The Supreme Court’s decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder represents a big win for those—like us—who believe lawfully present immigrants should not be deported for relatively minor drug offenses. The question now is: how big? In a 7-2 decision written by Justice Sotomayor, the Court held that a marijuana distribution conviction should not be considered an “aggravated felony” under the immigration laws unless court records demonstrate that the offense involved payment or more than a small amount of marijuana.
No comprehensive immigration reform bill has been introduced in Congress, much less signed into law. But it’s never too early to start to prepare. If and when reform is enacted, millions of undocumented immigrants will finally be able to come out of the shadows. And just as the early bird gets the worm, those who apply first will (generally) be approved first. While the enactment of legislation is months away at a minimum, there are numerous steps noncitizens can now take to ensure they qualify for a path to legalization.
Sixty agonizingly long days after final regulations were published, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) this morning released Form I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, and its accompanying instructions. In previous posts, we discussed many aspects of the stateside waiver process (see here, here, and here). In this post, we’ll discuss some basic filing-related details. How much will it cost? The filing fee for Form I-601A is $585 plus $85 for biometrics for applicants under age 79.
We are now days away from the launch of the provisional waiver process, a White House initiative that will permit immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to stay in the country while immigration officials process their waivers for the unlawful presence bars. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting applications on March 4, and will release Form I-601A and its accompanying instructions either today or on Monday.
Any day now, the Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion in Moncrieffe v. Holder, an immigration case with important ramifications for noncitizens convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses. The case is one of three argued in early October that the Justices have yet to decide. With the Court scheduled to release opinions on Tuesday and Wednesday—and a better than average possibility that Moncrieffe will be among them—we thought we would review what’s at stake in the case.
Media coverage of the leaked White House immigration bill has mostly focused on its proposed path to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented immigrants. Little if any ink has been spilled on Title I of the bill, which, while labeled “Enforcement,” contains many provisions that will be pleasing to immigrants and their attorneys. The enforcement provisions in some respects are a sheep in wolf’s clothing, as they would lead to the initiation of fewer removal proceedings based on minor criminal convictions, eliminate many bars to relief for noncitizens facing removal, and give immigration judges authority to appoint counsel for unrepresented respondents at government expense.
It took only three years longer than promised—and a leak that may or may not have been intentional—but the White House has finally produced a legislative proposal to fix the immigration system. Dubbed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2013, the bill would create a pathway to citizenship for most of the 11 million removable noncitizens in the country, mandate the eventual use of E-Verify for most employers, and dull many of the draconian provisions enacted in the 1996 immigration bill.
We’ve previously told you about the broad proposals for immigration reform put forward by President Obama and the bipartisan group of Senators known as the “Gang of Eight.” Today, we’ll take you through an actual piece of legislation currently pending in Congress: the Immigration Innovation (or “I-Squared”) Act of 2013. Unlike the frameworks put forth by the President and the Gang of Eight, which address numerous aspects of the immigration system, the I-Squared Act is narrowly focused on employment visas for professional and other highly skilled workers.
The week before last, we surveyed President Obama’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform. Today, we will look at a similar plan put forward by a bipartisan group of Senators known as the “Gang of Eight.” (Its members are Democrats Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, Robert Menendez, and Michael Bennet, and Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Jeff Flake.) Like President Obama, the Senators want to modernize the legal immigration system, create a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, and require mandatory employment verification for new workers.
Those following Tuesday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee could be forgiven for thinking the sole cause of our country’s immigration problems was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”), the landmark bill that created a pathway to citizenship for roughly three million undocumented immigrants. Time and again, Republican committee members faulted the legislation for not only being too soft on enforcement, but creating a supposed magnet for future unauthorized immigration.