President-elect Biden’s Immigration Policy

On November 7th, four tumultuous days after Election Day, former Vice President Joe Biden was named the president-elect. A new president brings forward a new administration and an opportunity for changes in the law. While the current pandemic and the collateral economic crisis have been the main focus of conversation, immigration remains a dicey matter.

During the last presidential debate on October 23rd, Biden vowed to get legislation passed within his first 100 days as president offering a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States after the Obama administration failed to pass the comprehensive immigration legislation that Obama assured as a candidate.

Biden also promised to make permanent temporary deportation protections for thousands of undocumented DREAMers, young adults brought by their parents and raised in the U.S. since childhood. He pledged to reinstate the DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, program, which currently under the Trump administration only allows for renewals.

President-elect Joe Biden criticized President Trump’s asylum seeking system of having applicants live in crime-ridden towns south of the U.S. border surrounded by violence and drug cartels. Trump defended his structure by stating that less than 1% actually appear at their court date and most have to be extracted by ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, when allowed to stay in the U.S. while they await their court date.

Although Biden’s campaign platform aspires for an easier immigration process, it is no guarantee with a conservative leaning Supreme Court and a divided congress. Biden can unwind many of Trump’s policies via executive order but a long term immigration reform will depend on Congress. President-elect Biden faces a rough road ahead as President Trump has yet to concede and has continued to file lawsuits demanding the recounting of votes in key states.

As the future of the nation remains uncertain, the state of Georgia faces two senate runoff elections set for early January, which will determine control of the senate. Despite various unknowns, individuals continue to make tough decisions regarding their immigration status as deadlines approach. Legal counsel allows one to remain well informed and versed when preparing for court or filing a petition. The Presti Law Firm is ready to take on any changes in legislation and assist clients through the process.

USCIS Fee Hike

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced it would increase processing fees effective October 2nd, 2020. All applications, petitions, or requests postmarked on or after October 19, 2020 must be accompanied with the newly increased fees. If USCIS receives a form postmarked on or after October 19 with the incorrect filling fee, they will reject the form and return the filing fee attached. Along with the increase in fees, upcoming changes include the removal of fee waivers and the addition of a filing fee for asylum application. While immigration fees are ubiquitous, the introduction of an asylum application fee to the United States makes it only 1 of 4 countries in the world to charge for asylum. Continue reading

Cyclist Deaths Are on The Rise

Here at the Presti Law Firm, we’re deeply concerned with preliminary reports being issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation that estimate cyclist deaths are up 10% from last year. We’re especially concerned because we enjoy a good cycle around White Rock Lake, and we’re very well aware of how easy it is to hurt a cyclist. Continue reading

$125,000 Settlement for Honduran Family

In a suit that alleged Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) used coercive tactics against a Honduran family to give up their asylum claims has settled for $125,000. As part of the family’s claim they alleged that they were kept in a “cold and wet room” known as an “icebox” by Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) agents. The lawsuit was brought in New Jersey federal court. Little else is known about the case, but the settlement illustrates what most critics have been warning the general public about for years, that the conditions for immigration detainees need to be improved. Just this month, a report by the Washington Post stated that English classes, soccer, and legal aid for unaccompanied child migrants in immigration shelters have been cancelled. Due to the lack of resources, the department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has been forced to cancel these programs because they are deemed “unnecessary.” While the argument could certainly be made that those programs are, in fact, not necessary for survival, as HHS claims, there is no argument for the approximately 24 immigrant deaths that have occurred over the past couple of years while in ICE custody.

ICE Arrests at Courthouse

Recently, two district attorneys in Massachusetts have joined several nonprofit groups to sue the federal government to halt immigration agents from making arrests at courthouses in the state of Massachusetts.

The arrests at courthouses in the state of Massachusetts are what attorneys everywhere have feared may happen to undocumented immigrants. Arrests by ICE agents at courthouses limits the ability of immigrants to access the justice system. This move is unprecedented and violates a core American principle, that every person has the right to their day in court.

With the threat of arrests waiting for immigrants on the courthouse steps, attorneys fear that immigrants may fail to either pursue and/or defend their claims in a wide variety of lawsuits that span beyond immigration such as criminal, family, personal injury and other civil matters.

District Attorneys have voiced their concerns about ICE making arrests on the courthouse steps because may hinder the prosecution of criminal cases. Specifically, district attorneys fear that it may cause key witnesses to become uncooperative and not participate in the prosecution of a case. This applies to both the defendant in the criminal matter and independent third parties.

The parties in Massachusetts have asked their local U.S. District Court to issue an injunction preventing the arrests of undocumented immigrants on the courthouse steps.

President Trump Issues Memo on Asylum

On April 29, 2019, President Trump issued a memorandum directed to the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security on asylum-seekers. The stated purpose of the memo was to enhance border security and restore integrity to our immigration system. In the President’s memo, he calls on the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish new measures within 90 days. Continue reading

Telling It Your Way – United States v. Figueroa-Coello

In United States v. Figueroa-Coello, a district court’s decision was overturned by the Fifth Circuit for failing to allow a criminal defendant a chance to present his side of the story during a sentencing hearing. Jose Santos Figueroa-Coello, an immigrant from Honduras and Mexico, was found guilty of illegal reentry into the United States. Mr. Coello was sentenced to 27 months. Although Mr. Coello’s attorney made a formal statement at the sentencing hearing, Mr. Coello was not afforded the same right. The Fifth Circuit found that Mr. Coello has the right to make a statement on his behalf at his sentencing hearing because counsel may not be able to provide “the same quantity or quality of mitigating evidence.” The Fifth Circuit believed that Mr. Coello’s statements were substantially different than his counsel’s statements and that they should be heard at his sentencing hearing. Continue reading

Varsity Blues: The College Admission Scandal & A Look into White-Collar Crime

To the average person, it’s not always totally obvious what white-collar crime looks like. Unfortunately for Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, the media is providing us with a pretty good idea of what white-collar crime looks like. White-collar crime is generally a non-violent economically motivated crime. Often, white-collar crime is perpetuated by businesses or organizations. The most common examples of white-collar crime are fraud, money laundering and embezzlement. To be fair, neither Lori Loughlin nor her husband Mossimo Giannulli have been convicted of any crime. They have, however, been indicted on several charges.  They were most recently indicted on charges of money laundering. Continue reading

A Rise in Workplace Immigration Raids by ICE

The largest workplace raid in a decade by ICE agents took place on the morning of April 3, 2019, in Allen, Texas. After three hundred arrests, it was clear, an enormous audit operation had been launched by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigators.

Since 2017, US immigration and custom officials have overseen a massive 400% surge in the number of workplace immigration raids. These raids are aimed at finding and arresting undocumented immigrants. In 2018, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigators opened approximately 6,848 worksite investigations, which represents a a massive surge compared to the 1,691 workplace investigations opened in 2017. Continue reading

El Paso Immigration Courts

Recently in the news, we’ve been seeing more and more coming out about the immigration courts practices in El Paso, Texas. Violations of due process and a culture of hostility have been levied against the immigration courts in El Paso.

Violations of due process can occur from the moment of detainment up until the deportation of an immigrant. The claim brought against the immigration court in El Paso is that one of the courts is limiting evidence over 100 pages long. Most importantly, the court is limiting the evidence for asylum applications. “Coincidentally”, El Paso has the lowest rate for the granting of asylums in the United States. Nowhere else in our judicial system is evidence limited by the page amount. This is particularly worrisome when you consider more complex cases. Naturally, more complex cases require more detailed evidence. Because of the blatant violation of due process rights an advocate group has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, yesterday. Continue reading