January 2015

Republicans Vote to end DACA

Republicans Vote to end DACA

Republicans Vote to end DACA

The 114th Congress is in full swing and among the first things that the new congress took action on, was to pass a bill to overturn President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration. On Wednesday January 14th, 2015 the House of Representatives passed a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security but does away with DACA and other executive guidelines on deporting undocumented individuals.

President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and just recently expanded this measure by starting the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. Both of these programs protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to work legally and in some states, it allows them to drive and go to college lawfully as well. But the House of Representatives voted to get rid of these programs and increase deportations by banning current beneficiaries from renovating their work permits.

One of the amendments on the bill would get rid of memos given to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services that meant to prioritize certain individuals for deportation. These memos instructed USCIS to delay removal proceedings for people who have been in America for a long time, have kids and have attended or are currently enrolled in college, among others. Likewise, these memos also directed USCIS to expedite the removal of criminals. However, this amendment which already passed the House, resurrects a very controversial program allowing local enforcement officials to hold individuals that could be suspected of being deportable by ICE. Lastly, this amendment prioritizes the deportation of domestic violence offenders but ironically could result in deportation of domestic violence victims as well.

Overall, Republicans have claimed that this bill is not about immigration but rather an attempt of checks and balances on the Executive Branch. Speaker John Boehner said:

This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself”. – John Boehner (R-Ohio)

But Immigration Attorney Amna Shirazi from the Atlanta-based Shirazi Law Group, Inc is skeptical of their intentions:

“This bill is mere political theater since it would most definitely be vetoed by the President if it passes the Senate… It also adds uncertainty to the priority here, which is funding DHS” – Attorney Amna Shirazi.

Certainly, in the Senate this bill will find supporters like Ted Cruz (R-Texas) but it will still need 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle and it is very unlikely that Senate Democrats would support it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Kentucky) told Republicans not to “expect any miracles” since he only has 54 Republican votes and would still need 6 Democrats to detract from their party and take an improbable position against immigrants. But Senate Majority Whip, Senator Cornryn (R-Texas) has signaled that the bill will need to be amended significantly in order for the Department of Homeland Security to be funded by the February 27th, deadline.

Georgia State Merger and Undocumented Students

Georgia State Merger and Undocumented Students

Georgia State Merger and Undocumented Students

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has approved the merger of Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College to form the biggest university in Georgia with about 54,000 students. Somehow, immigration has become an odd hot topic of this merger.  President Becker of Georgia State University has stated that the perimeter campuses of GPC will remain some sort of satellite campuses for Georgia State and would serve mainly as the place for people to obtain their 2-year associate programs. The Downtown campus will remain the flagship campus for Bachelor’s, Masters and Doctoral degrees. But there’s one topic, among many, that has the immigrant community of Georgia really worried: will the Regent’s ban expand to perimeter campuses of Georgia State University?

In 2010 the Board of Regents agreed to ban undocumented students from attending five Universities in Georgia: (University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Georgia College & State University and Georgia Regents University). Their rationale was that it would not be fair for other “lawful” residents of Georgia that have worked hard and deserve to be at these colleges, to be denied admission because they had to admit undocumented students into their tax-dollar funded universities instead.

Georgia Perimeter College is home to many DACA beneficiaries and it has served as the only opportunity for higher education in many cases. Immigration advocacy groups have criticized the Board of Regents’ ban extensively because it closes the doors of education to thousands of qualified young students. The Executive Vice President of the Student Government Association of Georgia State University, Sebastian Parra, will serve as one of three student representatives on the merger committee on behalf of GSU. Sebastian, a Colombian immigrant himself has stated:

“This is a huge problem because students that grew up in Georgia and have done everything right are being denied of higher education, it also sends a message to the younger ones to not even try to be good at school since they won’t be allowed to go to an University anyways” – Sebastian Parra, GSU

The uncertainty is worrisome, most likely, if GPC is merged to become the new “Georgia State University” then surely the ban will apply to the perimeter campuses which would leave hundreds of undocumented students without higher educational opportunities. Immigration Attorney Amna Shirazi from the Atlanta-based Shirazi Law Group, Inc adds:

“Georgia needs to be more welcoming to immigrants if it really wants to be the best place to raise a family, undocumented families want to send their kids to college and this ban makes it impossible for them”. – Amna Shirazi

The Shirazi Law Group will always be a friend of all Georgia Immigrants. We have personally helped hundred of young people be protected from deportation by helping them obtain DACA and their work authorization cards. We certainly hope for the best even if the near future seems so grim for undocumented students.

Charlie Hebdo, Homeland Security and Congress

charlie-hebdo

 Charlie Hebdo, Homeland Security and Congress

The tragic slaughter of 12 people at the publication office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris has placed a spotlight on Congress Republicans. Moreover, it has also put Executive Action on Immigration as the topic of the day at Capitol Hill again. Here is why: President Barack Obama issued an Executive order designed to protect around 5.8 million undocumented immigrants from deportation through the programs Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Republicans decided to fight this law by funding all of the government agencies until next September but only funding the Department of Homeland Security until February 27, 2015.

Backfire

Understandably so, Republicans in Congress have been taking fire this week after the Paris terrorist attacks because they intend to defund the agency that is meant to protect all Americans from these types of threats. The Speaker of the House stated:

“I believe that the president’s executive actions with regards to immigration are outside of the Constitution and outside of his powers. And I believe we can deal with that issue in the Department of Homeland Security bill without jeopardizing the security of our country” – John Boehner

Charlie Hebdo, Homeland Security and Congress

Politics

The Speaker’s statement is not very far from the truth as explained on a previous article about whether or not a government shutdown could halt executive action. The truth is that during the last government shutdown, the agency in charge of most immigration matters (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services) remained functional since it is considered essential. Additionally, USCIS is funded greatly by filing fees. Nevertheless, the political consequence of Defunding DHS over immigration reform could be costly for Republicans because they would be blamed for technically putting the agency in charge of protecting Americans under budget restrictions.

The Reality

The Department was created 11 days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Since then, there have been no major terrorist tragedies on American Soil. Hence the responsibility of all elected officials to continue to ensure the security of all Americans through important agencies like DHS and USCSIS. This battle is simply ideological and petty political theater. President Obama has veto power over any legislation against his Executive Action on Immigration, and Republicans simply do not have the numbers to override a veto.

The Expert

Attorney Amna Shirazi from the Shirazi Law Group, INC based in Atlanta, praises the President’s courage on immigration but laments the vulnerability of not funding DHS . She is an experienced immigration lawyer that has been able to stop deportations of hundreds of her clients, which helped keep their families together. Attorney Shirazi believes that the Executive Action on Immigration taken by President Obama is a good first step towards a comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that would be able to fix many of the issues that these temporary relief programs can only delay.

Fear Not and Apply for DACA and DAPA!

Fear Not and Apply!

Fear Not and Apply!

President Barack Obama has issued and executive order meant to protect around 5.8 million immigrants from deportation through the programs Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Naturally, many individuals are scared to apply in fear that if denied they might be deported or their personal information would be shared with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, Atlanta-based immigration attorney Amna Shirazi from the Shirazi Law Group, Inc encourages immigrants who qualify for this program to take advantage of this opportunity because it will allow them to stay here legally for some time. Here are some of her conclusions:

Others have applied and they are safe.

When the first wave of immigrants applied for DACA there was certainly many doubts and unwillingness to apply for this program, but those who did benefited by gaining work authorization cards, driver licenses in some states and social security numbers. ICE has not raided their homes and their information has remained within the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) alone. This is the best pice of evidence that should motivate others to apply for DAPA and the extended version of DACA, all of the clients of The Shirazi Law Group, inc have benefited from DACA and have applied and been approved for renewal.

USCIS and ICE serve different purposes.

Within the Department of Homeland Security the departments of USCIS and ICE are included. But ICE deals mostly with taking under custody, incarcerating and deporting undocumented immigrants. However, USCIS deals mostly with the processes of legalization and naturalization of qualifying immigrants like those applying to become citizens, asylum, U-Visas and Permanent Residence. Under the executive action of the President, USCIS is not supposed to share the personal information of immigrants for removal purposes and it should remain this way unless another president decides to change it.

Legal Documentation.

Many immigrants have never held any type of legal State-issued identification documents but applying for DACA and DAPA could enable them to receive work authorization cards, driving licenses and even social security numbers. The benefits of having these documents are countless and as an immigration lawyer, Amna Shirazi recommends that qualifying individuals take advantage of this opportunity. Furthermore, these documents could serve as evidence for future programs because they are state-issued, have pictures with the immigrant’s name with dates as proof of their physical presence in the U.S.

Defer deportation.

Finally, these programs would ultimately shelter undocumented immigrants from removal proceedings and it is always better to remain in America and hope for a comprehensive immigration reform if congress ever passes a bill. Moreover, the Director of USCIS, Leon Rodriguez has himself encouraged people to apply with confidence by highlighting that all Presidents have respected the executive decisions their predecessors made regarding immigration.

If you have questions about the new Executive Order on immigration please contact Immigration Attorney Amna Shirazi at the Shirazi Law Group, INC (404-523-3611). We are experts on handling deportations, Naturalization applications (N-400), Work Authorization applications, Permanent Residence applications (Green Cards) and National Visa Center processes; among others. Please connect with us on our social media accounts to get daily updates on immigration legal matters: