Immigration Law Blog

 

Refugee vs. Immigrant: Differences & Similarities

In recent months, the topic of refugee rights has appeared in the news many times. There is misinformation being circulated about the legal definition of a refugee, and about the requirements they must comply with in order to be granted admission to the United States. Many are under the impression that a refugee must simply fit the requirements for any immigrant, and this is not the case. It is imperative to understand the differences, so that you apply for the status that works best for you.

What Is A Refugee?

United States immigration law defines a refugee in the same manner as the 1951 United Nations Convention & Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (usually referred to as the Geneva Convention). According to the convention, a refugee is someone who is “unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” In order to apply for refugee status, a person must be outside the United States, and meet all other admission criteria – in other words, they must be able to be found admissible even if they were not a potential refugee.

These requirements, contrary to what many might think, actually make it more difficult in many respects to gain admittance to the United States. Showing a well-founded fear of persecution is quite difficult, especially when coming from countries where records are not kept or have been destroyed. In order to establish a pattern of persecution or the likely possibility of future persecution, one cannot simply testify to a few isolated occurrences or a general climate of terror; one must be able to cite specifics, with corroboration.

After Admission

The other question that many people have regarding refugee status is whether or not they receive ‘special treatment’ once they are admitted to the United States. The answer is technically yes, at least by California law, but there are practical considerations underlying each type of assistance many refugees are able to receive.

For example, if a refugee is able to obtain status in the U.S., they are then able to work, without having to apply for an Employment Authorization Document. It is reasonable to assume that the overwhelming majority of refugees had to flee their homes with very few assets, and thus, the ability to work and provide for one’s family is more integral to them than it is to many immigrants, who may arrive with assets and other comforts. Opponents of this measure argue that it means fewer jobs for Americans, but only 1 percent of refugees at any given time are eligible to resettle, and of that number, fewer even try to enter the United States.

Another example is training in English as a second language (ESL). The California Refugee Resettlement Program provides English language training to refugees, though a portion of it is financed with money from the federal Refugee Social Services program, rather than the state’s coffers. The rationale is that while many immigrants may arrive with their families or friends, refugees likely have no support network in which to learn English. English language skills are also very important in many fields, which increases employment prospects.

An Immigration Attorney Can Help

Immigration law can be quite complex, and very often, the help of a professional can make a difference between confusion and confidence.The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. is an immigration law firm with offices in Boston and Los Angeles. We have years of experience navigating difficult immigration and refugee rights cases. Contact us today for a initial consultation.

The Traumatizing Effects of Immigrant Detention Centers

Immigration detention centers are often used in the United States to hold immigrants whose status is unknown or court dates are pending. Unfortunately, many reports details these detention centers as places that are not only uncomfortable, but downright traumatizing. If you or a family member is being held in a detention center and need legal help, the immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. can help.

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An Overview of the Different Types of Immigrant Visas

If you are an individual who is hoping to apply and be approved for a U.S. immigrant visa, it is important that you understand the multiple types of visas that are available, and which one you may qualify for. For help filing your visa application in an accurate and proficient manner, an immigration attorney is key.

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New Bill Proposed in Massachusetts Offers State Protections from Federal Requests

Illegal immigration activists in Massachusetts are at it again. This time, activists are pressing lawmakers in the state to pass a bill that would limit the authority that federal laws regarding detention requests have over local and state police officers. Specifically, the bill would bar Massachusetts’ police officers from legally being allowed to arrest an undocumented person once that person has been discharged from local custody. The bill would be considered a will for undocumented immigrants in the state, especially in light of anti-immigrant policies present throughout the rest of the country.

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What Do Americans Think About Illegal Immigration?

More than perhaps ever before in U.S. history, illegal immigration has become a hot—and highly controversial—topic. And with the presidential election quickly approaching, it seems as though everyone wants a piece of the illegal immigration opinion pie. Which leaves one pressing question: What do Americans really think about illegal immigration? Continue reading “What Do Americans Think About Illegal Immigration?”

Immigration Reform in the 2016 Presidential Election

For undocumented immigrants in America, 2016 is a year full of unknowns. If Donald Trump gets the republican bid for president—and is elected as such by the Electoral College—things could change dramatically, and fast. That’s because Mr. Trump has adamantly declared that he would force all immigrants who are undocumented to return to their home countries if elected. While Trump has yet to propose a strategic plan of how he would make this happen—and find and deport between approximately 11 to 12 million people—he’s made it clear that he’s a man on a mission. To counteract his hardheaded and—as some would claim—callous approach, Hillary Clinton has vowed to tackle Trump’s plan.

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Court Upholds Arizona’s Controversial Immigration Law

In 2010, the state of Arizona passed S.B. 1070, a controversial piece of legislation that requires police officers to determine a person’s immigration status at the time of arrest or detainment if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an undocumented illegal immigrant. The legislation has colloquially been referred to as the ‘papers please’ law, as it requires detained individuals to show proof of identity and legal resident status. Since the bill’s passing, there have been a number of questions raised about the constitutionality of the law, based on the argument that it encourages racial profiling. On September 4, 2015, a federal judge in Arizona upheld the legality of the law.

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Sarah Saldana Takes a Firm Stand

Sarah Saldana, the director for ICE, or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, has spoken firmly about the agency’s position on immigration enforcement; according to Saldana, there will be no repercussions for sanctuary cities, nor enforcement of certain immigration laws, until comprehensive immigration reform is passed and Obama’s immigration action is enacted.

Understanding Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary cities are those cities throughout the U.S. (and Canada) that provide shelter to immigrants, via the adoption of certain policies, who have entered the country illegally and are facing deportation. For example, San Francisco has passed legislation that prohibits police officers from asking questions about a person’s residency status. Some well-known sanctuary cities throughout the U.S. include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Houston, Miami, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York, and Chicago, amongst others.

Saldana Under Fire for Protecting Sanctuary Cities

On July 21, 2015, Saldana came under fire when she, as well as Leon Rodriguez, the director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, were repeatedly asked questions by congressional members regarding why no legal actions have been taken against sanctuary jurisdictions that, quoting Senator David Vitter (Republican – Louisiana), “refuse to turn over dangerous criminals.”

Saldana adamantly replied that once comprehensive immigration reform was passed by congress, ICE would address the legality of the policies in sanctuary cities.

Not the First Time Saldana Speaks Up

Saldana’s recent question-and-response session with Congress is not the first time the director of ICE has been clear about what she expects; in April of 2015, Saldana spoke openly in front of members of the House Judiciary Committee regarding consequences for ICE officers who fail to enforce the law (specifically, President Obama’s immigration priorities). To quote Saldana, she was clear that “not abiding by some other rule or policy” or not following a directive could result in a “range of punishment,” including termination.

Congress’s Response

Congress has threatened before to withhold funding from sanctuary cities that harbor undocumented immigrants, and on July 23, 2015, the House voted for—and passed—a piece of legislation that would do just that. Happily, the White House has stated that it will veto the legislation, as it threatens to undermine the current administration’s efforts and priorities.

Contact a Massachusetts Immigration Attorney Today

If you’re facing deportation or have questions about your immigration status, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney who’s on your side. At the Law Offices of Joshua P. Goldstein, P.C., our immigration attorneys want to help you. To learn more about our services and your rights an immigrant, call us today at 617-722-0005.

 

Declining Numbers of Immigrants from Mexico Entering U.S.

While immigration remains one of the most controversial topics in politics today—and is sure to spur heated debates in the 2016 presidential race—the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico entering the U.S. has actually declined, not increased, in recent years.

Immigration By the Numbers

Peak years for immigrants entering the United States from Mexico were from 2003 to 2007, according to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. During those years, approximately 1.9 million undocumented Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. In contrast, the years between 2008 and 2012 saw a 57 percent decrease; a total of 819,000 people entered the U.S. from Mexico during those years.

Why the decline?

The decline in immigration is explained by a variety of factors, including a falling birth rate in Mexico, a growing economy in Mexico—providing more jobs in country, and a decline in available construction jobs in the U.S. In regards to the former, the average woman was giving birth to an average of seven babies in Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, the birth rate has declined to a similar number to the U.S birth rate (1.88 births per woman, according to 2012 statistics. However, the birth rate has risen by one percent since that time). The declining birth rate doesn’t just mean that there are less people to enter the U.S. from Mexico, but also that there is less competition over jobs within Mexico.

Profile of Immigrants Who Do Enter the U.S. from Mexico

The profile of those who enter the U.S. from Mexico varies greatly. Similar to years past, there are many unskilled laborers who enter the U.S. hoping to find work. However, more than ever before, the profile of immigrants entering the U.S. from Mexico has shifted; many are coming to escape the violence in their own country, not to find work in the U.S. What’s more, a large margin of immigrants who are entering the U.S. from Mexico are educated, speak English, have more wealth the previous generations, and may even be naturalized citizens who are returning.

Despite this trend, those who are opposed to immigration into the U.S. continue to aggressively advocate for anti-immigration and pro-deportation policies.

How a Massachusetts Immigration Attorney Can Help You

If you’ve entered the U.S. from Mexico and have questions about your immigration status, are facing criminal charges, or have fears about deportation, don’t wait to take action. At the Law Offices of Joshua P. Goldstein, P.C., our immigration attorneys are on your side. To learn more about how we can help you and what your rights are, call us today at 617-722-0005.