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Lancaster Immigration Law Blog

Family immigration may be at risk with new proposals

In a city on the West Coast, Somali immigrants gathered on a recent Friday to discuss issues that affect their communities and other immigrants throughout the nation. Immigrants in Pennsylvania may have similar support networks in place to encourage and assist new arrivals, as well as those who have been living here for some time. A main topic of discussion at the recent gathering was whether newly proposed regulations would adversely affect family immigration.

It has been proposed that the number of immigrants allowed into the United States be cut in half. Beyond that, other proposed changes would shift the focus of the current family-based system to a more individualized program. The new system would give immigration preference to those with special job skills, no language barriers and post-secondary education degrees or certifications.

Heated immigration detention situation brewing in another state

Far west of Pennsylvania, a lawsuit has been filed against a regional jail. The reason for the lawsuit involves a complicated immigration detention situation. Plaintiffs assert that jail officials are in violation of a 1987 state law.

A spokesperson for the jail, however, says they are merely complying with U.S. immigration law and have done nothing wrong. Those who filed the lawsuit contend that state law prohibits the housing of immigration detainees who are not charged with nor have been convicted of crimes; in essence, their only alleged violations are being in the country, undocumented. The lawsuit further notes that state law prohibits use of local resources to house undocumented detainees in assistance to the federal government.

Can a person navigate the citizenship process without stress?

The reasons people leave their countries of origin to come to the United States are many. Some are business-minded individuals who have dreams of investing in the American economy. Others are fleeing areas wrought with poverty, violence and danger. No matter what prompts people to start new lives in Pennsylvania or another state, many immigrants dream of finalizing their stays by going through the citizenship process.

U.S. immigration law is highly complex. When language poses a barrier or other extenuating circumstances complicate matters, it can be quite challenging trying to understand exactly what needs done in order to attain lawful citizenship. Sometimes, the process takes years. There are also certain fees associated with application to become a U.S. citizen.

To become a U.S. citizen was apparently a promise made

A military enlistment contract for at least 1,000 immigrant service members, perhaps including some in Pennsylvania, promised to expedite their paths to citizenship. It seems each person participating in this particular recruitment program possessed much-needed medical and/or language skills and was told he or she would be placed on a fast track to become a U.S. citizen in exchange for military service. Word has it, however, the agreement may be canceled by the Pentagon.

Many of the service members in question do not hold legal residency statuses; thus, cancellation of the agreement would place them at risk for deportation. The Pentagon reportedly wrote a memo to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis saying the immigrants pose a potential security risk (even though they were asked to enlist in the military to share their knowledge and skills). More than 4,000 naturalized citizens serving in the military may now be facing enhanced screening processes.

Deportation situation causes upheaval of controversy

Many Pennsylvania immigrants may know someone currently facing a very stressful situation over immigration status. Approximately 200 immigrants were recently arrested and detained for possible deportation to Iraq. Some say the massive sweep was intended to force the hands of several other countries to take back nationals who were ordered to leave the United States.

Most of those arrested reportedly have serious criminal records. Crimes include kidnapping, murder, drug trafficking and other violent offenses. Close to 1,500 Iraqi nationals were ordered to be deported since March, but the government says only eight of those people have actually been removed from the United States.

Boys' immigrant mother finally wins asylum

If a survey were conducted in Pennsylvania, asking immigrants why they came to this nation, answers would no doubt vary. Many would likely include stories of fleeing homelands from abject poverty and imminent violence. In fact, a young woman in another state says she escaped El Salvador under similar circumstances and, after recently winning asylum, is now in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

The woman says her journey to provide a safe and happy life for her sons in the United States has been wrought with challenges. The 34-year-old was allegedly abruptly awakened from sleep when immigration officials came to her home. She was reportedly threatened with deportation at that time.

When deportation fears are part of daily life

Perhaps you or another immigrant you know in Pennsylvania gets nervous any time a police officer is nearby. Maybe you jump whenever there's an unexpected knock on your door. For many who have emigrated to the United States from other lands, this type of anxiety is often prompted by constant fear of deportation.

Whether documented or undocumented, many immigrants worry that getting pulled over in a traffic stop, running into a clerical error or other problem on a tax form, or any number of other typically minor situations, may result in family separations and a forced return to their countries of origin. Building a new life in America is a joyful and exciting, yet frightening and challenging experience for most immigrants. For those who face particular language challenges or are living and working in this state or another without documentation, daily life can become quite stressful.

The O visa program

There are various nonimmigrant visa programs here in the United States. A nonimmigrant visa authorizes a person from another country to temporarily stay in the U.S. for a particular purpose. Today’s post will be focused on one nonimmigrant visa program in particular: the O visa program.

O visas cover temporary stays in the U.S. by individuals with extraordinary ability and certain individuals connected to them. There are multiple types of such visas.

Legal status, birthright citizenship and national history

The issue of birthright citizenship may be a familiar topic to Pennsylvania voters as political candidates discuss their perspectives on immigration. One of the most extreme solutions is promoted by Donald Trump, who suggests that he would like to end birthright citizenship so that undocumented parents would no longer be motivated to have children in the United States. However, this issue is not a new concern. In fact, the matter was settled by the Supreme Court in 1898.

A Chinese American who was born in San Francisco faced challenges to his citizenship upon returning to the U.S. after visiting China. At the time, the sentiment toward Chinese people was negative, and the nation had passed the Chinese Exclusion Act approximately one decade before the individual in question was denied the right to re-enter the country. The Court indicated in its decision that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution affirmed an individual's right to citizenship by birth in the country. Unfortunately, the man at the center of that case was not fully recognized as a citizen in spite of the case. He raised his family in China and died there after the conclusion of World War II.

Establishing U.S. citizenship for Pennsylvania minors

When a child under the age of 18 comes to the United States, he or she may automatically become a United States citizen when both parents become citizens. However, for those who were 18 prior to February 2001, they may become citizens if their only naturalized parent was their mother or their other parent was deceased. In the event that a child's parents got divorced, a child could be automatically naturalized if the parent with legal custody becomes naturalized.

However, depending on when the child is born, it may also be possible that he or she could become a citizen if even one parent was born or naturalized in the United States. In addition, the child would have to become a permanent resident prior to turning 18 and cannot be married. The law does not specify whether permanent residency or the parent's naturalization comes first as long as both criteria are satisfied.

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Lancaster, PA 17602

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