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  1. USCIS to Take Action to Address Asylum Backlog

    by , 01-31-2018 at 01:02 PM (Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal)
    Agency Will Focus on Processing Recently Filed Applications

    WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the agency will schedule asylum interviews for recent applications ahead of older filings, in an attempt to stem the growth of the agency’s asylum backlog.

    USCIS is responsible for overseeing the nation’s legal immigration system, which includes adjudicating asylum claims. The agency currently faces a crisis-level backlog of 311,000 pending asylum cases as of Jan. 21, 2018, making the asylum system increasingly vulnerable to fraud and abuse. This backlog has grown by more than 1750 percent over the last five years, and the rate of new asylum applications has more than tripled.

    To address this problem, USCIS will follow these priorities when scheduling affirmative asylum interviews:



    1. Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS;
    2. Applications pending 21 days or less since filing; and
    3. All other pending applications, starting with newer filings and working back toward older filings.
      Additionally, the Affirmative Asylum Bulletin issued by USCIS has been discontinued.

      “Delays in the timely processing of asylum applications are detrimental to legitimate asylum seekers,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “Lingering backlogs can be exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum system.”


    This priority approach, first established by the asylum reforms of 1995 and used for 20 years until 2014, seeks to deter those who might try to use the existing backlog as a means to obtain employment authorization. Returning to a “last in, first out” interview schedule will allow USCIS to identify frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise non-meritorious asylum claims earlier and place those individuals into removal proceedings.

    For details on how we will schedule interviews, go to our Affirmative Asylum Interview Scheduling page.

    For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).
    - USCIS -
  2. A Poetic Response to the State of Our Union

    Last night was the State of the Union address, a speech presidents give before Congress each year to assess where our country has been and where we are going. President Trump's speech highlighted one of his favorite themes--the dangers to our economy and our security posed by non-citizens.

    I recently came across a poem by Brian Bilston, which eloquently rebuts the President's anti-immigrant and anti-refugee talking points, and so I wanted to share it here. If you would like to learn more about Mr. Bilston, check out his website. Without further ado, enjoy--

    Refugees

    They have no need of our help
    So do not tell me
    These haggard faces could belong to you or me
    Should life have dealt a different hand
    We need to see them for who they really are
    Chancers and scroungers
    Layabouts and loungers
    With bombs up their sleeves
    Cut-throats and thieves
    They are not
    Welcome here
    We should make them
    Go back to where they came from
    They cannot
    Share our food
    Share our homes
    Share our countries
    Instead let us
    Build a wall to keep them out
    It is not okay to say
    These are people just like us
    A place should only belong to those who are born there
    Do not be so stupid to think that
    The world can be looked at another way
    (now read from bottom to top)

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
    Tags: poem, refugee Add / Edit Tags
  3. In SOTU Address, President Continues False Claims About and Calls to End Family and Lottery Green Cards, Making DACA Deal Less Likely. Roger Algase

    On January 30, in his State of the Union address, Donald Trump continued the pattern of falsehoods and demoniztion against immigrants and insistence that immigration is harmful for American citizens in general that he has maintained throughout his campaign and his presidency.

    The speech, with its insistence on demolishing two key parts of our legal immigration system which, between them have allowed tens of millions of productive, law-abiding immigrants from all parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America as well as Europe to become US legal residents within the past several decades; namely family immigration for parents, siblings and adult children of US citizens, and the Diversity Visa lottery, will almost certainly make the chances of a DACA compromise even more remote and put almost 2 million DREAMERS in greater danger of deportation.

    The full text of his speech is available at:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/30/polit...ipt/index.html

    His immigration comments are on pages 5 and 6 of the speech.

    The president began his immigration remarks with what has now become his staple inflammatory accusation that immigrants are dangerous criminals who harm Americans and take away their jobs:

    "For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives."

    This may seem hostile enough toward the 30 or 40 million legal immigrants, the majority of whom are from Latin America, Asia and Africa, who have found better lives in America over the past half century ever since the bigoted Northern Europeans only immigration law of 1924 was finally repealed in 1965.

    But Trump's SOTU remarks about immigration went downhill from there. He continued with a lengthy diatribe against the MS-13 gang, just in case anyone had forgotten his warning two and a half years ago that Mexican (and by extension other Latin American immigrants) are mostly "criminals" and "rapists", and then promised to "fix" our immigration our immigration laws - mainly by demolishing important foundations of our legal immigration system which have no connection with criminal gangs.

    Then, returning to the theme of the supposed threat that immigrants pose to working Americans, especially those who are struggling economically, he stated:

    "...my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities...I want our poor to have their chance to rise."

    Where was this concern, one might ask, when Trump signed a trillion dollar tax cut for the richest Americans, tried to gut President Obama's health insurance protections for millions of average and less well off people and cut or eliminated federal programs too numerous to mention which benefit average and lower income Americans? Once again, the president's "concern" for average working people becomes evident only when he can use it as a club to beat immigrants with.

    Trump then went on to introduce the four "pillars" of his immigration reform plan. First is the carrot, in the form of an admittedly generous proposal which would lead to eventual US citizenship for 1.8 million DREAMERS.

    Second is the border Wall with all its associations of insult and contempt for Mexico and Latin American immigrants in general, as well as even darker reminders of the Communist Berlin Wall and the Nazi Warsaw Ghetto Wall - a symbol of the Nazi persecution of the Jews which Trump spoke against so eloquently only about seven months ago in a speech given in that city.

    However, if he had stopped at that point, DACA relief in exchange for Wall funding, most immigration advocates would agree that the elements of a compromise deal might have been in place. But he did not stop there.

    Instead, Trump went on to his third "pillar" namely calling for an end to the visa lottery. Going back to almost 30 years ago, the green lottery began as a program (called AA-1) almost entirely for white immigrants only, with especially large set-asides reserved for Ireland and Poland. I do not remember any criticism of that program from immigration restrictionists at that time, even thought this program, unlike the current DV lottery contained automatic waivers of inadmissibility for lottery winners who had committed visa fraud or previously been deported.

    In other words, giving green cards by lottery even to "bad people" was not a problem in those days, as long as the people involved were almost entirely white. (There were two Asian countries on the list as well - Japan and Indonesia - I remember well because I represented AA-1 clients from both those countries, as well as others.)

    But now that the visa lottery has been open to people from every part of the world since 1995, and has been especially advantageous to immigrants from Africa in recent years, Trump claims in his SOTU address that this program (which requires at least the equivalent of a high school education):

    "...hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people." (Bold and italics added.)

    This, again, is nothing more than another presidential falsehood. Visa lottery winners are required to go through the same criminal and security checks that all other immigrants need.

    There have been over one million people who have received DV green cards in the past two decades. One such person, this past fall, tried and failed to commit a terrorist attack in New York. For most people, one in a million is not enough evidence to show that an entire program is dangerous.

    For this president, evidently that math does not apply - not at least when a visa that benefits mainly non-white immigrants is concerned. But that is not all. The president continues:

    "It is time to move toward a merit-based immigration system - one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society and who will love and respect our country."

    Except for the skills part (which Trump is also trying to attack by moving to restrict H-1B visas which are especially popular with highly educated Asian immigrants) isn't that an exact description of the more than one million diversity immigrants who have come to America in the past two decades? Where is the president's evidence that these more than a million mainly non-white immigrants do not want to do all of the above (except, as mentioned above for one bad apple and no doubt a few others that have existed in every visa and other government program since the beginning of the human race)?

    But the biggest whopper of all comes in Trump's "fourth pillar" - his demand to end "chain migration", namely the (slightly) extended family immigration system that has been the heart of America's immigration system for the past half century and has enabled 30 or 40 million productive, law abiding immigrants who are here because they love America - and their families - to find a better life, or at least advance their careers, in this country.

    Trump says:

    "Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives."

    Who are the "distant" relatives beyond the "nuclear" family whom a US citizen is allowed to sponsor under the current "chain migration" system? Parents, siblings, and adult children. This wild, if not delusional, misstatement goes far beyond even his previous fantasy that the New York Halloween terror attack suspect had sponsored "23" relatives for green cards.

    What is "distant" about sponsoring ones parents, siblings or adult children for a green card? What is "unlimited" about that?

    Was the president's own German grandfather's connection with his sister in the US "distant" when he immigrated to the United States to join her? Was he a danger to US security, as the president also implied about both family and diversity lottery immigrants in his speech?

    The only thing that is unlimited about family and lottery green cards is the president's evident willingness to make gross misrepresentation about them in order to turn public feeling against the mainly non-white immigrants who benefit from these visas the most.

    If the president is serious about reaching a compromise on immigration policy, he should begin by telling the truth about immigration, instead of spreading poisonous and inflammatory falsehoods which have no other purpose than to demonize and scapegoat immigrants, most of whom come from outside Europe and do not have white skin color, for all of America's problems.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 01-31-2018 at 12:36 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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