The Day After Trump, For Immigrants

by W. John Yahya Vandenberg

November 9, 2016

Trump’s election is likely going to change a lot of things, especially for immigrants, and most certainly for undocumented immigrants. So let’s walk through what happens now and the following days.

First, not much will change until Trump actually is sworn in in January. So there is some time to figure out who should be concerned, and why.

Second, there are some immigrants who have less time than others to take steps to work on their status. I’m especially thinking about DACA recipients. DACA’s – you guys rock. You are working, you are studying, you are making your communities better places. If you are near or close to 180 days til expiration, NOW is the time to file to extend your DACA. If there is more than 6 months, I think it would be worthwhile to file to extend no later than the end of December. This is about getting as much time as possible.

For persons eligible for DACA who didn’t yet make an initial application, you have a choice to make.  If you apply now for the first time, you are giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) your address and contact information.  If they want to detain you, they could.  At the same time, if you are granted DACA – well, a Social Security Card is a very handy thing to have, even if it’s only for two years.  So any new DACA’s should carefully consider the potential risks and benefits.

Third, there are some immigrants who don’t have much to worry about. If you have status article-2147783-133851e5000005dc-611_468x302in the United States – I’m thinking immigrants with work visas, or greencards, or you are petitioning for a relative who is overseas – you should be OK.

Finally, there are some immigrants who have a reason to worry. I’m thinking about immigrants who are undocumented. There is a good chance that after Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017, we’ll go back to the days when ICE could arrest anyone who is undocumented, detain them if they want to, and seek to deport them. It is also quite likely that those persons whose cases are Administratively Closed will see their cases reopened.

To those immigrants without status, our lawyers have been here before, and we know what to do: fight for you in the courts. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we saw this: immigrants targeted for detention and removal proceedings. Those who fought often won. Those who gave up, lost, and were either deported or left.

To those immigrants without status, we want you to know that America has been here before. Tonight I am reminded of my law school, the Villanova University School of Law. It is located in Villanova, Pennsylvania, which is a suburb of Philadelphia.

Not many people know that Villanova University is in Villanova because in 1844, “Nativists,” persons who hated immigrants, burned down the St. Augustine Church in South Philadelphia. The Nativists did so because of a rumor that Catholics – then mainly Irish and Italian immigrants – were going to take the Bible out of Philadelphia public schools. The Augustinian Fathers literally were burned out of Philadelphia.

 

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Lithograph of the old St. Augustine Church burning in 1844.

But you should also know that times change for the better. The Augustinian fathers founded Villanova University from that terrible incident, and the University served, and still serves, the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those Irish & Italian Catholics who lost their church. The Augustinian fathers sued the city of Philadelphia, and they won compensation for the loss of their church. And they rebuilt St. Augustine’s, which still stands today at 243 N. Lawrence Street in Philadelphia.st-augustines-church

The children of those Italian and Irish immigrants got jobs that counted. They served as police, as members of the military, and members of the media. They organized themselves politically and they learned how to make their votes count. Now is the time to work, not to falter or become disheartened.

The sun will rise at 6:40am this morning. I’ll be in the office all day. If you’re worried, know that we’re here for you, and we’ll fight for your rights.  We might even sue.

3 Year DACA Work Card? You gotta give it back….

by W. John Vandenberg

Because of the quirks of USCIS administration, some DACA recipients received a 3 year work card because of President Obama’s Executive Action announcement.  However, it seems that that gift just got a massive recall.

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USCIS is sending letters to everyone who got the three year card.  Here is a sample 3 year daca return letter.   You must return your 3 year work card by July 17, 2015.*    You must also return the approval notices.  The reason for the recall is the lawsuit filed to stop President Obama’s Executive Action in Texas.

I guess the good news is that USCIS is happy to give you a normal two year card.

But try to stay positive, folks.  Perhaps some of you have been in deportation proceedings.  Remember that government attorney, who fought to get you deported?  Well, government attorneys are now fighting in that Texas courtroom for your right to stay and get a three year DACA work card after all.  And if you’re a parent of U.S. citizen children, they are fighting for the Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA“) program.  And a lot of other great ideas from President Obama’s Executive Action.  I personally am happy that my colleagues across the aisle are fighting for immigrants — it’s a nice change, and I genuinely wish them success. At least in this case!

* However, if your EAD card was issued on or before February 16, 2015, then you can keep it in your pocket. Judge Hanen only issued the Injunction on that date.  Be sure to check!

Executive Action: Good for Everyone

This morning, the Philadelphia Inquirer had a great article about the Executive Action announced by President.  It is important to remember that this Executive Action is good for everyone.

Think of the benefits to all, both immigrant and native born, including:

– Deferred Action adults will have work cards.  This means they can get Social Security Cards, and pay into the Social Security fund that helps many elderly Americans pay their rent and put food on the table.  Social Security already was receiving $13 billion a year from undocumented workers; this new Executive Action will be a significant boost.

– Deferred Action adults are going to be paying taxes.  Think about the numbers: if the Administration is right, there are going to be more than 4+ million new taxpayers; that sure could fix a lot of bridges, and give the Head Start and other programs a much-needed boost.

– Road safety.  So, once these Deferred Action adults obtain Social Security Cards and Employment Authorization Cards, in most states they will be eligible for Drivers Licenses.  We have already had some discussion on this with the original DACA program; most states allow them to obtain drivers licenses.  That is a good thing!  Because legal drivers can get insurance.  Makes me feel safer already.

– It helps ICE catch the bad guys, and leave the good guys alone.  We all know that law enforcement officers have discretion.  Ever got a warning instead of a ticket?  Police officers decide every day who to arrest, and who to let walk free.  The new Executive Order clarifies that ICE is supposed to focus on the terrorists, the criminals, and the recent border crossers.  And not the immigrants who are hard-working and law-abiding.  The background checks required by the Deferred Action program will also allow ICE to ensure that immigrants here are good folks.  It ensures that our communities are safer in every way.

– Money and investment.  We all benefit when entrepreneurs and high-tech industries make the United States their home. This new Executive Action is going to make it easier for investors to come here and invest, and build their technology in the USA.  This keeps our country competitive on the world market.

Every one of these benefits is important to Americans, whether new, native, or en route.  We can bicker about the politics both pro and con.  But at the end of the day, we believe this Executive Action is a net plus for the United States!