USCIS Update: Centralized Receipting for Various N-Forms
The receipting of Forms N-300, N-336, N-600 and N-600K has been centralized in the Dallas and Phoenix Lockbox facilities and away from local field offices, effective October 30, 2011. This effort is intended to streamline form processing, accelerate fee collection and deposit, and improve intake consistency. Effective December 5, 2011, local offices will discontinue forwarding the listed forms. At that time, applicants will be instructed to re-submit to the appropriate lockbox.
Eleventh Circuit Enjoins Additional Provisions of Alabama's Immigration Law
In a 16-page Order dated October 14, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit enjoined the enforcement of Sections 10 and 28 of the Alabama immigration law, H.B. 56. The order, available at http://www.lexisnexis.com/community /immigration-law/ >Inside News, contained little discussion. A final ruling is not expected for many months.
The preliminary injunction blocked Section 10, which made it a criminal misdemeanor for undocumented immigrants to not carry alien registration documents. Also blocked is Section 28, which required every public elementary and secondary school in Alabama, at the time of enrollment, to determine whether the enrolling child was born outside the United States or to undocumented parents in the United States.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama had previously preliminarily enjoined four other sections of the Alabama law. See 16 Bender's Immigr. Bull. 1627 and 1645 (Oct. 15, 2011).
Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4) issued a press release applauding the Eleventh Circuit's ruling and invited anyone choosing to flee Alabama to come to Chicago. "We need all the good, hardworking, and conscientious people we can get in Chicago, so Alabama's loss is our gain," said Gutierrez.
DOJ Hotline for Civil Rights Concerns Related to Alabama Bill
On October 13, the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, announced that it had established a hotline, both telephone and e-mail, to report potential civil rights concerns with regard to the impact of H.B. 56, Alabama's immigration law. The telephone number is 1-855-353-1010: the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
California Bucking Trends: DREAM Act and Electronic Employment Verification
California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act on October 8. The legislation allows undocumented aliens who graduate from high school in California to apply to California's public universities as residents, granting them in-state tuition rates. The undocumented students must show that they are "on the path to legalization".
"Going to college is a dream that promises intellectual excitement and creative thinking. The Dream Act benefits us all by giving top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us," said Governor Brown.
Earlier in the summer, Governor Brown signed into the law the first half of the Dream Act (AB 130, signed on July 25, 2011), which made financial aid from private sources available to undocumented students. The two laws together are known as the Dream Act.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that more than 25,000 undocumented children graduate from high school in California each year. The California Department of Finance estimates that 2,500 of those students will qualify for Cal Grants as a result of the new law, at a cost of $14.5 million. The Cal Grant program is funded at $1.4 billion, meaning that 1% of all Cal Grants funds will be potentially impacted by the new law.
On October 9, Governor Brown announced that he had signed A.B. 1236. The bill, introduced by Paul Fong of Mountain View, provides that, except as required by federal law, or as a condition of receiving federal funds, no state, city, county, city and county, or special district may require an employer to use an electronic employment verification system. The bill specifically includes the following: (a) as a condition of receiving a government contract; (b) as a condition of applying for or maintaining a business license; and (c) as a penalty for violating licensing or other similar laws.
The bill cites the original intent of the federal law, "as an experimental and temporary system available to employers on a voluntary basis," and the 2007 evaluation commissioned by DHS that found the database did not meet requirements for accurate verification. The bill listed as justification the increase in costs of doing business in a difficult economic climate: Employers using the program had reported that staff must receive additional training disruptive of normal business operations and that the cost, technological demands, and staff time come at a time when they are already struggling. "The state must pursue all avenues in facilitating and incubating job development and economic growth."
DHS Extends TPS for Sudan and Designates TPS for South Sudan
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano extended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Sudan for eighteen months. She also designated the new Republic of South Sudan for TPS for eighteen months. Both the extension and the new designation are effective Nov. 3, 2011, and will continue through May 2, 2013.
The Department of Homeland Security is also automatically extending the validity of employment authorization documents issued under the last extension of Sudan TPS for an additional six months, through May 2, 2012. Any individual who has a valid TPS Sudan EAD is covered by this automatic extension, even though USCIS may ultimately register the individual under the South Sudan TPS designation and issue a new EAD reflecting his or her new nationality.
TPS applies only to eligible Sudanese or South Sudanese nationals who have continuously resided in the United States since Oct. 7, 2004. There are approximately 340 individuals who DHS anticipates will be eligible either to re-register for TPS for Sudan or to obtain TPS under the South Sudan designation.
All individuals seeking to obtain or maintain their TPS must file their application packages no later than April 10, 2012. For TPS and EAD filing procedures and fee requirements, please see the Federal Register notices at Appendices A and B.
BITS AND PIECES
Foreign Labor Certification Annual Report Available
The Department of Labor Employment Training Administration's Office of Foreign Labor Certification released its Foreign Labor Certification Annual Report on October 12, 2011. The 2010 Annual Report presents information on the prevailing wage determination process, permanent labor certification, and temporary nonimmigrant labor certification for FY 2010. In addition, this report contains valuable information on state employment-based immigration profiles, permanent education certification statistics, H-1B education certification statistics and country employment-based immigration profiles. The 117-page report is available at http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/news.cfm.
EOIR Disciplinary Action
The Executive Office for Immigration Review took disciplinary action against ten attorneys for violations of the rules of professional conduct for immigration practitioners. Manny Aguja was suspended based on his conviction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud; Raymond G. Helwig was suspended based on nine month suspension in California; Jack Douglas King was suspended based on his ninety-day suspension in Florida; James Okoro Okorafor was suspended based on his two-year suspension in Texas; Rosaura Del Carmen Rodriguez was suspended based on her suspension pending disciplinary proceedings in Washington state; L. Tod Schlosser was suspended based on his disbarment in Illinois; and Timothy Schoenrock was suspended based on his interim suspension in Washington state. The following three Final Orders of Discipline were issued: Gregory Wayne Le Page was suspended from practice for five years, effective August 11, 2011, based on his resignation from the practice of law in Texas; Scott T. Strack was suspended for one year and one day, effective August 15, 2011, based on his suspension in Hawaii for one year and one day; and Donovan E. Thomas was suspended indefinitely, effective August 11, 2011, based on his consent to disbarment in Maryland.
Legomsky Appointed USCIS Chief Counsel
The DHS General Counsel, Ivan Fong, announced that Stephen H. Legomsky has been appointed Chief Counsel, USCIS, effective October 24, 2011. Mr. Legomsky is an authority on U.S., comparative, and international immigration, refugee, and citizenship law and policy. His latest book, Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy (co-authored starting with the current fifth edition), has been the required text at 175 law schools since its inception. He has won several awards, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association's annual award. As a member of the American Law Institute, he founded and chaired the Immigration Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools. Mr. Legomsky received his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford; his J.D. from the University of San Diego (Day Division), where he graduated first in his class and was Notes and Comments Editor of the San Diego Law Review; and his B.S. in mathematics from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He will be leaving his current post as the John S. Lehman University Professor at the Washington University School of Law and relocating with his family to Washington, D.C.
USCIS Entrepreneurs in Residence Initiative
USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced the "Entrepreneurs in Residence" initiative at the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in Pittsburgh. According to the press release, the initiative will "utilize industry expertise to strengthen USCIS policies and practices surrounding immigrant investors, entrepreneurs and workers with specialized skills, knowledge, or abilities." The initiative will be launched with a series of informational summits with industry leaders to gather "high-level strategic input". After that, USCIS will form a "tactical team" of entrepreneurs and experts, alongside USCIS personnel, to "design and implement effective solutions."
Hartford Immigration Court Moves
The Executive Office for Immigration Review announced that the Hartford Immigration Court relocated on October 18, 2011. The court is now located in the A.A. Ribicoff Federal Building and Courthouse, 450 Main St., Room 628, Hartford, CT 06103-3015. The court accepts telephonic inquiries from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and provides in-person assistance from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The telephone number is 860-240-3881.
[This is an excerpt from the Nov. 1, 2011, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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