Sanctuary Cities 101

by Olivia M. Scofield


While immigration enforcement in the US has often been the subject of heated debate, the question of how immigration law should be enforced and by whom has reached a fever pitch in the year since President Trump took office. Cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, among others, have been labeled “sanctuary cities” based on their political and policy responses to immigration enforcement efforts by the current and past presidential administrations. In the past year, the tension between the Trump administration and these (and other) local governments has led to a struggle that is currently playing out in police stations, legislatures, and courts throughout the United States. The topic is a complicated one, and the laws around these cities are currently in flux, but we’ve put together a brief primer on so-called “sanctuary cities.”

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The Washington Post: “Federal Judge: Trump administration must accept new DACA applications”

by Joseph McKeown


A federal judge in Washington D.C. has ordered the government to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and allow new applicants to apply, calling the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the program for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children “virtually unexplained” and “unlawful." In his decision, US District Judge John D. Bates writes that the Trump administration's decision “was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful" and that "each day that the agency delays is a day that aliens who might otherwise be eligible for initial grants of DACA benefits are exposed to removal because of an unlawful agency action.” Even so, Judge Bates has stayed his ruling for ninety days to give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) time to provide a more detailed reason for ending the program; otherwise, the judge will rescind the memo that ended the DACA program and allow for new applicants.

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USCIS to Begin Using More Secure Mail Delivery Service

by Joseph McKeown


In a welcome move, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced last week that beginning April 30, 2018, the agency will begin phasing in the use of the US Postal Service’s (USPS) Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service in order to mail Green Cards and other secure documents to recipients. The first phase will involve re-mailing documents—including Permanent Resident Cards (i.e., Green Cards), Employment Authorization Cards (EAD cards), and Travel Booklets—that have been returned as non-deliverable. USCIS states that applicants who have changed mailing addresses during the application process are more likely to have their secure documents sent with this new delivery service. USCIS plans to expand this signature confirmation mailing service to all secure documents in the future.

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The Aftermath of the H-1B FY 2019 Visa lottery: Next Steps and Alternatives

by Elizabeth Brettschneider


US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) have announced the lottery results for this year’s H-1B cap (fiscal year 2019) with USCIS reporting that it received 190,098 H-1B petitions. This number is down just slightly from last year’s total of 199,000 but with only 85,000 total slots to be filled (20,000 set aside for people with US master’s degrees and the remaining 65,000 for all others), the odds are still against the majority of applicants. For those whose petitions were chosen, there was certainly an element of luck. Congratulations on this good fortune! While statistically most people will be disappointed, for the lucky few who were chosen, celebrations are certainly in order. But after these celebrations, H-1B cap selectees should be aware of some key additional items. And for those not selected, there may still be hope.

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New York Times: “Justice Gorsuch Joins Supreme Court’s Liberals to Strike Down Deportation Law”

by Joseph McKeown


Last week the Supreme Court struck down a law that allowed the government to deport certain immigrants who have committed serious crimes, calling the law too vague to be properly enforced. This case was decided five to four with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch joining the court’s four more liberal members for the first time. In his concurring opinion, Justice Gorsuch writes: “Vague laws invite arbitrary power.”

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US Passport Cards Q&A

by Joseph McKeown


Summertime is fast approaching and soon it will be time for, that’s right, vacation! Although many Americans will travel domestically this summer, some will set off for international destinations abroad or even to our northern neighbors in Canada or—despite the heat—head south to Mexico. For those traveling outside the US, it’s an excellent time now to check if your passport needs renewed, or to apply for your first one. Those applying for passports will see that there are actually two “passports” you can apply for: a US passport book and a US passport card. Wait, what’s a passport card? you may wonder. And what’s the difference between the two? And which one do I need? I have so many questions! It’s okay, let’s discuss.

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