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Immigration Update: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Issues Memorandum Partially Rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Peze la pou tradui nan Kreyol Ayisyen

On July 28, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a memorandum partially rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. This memorandum was in response to the June 18, 2020, Supreme Court decision, which found that the Trump administration’s initial attempt to rescind the DACA program was done improperly. USCIS was then ordered to restore all aspects of the DACA program, including accepting first-time applications and advance parole requests. 

USCIS’ July 28 memorandum rescinds portions of the DACA program and lays the groundwork for rescission of the entire initiative. The memorandum announced the following changes to the DACA program:

  • USCIS will reject all first-time applications for DACA. This includes any first-time applications currently pending as of July 28, 2020 or filed in the future. Any USCIS fees submitted with first-time applications will be refunded to the applicant.
  • Previously, those eligible to renew their DACA received two-year renewals. USCIS will now issue only one-year DACA renewals to eligible applicants. The application fee to renew DACA will remain $495 despite the shortened renewal period. The memorandum does not appear to change the eligibility requirements for renewal applicants. It also states that USCIS will continue to comply with its policy of refusing to share information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for enforcement activities. 
  • USCIS will deny virtually all applications for advance parole based on DACA. Any such advance parole applications currently pending will be denied and any USCIS fees paid will be refunded. USCIS has left open the possibility that it will approve advance parole applications in “exceptional circumstances”. The memorandum does not describe what qualifies as exceptional circumstances. Any advance parole approvals issued before the July 28 memorandum will remain valid.

The July 28, 2020 memorandum is almost certainly the Trump administration’s first step in attempting to rescind the entire DACA program. This partial rescission will likely be challenged in court. However, unless and until a judge decides that this memorandum is unlawful, it will remain in effect. For now, those who previously had DACA and remain eligible to renew may still do so.

All DACA eligible individuals should consult with a legal service provider for information about, renewing their existing DACA and/or getting screened for eligibility for other, more permanent immigration benefits.

To make an appointment with Catholic Migration Services for free legal assistance renewing DACA, please call our office Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (718) 236-3000 (Brooklyn office) or (347) 472-3500 (Queens office).

Download this update as a PDF.

 

Immigration Update: The Supreme Court of the United States on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

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Peze la pou tradui nan Kreyol Ayisyen

On June 18, 2020 the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Trump Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2017 was unlawful, thus allowing almost 800,000 DACAmented community members, including 45,000 residents of New York, who call the United States of America home to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the program has not been eliminated and continues to stand.

What does the decision mean?

  • The Supreme Court’s decision specifically takes issue with the way the Trump administration ended the program in 2017. The Court held that the way the program was terminated was improper. It did not hold that DACA was lawful or good policy.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision means that the DACA program should be restored completely, which means that first time applicants should be able to apply. It is unclear when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin taking on new applications. Individuals currently with DACA continue to remain eligible to renew their DACA for two more years.
  • It is possible that Advance Parole may again allow DACA recipients to travel outside the United States and return. However, details of this are still unclear, and the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may limit the ability to travel.
  • All DACA eligible individuals should consult with a legal service provider for information about applying for DACA for the first time, renewing their existing DACA, and/or getting screened for eligibility for other, more permanent immigration options.

This decision is an enormous victory for our immigrant communities and their allies who mobilized to protect the DACA program. However, it is important to keep in mind that the Trump administration can again attempt to end the program through other means, and that only an act of Congress can afford DACAmented community members true permanent status in the United States.

We will continue to update our website with more information as it becomes known.

To make an appointment with Catholic Migration Services for free legal assistance applying for or renewing DACA, call us at (718) 236-3000 (Brooklyn office) or (347) 472-3500 (Queens office).

Download this update as a PDF.

Virtual Immigration Town Hall

Last week Catholic Migration Services and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest hosted a Virtual Immigration Town Hall via Facebook Live. Panelists discussed how COVID-19 is impacting tenants and workers, shared helpful resources with the immigrant community during this difficult time, and took questions from the audience. If you missed it, view the video below.

*The Virtual Immigration Town Hall begins at 00:09:00

Join Catholic Migration Services and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest for an Virtual Immigration Town Hall on…

Posted by Catholic Migration Services on Thursday, May 7, 2020

Legal Services NYC Sues NYC Immigration Courts for Refusing to Postpone Filing Deadlines Amid COVID-19, Putting Countless Lives at Risk

On April 29, 2020 Legal Services NYC and Catholic Migration Services as an organizational plaintiff – filed a lawsuit before the Southern District of New York against the Executive Office for Immigration Review, AKA “immigration court” (EOIR) challenging the EOIR’s requirement that all litigants with cases currently pending before it continue to meet previously established filing deadlines even in the face of a global pandemic.

What this means practically is that if a legal worker practicing before the immigration court had a filing due at any time during this COVID-19 pandemic and gubernatorial shelter-in-place, they are still required to meet that deadline or risk running afoul of a court order and more importantly causing potentially irreparable harm to their clients and their case. This case seeks to force the agency to enjoin the enforcement of all immigration court deadlines until 45 days after all shelter in place orders are lifted.

Read the full press release from Legal Services NYC: Legal Services NYC Sues NYC Immigration Courts for Refusing to Postpone Filing Deadlines Amid COVID-19, Putting Countless Lives at Risk

Click here to download the full complaint.

The Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Immigrants During the Recovery to the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Who does the Presidential Proclamation impact?
The Proclamation Impacts Immigrants who are:

  1. Outside the U.S. on April 23, 2020 and 
  2. Do not have an immigrant visa (meaning, had not had the consular interview and been approved to enter the United States) on or before April 23, 2020, and 
  3. Do not have travel document (advance parole, transportation letter, or boarding foil) valid on April 23, 2020 or issued after that date, and
  4. Are trying to enter the U.S. as a step in the green card process in the next 60 days. 

The Proclamation Does NOT Impact Immigrants Who:

  • Were inside the United States on April 23, 2020, or
  • Are already lawful permanent residents (green card holders), or
  • Have an immigrant visa that was valid on April 23, 2020, or
  • Have an official travel document (advance parole, transportation letter, or boarding foil) that is valid on April 23, 2020 or issued after that date, or
  • Are the spouse or under-21 child of a U.S. Citizen, or
  • Are healthcare workers, physicians, medical researchers, or other researchers combating the pandemic, or their spouse or unmarried, under-21 children, or
  • Recognized as essential workers, their spouse and unmarried, under-21 children, or
  • Have a student, temporary worker, or other non-immigrant visa, or
  • Are a member of the U.S. military or their spouse and children, or
  • Are seeking asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture, or refugee status, or
  • Are entering on Special Immigrant Visas with SI or SQ classifications, or
  • Are a prospective adoptee of a U.S. Citizen under the IR-4 or IH-4 classifications or
  • Applying for a visa through the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program, or
  • Are determined to be a person whose entry would further important law enforcement objectives, or
  • Are determined to be entering “in the national interest”

What does the Proclamation say about non-immigrant visas?
For now, the Presidential Proclamation does not affect non-immigrant visas. However, the Proclamation hints that within the next 30 days, the Trump Administration will be considering whether to include non-immigrant visas in a similar executive action in the near future.

Does this really “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” like the President said it would? Does it impact people who are already permanent residents?
No. There are many immigrants who will continue to be able to enter the United States. The Proclamation’s effect is small especially because many government offices had already closed or reduced operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not ban immigrants who are already permanent residents. For now, the Proclamation is set to last for only 60 days, although that period could be extended.

What is the purpose of this Proclamation?
In the Proclamation, the President says he thinks immigrants would compete with U.S. citizen workers for jobs during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the time immigrants do not compete with U.S. citizens for jobs, but instead increase job opportunities for citizens. According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30% more likely to start a business. Businesses owned by immigrants hire workers. Immigrants put billions of dollars into our economy. The Presidential Proclamation is based on false and anti-immigrant beliefs. The Trump Administration seems to be trying to take advantage of the current crisis to cut immigration to the United States.

Questions?
Please contact Catholic Migration Services in Brooklyn at (718) 236-3000 or in Queens at (347) 472-3500.

Download this update as a PDF.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Changes to the “Public Charge” Test and the COVID-19 Pandemic

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For some immigrants, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will consider whether an immigrant is likely to become a “public charge” when it reviews the immigrant’s request for a visa or green card. A “public charge” is someone who may rely on public benefits for a significant period of time. If USCIS determines an immigrant is likely to become a public charge, it may deny an immigrant’s entry into the United States or their green card application.

The Trump administration recently issued new rules that redefine the term “public charge” in a way that will result in many more people being denied entry or a green card. The new rules went into effect on February 24, 2020. It is important for immigrants to understand whether they might be impacted by these new rules.

Catholic Migration Services would like to inform the immigrant community that the new public charge rules does not mean everyone should stop receiving any public benefits that they need for their family. Therefore, before withdrawing from any public benefits you are currently receiving, we encourage you to speak with a trusted immigration attorney.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Public Charge

Medical Treatment
USCIS has clarified that seeking or using medical treatment or preventative healthcare services related to COVID-19 will NOT be considered under the public charge rule, even if the services are Medicaid-funded.

Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment insurance benefits are not, in and of themselves, taken into consideration by the USCIS for purposes of making a public charge determination. Guidance issued by the USCIS states that unemployment benefits are not considered by USCIS in a public charge inadmissibility determination as unemployment insurance is considered by USCIS as an “earned” benefit.

Please note that we will update this page routinely as we learn more about how COVID-19 specific state and federal assistance packages may intersect with the new public charge rule in upcoming weeks.

The New Rule – Who it Applies To:

  • You are in the U.S. and plan to apply for a green card or visa → The new public charge rules may affect you. You should speak with an immigration lawyer to learn more about the possible impact.
  • You or your family plans to apply for a green card or visa from outside the U.S. → The new public charge rules may affect you. You should speak with an immigration lawyer to learn more about the possible impact.

The New Rule – Who it Does Not Apply to:

  • You are already a U.S. citizen, DACA recipient, U or T Visa holder, TPS holder, or have SIJS status, or have status as an asylee or refugee, or are applying for any of these statuses → The new rules do not affect you. Benefits you receive while in this status will not be counted against you in the future if you apply for a green card.
  • You and your family are green card holders → The new public charge rules do not affect you unless you leave the country for more than 6 months.

If the new rules affect you, USCIS may count it against you if you use any of the following benefits for a lengthy period: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), state general relief or general assistance, Medicaid institutionalization for long-term care, non-emergency Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and public housing.

The government will not consider receipt of the following types of benefits when determining public charge: emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch or school breakfast programs, foster care or adoption, Head Start, Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), WIC, the Earned Income Tax Credit, or the Child Tax Credit.

For Free Help

All immigrants who may apply for an immigration benefit in the future should seek advice about whether receipt of public benefits may impact their ability to apply for that future benefit. For more information on the public charge rule and whether it affects you, call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.

To speak with an attorney or immigration counselor with Catholic Migration Services, please call our office Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (718) 236-3000 or (347) 472-3500.

Download this update as a PDF.