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  1. DOJ Settles Immigration-Related Claim for $200,000 against Staffing Companies

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement whereby CitiStaff Solutions Inc., and CitiStaff Management Group Inc. (collectively CitiStaff) agreed to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to the United States government. The settlement resolves the investigation into whether CitiStaff violated the law by discriminating against work-authorized immigrants when verifying their work authorization.

    Based on its investigation, IER concluded that CitiStaff, which provide staffing services in the greater Los Angeles, California area, routinely requested non-U.S. citizens present specific documents to prove their work authorization, such as Permanent Resident Cards (green cards) or Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), but did not make similar requests for specific documents to U.S. citizens. All work-authorized individuals, whether U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens, have the right to choose which valid documentation to present to prove they are authorized to work. The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from subjecting employees to different or unnecessary documentary demands based on employees’ citizenship, immigration status or national origin.

    Furthermore, the investigation found CitiStaff required lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to reverify their work authorization status when their Permanent Resident Cards expired. It is unlawful to require reverification of a green card even if it expires as the LPRs continue to hold lawful status after a green card’s expiration.

    Under the settlement, CitiStaff will pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to the United States, train its staff on the law, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.

    Companies need to be aware of the laws relating to determining employees’ lawful employment status as well as the law concerning re-verification. As you see, it is so easy for employers to make costly mistakes. For the answers to many other questions related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. NOVEMBER 2017 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

    by , 10-12-2017 at 09:15 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo

    The Department of State has just issued the November 2017 Visa Bulletin. This is the second Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2018. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

    November 2017 Visa Bulletin

    Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.


    EB
    Class
    All Other CHINA INDIA MEXICO PHIL'PNES
    EB-1 C C C C C
    EB-2 C 15JUN13 08OCT08 C C
    EB-3 C 01FEB14 15OCT06 C 15JAN16


    MU Law Analysis

    All Other: The EB-2 has been current for many years. The EB-3 is also current and is expected to remain current for the foreseeable future.

    China (mainland-born): China EB-1 reverted to Current. Our sense is that it will stay Current for much of the fiscal year. Both China EB-2 and EB-3 progressed one month. The China EB-3 remains more favorable than Chinese EB-2. The odd situation of China EB-3 progressing faster than China EB-2 will remain to be the case for the foreseeable future.

    India: India EB-2 progressed about one month, which is what we except the monthly progressions will be in FY 2018. Unfortunately, India EB-3 did not move. A few weeks ago, the DOS said that EB-3's progression will be "limited." MU suspects that EB-3 will not progress at any notable rate until at least the India EB-3 date moves past the Visa Gate date of August 2007.

    Mexico: Mirrors All Other in analysis.

    Philippines: The Philippine EB-3 number essentially cleaned out all of the 2010 through 2015 EB-3 visas in FY2017. The demand for Philippines EB-3 numbers increased dramatically in 2016-17. This increased demand will be the cause for slower progressions in the FY2018, probably progressing 1-2 months per Visa Bulletin.

    Please read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at www.musillo.com and www.ilw.com. You can also visit us on Facebook, Twitter and LinknedIn.
  3. DACA Reform and It's Hostages (i.e., Asylum Seekers)

    President Trump recently sent a letter to Congress laying out his "Administration's principles for reforming our Nation's immigration system." In effect, this is what the President wants in exchange for agreeing to legalize DACA recipients (also known as Dreamers). Whether this is an opening bid or a final offer remains to be seen, but many Democrats and some Republicans seem to view the proposal as a non-starter.


    Haggling over brown people? Where have I seen that before?

    While the President's letter covers a wide range of topics--from the border wall to hiring more ICE agents to eliminating the DV lottery--I want to focus here on the possible effects on our asylum system. Specifically, Section 1-C of the letter, Asylum Reform, lists the Administration's ideas for "correcting the systemic deficiencies that created that [asylum] backlog." Would that these ideas were so benign.

    Below, I have listed the text of the President's letter in bold, and added my comments (and complaints) in italics. Without further ado, here is the President's proposal with commentary:

    The massive asylum backlog has allowed illegal immigrants to enter and stay in the United States by exploiting asylum loopholes.
    It seems what the President means by "asylum loopholes" is the asylum process itself. But asylum is not a "loophole." It is the law, which says that if a person is physically present in the U.S. and he fears persecution in his home country, he can apply for asylum and stay here until his case is adjudicated. An executive order from the President cannot nullify this, but Congress and the President together can change the asylum law. I have not seen any movement in that direction, at least not yet.

    There are more than 270,000 pending cases in the asylum backlog before USCIS, and approximately 250,000 asylum cases before EOIR. Therefore, the Administration proposes correcting the systemic deficiencies that created that backlog.
    I don't get to say this too often, but I agree with Trump! The backlog is way too large, and we need to reduce it. The Administration wants to hire 370 new Immigration Judges and 1,000 ICE attorneys. I've written before about some constructive and low-cost ideas for reducing the backlog. If anyone in the Administration is interested, you can see my thoughts here.

    i. Significantly tighten standards and eliminate loopholes in our asylum system.
    It's not clear which standards would be tightened and which loopholes eliminated. There are plenty of changes that could be made. Some might be productive (such as cracking down on notario and attorney fraud); others would likely result in eligible aliens being denied asylum and returned to face persecution (raising the evidentiary bar, for example). One area of concern for the Administration is asylum seekers at the border who arrive here and are then paroled into the U.S. Whether we could block such people without violating our treaty obligations (and our moral values) is an open question. Of course, Congress has the power to override treaties, but the unintended consequences of such a move might do (additional) damage to our standing in the world.

    ii. Elevate the threshold standard of proof in credible fear interviews.
    Presumably, this will go beyond what the Trump Administration has already done to make it more difficult for asylum seekers arriving at the border or an airport. Again, how much can be done without abrogating our treaty obligations is unclear, but certainly Congress and the President can make it more difficult for people arriving here and requesting asylum upon arrival.

    iii. Impose and enforce penalties for the filing of frivolous, baseless, or fraudulent asylum applications, and expand the use of expedited removal as appropriate.
    Why these two proposals did not warrant their own Roman numerals, I do not know. As for the first, there are already severe immigration consequences for filing a frivolous asylum application (including a bar to all benefits under the INA), but I suppose the penalties could always be made worse. Also, the Trump Administration has already set forth a policy on expedited removal, so perhaps the new proposal would incorporate those ideas (which basically expands the temporal and geographic boundaries of expedited removal).

    iv. Close loopholes in the law to bar terrorist aliens from entering the country and receiving any immigration benefits.
    As you might imagine, the immigration law currently has no provisions what-so-ever to block terrorists from coming here. Amazing that no one noticed this before. Lucky for us, some keen-eyed Trump Administration official caught the problem, and so now we can finally make some rules blocking terrorists. Whew!

    v. Clarify and enhance the legal definition of “aggravated felony” to ensure that criminal aliens do not receive certain immigration benefits.
    An alien convicted of an aggravated felony is ineligible for most immigration benefits, including asylum. I agree that the definition of aggravated felony could use some work--some offenses that might seem serious (like assault and battery against a police officer) are generally not aggravated felonies under the Immigration Act; other crimes that seem minor (such as shoplifting) might be an aggravated felony. It's clearly not equitable. My fear is that the Trump Administration will blindly expand the definition of aggravated felony so that any crime--no matter how minor--will bar asylum seekers from the U.S. and will needlessly divide more families through deportation.

    vi. Expand the ability to return asylum seekers to safe third countries.
    The idea of sending asylum seekers back to the last "safe" country they passed through is not new. For various reasons, I doubt it is the magic bullet that some immigration resrictionists think it is. For one thing, it is difficult to know whether a particular country is safe, and so I suspect that such a provision might just shift the battle from the fear of persecution in the home country to whether the third country is "safe." Also, whether the "safe" countries will agree to accept non-citizens we send their way seems doubtful.

    vii. Ensure only appropriate use of parole authority for aliens with credible fear or asylum claims, to deter meritless claims and ensure the swift removal of those whose claims are denied.
    This provision probably involves closing "loopholes" at the border. Here, some data might be useful. Is there any evidence that paroled aliens commit crimes? How often do such people fail to appear for court hearings? What is the cost of detaining such individuals? Making rational and effective policies requires answering such questions before taking action.

    viii. Prevent aliens who have been granted asylum or who entered as refugees from obtaining lawful permanent resident status if they are convicted of an aggravated felony.
    There is a waiver available to refugees and asylees who commit crimes (INA § 209(c)), including in some cases, aggravated felonies. However, BIA case law largely already prevents aggravated felons from taking advantage of the waiver. My main problem with eliminating the waiver is that it will result in people being deported to countries where they face harm, even for relatively minor crimes (many minor crimes are considered aggravated felonies already, and the Trump Administration plans to broaden the definition of aggravated felony even further).

    ix. Require review of the asylee or refugee status of an alien who returns to their home country absent a material change in circumstances or country conditions.
    Asylees who return home are already subject to having their status terminated. So like many of the provisions listed here, this one seems like piling on. Also, there are legitimate reasons why some asylees need to return home--to see sick family members, for example. Also, in some cases, asylees do not fear their home government; they fear terrorist groups in their country. Such people can return home for a brief period, but if they remain in their country for the long term, they face great danger. The current law recognizes this, and makes some exceptions for asylees who return home. This seems more fair than a blanket prohibition.

    None of these provisions have yet been implemented or incorporated into law, and we will have to see how negotiations proceed. The Administration can argue that it is fair to bargain with the fate of DACA recipients in order to "reform" our immigration system (which certainly does need reforming). And perhaps that is the reality of politics. But I can't help think there is a better way, and that it is not necessary to pit one minority group against another, and to hold so many innocent people hostage to a political agenda.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
    Tags: asylum, daca Add / Edit Tags
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