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Phoenix Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Fewer immigrants passing credible fear interviews

Those who enter the United States in Arizona or other recognized locations may request asylum upon arrival. The first step in obtaining asylum is the credible fear interview. This is when an individual shows evidence such as physical wounds to a government agent. However, there is no guarantee that a person will be found credible. One woman was denied despite showing scars and a hand with missing fingers after an attack in Honduras.

Despite her story and the physical evidence to go along with it, her claim was rejected. This is because the United States has changed its asylum policy to exclude those seeking protection from gang or domestic violence at home. According to the Trump administration, the fact that 75 percent of immigrants seeking asylum passed the credible fear review was not a positive thing. The director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said that the bar to pass the review had been set too low.

Judge orders a halt to reunited immigrant family deportations

Many Arizona residents were shocked to learn that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents at the Mexican border, and they may have been relieved when a national backlash prompted the Trump administration to abandon the controversial policy. However, a new outcry ensued when it emerged that reunited immigrant families were being deported without delay.

The American Civil Liberties Union responded by mounting a legal challenge to the deportation policy. The nonprofit organization argued that under U.S. immigration law, reunited immigrant families should be given time to consider pursing asylum in the United States before being returned to their home countries. On July 16, a federal judge in California was swayed by this argument and issued an order that temporarily halts immediate deportations. Attorneys representing the federal government and the ACLU were then given a week to file a response to the order. The judge will make a permanent ruling after considering these responses.

Visa overstays

Non-citizens who visit or work in Arizona sometimes have concerns about overstaying their visas. In general, there can be severe legal consequences for not departing the United States before the visa has expired. There are some circumstances under which overstaying a visa may incur minor penalties.

When someone from another country comes to the United States, he or she is issued a visa. Unless a person has been granted permanent residency, the visa will expire at some point. Those who remain in the U.S. after their visa expires have "overstayed" their visa.

Avoiding problems in keeping permanent resident status

People in Arizona who are not U.S. citizens but have secured permanent resident status should keep their green cards in good standing. The two main ways that green card holders can jeopardize their permanent residencies are by violating the law or spending extended periods of time outside of the United States.

There is no official list of violations that will qualify a person for deportation, so it's a good idea for any permanent resident who is arrested or charged with a crime to consult an immigration lawyer. Criminal attorneys may not have a full understanding of the cooperation of criminal and immigration laws. Additionally, legal violations that jeopardize green card status need not be criminal. People have been deported for committing civil offenses that required no jail time.

Trump administration to fingerprint immigrant child sponsors

On May 29, the Trump administration announced that it would soon start fingerprinting parents who attempt to claim custody of unaccompanied children detained for entering the U.S. illegally. However, immigrant advocates claim the move may cause undocumented adults in Arizona and elsewhere to abandon their children for fear of being deported.

Because U.S. laws limit the amount of time minors can be held in custody, immigration officials have historically released unaccompanied children to adult sponsors who live in the U.S. The sponsors are then expected to bring the children to court for their deportation hearings. However, a representative of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services told media outlets that the government now intends to fingerprint adult sponsors with the intention of performing thorough background checks. Critics of the policy say that it will stop some parents from picking up their children, leaving them to sit in detention centers. An HHS representative disagreed, saying that parents who are afraid to pick up their children don't deserve to be sponsors.

ICE sued by the ACLU for unfair detention of asylum seekers

Arizonans are likely familiar with the issues surrounding immigration. They might be interested in learning that the American Civil Liberties Union recently filed a lawsuit against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for allegedly detaining asylum seekers unfairly.

According to the ACLU, asylum seekers who pass the credible fear test are normally released on humanitarian parole while they wait for their hearings before immigration judges. Since the Trump administration came into power, however, the ACLU alleges that humanitarian parole has decreased from 90 percent of the asylum seekers down to zero in five offices located in El Paso, Texas; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan.

Temporary Protected Status ending for many immigrants

Some Arizona residents who came to the United States under the Temporary Protected Status program may be sent back to their home countries even if they have been living in the country for decades and have children who are citizens. The Trump administration is phasing out these programs, and now, Hondurans who are in the United States with TPS status must either return home within the next 18 months or remain in the country as an undocumented immigrant.

The purpose of the program is to grant temporary residency for people whose countries have been devastated by civil war, hurricanes or earthquakes. The devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 lead to Hondurans being allowed to settle in the country under the program. However, since then, there have been serious issues with drug cartel and gang violence, and opponents of ending the program argue that people will be sent right back into these situations. Supporters say the country has had time to recover from the hurricane and that it has always had problems with violence and poverty.

Cultural confusion can be a detriment to immigrants

Immigrants in Arizona and other states who can't afford an attorney could be tempted to work with "notarios publico," which translates to "public notaries." These notarios tell individuals who are living in the country illegally that they can help them secure work permits and otherwise aid them with the immigration process. However, these notaries could actually put a person's ability to stay in the country in jeopardy.

One woman was taken into custody more than 20 years after a notario sent an application for permanent residency to authorities. However, she claims that she never lived at the address listed on the application, so she never received a notice to appear in court. Since the woman failed to show up for her court date, she was selected for deportation. In many cases, a notario will submit an application for asylum and a work permit using his or her own address on the application.

Caravan of 200 people getting closer to United States

Residents in border states such as Arizona may have heard about a caravan that is looking to cross Mexico with hopes of eventually reaching the United States. According to organizers, there are roughly 200 people in that caravan, and their goal is to seek asylum once they reach the United States border. A representative from Pueblo Sin Fronteras said that this was more than twice as many as was expected.

Many in the caravan are of Central American descent and are trying to escape harsh conditions in Honduras or El Salvador. One man acknowledged that his odds of actually getting asylum were relatively slim as he had no proof of the danger that he faced back home. However, he claimed that he and his family were fleeing from a gang in Honduras that had already killed one of his relatives.

Understanding immigration petitions

In Arizona, parties that have certain relationships with others who wish to immigrate to the U.S. may file petitions on their behalf. Immigration petitions are applications that the U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents or employers may file on behalf of the immigrants.

Family members of immigrants who have certain relationships may file immigration petitions on their behalf. The family members must meet certain guidelines in order to petition for their immigrant relatives. The petitions are normally treated in order of priority with U.S. citizens who petition for their spouses or minor unmarried children having top priority.

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