Obama Administration Ends ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Policy /
On January 12, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced the end of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy applied to Cuban migrants for more than two decades.
Under the longstanding policy, Cuban migrants who were intercepted at sea would be returned to Cuba or resettled in a third country, while those on U.S. soil would be granted parole—and, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, could apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after one year.
Going forward, Cuban migrants apprehended trying to enter the United States will be treated like citizens of all other foreign countries and may be subject to expedited removal. According to the administration, the policy changes were due to the ongoing restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba
The announcement did not affect the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which allows certain beneficiaries of approved visa petitions to be paroled into the United States while waiting for their priority dates to become current.
Federal Court Certifies Class of Potential Asylum Seekers
On January 10, 2017, a federal district judge in Seattle granted nationwide class action status to a group of asylum seekers who brought suit over the government’s failure to notify them of the one-year deadline to file their applications.
The class includes migrants who were apprehended trying to enter the United States and established a credible fear of persecution, but were not advised of the one-year deadline to file an asylum application after being released from custody.
After the initial filing of the suit, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) ended a policy requiring asylum applications to be filed at an immigration court hearing, and instead began to allow applications to be filed by mail or at an immigration court filing window. The policy change did not benefit applicants who were not placed in removal proceedings, however.
The case is Mendez-Rojas v. Johnson, No. 2:16-cv-01024-RSM (W.D. Wash).
BIA Seeks Amicus Briefs on Material Support Bar
On January 9, 2017, the Board of Immigration Appeals announced a request for amicus briefs on two questions involving the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act relating to “material” support for a terrorist organization.
The BIA asked amici to address whether the term “material” has an independent meaning or is a term of art without such meaning, and, if there is a de minimis exception to the material support bar, whether the exception applies to monetary contributions.
Amicus briefs must be received by the Board by February 8, 2017.
USCIS Updates Biometric Scheduling for Certain Relief Applications
On January 6, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that individuals who file certain relief applications with the agency or an immigration court would receive specific appointment dates to appear at an Application Support Center.
The new policy will apply to individuals who file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, and Form I-881, Application For Suspension Of Deportation Or Special Rule Cancellation Of Removal (Pursuant to Section 203 of Public Law 105-100 (NACARA)).
BITS & PIECES
CBP—U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that citizens of Switzerland will be eligible to apply for the Global Entry program as of February 1, 2017.
DOS—The State Department updated the portion of the Foreign Affairs Manual relating to the discontinuation of visa issuance for countries that refuse or unreasonably delay accepting citizens who are subject to removal (9 FAM 601.12(U)).
USCIS—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated its policy manual to clarify that naturalization applicants need not intend to reside permanently in the United States after acquiring U.S. citizenship.
[This is an excerpt from the Feb. 1, 2017, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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