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New USCIS Director Testifies Before Congress |
On July 29, Leon Rodriguez, the new director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, testified at an oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. Rodriguez became USCIS director on July 9.
In his written testimony, available at http://judiciary.house.gov/_cache/files/e1d11346-96d5-40f7-884f-b910b3cecee9/testimony-of-uscis-director-leon-rodriguez.pdf, Rodriguez stated that the agency had almost completed adjudicating the longstanding backlog of I-130 petitions, and that I-130 processing times had been reduced to fewer than six months at all four processing centers.
Rodriguez noted that credible fear claims have risen sharply in recent years, from 13,380 in fiscal year 2012 to an estimated 50,000 by the end of the current fiscal year. As a result, the pending backlog of affirmative asylum applications has grown from 15,000 to more than 50,000.
Rodriguez also testified that nearly 70,000 refugees were admitted to the United States in FY 2013, of whom nearly 20,000 were from Iraq.
Finally, Rodriguez stated that the agency’s “transformation” effort to electronic-based applications would not become fully operative until 2018 or 2019.
USCIS Releases DACA Figures
On July 10, USCIS released extensive data providing a statistical breakdown of DACA applicants and recipients. Between August 2012 and September 2013, USCIS accepted 580,000 DACA applications and approved 514,800. The vast majority of DACA recipients were under age twenty-five, and the gender breakdown was about equal—52% female and 48% male.
More than 75% of DACA requests were submitted by citizens of Mexico, followed by those from citizens of El Salvador (4%), Honduras (3%), and Guatemala (3%).
Nearly 30% of DACA applications were submitted for residents of California, followed by those in Texas (16%), Illinois (6%), and New York (5%).
California Reduces Top Misdemeanor Sentence to 364 Days
On July 22, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill reducing the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor under state law from 365 to 364 days. As a result of the change, misdemeanor convictions will not render noncitizens deportable under INA §237(a)(2)(A)(i), which applies to crimes involving moral turpitude for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed. In addition, misdemeanors can no longer serve as aggravated-felony theft offenses or crimes of violence. The measure, SB 1310, was sponsored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens.
Duran Gonzalez Settlement Agreement Receives Final Court Approval
On July 21, a federal judge granted final approval to the settlement agreement in the long-running Duran Gonzalez litigation. Under the terms of the agreement, individuals in the Ninth Circuit who filed a Form I-485 in connection with a Form I-212 between August 13, 2004, and November 30, 2007, may adjust status if otherwise eligible under INA §245(i), notwithstanding the court’s contrary decision in Duran Gonzales v. DHS, 508 F.3d 1227 (9th Cir. 2007) [enhanced opinion available to lexis.com subscribers].
The settlement does not apply, however, to individuals who are currently in removal proceedings under INA § 240, or who have a pending petition for review in the Ninth Circuit of a removal order resulting from such proceedings.
The judge’s order is reprinted at Appendix A.
Immigrants’ Rights Organizations Launch Mobile App
On July 23, the Immigration Advocates Network and the National Council of La Raza launched a mobile application designed to offer up-to-date information on immigration law and policy. The app, named “Immigo,” offers a daily news feed, information on federal laws and regulations, and referrals to nearby providers of free or low-cost immigration services. The app is available on Apple and Android devices.
DOS Restricts Venezuelans’ Travel
The State Department on July 30 announced the imposition of travel restrictions on unnamed members of the Venezuelan government responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses against demonstrators and political dissidents. The announcement is available at http://www.state.gov/pa/prs/ps/2014/07/229928.htm.
[This is an excerpt from the Aug. 15, 2014, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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