Category Archives: Editorial

Summary of recent guidance of Trump’s immigration enforcement plans / Resumen de la reciente orientación de planes de ejecución de inmigración del Trump

The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has released two separate documents providing additional guidance on President Trump’s immigration plans. One of the orders addresses the President’s plan to increase enforcement efforts in the interior of the United States. The other order addresses the President’s plan to increase detention and security at the U.S.-Mexico border.

El secretario del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional ha publicado dos documentos separados proporcionando orientación adicional sobre el Presidente Trump planes de inmigración. Una de las órdenes se aborda el plan del Presidente para aumentar las actividades de represión en el interior de los Estados Unidos. La otra orden se dirige sobre el plan del Presidente para aumentar la detención y la seguridad en la frontera entre México y los Estados Unidos.

Memo to implement the Interior Enforcement Executive Order, dated 2/20/17:

Memo al implementar la aplicación interior del Poder Ejecutivo Nacional, de fecha 2/20/17:

  • Rescinds all immigration enforcement policies and memorandum that conflict with the President’s new policies, including the 11/20/2014 enforcement priorities memo and the Secure Communities memo under President Obama.
  • Anula todas las policas de inmigración y el memorando que entran en conflicto con las nuevas políticas del Presidente, incluido el 11/20/2014 las prioridades de aplicación memo y el memo de Comunidades Seguras bajo la administración del presidente Obama.
  • The order does NOT rescind the DACA 2012 memo and DACA/DAPA 2014 memo. DACA is still alive, while DAPA is still stuck in a court battle.
  • La orden no anula la DACA 2012 memo y daca/DAPA 2014 memo. DACA sigue vivo, mientras DAPA todavía está atascado en una batalla judicial
  • States that DHS shall faithfully execute U.S. immigration laws against “all removable aliens.” Priorities are individuals with criminal convictions, charges or who have committed a crime without any charges, have committed fraud or misrepresentation to the government, have abused public benefits, have a final order of removal, or pose a national security threat.
  • Afirma que DHS deberá ejecutar fielmente las leyes de inmigración de Estados Unidos en contra de “todos los extranjeros removibles.” Las Prioridades son personas con condenas penales, cargos o que han cometido un delito sin ningún cargo en su contra, han cometido fraude o tergiversación del gobierno, han abusado de beneficios públicos, tienen una orden final de deportación, o que suponen una amenaza para la seguridad nacional.
  • It directs DHS personnel to arrest, apprehend, initiate enforcement actions, initiate removal proceedings against “any alien subject to removal under any provision of the INA” (would include any individual who is undocumented or overstayed) and refer appropriate cases for criminal prosecution.
  • Dirige el personal de DHS para arrestar, detener, iniciar acciones coercitivas, iniciar los trámites de expulsión contra “cualquier extranjero sujeto a la extracción bajo cualquier disposición de la INA” (incluiría cualquier individuo indocumentado o permaneció mas del tiempo debido) y remitir los casos pertinentes para su enjuiciamiento penal.
  • Restores Secure Communities program effective immediately.
  • Restaura el programa de Comunidades Seguras efectivo inmediatamente.
  • Directs department to cooperate with EOIR to initiate removal proceedings against incarcerated aliens
  • dirige el departamento para cooperar con la EOIR para iniciar los trámites de expulsión contra los extranjeros encarcelados
  • Directs ICE and CBP to expand 287(g) program, which is designed to give immigration enforcement powers to state and local law enforcement.
  • Dirige el ICE y el CBP para ampliar el programa 287(g), que está diseñado para proporcionar a la aplicación de las leyes de inmigración facultades para ejercer la ley estatal y local.
  • Orders DHS to replace the current detainer forms “to more effectively communicate” with law enforcement agencies. The detainer is a request for a jail to hold an individual until ICE is able to pick them up. In many cases the detainers are unconstitutional.
  • Ordena a DHS para reemplazar el actual retenedor formas “para comunicarse de forma más eficaz con los organismos encargados de hacer cumplir la ley. El retenedor es una petición de una cárcel de mantener a una persona hasta que ICE pueda recogerlos. En muchos casos los retenedor son inconstitucionales.
  • Prosecutorial Discretion is considered on a case by case basis. Since the November 20, 2014 priorities memo is rescinded, there are no specific guidelines for Prosecutorial Discretion.
  • A discreción del fiscal se considera caso por caso. Desde el 20 de noviembre de 2014 prioridades memo es revocado, no hay directrices específicas para la discreción del fiscal.
  • Directed ICE to hire 10,000 ICE agents and support and legal staff as necessary. Likely will need additional finding from Congress.
  • ICE dirigida a contratar a 10.000 agentes del ICE y de apoyo y personal jurídico según sea necesario. Probablemente necesitará encontrar adicional del Congreso.
  • Directs ICE, CBP, and USCIS to issue guidance and issue regulations to collect and assess fines and penalties from aliens and those who facilitate their unlawful presence.
  • Dirige a ICE, el CBP, y el USCIS emitir directrices y dictar reglamentos para recoger y evaluar las multas y sanciones de los extranjeros y aquellos que faciliten su presencia ilegal.
  • Rescinds January 7, 2009 DHS memo, “Privacy Policy Guidance Memorandum” and directs development of new privacy guidance.
  • Anula el DHS memo del 7 de enero de 2009, “Orientación Política de Privacidad Memorando” y dirige el desarrollo de nuevas directrices de privacidad.
  • Sets forth details on publication of regular reports on apprehensions and releases.
  • Se exponen los detalles sobre la publicación de informes periódicos sobre los temores y libera.
  • Establishes a Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office for assist victims of crimes committed to undocumented individuals. Directs any funding currently used to assist the undocumented to the new VOICE Office.
  • Establece un compromiso de las víctimas de los delitos de inmigración (VOICE), la oficina de asistencia a las víctimas de los crímenes cometidos a personas indocumentadas. Dirige cualquier financiación utilizados actualmente para ayudar a los indocumentados a la nueva Oficina de VOICE.

Border Memo – 2/17/17 memo to implement border EO/ Memo – Frontera 2/17/17 memo a implementar frontera EO.

  • Says any individual arriving at the border will be detained pending a determination if they are eligible for any relief in the U.S. Will depend on the availability of judges, asylum officers and bed space near the border.
  • Dice que cualquier individuo que llegando a la frontera será detenido a la espera de una determinación si son elegibles para cualquier ayuda en los Estados Unidos dependerá de la disponibilidad de los Jueces, los oficiales de asilo y espacio de cama cerca de la frontera.
  • Orders Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire 5,000 additional agents and 500 Air & Marine Agents/Officers.
  • Ordena a los Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza (CBP) para contratar a otros 5.000 agentes y 500 Air &Amp; Marina/agentes oficiales.
  • Expands the use of 287(g) Program at the border, which is intended to give immigration enforcement powers to state and local enforcement officers.
  • Amplía el uso de programa 287(g) en la frontera, cuyo objetivo es dar cumplimiento de las leyes de inmigración poderes estatales y locales de los funcionarios encargados de la observancia.
  • Commissions a comprehensive study of border security and calls for construction of additional border fencing.
  • Comisiones un estudio amplio de la seguridad en la frontera y reclama la construcción de vallas adicionales en la frontera
  • States DHS has authority to apply expedited (immediate) removal to anyone in the U.S. who hasn’t been present in the US for 2 years. Previously this was only applied to people found within 100 miles of the border. It appears DHS will take active steps to expand this to the interior of the U.S. and may issue new regulations on expedited removal procedures.
  • Miembros DHS tiene autoridad para aplicar (acelerado) Extracción inmediata a cualquier persona en los Estados Unidos que no han estado presentes en los Estados Unidos por 2 años. Anteriormente, esto sólo se aplica a personas encontradas dentro de las 100 millas de la frontera. Parece que el DHS tomará medidas activas para ampliar esta al interior de los Estados Unidos y podría emitir nuevas regulaciones sobre los procedimientos de eliminación acelerada.
  • States that individuals in immigration courts may be returned to a contiguous country (country that borders the U.S.) pending the outcome of their immigration court case if they are not a risk of illegal reentry. This has never been a practice before with immigration courts and we are not sure how this will be enforced.
  • Indica que los individuos en los tribunales de inmigración podrían ser devuelto a un país contiguo (país que hace frontera con los EE.UU.) a la espera del resultado de su caso de la corte de inmigración si no son un riesgo de reingreso ilegal. Esto nunca ha sido una práctica antes con los tribunales de inmigración y no estamos seguros de cómo se aplicará.
  • Creates new review standards for credible fear interviews.
  • Crea nuevas normas de revisión por temor creíble entrevistas.
  • Orders ICE and CBP to take “all necessary action and allocate all available resources to expand their detention capabilities and capacities near the border with Mexico.”
  • Ordena a ICE y el CBP para tomar “todas las medidas necesarias y asignar todos los recursos disponibles para ampliar sus capacidades y funciones de detención cerca de la frontera con México”.
  • USCIS, CBP, and ICE should issue guidance making sure employees only exercise parole on a case-by-case basis until new guidance is issued (it appears they plan to issue regulations on use of parole). Permits the release and parole of individuals who have been found to have a credible fear of harm.
  • El USCIS, el ICE y el CBP, debería publicar directrices asegurándose de que los empleados sólo ejercer la libertad condicional en un caso por caso hasta nueva orientación es emitido (parece que va a emitir los reglamentos sobre el uso de la libertad condicional). Permite la liberación y la libertad condicional a personas que han demostrado tener un temor creíble de daño.
  • Directs USCIS, CBP, and ICE to develop uniform written guidance/training on “proper” processing of UACs, “timely” adjudication of relief claims, and “safe” repatriation once proceedings are complete, if applicable. Should establish review procedures to make sure kids continue to meet the definition of a UAC throughout removal proceedings.
  • Dirige el USCIS, el ICE y el CBP, para desarrollar las orientaciones escritas uniforme/capacitación sobre procesamiento de “adecuado”, “oportuna” UACs adjudicación de reclamaciones, socorro y repatriación “segura” una vez que se completa el procedimiento, si procede. Debe establecer procedimientos de revisión para asegurarse de que los niños continúen cumplir la definición de UAC durante procedimientos de expulsión.
  • May place parents or guardians of unaccompanied minor children in immigration proceedings or refer them for criminal prosecution if the parents pay smugglers to bring their children to the U.S.
  • Puede colocar a los padres o tutores de los menores no acompañados en los trámites de inmigración o remitirlos a enjuiciamiento criminal si los padres pagan los contrabandistas para traer a sus hijos a los EE.UU.
  • Directs task forces on Transnational Criminal Organizations, especially those involved in human smuggling. Would also target people and organization that undermine border security or the integrity of the immigration system – including drug trafficking, illegal reentry, visa fraud, identity theft, unlawful possession or use of official docs, and acts of violence committed at or near the border
  • Dirige grupos de tareas sobre las organizaciones delictivas transnacionales, especialmente aquellos involucrados en el contrabando de seres humanos. También se dirigen a personas y organizaciones que socavan la seguridad de las fronteras o la integridad del sistema de inmigración – incluido el tráfico de drogas ilegales, la reentrada, visa fraude, robo de identidad, posesión o uso ilegal de documentos oficiales, y los actos de violencia cometidos en o cerca de la frontera
  • Develop a standard way to report data publicly – with uniform terminology and an easy-to-understand format. Includes: number of convicted criminals and nature of their offenses, prevalence of gang members “and prior immigration violators,” custody status of aliens, and – if released- the reason for release, number of aliens ordered removed and number physically removed.
  • Desarrollar un método estándar para los datos del informe públicamente – con terminología uniforme y un formato fácil de entender. Incluye: número de criminales convictos y la naturaleza de sus delitos, la prevalencia de los pandilleros “antes y aquellos que violan las leyes de inmigración”, la custodia y la condición jurídica de los extranjeros, – si se libera- la razón para la liberación, el número de extranjeros ordenó retirarse y número extraído físicamente.

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law Announces New Focus on National Interest Waivers (NIW)

In addition to its other practice areas, Kansas City-based firm also will concentrate on clients who contribute to the national interest and may be eligible for permanent residence in the EB-2 immigrant visa preference category. 

Kansas City, MO (September 21, 2016)  Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law announces they have added a new focus to their immigration law practice. In addition to other areas, the firm also will concentrate on clients who may fall under the EB-2 immigrant visa preference category for U.S. employment-based permanent residency. The firm is well recognized for litigating complicated immigration cases, and often takes cases in which clients’ have unique situations and life stories. Given the heightened standards faced by those seeking residency through the National Interest Waiver process, the firm’s expertise in litigating complex cases places them in an unrivaled position to handle these cases.

“As trial lawyers, we’re different. We believe legal cases are about understanding people’s stories. We believe that decision makers need to understand the caliber of our clients, what they do to benefit the greater good, and how the law supports their cases,” explains Rekha Sharma-Crawford a principal in Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC.

The EB-2 immigrant visa preference category includes “members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and individuals who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States, and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the United States,” as created by congress with the Immigration Act of 1990. EB-2 categories usually require the Labor Certification application followed by the employer-filed I-140.

The NIW petition, however, waives EB-2’s Labor Certification requirement, but a person must fulfill three requirements that demonstrate permanent residency is in the nation’s best interest: work in the U.S. has “substantial intrinsic merit,” is “national in scope,” and “waiving the labor certification requirement would benefit the national interests of the United States.” The term “national interest” does not have a statutory or regulatory definition, which is where it becomes essential to be able to help explain, in plain language, what it is that the person does and its wider impact.

There are many ways that an individual’s contributions can further a national interest. For example, does the work that the individual performs help the American economy? Does it improve health care? Are they on the verge of a cutting edge discovery that has the potential to change or even create an industry? Other possibilities may include things like:

  • Will it create affordable housing for the poor, elderly and children?
  • Will the environment and natural resources usage improve?
  • Will it unlock a medical mystery and help change the way medical matters are approached or handled in a particular field?

“When we began to think about expanding our services, we realized that we had a passion for innovation. We use it in the way we litigate and we understand the way creative thought can lead to profound change. Thus, visa cases for members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the U.S. became our new passion. These cases appeal to our curiosity and unwavering need to understand and tell their stories in a way only trial lawyers can,” states Sharma-Crawford.

About Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law

Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law is a nationally recognized firm specializing in the complexities of immigration litigation. Practice specialties include criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court. The attorneys of Sharma-Crawford also speak and educate peers and the community on issues pertaining to the complexities of immigration and immigration litigation. The firm is located on the border of Kansas City’s Westside and the Crossroads Arts District.

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National Immigration Law Center Sues to Force Kansas to Disclose Information about Discriminatory Treatment of Refugees

KANSAS City, MO. & LOS ANGELES, CA., (April 5, 2016) – Kansas may not keep its unlawful discrimination against Syrian refugees a secret, according to a lawsuit filed by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and co-counsel Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC, under the Kansas Open Records Act. The suit, filed after more than two months of requests and appeals, seeks to learn more about how officials are implementing Gov. Sam Brownback’s unconstitutional instruction to state agencies not to assist in the resettlement of certain individuals designated by the federal government as refugees.

Last November, Brownback issued an executive order instructing state officials to engage in discriminatory practices to make it difficult for Syrian refugees to begin new lives in Kansas. He has since issued a more ambiguous order that could have the same pernicious effect.

“Syrian refugees have fled unspeakable violence, undergone years of background checks and want nothing more than to begin their lives anew in America,” said Melissa Keaney, attorney for the NILC. “Through his order, Gov. Brownback may be pushing his state agencies to make their new lives in America even more difficult, if not impossible—and he has done so in secret. We filed this lawsuit today because the public has a right to know if the state is engaging in discriminatory, unconstitutional behavior.”

“Gov. Brownback’s latest executive order leaves out way more than it includes,” said Justin Cox, cooperating attorney with the NILC. “Nowhere does it explain the circumstances under which the state would conclude that a particular refugee is a security risk, who within the state would make that determination or if it has already been made. For all that’s known publicly, Kansas could be barring refugees from the state solely because of their religion or country of birth.”

More than ten weeks ago, NILC requested information under the Kansas Open Records Act from the governor’s office and two agencies involved in administering federally funded benefits to refugees: the Kansas Department for Women and Children and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Under the law, state officials have three business days to act on a request for public records.

“This lawsuit demonstrates what is all too common: public officials routinely violate the Kansas Open Records Act, making a mockery of the law’s promise of governmental transparency,” said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, who is serving as co-counsel on the case. “Usually the public officials get away with ignoring the law, but not this time.”

NILC and Sharma-Crawford Attorneys hope that the lawsuit will compel the state to provide more information about how it is implementing the executive order in order to shine a public light on the state’s potentially unconstitutional, discriminatory actions.

The petition for declaratory and injunctive relief is available at www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/NILC-v-Brownback-KORA-2016-03-30.pdf.

About Sharma-Crawford Attorneys At Law
Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law specializes in the complexities of immigration litigation. Practice specialties include criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court. The attorneys of Sharma-Crawford also speak and educate peers and the community on issues pertaining to the complexities of immigration and immigration litigation. The firm is located on the border of Kansas City’s Westside and the Crossroads Arts District.

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Legal Representation Crucial for Refugee Children

The stories below are based off real client experiences. However, all names and specific details have been altered as a matter of privacy and confidentiality.

Juana was 11 years old when she came to the U.S. from Honduras. She lived with her grandparents, but they could not protect her from the violence engulfing their country. A cousin helped her make the treacherous journey from Honduras to the U.S. She got across the southern border in to Texas, but she was quickly apprehended by border patrol officers. The border patrol officers explained her rights to her including her right to make a phone call, her right to be represented by an attorney and her right to see an immigration judge. The problem was that the officer read these rights to her in English. She only spoke Spanish. She unwittingly nodded her head, and she was transferred to a facility with other children who came into the U.S. without their parents. She was ultimately released to her mother in Kansas.

Unknown to her, and her mother, she also was placed in immigration proceedings and given an immigration hearing. She had no idea how the immigration legal system worked and neither did her mom. Juana was just excited to be reunited with her mother. Unfortunately, neither understood Juana’s obligation to go to court to see an immigration judge. Juana did not attend her hearing and was ordered deported from the U.S. She now faces the daunting task of trying to reopen her case and see if she is eligible for some sort of relief or get deported to the violent country she fled. At this point, the difference between having an attorney and not having an attorney could be the difference between protection in the U.S. or potential persecution or death in Honduras.

For the past two years, women and children refugees from three Central American countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, have come to the U.S. in record numbers due to significant violence and failing police systems in their countries. Many of the women and children who come to the U.S. are eligible for asylum. According to the Asylum Office, part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, close to 90% of families who have come to the U.S. have shown a credible fear of persecution or torture. Legally, this means that the Asylum Office has determined that they have a significant possibility to be granted asylum in the U.S.

Unfortunately, just having shown a credible fear of persecution does not protect all of these refugees. After these refugees are found to have a credible fear they are placed in immigration court before and immigration judge. If the refugees are unaccompanied minors, they do not have to show a credible fear of persecution at the border. However, they are still placed in immigration court. For both groups of refugees, the presence of an attorney can be the difference between getting asylum in the U.S. and getting deported to the country they fled.

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, almost 50 percent of unaccompanied children are unrepresented at immigration proceedings. Of all the deportation orders issued by immigration judges against children in 2014 and 2015, almost 90 percent of them were unrepresented. The number of deportation orders against children for failing to appear in court (also called in absentia orders) were even higher at almost 97 percent. These numbers were similar for families. 86 percent of families ordered removed were unrepresented and almost 97 percent of families order deported in absentia were unrepresented.

These striking numbers show the absolute necessity for representation of these refugees. When they come to the U.S., they have no idea how to navigate the treacherous maze of immigration law, they do not speak the language, and often they have limited education and little money. For unaccompanied children, particularly younger children, they have no ability to speak for or defend themselves in court or the asylum office, if they even make it to court or the asylum office.

When I tell acquaintances unfamiliar with immigration law that immigrants, even child refugees from Central America, are not appointed attorneys, many are shocked. Criminal defendants are required to have representation because of the implication of prison time or other deprivation of liberty. Despite the grave consequences of immigration proceedings, particularly for these refugees, immigration cases are considered civil. There is no requirement for appointment of counsel.

However, Senator Harry Reid recently introduced a bill to require appointment of counsel, even at the cost of the government if necessary, for unaccompanied children, disabled individuals, and victims of abuse, torture or violence. The bill would also permit the immigration court to appoint attorneys for any person in immigration court, although it is not required. This is a step in the right direction. Although there is little hope it will pass as a bill, the importance of representation must be acknowledged, as highlighted by the statistics from TRAC. No refugee or child should be ordered deported without representation from competent attorneys.


 

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. If you are in removal proceedings or need legal advice on your immigration case, please contact an immigration attorney.