As an immigration lawyer in Houston, I am often asked about changes to immigration law. If you keep up with immigration news, you might be wondering, what is the RAISE Act? The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act is a proposed reform of the U.S. Immigration System. Today, we look at its components, its questionable arguments, and the future of this proposed legislation.
What is the INA 287g Program?
What is the INA 287g Program and what does it mean for Texas? Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows state and local police officers to collaborate with the federal government to enforce immigration laws. State and local governments have entered into 287(g) agreements in the past several years as a means of identifying and arresting undocumented individuals more easily.
While the Travel Ban has received the most press coverage over the last four months, there are other provisions of the Executive Order that contained the most recent version of the Travel Ban that immigrants and international travelers need to know about. The Department of State Will Begin Collecting New Data on travelers to the United States. This increased scrutiny of international travelers could mean delays for visa applicants and increased chances for errors and complications.
As an Immigration Lawyer in Houston, every day I speak to people who want to apply for green cards, many of them based on family relationships. I want to get as much specific information as I can so I know how to best present a case.
This always includes understanding how a person got to the United States. Sometimes people explain that they used a visa or Border Crossing Card. Sometimes they tell us a coyote smuggled them in. Sometimes they just say “I entered illegally.”
This week, we learned that President Trump’s administration will take steps to delay the implementation of the International Entrepreneur Rule, commonly called the “Entrepreneur Startup Visa."
Obama's International Entrepreneur Rule
The International Entrepreneur Rule was announced by President Obama in late 2016 as a way to facilitate entrepreneurs from other countries opening new businesses in the United States. Before the rule was announced, people interested in opening businesses in the United States would have to get a visitor visa or some other permission to come to the United States in order to sign contracts, attend meetings, and take other necessary actions to start a new enterprise.
While getting a visitor visa might seem simple, in reality, visitor visas are issued in the discretion of U.S. Consular officers, and are often arbitrarily denied. Even those who have visitor visas can be refused entry or subjected to harsh scrutiny by U.S. Customs and Border Protection when arriving at an airport or land border.
CBP is Deploying New Technology and “Extreme Vetting” for International Travelers and Immigrants
Over the last few months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has rolled out several new technology based initiatives and interrogation strategies to further secure the border and prevent individuals from overstaying their visas. International travelers and even permanent residents need to be aware of these changes so that their entry into the United States can go smoothly.
Before we jump into what to do if you are worried about your immigration status, it might help to take a look back at the recent immigration raids that have been happening around the United States.
In the last month, an immigration raid in the areas surrounding Houston provoked fear and concern in the undocumented immigrant community and from immigrants’ rights advocates.
Prior to this recent raid in areas surrounding Houston, ICE had conducted raids in Austin, Texas and surrounding areas. ICE described a raid in the Austin area in February as part of an “Enforcement Surge.” However, speculation developed that the raid was actually a form of punishment against the city of Austin after its sheriff limited her office’s cooperation with ICE.
As an immigration lawyer in Houston, H-1B visas are on my radar. On March 19th, CBS 60 minutes covered the H-1B visas and its “outsourcing of American jobs to foreign workers, often at lower pay.” The show interviewed individuals who claimed they were required to train H-1B workers who then replaced them for less pay.
Trump's Travel Ban 2.0
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order stating that citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya would be banned from entering the United States. The order did not differentiate between visa holders, people with green cards or even dual citizens.
Lawyers in various jurisdictions filed lawsuits to stay the enforcement of the order. As the 9th circuit court of appeals considered a lower court’s decision to stay execution of the order, the Trump administration asked the court to hold its ruling so that the administration could issue a new order that was more carefully considered.