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Boston Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Lack of evidence for job skills leads to green card denial

A Massachusetts pizza worker was denied an employment green card after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service received conflicting information about his skills. The pizza restaurant where the man worked had listed showmanship in preparing food including tossing pizza dough as a requirement on its labor certification application, but the business was unable to provide evidence of the individual's qualification in that regard. In fact, the owners and former owners had submitted information stating both that the man could and could not toss pizza dough.

The application was also denied for other reasons. These included a suspicion that the man's marriage was not bona fide, a family relationship between the man and the restaurant's owners suggesting that the job offer was also not bona fide and various problems with the filing including a lack of evidence that the restaurant could pay the man's wages.

ACLU claims government program too restrictive on some immigrants

Massachusetts residents may be interested to hear about the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claims that certain Muslim residents are not being granted full citizenship status. According to the suit, the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Process, an alleged secretive government program, is delaying people's naturalization process after they were placed on a watch list.

The government claims that the system is needed to protect national security. However, the ACLU says that the program's definition of a national security threat is too broad and that it uses characteristics like national origin to declare a law-abiding individual as a threat. Moreover, despite the fact these people were not the subject of an investigation, it claims that they are being put on terror watch lists after their names appeared in an FBI file. In some cases, the names were placed there after individuals attended a mosque that was under law enforcement surveillance or voluntarily participated in an FBI interview.

How to apply for asylum while in Massachusetts

Those who are in the United States or plan to enter the United States to escape persecution in their home country must go through a process of applying for asylum. The first step in the application process is to file INS Form I-589 within one year of entering the country. In some cases, exceptions will be made for those who have failed to apply within one year.

The next step is to establishing that an individual is eligible for asylum. To be considered eligible, a person must be considered a refugee as per the Immigration and Nationality Act and establish that he or she cannot go back home due to that person's race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. After filing the application, that person will be interviewed by a judge who will rule as to whether or not that person may be eligible.

Investor visa holds promise for immigrants, at-risk areas

A little-known program that has been part of immigration law in the United States for more than 20 years could benefit individuals who have at least $500,000 to invest in areas that are struggling economically. The Immigration Act of 1990 created the EB-5 investor visa, and while it has primarily been used by immigrants from China, there is plenty of room for expansion.

Rural communities as well as depressed urban areas stand to benefit from the program. At least 10 jobs must be created by each new development project in at-risk areas, and investors and their immediate families are permitted to settle in the United States with conditional permanent resident status. After two years, the status is no longer conditional.

Undocumented immigrants from border flown to northeast

According to a statement from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, four flights full of undocumented immigrants have landed in Massachusetts since April. The detainees were apparently recent border crossers who had been arrested in Texas, and the majority of them have reportedly been returned to their countries of citizenship. The flights were coordinated by ICE in order to make use of detention space that is available in the New England area.

A spokesperson for ICE stated that the increase in border crossings in the southwest region of the country has required a national response. The spokesperson went on to say that a small number of the detainees that were flown to Massachusetts have been released on bond while their immigration cases are being heard.

Is claiming refugee status viable?

Many residents of Massachusetts may have heard about the ongoing crisis at the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Media sources report that many migrants are attempting to enter the U.S. to escape violence in their home countries. However, claiming refugee status may be a more complicated matter than some people realize.

In order for a person to receive refugee status and apply for asylum in the U.S., they must be able to show that they were forced to flee their home country for some reason, and in particular, that they are unable to return for fear of death or injury. That said, children arriving at the border are treated differently than adults. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. enacted the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Action Act, which guarantees that children who arrive in the U.S. will not be deported without first being granted an immigration hearing.

Citizenship ceremonies conducted on July 4

During the first week of July, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service granted citizenship to 9,000 people in Massachusetts and across the country. Some of these individuals completed the process of naturalization on Independence Day, a perfect tribute to recognize their new citizenship.

In Mt. Vernon, Virginia, 102 people were naturalized on July 4. The site was at George Washington's estate. Other historic places were used for their own naturalization ceremonies, including Mt. Rushmore, Pearl Harbor, the U.S.S. Midway and the White House. In Mt. Vernon, immigrants from Afghanistan, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Sierra Leon, Turkey, Vietnam and the United Kingdom were some of the individuals receiving citizenship status. The ceremony lasted 45 minutes.

Massachussetts immigrant driver's license bill to be studied

A controversial piece of legislation has been designated for study. The decision was made by a panel of lawmakers on June 23, drawing reaction from area advocates for immigrants. The bill in question would permit immigrants who are not documented to obtain driver's licenses in the state. Votes by the Transportation Committee were varied, with nine of the individuals opting to send it to study. Only three members desired that the legislation emerge from committee, and four voted against it.

Those supporting this legislation indicate that it would improve safety for drivers at large by allowing those immigrants whose work requires driving to be trained and insured. The move would also reportedly assist first responders needing to identify people during emergencies. However, those opposing the bill are concerned that there would be an increase in fraud.

Massachusetts mayor urges freeze on refugee resettlement

Springfield's mayor is concerned about the strain on city resources created by immigrant families resettling in the community. He indicates that insufficient assistance from resettlement agencies is stressing the school system as well. His concerns were expressed in a letter to the state's governor, senators and a state representative. The mayor notes that he is not trying to be cold but that he expects agencies to be accountable for their actions.

The State Department has received only a limited number of similar requests in the past, according to a department representative. He says that refugees are only placed in communities equipped to address their needs. He also indicates that the refugee work in Springfield is primarily focused on families being reunited and that the government cannot prevent individuals who have been placed in one location from resettling to reunite with family members.

Illegal immigrants being sent to Massachusetts by plane

According to reports, several planeloads of illegal immigrants have been shipped to Massachusetts from other parts of America in June of 2014. Although Governor Duval Patrick claims to know nothing about it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have confirmed that six chartered flights were sent to Boston.

This follows a report from May of 2014 that 36,000 illegal immigrants with criminal histories were released in various areas of the country. According to ICE, moving detainees from southern borders to other parts of the country is a routine event. According to one person from the Center for Immigration Studies, many of those who have come to the United States only to be detained have cited recent policies that have allowed some to stay once they have crossed the border, and this may make it appealing to try and enter the country. She further went on to say that recent policies are distracting the Border Patrol from doing their job deporting illegal immigrants with a criminal history.

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