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Blandon Law Immigration

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Detained Immigrants Being Denied Bond or Parole in Most Cases

Asylum-seekers are feeling the impact of a new unofficial US policy: ICE has virtually stopped granting detained immigrants bond or parole, keeping them incarcerated throughout their cases unless they successfully appeal to an immigration judge.

In response to ICE's widespread parole denials, one group of New York City attorneys have taken legal action, filing multiple writs of habeas corpus in Manhattan's federal district court on the grounds that their clients were being held in indefinite detention without review.

After such legal pressure, ICE is once again granting paroles in New York – but elsewhere in the country, asylum-seekers remain behind bars. Only in family detention facilities has ICE continued releasing mothers and their children.

This new policy can have another devastating impact: statistics show that only 14 percent of detained immigrants are able to obtain attorneys, compared to two-thirds of non-detained immigrants, and immigrants with representation are about three times more likely to win their asylum cases, according to a 2014 Stanford study.

Read the complete article: 
Trump Era Ushers in New Unofficial Policy on Asylum-Seekers

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Changes to Guidelines for Determining Credible Fear in Asylum Seekers

Amid so many public Executive Order pronouncements, the Trump administration has quietly instituted guidelines that will change how asylum seekers' cases are handled. The new instructions can be found in a "lesson plan" for asylum officers which went into effect on February 27. 

The document was provided to CNN by Tahirih Justice Center, an organization that defends immigrant women and children fleeing violence, who received it as members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's national asylum committee.

"The lesson plan is a disappointing shift for the Asylum Division, the part of our government tasked with implementing asylum law and protecting refugees, the most vulnerable people in the world," said Archi Pyati, chief of policy and programs at Tahirih. "Victims of violence who meet the definition of a refugee will be unfairly turned away before they've even talked to a lawyer, counselor, or judge. That is not due process. That is not protection. That is not American."

More Information: 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Increase in Lawsuits Challenging Confinement of Non-citizens

Habeas corpus filings in federal courts challenging the confinement of non-citizens have risen sharply. The latest available data from the federal courts show that during January 2017 the government reported 168 new habeas corpus civil filings by non-citizens. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 24.4 percent over the previous month when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 135.

In terms of sheer numbers, New Jersey had the largest number of these civil suits, with 483 separate actions recorded. Relative to the state's population size, this placed that state third in the nation.

The Middle District of Georgia (Macon) ranked first on a per capita basis, and placed third in the number of new suits that district saw. It had 201 suits from October 1, 2014 through January 2017. The Middle District of Pennsylvania (Scranton) came in second with 239 separate suits, and also ranked second on a per capita basis.

Two other districts had over 100 suits each during this same period. The federal district court in the Northern District of Alabama (Birmingham) recorded 157 new habeas corpus filings, while the court in the Central District of California (Los Angeles) recorded 109.

View the full report, including other districts in the top ten.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Harvard University report on effect of Trump’s executive orders on asylum seekers

Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program has released a report on the effects of President Trump’s executive orders on people seeking asylum protection in the United States under long-standing provisions of U.S. and international law, including refugee law and the Convention Against Torture.

The report warns that President Trump’s executive orders will dramatically restrict access to asylum and other immigration protections in the United States, leading to a massive expansion of immigration-related detention and the construction of new detention centers to accommodate a much larger population of detainees.

“It will take billions of dollars to accommodate this kind of mass incarceration,” said Professor Deborah Anker, head of the Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program at Harvard Law School.

Read the Report: The Impact of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Asylum Seekers

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Asylum-seekers are being turned away at the US border

Reports have surfaced that asylum-seeking families, adults and unaccompanied minors are being systematically turned away by agents along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In response, the American Immigration Council and several partner organizations — the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Inc., Kino Border Initiative, Women’s Refugee Commission, Public Counsel, and Latin America Working Group — have filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The complaint urges the immediate investigation of these allegations of widespread misconduct. The U.S. government is obligated by U.S. and international law to allow noncitizens presenting themselves at U.S. borders and ports of entry to apply for asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection.

It is unconscionable that individuals fleeing from dangerous conditions are being turned away without the proper process that they deserve.

Read the AP's coverage of this story

Friday, January 13, 2017

Nationwide Class Action Status for Case Seeking to Protect Rights of Asylum Seekers

On January 10, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington certified the nationwide class in Mendez-Rojas v. Johnson, No. 2:16-cv-01024-RSM (W.D. Wash), making thousands of asylum seekers class members in the case.

This lawsuit challenges the government’s failure to provide plaintiffs with adequate notice of the one-year filing deadline for asylum applications, and seeks to establish a uniform mechanism which will ensure the opportunity for asylum applications to be filed.

Any remedy ordered by the Court will apply throughout the country, ensuring that all asylum seekers have a fair opportunity to pursue their applications.

The suit was filed in June 2016 by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), Dobrin & Han, PC, the American Immigration Council, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG),

“The government should not defend a system in which asylum applications are thwarted by unknown deadlines and deficient procedures,” said Trina Realmuto, litigation director for NIPNLG.  “We hope the Court’s ruling is a precursor to remedying this injustice.”

Read more at The American Immigration Council

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2015 Report on Asylees and Refugees Published

The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) has released its Annual Flow Report which presents information on persons admitted as refugees or granted asylum in the United States.

In the year 2015, an estimated 83,000 affirmative asylum applications were filed (47 percent more than the previous year). This is the sixth consecutive annual increase and the highest level since 1996.

China remained the main country of origin for affirmative asylum applications in 2015, followed by Mexico. For the year 2016, however, Venezuela has become the main country of origin for affirmative asylum filings.

More individuals sought affirmative asylum from the Northern Triangle Countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) in the last three years than the prior 15 years combined. The number of children seeking asylum rose sharply to reach 26,600, the highest on record.

In 2015, the three leading countries of nationality of persons granted either affirmative or defensive asylum were:
  • China (24 percent)
  • El Salvador (8.3 percent)
  • Guatemala (8.0 percent)
Nationals of these countries accounted for 40 percent of all persons granted asylum.

Overall, grants of asylum increased by 12 percent in 2015, driven primarily by affirmative cases which increased 23 percent from 2014 to 2015.

For more information: View the Complete Report

Monday, November 21, 2016

Asylum Cases After President Trump

Since the US Presidential election, immigration law offices across the country have been fielding calls from worried clients who are frightened about their future in the United States.

While campaigning, Donald Trump promised to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary work permits to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

He called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

He claimed Mexicans were sending us their “rapists and murderers” and has vowed to deport those here without authorization.

While we don’t know if these claims were campaign hyperbole, changes are coming to US immigration policy. We are unsure of how drastic or how rapid these changes might be, although the recent announcement that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will be nominated to serve as Attorney General is a strong indication of the new administration’s stance on immigration.

Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, reacted to the nomination by stating:
    “Senator Sessions is the leading anti-immigration voice in the U.S. Senate. For years, Senator Sessions has urged severe restrictions on visas, called for drastically expanded immigration enforcement, and blocked all practical reforms to our outdated immigration system.”

Considering this news, anyone with a pending case should try to complete that case as soon as possible. Provide all information requested by your attorney immediately. Do not take a “wait and see” attitude.

This is the time that you need a dedicated and ethical immigration attorney on your side. Perhaps most importantly, you need an attorney with the specialized knowledge of immigration law necessary to change tactics and achieve the best outcome for you.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to administratively close a pending case and re-apply under a different program. Only an attorney with extensive experience will be able to effectively advise you about your options.

In addition to being Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Florida Bar Association, Attorney Elizabeth Blandon has almost 20 years of experience focusing strictly on immigration cases.

Please call our office at 954-385-0157 to learn about your options for asylum after Trump.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Failed Recall of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro May Mean More Asylum Requests

Last week, an attempt to remove authoritarian Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro failed. Five lower courts approved injunctions to suspend the recall, ending the best chance for a peaceful resolution to the country’s political turmoil.

We expect that this news will prompt many citizens of Venezuela to apply for U.S. asylum and residency to escape the difficult conditions in their homeland. Blandon Law is an expert in obtaining asylum-based immigration benefits for Venezuelans. In fact, national hero Marco Coello is a client.

Our office is located in Weston, Florida - the heart of South Florida – so we are accessible to Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Please call us at 954-385-0157 for immigration assistance.

For more information, see the opinion piece by Francisco Toro in The Washington Post: It’s official: Venezuela is a full-blown dictatorship

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Court Blocks Indiana’s Attempt to Withhold Funds to Refugee Resettlement Agency

A federal appeals court panel Monday blocked Indiana Governor (and Republican vice presidential candidate) Mike Pence's attempt to keep Syrian refugees out of Indiana.
The court affirmed the grant of a preliminary injunction against the state of Indiana’s attempt to withhold funds to a private agency that assists in the resettlement of refugees, including those from Syria. (Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc. v. Pence, 10/3/16).
This ruling is the latest in a series of federal court decisions that have rejected similar attempts by other states to avoid Syrian refugee resettlement.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Building a Powerful Force of Refugee and Asylum Advocates

According to UNHCR’s 2015 Global Trends Report, one out of every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum due to wars, conflict, and persecution. In 2014 alone, 13.9 million people became newly displaced – four times the number of the previous year.

It is essential for legal practitioners to become well-versed in the laws, regulations, and policies impacting today’s asylum-seekers and to continue to pursue novel legal arguments and creative solutions. You can learn more at the upcoming AILA Advanced Business and Removals Conference being held in New York on October 10.

Read more here (from the American Immigration Lawyers Association)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Scandinavian Tech Companies Help Refugees Find Work

In Sweden and Finland, the tech industry is stepping up to help migrants find work. Tech-savvy individuals and firms are helping these new residents by cataloging their skills and education, setting up internships, training and placing refugees in jobs. They are also connecting asylum seekers with investors looking to back new businesses.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Turkish Asylum Seekers Make 7,000 Mile Move to California

Since an attempted coup against Turkey’s President Erdoğan in July, thousands have been arrested and imprisoned. The lucky ones have managed to flee the country amid the chaos.

In the meantime, while they hope that democracy will eventually return to their homeland, many displaced citizens of Turkey are seeking asylum in the United States.

Residents of Irvine, California --  home to a large Turkish American population – are stepping up to help. Over 45 local families have signed up to host asylum seekers as they make the transition to life in the United States.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wait Times for Affirmative Asylum Interviews

The US Citizen and Immigration Services recently released its newest Affirmative Asylum Scheduling Bulletin (8/5/16) which explains how the Asylum Division prioritizes affirmative applications for asylum.

Affirmative asylum refers to a foreign national who has voluntarily applied for asylum – this individual may be residing in the US already or may make application upon entry to the United States (a person seeking affirmative asylum has to submit an application within one year of their arrival).

Blandon Law has decades of experience assisting clients through this process, which can be time-consuming and confusing for applicants. The most important benefit of winning an asylum case is that ONE year after becoming an asylee, a foreign national may apply for legal permanent residency. Legal permanent residents can live and work in the United States. They can also bring spouses and children to the US and receive government assistance.

It is important to review this announcement to be sure that your interview with USCIS (“Immigration”) is scheduled during the processing time announced in the Bulletin. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 954-385-0157. Our lawyers travel throughout the country to Asylum Office interviews and Immigration Court hearings.

View the Affirmative Asylum Scheduling Bulletin

General Frequently Asked Questions

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