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.

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Missing Tara O’Connor, a Great Immigration Lawyer

by W. John Vandenberg

I miss Tara O’Connor.

We lost a great Immigration Lawyer this year. Tara was one of my first role models as an attorney. I met her when I was a law student, clerking at the Law Office of David E. Piver. Tara was an incredible Immigration Lawyer. Diligent, knowledgeable, and creative, she never hesitated to answer my questions about business immigration. She had an incredible sense of humor, and was an amazing writer. You were a lion in your fight against cancer, Tara, and you are dearly missed.

If you are a friend of Tara’s, or would like to say “thank you” for her help in obtaining immigration status, you can do so by making a donation for the care and education of her two sons. Send a check, payable to the Tara S. O’Connor Donation Account, to:
National Bank By Mail
(Chase)
PO Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

Post-script, February 10, 2015

Updates from the Family

An update on the Pennsylvania Service–

DETAILS: Tara’s Memorial & Gathering April 25

10:30am–Memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s in Malvern.
Immediately following, the family will be traveling for a private interment of Tara’s ashes. We will meet everyone at the gathering between 1 and 1:30.

The gathering will be at The Lamb Tavern (AKA The Porch Restaurant at the Lamb) in Springfield. They are prepared to receive our guests immediately following the memorial service, even though the family will be arriving later.

We are so looking forward to our family and friends, and feeling Tara with us on her 43rd birthday.

An update on the “Tara S. O’Connor Donation Account”–
Thank you to all who have contributed to this fund. The financial support is truly making a difference, as Morgan looks to continue to raise his boys in their home in Flagstaff. I had indicated previously that we hoped to get an electronic transfer up-and-running for this account, but unfortunately, the bank is not making it easy–or reasonable!–to do so. So, please use the address below to mail your donations.
Tara S. O’Connor Donation Account
Mail these checks to:
National Bank By Mail
(Chase)
PO Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

Stateside Waivers: A Year of Improvements

By Katelyn M. Hufe, Esq.

Last year’s AILA Conference in San Francisco came just 3 months after USCIS launched the provisional waiver program.  Now, USCIS has had over a year to work out kinks in the program.  The result: a 62% application approval rate, increasing clarity in standards and procedures, and the reopening, review and approval of several wrongfully denied applications.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the program, the March 2013 provisional waiver program aims at reducing hardship on families who are separated from their loved one during the waiver process.  Thousands of people unlawfully present in the U.S. require a waiver in order to get their green card through their spouse, child, or parent.

Before, those people had to return to their home country for many months in order to complete the process.  With the new (or year old!) program, people can apply and wait for a decision while here in the United States, and, if approved, return to their home country for a very brief period to obtain their immigrant visa.  Financially and emotionally, this program has been a life raft for families hanging on in a sea of harsh and unstable immigration processing.

Fast forward to June 20, 2014 at the AILA Annual Conference in Boston, and where are we? Well, 62% of applications are being approved, and USCIS has been requesting additional evidence in 31% of cases.  The government has a backlog of 12,695 cases.  USCIS has an impossible goal of completing cases in 90 days (which earned a crowd chuckle), but, more realistically, does try to make decisions within 6 months (although, as many of us know from experience, this often drags out to 8 months to a year).

Finally, we had 2 important takeaways from the conference panel:

1) While USCIS was routinely and inappropriately denying applications where an applicant had minor criminal issues (including, as I learned, traffic tickets!), this problem seems to have been remedied.  USCIS has provided new training and guidance to employees and even reopened many of these denied applications to grant waivers in those cases, and;

2) Through the hard work of AILA, we now have access to USCIS power points, procedures, and checklists that tell us EXACTLY what USCIS is looking for in these application packets.  This information tells us precisely what information and documentation we need from our clients and helps us to do everything we can to get applications approved.

In short, it’s been a good year for the provisional waiver program.  Things are running more smoothly, and AILA lawyers are more equipped than ever to file winning applications.  Let’s hope for a year of even more improvements by the time the AILA 2015 Annual Conference in National Harbor, MD rolls around!

And, as always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or to learn more about the waiver program.

 

Some good news — citizenship has staying power!

This just came in from the LA Times.  Really positive to see that there is real, hardheaded progress towards comprehensive immigration reform.  About a month ago, AILA had our monthly chapter meeting in Philadelphia.  Sen. Bob Casey came to give a short talk on what he was seeing on Capitol Hill, and after him a former Congressional Staffer, Richard Phillips gave us some advice on working with our representatives.  In his mind, the sequester was going nowhere and there would not be an agreement (he was right!), gun control was going nowhere (more and more looks like he’ll be right), but Comprehensive Immigration Reform was likely to actually happen.  The more stories I see like this, the more optimistic I feel: Senators Agree on Path to Legal Status for Illegal Immigrants.

Welcome to the Immigration Law Monitor

Hello, and welcome to our blog.

The Immigration Law Monitor, published by Hogan & Vandenberg LLC, is meant to keep folks up to date on the goings-on within the sphere of immigration law in the United States and around the globe.

Our partners, W. John Vandenberg of the Philadelphia, PA office (Bala Cynwyd, to be exact) and Rick Hogan of the Wilmington, DE office are experts in their field, focusing solely on immigration.

W. John Vandenberg (left); Rick Hogan (right)

The firm offers innovative legal solutions for immigrants, their families, and global businesses as well.

Check out our website for more information and stay tuned for updates!