Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Immigrant license checks in New Mexico

four state legislators and a state resident asked a judge Wednesday to stop Gov. Susana Martinez's administration from trying to verify whether immigrants who received a driver's license are still New Mexico residents. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and an Albuquerque law firm brought the lawsuit on behalf of the Democratic lawmakers and the Hispanic woman.
The plaintiffs seek to stop the DMV and Tax and revenue Dept from checking a random sample of ten thousand license holders who are non-citizens to determine their residency.
Currently, New Mexico, Washington and Utah allow illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses without proof of citizenship. (Utah requires a gov't identification card in order to get a driving permit)

New Mexico has sent notices to people that they must schedule an in-person appointment and bring documents, such as a utility bill or lease agreement, to prove they are residents of the state. The administration plans to cancel licenses of individuals who are no longer New Mexico residents.

The lawsuit asserts that the governor's license certification program is illegal because it singles out foreign nationals for unfair treatment, violating equal protection provisions of the state and federal constitutions. The lawsuit said the administration also lacks the power to order the checks because the program wasn't authorized by the Legislature and it effectively requires some people to reapply for a driver's license.
"The program is unconstitutional because it unfairly targets certain Latinos in New Mexico and places a higher burden on them beyond what the law requires of other residents," said Martha Gomez, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The governor wants the Legislature to end the state's policy of granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Martinez contends the license law jeopardizes public safety, and immigrants are fraudulently getting licenses by claiming to be New Mexico residents.
"This is a lawsuit by an out-of-state group that is trying to stop the state's effort to confront identity theft and fraud that exists due to the issuance of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants," Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said in a statement.
"This out-of-state group may believe that New Mexicans do not have a right to know who is residing within their borders, and as such, they may not have a problem trying to protect the illegal immigrants who have come to New Mexico from throughout the country to get our driver's license and leave," Darnell said. "But New Mexicans have a decidedly different point of view, and so does Gov. Martinez."
The governor announced the residency verification plan in July. It was the latest effort by the administration to focus attention on the politically charged immigrant license policy.
Martinez, who took office in January, vowed during her gubernatorial campaign to end the state's licensing policy enacted during former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson's administration.
The governor's license repeal proposal failed earlier this year in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Opponents said the move to end immigrant licenses was politically motivated and targeted Mexican immigrants. Martinez plans to ask the Legislature to revisit the issue during a special session that starts next month.
Under a 2003 law, more than 80,000 driver's licenses have gone to foreign nationals. The state says it doesn't know how many of those went to illegal immigrants because it doesn't ask the immigration status of license applicants.
Democratic Rep. Miguel Garcia of Albuquerque helped bring the lawsuit and was a main sponsor of the 2003 license legislation. He said the law provides an opportunity for "our immigrant population to come out of the shadows and become a participatory member of our society."
Garcia and other supporters say the licensing law has improved public safety by having immigrants get insurance for their vehicles and has lessened immigrant fears of reporting crimes and cooperating with police.
Also bringing the lawsuit are Rep. Eliseo Alcon, D-Milan; Sens. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, and Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque; and Silver City resident Marisela Morales, a legal permanent U.S. resident who has lived in the country for 16 years.
Immigrant applicants for a New Mexico driver's license don't need a Social Security number as part of their identification. Instead, they can submit a taxpayer identification number issued by the federal government along with other identification, such as a passport and an ID card issued by the Mexican Consulate, known as a matricula consular.
Slightly more than 1,000 foreign national license holders have had their licenses recertified so far, according to the governor's office. About 2,500 appointments have been scheduled. Of the 10,000 letters sent out, about 31 percent have been returned as undeliverable for some reason, including that there is no forwarding address for an individual.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Alabama’s new immigration law which was supposed to go into effect on September 1st, has been blocked by a preliminary injunction for one month’s time.  The new law is one of the most stringent immigration laws enacted in any state.  It criminalizes hiring, renting, transporting, harboring and even entering contracts with undocumented aliens.   See the language of the new law at:
The language of the new law sets out the right to basically alienate, for lack of a better word, all undocumented aliens and anyone that appears to be an undocumented alien.  I worry this will allow those who harbor much anger toward undocumented aliens to feel justified in their beliefs,  and perhaps bring more violence into the undocumented alien communities.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Will Alabama see a new stringent law be enacted Sept 1?

The Federal Court in the 11th Circuit is deciding whether Alabama's new anti-illegal immigrant law conflicts with Federal law. If the law passes, police officers in conducting routine traffic stops could arrest those suspected of being illegal. It would also make it a crime to transport or provide shelter to illegal immigrants. Lastly, it would require schools to report the immigration status of their students. Opponents are concerned that such immigrants would not send their children to school.
The Deputy Assistant US Attorney is arguing that such a law should be blocked because it conflicts with federal law. Furthermore, the federal government has jurisdiction in enforcing immigration policy?

Similar legislation has been blocked in whole or in part in Arizona, Utah, Georgia, and Indiana.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Check and Re-check

Jacob Sapochnick recently wrote a great article about the process of gaining citizenship through one’s US citizen parents.   One can acquire citizenship if they were born to a citizen parent who prior to the child’s birth had been physically present in the US for the required period of time which is determined based on the date of the child’s birth.  He highlights the importance of checking and re-checking all the information provided by a client in order to ensure that the client at their USCIS interview is only required to show proof of physical presence for the period required based on the relevant law for  the year the child was born.  By example, a child born after 1986 is only required to show proof of five years of physical presence by the US citizen parent, and a child born after 1952 but before 1986, is required to show ten years of physical presence.  A drastic difference indeed!  Get a closer look at his article at http://www.ilw.com/articles/2011,0823-sapochnick.shtm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Illegal immigrant gets U Visa

A local Philadelphia man and illegal immigrant was shot during a burglary. As a reward for helping the police during the investigation, the man received a U Visa.  A U visa allows illegal immigrants to work legally in the US for four years if they are a crime victim. After three years, the immigrant can apply for a green card. The purpose of U Visas is to address the increased risk of violence and exploitation that illegal immigrants face and help police catch their offenders.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Schooling Children Not Their Immigration Status

Last week’s announcement by the Obama Administration that there would be lesser deportations of illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety was viewed as progress for illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in armed forces.  It seems that the rest of the country is not in agreement that all children, regardless of their immigration status, should be provided the best education, training and schooling possible without fear of deportation.
Schools across the country should not be called upon to conduct ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency)’s job.  Schools should be focusing on improving their programs and delivering a better education to all youth living in America, legal or not.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Deadline for Haitians with TPS Coming Up

USCIS released a reminder for Eligible Haitian to file for Temporary Protected Status ("TPS").  

On August 12, 2011, USCIS released a reminder for Nationals of Haiti to file for TPS before the deadline.  TPS was granted to Haitians in January of 2010 after the catastrophic earthquake.  That TPS status has been extended through January 22, 2013.
Who can file, renew or re-register:
1)  Haitians filing for the first time can apply through NOVEMBER 15, 2011.
2)  Haitians who filed in January 2010 but whose applications are still pending as of May 19, 2011 will NOT need to file a new FORM I-821 (Application for TPS).
3)  Haitians who were granted TPS through JULY 22, 2011 and who plan to remain in the United States MUST RE-REGISTER no later than AUGUST 22, 2011 - THIS COMING MONDAY.  Failure to re-register before the deadline without good cause will result in withdrawal of TPS benefits, such as employment authorization and protection from removal.

see USCIS.GOV:  http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=cc0e314b55eb1310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

Email BERDUGOFIALKOFF@gmail.com if you need help filing the proper TPS related forms.  

Obama may allow low priority illegal immigrants to stay in the US

The Los Angeles Times just reported that the Obama administration said it will review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants currently in deportation proceedings to identify "low-priority" offenders. These offenders will include the elderly, crime victims and people who have lived in the U.S. since childhood. The review will be done with an eye toward allowing them to stay.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced this move in reaction to the growing criticism that the deportation process is too harsh.  This case by case review is meant to stress that deportation efforts are focused on convicted felons and other public safety threats.  For more info please see http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0819-obama-immigration-20110819,0,28823,full.story

Progress for Dream Act Youth

The Obama administration announced that it would not deport or expel illegal immigrants who came to the US as young children and graduated from high school or served in the armed forces.  I am sure a lot of DREAM ACT youth are feeling good tonight about this decision.  While it is not a US Passportit is a positive move toward some semblance of stability in their lives and for their futures.  Check out the NY TIMES article at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/us/19immig.html?_r=1