome of the Presidential elections and the abrupt shift in GOP thinking with respect to immigration. Only after the elections, did the American public hear that the Republicans were keen to work with the Democrats and the White House in crafting immigration reform. And most analysts believe this was a direct result of Hispanics voting in large numbers for the President. The GOP knows they cannot be a viable national party without the support of Hispanics; accordingly, leading GOP senators such as Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham, are vying for this crucial voting bloc by advocating a softer stance on immigration reform, one that includes a pathway to citizenship.

Senate aside, there are mumblings that the GOP-led House will not sign on to a comprehensive immigration reform bill if it includes the pathway to citizenship. These Representatives argue that providing a pathway to citizenship, for those who technically have violated federal law, will only serve to encourage future waves of undocumented immigrants.

And in another twist, Jeb Bush has reversed himself again, saying on MSNBC's Morning Joe "if you can craft that in law, where you can have a pathway to citizenship where there isn't an incentive for people to come illegally, I'm for it."

It's hard not to feel sorry for Jeb Bush. He was caught by surprise by the GOP's sudden shift in immigration reform policy and his book reflects it. Whether this was a political miscalculation for Bush and a potential 2016 run remains to be seen, but this fact still remains: the House is led by the GOP with many Congressmen hailing from districts whose constituents vehemently oppose any sort of "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants, let alone a path to citizenship. Perhaps Bush was trying to appeal to the far-right in his book - voters would play a crucial role in any Presidential run, while also stepping in line with the GOP establishment's position on immigration reform, one can only speculate.

So the saga continues, let's see what the Congress and President decide upon as the debates begin to heat up, and in the meantime, existing immigration laws continue to be enforced (and rather harshly at that). If you or a loved one need to speak to immigration attorney, especially concerning removal (deportation), please visit or call this office at 949-440-3240.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

ICE Detaining US Citizens

When people think of ICE, also known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, most people would think of federal law enforcement officers tracking down and arresting undocumented immigrants. However, for 800 or so US Citizens, ICE "detainers" resulted in them being held by the immigration authorities who, generally, have no business "detaining" US Citizens. Read the article below for the full story.,0,3564318.story

If you or a loved one are ever detained by ICE and placed in removal proceedings, it is imperative to speak to a qualified and licensed attorney who can advise you on what forms of relief are available to prevent deportation. Visit for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leaked: Obama's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Plan

President Obama's version of comprehensive immigration reform was leaked this past Sunday to the public, amid an uproar from the GOP, with Senator Marco Rubio (part of the bipartisan "Gang of 8" senators working towards immigration reform) calling it "dead on arrival".

Critics were quick to assail the administration's plan, with many in the House and Senate arguing that immigration reform should be a product of the Congress, not the White House. Assuming this is what the White House is proposing (or indirectly telling Congress that this is what immigration reform should look like, lest the bill be vetoed), there are some notable features that are worth mentioning.

First, the President's plan calls for a new type of visa, a "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa for the nation's 11 million plus undocumented immigrants. Next, there are the oft-mentioned provisions that call for increased employer scrutiny with regard to new hires by using E-Verify, increased border security, and most significantly, an 8-year path to lawful permanent residency.

 This 8-year path is certain to raise some eyebrows, as many were operating under the premise that any immigration reform plan would require immigrants to "wait at the back of the line". That "line" is, for some prospective immigrants, over 15 years long (brothers and sisters of adult US citizens from Mexico and the Philippines in the F4 family preference category). And don't forget the English-speaking and criminal background check requirements many pundits believe will be a part of any immigration reform bill, no matter where it originates from.

Comprehensive immigration reform won't be easy. There are too many competing interests and ideologies, not to mention a certain measure of hostility from certain voting blocs, for this to be a quick and easy process. Expect more wrangling, name-calling, threats, and back room deal-making in the weeks and months to come... For more information on this, or any other immigration matter, please visit or call this office at 949-440-3240.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Startup Act 3.0" - Encouraging a New Wave of Highly Skilled Immigrants

U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), along with Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), today introduced Startup Act 3.0 – the updated version of their bipartisan jobs and high-skilled immigration plan to jumpstart the economy through the creation and growth of new businesses. This proposed legislation, according to proponents, will encourage an increased level of immigration by highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs, both critical to maintaining America's leadership in the global economy and fueling economic growth.

In some ways, this new bill is a hybrid of the E-2 "Treaty Investor" visa, a nonimmigrant visa that allows recipients to come to the US and invest (unofficially, at least $100,000) in a business and renew the visa indefinitely as long as the enterprise is profitable, and the EB-5 "Immigrant Investor Program" which affords recipients a "Green Card"and requires investors to put up at least $500,000 in order to qualify for the program. It appears as if the new bill would create an immigrant visa (meaning permanent residency) for those willing to invest $100,000 in the US and create American jobs.

Also, it would encourage additional numbers of STEM graduates, that is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, to come to the US where their expertise is badly needed in certain sectors of the economy.

It remains to be seen how all this will play out in the larger context of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. A recent bill sponsored by Republicans was halted by Democrats and the White House indicated that it opposed the legislation as it "does not meet the President's long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform."

Highlights, provided by Senator Moran's office include:

· Creates an Entrepreneur’s Visa for legal immigrants, so they can remain in the United States, launch businesses and create jobs;
· Creates a new STEM visa so U.S.-educated foreign students, who graduate with a master’s or Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, can receive a green card and stay in this country where their talent and ideas can fuel growth and create American jobs;
· Eliminates the per-country caps for employment-based immigrant visas – which hinder U.S. employers from recruiting the top-tier talent they need to grow;
· Makes permanent the exemption of capital gains taxes on the sale of startup stock held for at least five years – so investors can provide financial stability at a critical juncture of firm growth;
· Creates a limited research and development tax credit for young startups less than five years old and with less than $5 million in annual receipts. This R&D credit is designed to allow startups to offset employee taxes – freeing up resources to help these young companies expand and create jobs;
· Uses existing federal R&D funding to support university initiatives designed to bring cutting-edge research to the marketplace more quickly where it can propel economic growth;
· Requires all government agencies to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of all proposed “significant rules” with an economic impact of $100 million or more. This new requirement will help determine the efficacy of regulations and their potential impact on the formation and growth of new businesses.

For more information on upcoming legislation, especially the widely-anticipated comprehensive immigration reform program, or any other immigration matter, please visit: or call 949-440-3240.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Gang of 8" Senators and President Obama Offer Immigration Reform Plans

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of eight senators offered a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. Today, the President laid out his vision for immigration reform in Las Vegas, NV. There are also reports that a bipartisan group of Congressmen from the House are also hammering out their own version of immigration reform. What does all this mean? Well, for one, comprehensive immigration reform is around the corner and will include, what some consider controversial, a "path to Citizenship" for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Both proposals also include providing temporary legal status for the undocumented immigrants. Hopefully, whatever plan is hashed out, will also include stronger border security, more efficient and speedier visa processing, and a makeover of this Nation's complicated immigration laws.

Comprehensive immigration reform is a divisive topic - there are many out there that do not want to provide legal status, let alone Citizenship, to those who are technically in violation of US federal law. However, comprehensive immigration reform is not "amnesty", as the 1986 immigration law, signed by Ronal Reagan, is often considered to be. This time around, leading authorities believe it will different.

First, the wait times are expected to be lengthy. No, not 5 years, maybe not even 10. Both the President's and Senator's proposals envision a tough path to Citizenship, not a passport handout. Both plans call for undocumented immigrants "to go to the back of the line" of prospective immigrants. And as most immigration law practitioners know, the wait time for certain relatives from Mexico and the Philippines are long - 16 and 23 years respectively for brothers and sisters of these US Citizens. Second, both proposals call for applicants to learn and speak English. Third, expect extensive background checks with numerous disqualifying criteria. And last, applicants will be expected to know US civics, pay any back taxes owed, show current and past work history, among many other expected requirements.

So all in all, comprehensive immigration reform, as controversial as it is, will more than likely become a reality. But the reality is this: the "path to Citizenship" will be arduous, very long, and demand much of anyone seeking to stay here legally and permanently. One can only hope this is the last time immigration reform needs to be passed.

If and when comprehensive immigration reform becomes law, it is almost a necessity that applicants use the services of a qualified immigration attorney. When that time comes, I hope you consider using my services. Please visit my website at for more updates on comprehensive immigration reform or call 949-440-3240 to schedule a consultation on this, or any other immigration matter.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Amazing, Unbelievable Victory

Great news to report. A client of mine, with over 8 criminal convictions, ranging from multiple DUIs to battery to a controlled substance violation, won his Cancellation of Removal case in Salt Lake City, UT. This was a very time-consuming, laborious case with extremely difficult odds. But I am proud to say that the Honorable Immigration Judge sided with us and my client is now out of ICE custody and is a free man again.

Friday, January 11, 2013

USCIS approves I-601 Provisional Waiver

On January 2, 2013, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the posting of the final rule regarding the I-601 Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver to the Federal Register. The new rule is set to take effect on March 4, 2013 (USCIS will not adjudicate these waivers before this date).

Under the current law, immediate relatives of US Citizens who have entered illegally or overstayed their visas, and who are seeking LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) status must leave the United States and obtain an immigrant visa abroad (in addition to qualifying for the I-601 Waiver of Inadmissibility). This process can take many months and the resulting separation can be distressing. Further, in order to qualify under the current and future law, the applicant must demonstrate that there will be an extreme hardship to a qualifying US Citizen relative.

Commencing March 4, immediate relatives must still depart the US for the consular visa processing; however, they can obtain the waiver prior to departing the US and greatly speed up the process.

For more information on this long overdue program, visit: (USCIS)


When the new program is implemented, be sure to give our office a call at 949-440-3240 or visit to see how we can assist in your I-601 Waiver application.