Law Office of Valdez & Monarrez
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The Law Office of Valdez & Monarrez helps families in the Rio Grande Valley & Houston area with immigration, citizenship, naturalization, deportation defense & visas. We can also help with cases involving criminal defense, injuries, divorce or other legal matters.

McAllen Texas Immigration Law Blog

Government shutdown cancels over 40,000 immigration hearings

Many immigrants live in Texas, and those who have been waiting for their immigration hearings will have to wait longer. The government shutdown that began in December 2018 has forced immigration courts to cancel 42,726 hearings according to figures collected by the Transaction Records Access Clearinghouse.

These cancellations have happened to people who have already waited two to four years for their hearings. Now their cases will probably fall to the bottom of the list of people awaiting immigration hearings. The cases clogging immigration courts have already ballooned to over 800,000 cases. If the government shut down persists until the end of January, TRAC predicts that 108,112 immigration cases will suffer continued delays.

Changes impact H-1B work visa process

Employers and employees in Texas may be concerned about potential changes to the H-1B work visa program. Obtaining an H-1B visa can be an important step toward a lucrative professional career as well as the ability to obtain permanent residency. Unlike other forms of work visas, H-1B visas can be transitioned into green cards for eligible immigrants. On an annual basis, there are 85,000 of these work visas issued. While 65,000 go to people with a bachelor's degree, 20,000 are designated for those with a master's degree or other advanced education.

Applications are opened for H-1B visas in early April. During this time, there is usually an overflow of applicants so great that the program is oversubscribed in the first week. In 2018 alone, 200,000 petitions were received in the first week of open applications. Because of the high level of demand, the government uses a lottery system to choose successful applicants from among the candidates eligible. H-1B visa holders have become an important part of the economy; major tech corporations like Microsoft, Intel and Google hire many H-1B workers. These companies warn that a cutback in work visas could lead to increased competition from foreign companies.

Credible fear asylum claims on the rise

Residents of Texas who have questions about immigration should be aware that credible fear asylum claims have climbed, according to research concerning the figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. From 2017 to 2018, claims of credible fear climbed 67 percent. Credible fear is the first step toward asylum and can be used when a person fears for his or her personal safety if he or she is sent home.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released the numbers publicly as more migrants continue to seek asylum to gain entry to the country. For example, a caravan of more than 6,000 migrants, most of them from Honduras, attempted to seek asylum in San Diego. One commissioner explained that, for the most part, asylum claims are generally unsuccessful in immigration court. However, judges granted asylum in 21 percent of cases in 2018.

Federal judge refuses to back down from asylum ruling

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar refused to suspend his earlier ruling blocking the Trump administration from imposing new conditions on asylum seekers at the southern border, including the border with Texas. The Department of Justice had asked the federal judge to allow the administration to grant asylum only to those migrants who crossed the border with Mexico under new conditions imposed by Trump. However, the judge said that the administration had failed to meet its burden to show that its policy is legal under U.S. immigration law.

In addition, the judge highlighted the material harm that asylum seekers could face under the proposed restrictions, especially people with legitimate claims. The ruling came after several migrant rights groups filed a lawsuit to block a proclamation by President Trump on Nov. 9. The proclamation declared that the government would no longer allow applications for asylum from people who crossed the southern border without documents or a legal process. However, existing asylum law explicitly allows for asylum applications regardless of the legality of a given person's entry into the country.

Judge orders halt to controversial Trump asylum policy

Many Texas residents are aware that a caravan of immigrants from Honduras has been traveling to the U.S. border over the past several weeks. About 3,000 of the caravan's members have now made their way to Tijuana, and reports indicate that many of them plan to seek asylum in the United States. President Trump has vowed to prevent this from happening, and he issued a presidential proclamation on Nov. 7 that would deny asylum to any individuals who cross the Mexican border illegally.

Trump's proclamation contradicts asylum protocols established by international law and codified by Congress. Therefore, the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights have filed a lawsuit against the proclamation in court. On Nov. 19, a federal judge ruled that the president does not have the authority to rewrite the nation's immigration laws. This led to a temporary restraining order that prevents authorities from enforcing the proclamation.

Motel 6 settles lawsuit regarding guest data given to ICE

Early in November, Motel 6 agreed to pay up to $8.9 million to settle a lawsuit filed against the motel chain after the personal information of Latino guests at two Motel 6 locations in Arizona were leaked to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to a New York Times article, those two Motel 6 locations regularly handed over guest information without warrants, which resulted in some guests being detained or deported.

Motel 6 is owned by G6 Hospitality, a company based in Texas. However, senior management did not know this practice was occurring, the New York Times article said. After the practice came to light, Motel 6 introduced a policy at its locations nationwide, prohibiting information about guests from being freely given to law enforcement.

Migrant caravan spurs discussion over asylum

News outlets in Texas and around the country have been running stories about a caravan of several thousand migrants making its way through Mexico toward the United States. Many of the migrants progressing with the caravan say that they are fleeing violence in countries like Honduras and hope to claim asylum once they reach the U.S. border. This has made the asylum process a hot-button political issue in the run-up to the crucial 2018 midterm elections.

The rules for asylum were memorialized in 1951 when countries including the United States attended the United Nations Refugee Convention. Asylum was later incorporated into U.S. law when President George H.W. Bush signed the Immigration and Nationality Act into law in 1990. According to federal data, about 26,000 immigrants each year are granted asylum in the U.S. each year due to legitimate fears of violence or persecution should they return to their home countries.

Immigration policy causes chaos and confusion

According to a report released in October by the U.S. Accountability Office, federal agencies have been in a state of chaos and confusion due to the Trump administration's immigration policies. These policies have had a major impact on immigrants coming through Texas and other border states. Officials from Homeland Security and Health and Human Services said that they did not plan for the influx of kids being separated from their parents. A different report from the DHS came up with similar results.

The confusion regarding immigration policy began when a Justice Department memo called for a zero-tolerance policy against all individuals caught crossing the border without documentation. The children of parents who were detained were either put into foster care, placed with a sponsor, or detained in a shelter. The policy caused a tremendous amount of controversy throughout the summer.

E-Verify can be a flawed system

The E-Verify system is designed to determine if an immigrant living in Texas or anywhere else has the right to get a job in the United States. However, both Democratic and Republican politicians say that there are flaws with the system. One of the most commonly cited flaws is that it still allows undocumented immigrants to find employment in the country.

The system works by verifying that documents provided by an immigrant to an employer are legitimate. According to a member of the CATO Institute, that is the fatal flaw with E-Verify. While it could be improved using DNA or other biometric data, that would probably be beyond the power of the government. Others say that the problem with E-Verify is that it places a burden on smaller companies.

Is Mexico becoming the new “land of opportunity”?

With so many undocumented Mexican immigrants returning to their cultural homeland, many find new opportunities upon arrival. Being forced to return to a country that many adults have little to no experience living is difficult enough. However, some Mexican based programs are offering “ex-dreamers” the opportunity to bring English skills into tech school environments.

A coding school located in Mexico City offers students a livable stipend while enrolled. The program is aimed at helping returning immigrants integrate into Mexico with viable career options. The program also encourages the integration of experience these ex-immigrants have while living for years and even decades in North America.

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