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  1. Why downplay costs of illegal immigration if California is so sure of the benefits?


    Updated 03-22-2018 at 09:25 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  2. My Platform if Elected to the AILA Board of Governors: Enhancement of Member Resources

    by , 03-21-2018 at 10:43 AM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    I am a proponent of AILA providing resources to assist our members who wish to represent children, and the indigent in immigration custody, especially when competency is in play. I would like to see an expansion of the resources available, including the addition of CLE units for individuals willing to take a removal case (regardless of detention status) on a pro bono basis under the supervision of a more robust AILA mentoring program consisting of experienced litigators.

    Mentors could benefit from their participation by receiving CLE units in return for guiding individuals through the removal process. I would also like to see more immigration court 101 CLE opportunities made available, as well as advanced defense strategy seminars. The best way to increase the availability of quality representation is to provide support to those willing to learn.

    AILA should redouble its efforts combating mandatory detention, and the abuse of immigration detention by private prisons for financial gain. The biggest obstacle of due process is a detained client in a remote location. I would like to see a focus on providing members with resources to assist in the filing of litigation challenging the detention of immigrants for civil immigration law violations.

    With all that said, I am a supporter of my local not for profit, the Erie County Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyers Project, both financially, and by donating my time by providing pro bono representation for all of their unaccompanied minor cases. The mission statement of my small firm is to allocate 10% of my resources on a yearly basis providing pro bono representation, and mentoring to local attorneys in need of assistance before the immigration court. It would be nice if other members of AILA could be motivated to take a removal case on a pro bono basis, and have the confidence that if they choose to do so that they have enhanced resources readily available at their disposal to assist them. If elected I promise to fight to make this a reality.

    Updated 03-21-2018 at 12:21 PM by MKolken

  3. USCIS Again Suspends H-1B Premium Processing. Will This Mean More RFE's Showing Hypocrisy of Trump's "Merit-Based" Immigration Claim? Roger Algase

    For the second year in a row, USCIS has announced that it is temporarily suspending premium processing for H-1B petitions as the new cap-subject filing season for FY 2019 fast approaches.

    The announced reason for these suspensions was to enable USCIS to finish processing long-delayed H-1B cases and to reduce processing times overall.

    But last year, the main effect of suspending Premium Processing was, very arguably, to give USCIS examiners more time to write burdensome, often unnecessary, and in some cases that I can attest to personally in my own H-1B practice and will discuss in detail in a forthcoming comment, openly biased or at least egregiously incompetent RFE's and denial decisions.

    As was widely reported last year, and as I also experienced in my own H-1B practice, there was an unprecedented number of H-1B RFE's issued last year. In my own experience as an H-1B practitioner, most of these RFE's dealt involved specious and unfounded claims by H-1B examiners that offered H-1B positions were not really "specialty occupations" according to the H-1B regulations, even in cases where the occupations has been traditionally recognized as an H-1B specialty occupation by USCIS and its predecessor INS for many years past.

    But regardless of the asserted reason for any specific RFE's, last year's experience indicates that many of them were issued only for the purpose of holding up or even ultimately denying approval of meritorious H-1B petitions.

    Over and above the issue of unnecessary H-1B approval delays or unfounded denial decisions, what does this say about Trump's stated push to limit legal immigration to so-called "merit based" applicants, while eliminating the family-based and diversity-based visas which have enabled tens of millions of immigrants, mainly from non-European parts of the world, to come to America legally over the past several decades?

    If the president is really so much in favor of "merit-based" immigration to the exclusion of most, if not all, other legal immigration, including the family "chain migration" (which he condemned as "horrible" in a December 29 2017 tweet) and the diversity visa lottery (which he also denounced as a danger to US security in his SOTU message) why is his administration throwing so many roadblocks in the way of approving petitions for well-educated, highly skilled H-1B professional immigrants who are clear examples of the "merit-based" immigration which he claims to support?
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain H-1B and other employment and family-based work visas and green cards.

    Roger's email address is

    Updated 03-21-2018 at 06:01 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

  4. Tips from a Former Asylum Officer

    Heidi Boas has dedicated her legal career to assisting asylum-seekers, refugees, and other immigrants through her work with the U.S. Government, United Nations, and non-profit organizations. Heidi served as a Senior Asylum Officer at the Arlington Asylum Office (2014-2017) and currently practices immigration law at Wilkes Legal, LLC in Takoma Park, MD. Heidi’s full biography can be found here.

    Heidi Boas

    Contact Heidi Boas at To schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney at Wilkes Legal, LLC, visit our website or call (301) 576-0491.

    Given the large backlog and heavy caseload at the asylum office, asylum officers are under significant pressure to complete cases as efficiently as possible. An asylum officer is allocated an average of four hours to complete each asylum case, which involves some steps that you and your attorney don’t see—including about an hour spent drafting the written decision, and about forty minutes working on security checks and other administrative tasks. When you add those steps to the two hours that an asylum officer spends conducting the average asylum interview, the officer may have only about twenty minutes to review your file before calling you in for the interview. When preparing your asylum case, therefore, it is helpful to keep the asylum officer’s time constraints in mind and avoid submitting extraneous information.

    Below are some tips from my perspective as a former asylum officer on how to prepare an effective and efficient asylum claim:

    The Personal Statement

    The personal statement is arguably the most important document in your asylum application, but it does not need to be very long. If the asylum officer only has twenty minutes to review your file, she probably will not have time to read your attorney’s lengthy legal brief, but she should always take time to read your personal statement. Given the time pressure that the officer is under, it is best to keep your personal statement concise and to the point. I recommend limiting it to a length of five pages or less. State up front why you are applying for asylum—What harm did you suffer in the past or do you fear in the future? Why were you harmed in the past, and/or why do you fear harm in the future? Avoid including extraneous information such as details about your family background, education, and employment history. Basic information about your background is included in the Form I-589 Application for Asylum, and additional detail is often irrelevant to your asylum claim. The main purpose of the personal statement is to focus on any harm that you suffered in the past and any harm you fear in the future. Leave general references to country conditions out of the personal statement and focus on telling your story. Finally, make sure that you fully understand the contents of your personal statement before signing it, and that the statement has been translated back to you word-for-word in your language.

    Supporting Documents

    Keeping in mind the asylum officer’s time constraints, you should avoid submitting extraneous or duplicative documents in support of your asylum claim. For example, it is usually not helpful to submit copies of your diplomas or school records, as these documents are usually irrelevant to your asylum claim. It is also unnecessary to submit hundreds of pages of country conditions documents. Asylum officers are already familiar with human rights conditions in many countries and keep their own country conditions excerpts on hand to use when writing decisions. If an asylum officer is not already familiar with the situation in your country, the officer will conduct research and find relevant information to include in his or her written decision. Asylum officers generally consult the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, as these reports are considered an objective and reliable source of information. Since asylum officers have their own resources for finding country conditions information, you should be mindful of the number of pages you submit and highlight any excerpts of a report that you want the officer to focus on.

    Form I-589

    Take the time to carefully prepare the Form I-589 Application for Asylum, including details about where you have lived, your education, and your employment history. This can help save time when the asylum officer reviews the form with you during your interview. If you have several changes or corrections to make to Form I-589 at the interview, it is helpful to provide the officer with a list of your changes. The asylum officer is still required to note any corrections or changes by hand on the original Form I-589, but your list can help save the officer some time.

    Under “other names used,” list as aliases any alternate spellings (including misspellings) or alternate versions of your name that you have used. By listing these other names on Form I-589, you can help avoid delays during the security check process. After receiving the asylum application, the asylum office will automatically run security checks on any names listed on Form I-589. If the asylum officer learns during or after the interview that you have used another version or spelling of your name that was not initially listed on Form I-589, the officer must then initiate the security check process for that name, which could cause a delay in receiving your decision.

    The Legal Argument

    Asylum officers are required to undergo an extensive six-week training program in asylum law, and pass exams before adjudicating asylum cases. In addition, they continue receiving weekly training throughout their tenure at the asylum office. If confronted with a challenging or unfamiliar legal issue, asylum officers are encouraged to refer to the Asylum Officer Training Manual or consult a supervisor.

    In light of the training that asylum officers receive and the significant time constraints they face, it is not necessary to submit a lengthy legal brief in support of your asylum case. The asylum officer probably won’t have time to read the brief word-for-word and may not have time to read it at all. If you or your attorney are making a novel legal argument or referencing new case law and want to submit your argument in writing, try to keep your analysis as concise as possible. A succinct cover letter can suffice, for example, instead of a lengthy brief.

    Preparing for the Interview

    When preparing for the asylum interview, don’t avoid addressing the tough issues. A critical part of an asylum officer’s job is to assess your credibility, so you should discuss with your attorney any potential credibility issues that could arise and be prepared for questions about those issues at your interview. An asylum officer is required to confront you about any inconsistencies in your testimony or application, give you an opportunity to explain the inconsistency, and then assess the reasonableness of your response. Be prepared to respond calmly and provide an explanation for any inconsistencies, rather than reacting defensively to the officer’s question.

    After the Interview

    After the interview, if you strongly disagree with the asylum officer’s decision, consider filing a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider. No form or filing fee is required. The motion should be filed within 30 days, or later if you can show the delay was reasonable and beyond your control. It is best to submit the motion by letter to the asylum office as soon as possible after receiving your decision. If the asylum office receives your motion soon enough, it can decide to call you back in for a re-interview before serving a Notice to Appear ("NTA") on the court. Alternatively, if the NTA has already been served on the court, the asylum office can ask Immigration and Customers Enforcement to terminate the NTA and recall the case to the asylum office for another interview.

    If you have been waiting months or years since your interview to receive a decision from the asylum office, you might consider filing a writ of mandamus. A mandamus can help incentivize the asylum office to call you in for another interview and finally issue a decision. Even if the asylum office’s decision is not a positive one, you can move forward with presenting your case before the immigration judge and then pursuing any necessary appeals.

    Originally posted at

    Updated 03-28-2018 at 08:18 AM by JDzubow

    Tags: asylum Add / Edit Tags
  5. Democrats Won't Stand up for Dreamers in Spending Bill, But They Seem OK With Torture. Will Enabling Trump's Agenda Help Immigrants? Roger Algase

    The latest news reports indicate that, once again, the Democratic leaders in Congress are apparently willing to give up the only leverage they will ever have in a Republican-controlled Congress to enact relief for the Dreamers, namely insisting that a DACA solution be included in an omnibus spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week.

    The Hill reports that Democratic leaders in both Houses are apparently pulling back from insisting on a DACA solution in the spending bill.

    This would leave Dreamers' protection from eventual deportation in the hands of the right wing majority Supreme Court, or up to the tender mercy of Donald Trump himself. LOL with that on both counts, Dreamers.

    However, while the Democrats may have a problem standing up for the Dreamers in Congress, they seem to have less difficulty in accommodating torture, as shown by POLITICO's report on their evident reluctance to block confirmation of an alleged CIA "black site" torture chief, Gina Haskel, as head of the CIA.

    Whether the notorious division between Democrats who are willing to stand up for principle and those who appear to be more attracted to the siren song of presumed political expediency was responsible for putting Donald Trump, along with his anti-immigrant agenda, in the White House in the first place is beyond the scope of this comment and not a subject for discussion here.

    But now we know many more details than we did in 2016 showing how serious Trump is in pursuing that agenda, which not only involves mass arrest and incarceration, if not yet an increase in deportation, of non-criminal immigrants (or those charged with minor crimes), but drastic cuts in legal immigration affecting mainly non-white parts of the world.

    Therefore, is it not time to ask whether Democrats' playing nice to Trump's agenda is really the best way to protect immigrants from having the race and religion neutral, non-discriminatory immigration system which America has had for the past 50 years dismantled bit by bit, and replaced by a 1924-style system in which only immigrants from "Countries like Norway" to use Trump's January 11 expression, are welcome?

    The argument that caving in to and playing along with Trump's agenda will help immigrants in the current environment is based on tortured reasoning, to say the least.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    Updated 03-20-2018 at 08:58 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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