Immigration Reform

Customs and Border Protection Officials Quiz Nigerian Software Engineer

By Peek & Toland on June 21, 2017

Interrogations by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have dominated the news in recent months as the federal government imposed travel bans and clamped down on refugees.

The new reality means it’s more difficult to get into the United States, even if you have the correct documentation.

The story of Celestine Omin, a Nigerian engineer, is a case in point. Nigeria was not on the list of the seven predominantly Muslim nations named in President Trump’s first executive order. It was not in the list of six nations in the revised order announced in March.

Customs and border officials interviewed Nigerian software engineer

Customs and Border officials interrogated Nigerian software engineer

That didn’t prevent Omin being subjected to a long interrogation at the hands of U.S Customs and Border Protection.

The 28-year-old software engineer left Lagos, Nigeria in February to make his first trip to the United States.

He was working for a startup called Andela that connects leading talent in Africa with the United States. Less than one percent of applicants are accepted for the program backed by Facebook. The start-up wanted Omin to create a JavaScript application for emerging markets. He traveled on a short-term visa.

When he landed in the United States, Customs and Border Protection took Omin aside and started to interrogate him.

The border agent escorted him into a small room and told him to sit down. He waited another hour until a different customs officer came in, according to media reports.

He was asked the following question by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official, according to CNN.

“Write a function to check if a Binary Search Tree is balanced.”

He was told that he didn’t look like an engineer. The official asked him to take a test to prove it, according to Andela. He was given a white sheet of paper and two very difficult computer science questions to answer.

Omin said he went for 24 hours without sleep. The questions seemed opaque and open to more than one answer. He said officials told him his answers were incorrect.

Customs and Border Protection Officials Carried out Three-Hour Interrogation

After three hours of interrogation and a call between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Andela cofounder Christina Sass, Omin allowed to go. In a subsequent statement to CNNTech, Customs and Border Protection said it does not administer written tests to discover a reason for travel.

In the wake of the controversial executive orders imposing travel bans, Customs and Border Protection officials stand accused of other inappropriate acts concerning foreign and U.S. nationals.

On 5 February 2017, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientist Sidd Bikkannavar, who is US born, claimed on Facebook he was detained by Customs and Border Protection officials. He was returning to the U.S. from Chile. He claimed the officials took his phone and demanded access to its stored data.

If you are traveling in or out of the United States on a visa, a green card, or any other immigrant certification, it’s more important than ever to have all of your documentation on you. Find out more about work-based visas here, or contact our Austin immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

 

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The Merit-Based Immigration System – How It Might Work

By Peek & Toland on June 16, 2017

A speech made to Congress by President Donald Trump has led to ongoing speculation about a merit-based immigration system.

When Trump laid out his immigration proposals in late February, he advocated a broader plan that echoed mainstream Republican thinking by putting the emphasis on skills and employability rather than family ties. The New York Times noted this move drew a parallel between Trump and former President George W. Bush.

Trump advocated a merit-based immigration system in his speech. He said:

“It’s a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially, yet in America, we do not enforce the rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely on.”

Although it’s not the first time a merit-based immigration system has been advocated in Republican circles, some members of the GOP are skeptical. They fear it could harm the economy by keeping out farm workers, laborers, hotel workers and other low-skilled jobs. Traditionally immigrants have taken these jobs which are unattractive to Americans.

Donald Trump considers a merit-based immigration system

A merit-based immigration system could change the way immigrants are accepted in the United States

Trump has cited the Canadian system. Immigrants to Canada are awarded points based on their employment and educational backgrounds. Those who score the highest, get priority for admission.

While some Republicans are skeptical, the New York Times reported Democrats on the left fear a merit-based immigration system is a backdoor way of re-working America’s immigration laws to filter out people from some backgrounds from certain countries.

How a Merit-Based Immigration System Would Work

Most immigrants who are admitted to the United States are given entry based on their family ties. Less than a fifth are admitted via employment linked to their skills, while a small number are admitted as asylum seekers or refugees.

When U.S. citizens sponsor immediate family members they are not subjected to the caps experienced with employment-based visas. Legal permanent residents also apply for visas for spouses and children.

Of more than a million legal permanent residents who were admitted to the United States, 64 percent were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or were sponsored by family members, the New York Times reported in 2014.

Just 15 percent received an employment-based preference and 13 percent were admitted as refugees or asylum seekers, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

If Canadian-style points based system is brought in, the most skilled and educated immigrants would get priority for admission.

An immigration proposal in 2007 that failed to make it out of the Senate, included a points-based system. Education and skills would have received more points than family relationships. Immigrants with family members living in the United States, either as green card holders or citizens, would have seen their visa preferences eroded. More employment-based visas would be granted under a merit-based system.

Recently, NPR spoke to Jessica Vaughan, director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration. The center favors less immigration. She said:

“It’s clear that if we were to change that mix by reducing the number of family-based immigrants, as has been proposed in recent legislation and – possibly that gives us the opportunity to increase the number of skill-based visas within the overall limits that we have now. That would be much more helpful.”

We also know a move to a merit-based immigration system would likely make it harder for families to be reunited here in Texas and elsewhere.

If you need help with an immigration matter in Austin, Round Rock, San Marcos, Bastrop, San Antonio, or Laredo, please do not hesitate to call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Five Ways Trump is Taking on Legal Immigration

By Peek & Toland on June 15, 2017

The Trump administration’s approach to undocumented immigrants is frequently in the news. Less well known, is how the new president is taking on legal immigration.

Trump has also sought to change the way the United States deals with documented immigration and people who arrive here on work visas.

The travel ban announced in March bans travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. New visas have been suspended for people from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Sudan. The ban was challenged by states including Hawaii.

Statements and leaked draft memos, have added to speculation about how legal immigration could be curtailed, reported Mother Jones.

This is a complex area. The issue of visas and which one you should apply for was confusing before Trump was elected and a period of flux began. You can find out more about visas on our website. There are as many as 76 categories of visas. Many are temporary non-immigrant visas. There are also immigrant visas that provide a potential pathway to citizenship.

Five ways Trump is taking on legal immigration

Five ways Trump is taking on legal immigration

Here are how some visa holders or applicants will be impacted

F-1: Student Visas
An F-1 visa is necessary if you plan to attend a university in the United States or a college, high school, private elementary school, seminary or another academic institution.

Many students holding F visas were affected by the travel ban. Four thousand Iranian students were affected by the ban, according to Mother Jones. A report in Fortune estimates colleges in the United States stand to lose as much as $700 million annually without the students’ funds. Trump did not specifically address student visas during the election campaign. However, he called for an end of the J-1 visa program for visiting academics and professors.

H-1B Highly Skilled Worker Visas

The H-1B visa program is important to technology companies that allow foreigners who work in a “specialty occupation,” such as engineering, technology, business or mathematics. Visa recipients have the option to renew their visas for a further three years so long as they remain employed. The number of H-1B visas is capped at 85,000.

Trump’s stance on the H-1B visa has varied. He accused visa holders of taking American jobs and said he would end the use of the visa as a tool to give overseas workers cheap jobs. However, he has also said the visa brings talented people into the United States.

In March, immigration authorities announced the expedited processing of H-1B visas, which allowed skilled workers to pay more for faster approval to work in the United States, would no longer be available from April 3.

All applicants will have to wait the standard period to see if they have won the “lottery.” Under the temporary suspension, they will no longer be able to pay an additional $1,225 for a guaranteed answer after 15 days.  Restrictions may also be imposed on spouses and children of H-1B visa holders.

EB-5 Investor Visas

EB-5 visas are a form of legal immigration because those awarded them and their families can qualify for green cards. However, investors must pump at least $1 million into the economy, or $500,000 in deprived areas.

Proposed amendments from the Department of Homeland Security would raise these investment amounts to $1.8 million and from $500,000 to $1.35 million in deprived areas

The EB-5 program brought in high investment from nations such as China but critics claim it opens the door to money laundering and other security risks. In some cases, investors have lost their money and not qualified for a green card. Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have cosponsored a bill to end the program

H2: Seasonal worker visas

H2 visas allow U.S. companies to hire agricultural workers or other non-skilled workers like hotel staff on a seasonal basis provided that employers prove that they could not fill these position with citizens.

There are a limited number of these visas. So far, there are few indications that the system will be reformed.

O-1 Visas

These visas allow people of an extraordinary ability to come to the United States. Famous athletes, musicians and Nobel Prize winning scientists have been brought to the United States on the so-called artist or genius visas.

Trump’s travel ban would affect geniuses from the six specified countries. The Mother Jones article speculated it could impact the U.S. bid to host competitions like the 2024 Olympics.

If you need help in applying for a visa for yourself or a worker, please contact our experienced Austin visa lawyers today at (512) 474-4445.

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President Trump Offers Possible Undocumented Immigrant Reform

By Peek & Toland on June 14, 2017

The first raids of President Donald Trump’s term caused fear in Texas’ immigrant community as undocumented migrants without criminal records were deported. However, the president has also offered hope of undocumented immigrant reform.

In February, before his speech to Congress, Trump hinted at reform in comments to TV news anchors.

An article in The Texas Tribune alluded to his desire to reach a compromise over immigration. However, the speech itself contained few clues about immigration reform.

Trump’s speech was greeted enthusiastically by Republicans from Texas including Senator Ted Cruz.

However, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the President’s message was a dark and divisive one, although was encouraged by reports of private comments made by Trump. The President suggested he favors a softening of his approach and undocumented immigrant reform.

Trump gives hints on undocumented immigrant reform

The president was short on specifics. However, reform could include ways of making life in the United States easier for undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes. Allowing them to work was one plank of the immigration policies of Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.

Castro said he hoped Trump would seek to reach a compromise on immigration.

Trump Gives Hints Behind Closed Doors on Undocumented Immigrant Reform

Commentators are divided on how significant Trump’s comments on reform will prove to be. During the election campaign, Trump stressed his opposition to President Obama’s deferred actions on immigration.

Obama’s reforms would have allowed about four million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States and find work. It was challenged by a group of states and stalled in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Writing in the Boston Herald, Linda Chavez said Trump raised the possibility of an immigration reform. It would result in legal status for as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants. However, the comments were made in an off-the-record briefing.

The caveat would be these immigrants would not have committed serious crimes. The president also said he thought “dreamers,” whose parents brought them illegally to the United States as children, should be given a path to citizenship. While the President then apparently suggested to White House staff that this change of policy should be referenced in his speech to Congress, it was not.

Chavez and other commentators were left asking why the speech was not re-written or Trump did not make a characteristic departure from the script.

Rather than softening his stance on immigration, he doubled down on highlighting crimes committed by unlawful immigrants.

Undocumented immigrant reform remains a fluid situation now. If you or a family member needs advice on an immigration matter, please call our lawyers at Peek & Toland, PLLC at (512) 474-4445.

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Raids Spur Undocumented Immigrants to Seek U.S. Passports for their Children

By Peek & Toland on June 13, 2017

As ICE raids intensified in Texas in recent months, the lines at passport offices filled up with immigrants seeking to get U.S. passports for their American-born children.

The surge of undocumented immigrants at passport offices in Texas and elsewhere was noted by the Texas Tribune.

The rush to get U.S. passports comes on the back of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in Texas. Although they have targeted undocumented immigrants with criminal records, others have been caught up and deported.

The arrests of 51 people in the Austin area in February, sparked an outcry, The Statesman reported. It was part of a national operation that led to the arrests of 680 immigrants who the federal agency deemed threats to public safety.

How immigrants are seeking U.S. passports for children

Migrants seek U.S. passports for their children

The arrests marked a shift from previous policy.  ICE agents picked up more undocumented immigrants without criminal records than in raids under the Obama administration. USA Today reported about 74 percent of people arrested had committed crimes, compared with a figure of 90 percent under raids during the latter stages of the Obama administration.

Immigration officials said Operation Cross Check led to the arrest of 23 people with criminal convictions and some violent offenders.

The Tribune article noted an increase in applications for U.S. passports across Texas.

At Dallas’s Salvadoran consulate, Consul General Jose Mario Mejía Barrera reported a 25 percent increase in applications for U.S. passports and child registries in February alone. The consulate serves approximately 150,000 Salvadorans in North Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Barrera said:

“There’s uncertainty and worry among the community. People are realizing they have to file the right paperwork. Children who are born here, with Salvadoran moms or dads, are being registered so they have dual citizenship.”

A similar trend was noted at the Mexican consulate in Austin. Carlos Gonzalez Gutiérrez, the Consul General, reported an increase in applications for U.S. passports and birth certificates since Donald Trump won the presidential election in November. He said the recent round-ups of undocumented immigrants in Austin alarmed immigrants and more non-criminal immigrants were detained ICE agents than previously.

The consulate organized its first custody session to help undocumented Mexicans to understand guardianship. Many are contemplating leaving children with documented immigrants if they are deported. Immigrants have also asked about property rights because they are concerned about their houses being taken away.

If you or a family member is facing deportation, our Austin cancellation of removal lawyers can help you. See our resources here. We can also provide advice on documentation for citizenship applications. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Judge Says Funds Governor Cut to Punish Sanctuary City Policies Would Have Funded DWI Enforcement

By Peek & Toland on June 9, 2017

A cut in funds by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to punish sanctuary city policies in Austin was not targeted at the relevant department, according to a judge.

Earlier this year, Abbott’s office vowed to cancel $1.8 million in grants to law enforcement programs, and the University of Texas’s campus.

The cancellation of the grant was in response to Travis Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s policy of preventing deputies from asking anyone they arrested about their immigration status. Hernandez will not honor federal detainer requests in holding undocumented immigrants in Travis county jails after the completion of sentences for minor crimes, even if requested to by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

Both of these moves are seen as sanctuary city policies by the governor.

However, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, the county’s chief executive, said the money Abbott blocked does not fund immigration enforcement. She said the money is not immigration funds and none of it would have funded Hernandez’s department.

Cash cut targeted sanctuary cities policies

Abbott blocked money that would have financed drug diversion courts, DWI enforcement programs, and prostitution prevention according to a list Eckhardt tweeted.

An article in The Hill highlighted how Abbott sees Hernandez’s stance as being consistent with sanctuary cities.

Abbott pulled no punches in his response to the policies of the newly elected sheriff in Travis County.

Her so-called sanctuary city policies enraged the governor who threatened to slash state funding if Hernandez proceeded with policies intended to keep immigrant families together. In a letter to Hernandez, Abbott described the policy as shortsighted, dangerous, frivolous and reckless.

He has even threatened to remove elected officials who fail to comply with federal immigration laws, although the legality of this move has been questioned.

Sanctuary cities have also been targeted in the Texas legislature. However, there are signs the policy may backfire. In Harris County, the sheriff’s department has pulled out of a program that deputizes law enforcement officials to act as immigration agents.

Abbott’s aggressive stances comes as President Donald Trump threatens to pull federal funding from “sanctuary” cities and counties including Austin and San Francisco.

Federal retainers remain controversial. Last year, a judge in the Northern District of Illinois, invalidated detainer requests in a case that may have ramifications nationwide.

Three years ago, more than 100 local attorneys and academics signed a letter to Travis County officials warning their compliance with ICE detainers threatened to violate constitutional rights and open Travis County to potential legal liability.

Sanctuary cities and sanctuary city policies will continue to dominate political discourse over the next few months. If you or a family member is concerned about a detainer request or another aspect of immigration law, please call us today at (512) 474-4445.

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Three Ways Trump’s Immigration Ban Threatens Healthcare

By Peek & Toland on June 5, 2017

When the Trump administration attempted to implement a travel ban affecting seven mainly Muslim countries in January, many doctors and medical workers were trapped in the United States or abroad. The administration’s travel policies continue to be a threat to the healthcare sector, according to commentators.

The chaos unleashed in the medical sector in the short time the travel ban was in place highlights a little-known fact about the U.S. healthcare industry – its reliance on foreign workers.

Arguably, the reliance of our hospitals and other facilities on skilled foreign workers is almost as great as that of agriculture on unskilled and undocumented migrants.

An article in Vox highlighted how the Trump administration’s restrictions on overseas workers might affect the healthcare industry.

Healthcare impacts in travel ban

Travel bans may impact healthcare

Here are some of the ways healthcare is affected:

1 The shortage of doctors and surgeons is exacerbated

The Vox article stated nearly 30 percent of surgeons and doctors who work in the United States are from other countries.

A survey from the Migration Policy Institute in 2015 found 27.9 percent of doctors and surgeons are sourced from overseas. It found 22.3 percent of all healthcare workers are immigrants.

A letter from the American Medical Association to the Secretary of Homeland Security highlighted the present crisis in healthcare. It stated:

“Many communities, including rural and low-income areas, often have problems attracting physicians to meet their health care needs.”

The letter warned Trump’s tightened immigration policy threatens to create unintended consequences.

2 Iran and Syria Send Large Numbers of Surgeons to the United States

The Vox story revealed Iran and Syria are among the top 10 countries that send doctors to the United States. Both countries appeared on the list of nations impacted by January’s travel ban and are likely to be part of a future ban.

The Migration Policy Institute study found 5,000 Syrian-born doctors were working in the United States in 2015. It found there are 9,000 Iranian doctors here.

Compared with US-trained doctors, overseas practitioners are more likely to be working in areas with skills shortages like rural locations. They also do a disproportionate amount of work.

3 Foreign Healthcare Workers Bolster Some Specialties

In some key areas, doctors from overseas make up as much as half of the workforce. In geriatric medicine, 50.7 percent of doctors trained abroad. The figure for nephrology (kidneys) is 47.2 percent, and 43.6 percent of specialist cardiac doctors are from other countries.

How the Travel Ban is Already Impacting Healthcare

The Vox article pointed out the Trump administration policies are already hurting medicine. Some doctors want to return home or fear they will be trapped abroad. The specter of visa clampdowns and travel bans in the future may impact the number of overseas doctors in American hospitals.

If you are a doctor who wants to work in America or a health provider looking to bring skilled work in from abroad, you should talk to our experienced Austin visas lawyers. See our resources here or call us at (512) 474-4445.

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Increased Deportations Impact American Businesses

By Peek & Toland on June 2, 2017

President Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants is already impacting some businesses as increased deportations deprive them of workers.

The Los Angeles Times reported the chilling impacts on businesses after Trump ordered an aggressive crackdown on as many as 11 million undocumented people in February.

The LA Times made reference to two memos released by Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly directing immigration officers to broaden their enforcement and to conduct more raids on immigrant communities. The policy envisages placing undocumented people in detention whether or not they have a criminal record.

Officials have also talked about an expedited deportation process that would bypass the courts, although it would likely face a legal challenge.

Increased deportations impact business

The Los Angeles Times reported the Californian economy faces being hit particularly hard by increased deportations. Many industries that rely on immigrants were experiencing a labor shortage before Trump’s inauguration.

Undocumented workers make as much as 10 percent of the labor force in California, according to USC researchers. They are the backbone of the workforce in agriculture and construction. As many as 45 percent of all farm workers and 21 percent of those in the construction trade are undocumented.

Texas also faces a major impact from increased deportations, according to recent studies. Last year we noted research that found restricting the undocumented workforce in Texas would lead to significant economic losses to the state. The research estimated the total net fiscal effect of the state’s undocumented population brings in about $32.9 billion every year.

Increased Deportations May Impact Texas and California Business

California has about 2.7 million undocumented immigrants, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security estimated there were about 1.68 million undocumented immigrants living in Texas.

Research from the Pew Center found Texas, California, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois combined accounted for 59 percent of the undocumented population in the United States.

A recent report in Bloomberg stated increased deportations stand to drive up the wages of farm workers. Wages for agricultural workers rose 36 percent over the last decade as the Obama administration cracked down on unlawful migrants.

However, the Trump administration’s expanded deportation plan for undocumented immigrants threatens to put some growers out of business if its actions are not accompanied by increases in workers available. Bloomberg warned more food might be sourced from overseas.

The H-2A visa program for temporary agricultural workers could help alleviate the agricultural workers crisis. However, the program is oversubscribed and in need of reform, claimed Bloomberg.

The Austin-based immigration attorneys at Peek & Toland, PLLC have years of success in helping immigrants. We can help you avoid complications that could endanger your rights and presence in the United States. For further information, call (512) 474-4445.

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What is the Australia Refugee Deal With the United States?

By Peek & Toland on May 25, 2017

The little-known Australia refugee deal with the United States made headlines recently when President Donald Trump became involved in a contentious phone call with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The deal reached before Trump became U.S. president was the cause of the acrimony.

A report on CNN stated Trump is under pressure to reject the deal. He attempted to temporarily halt refugee arrivals and ban immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries in an executive order in January. The order was stymied by the courts earlier this year. A second order applying to six countries was issued in March. It also ran into legal difficulties.

Turnbull sought reassurance from Trump that he would honor the deal signed by the Barack Obama administration.

What is the Australia refugee deal?

Questions over the US-Australia refugee deal

For his part, Trump was said to be angry about the Australia refugee deal. Sources told CNN the U.S. president described it as “a very bad deal” and complained Australia was attempting to send “the next Boston bomber” to the US.

The agreement is seen as controversial because Obama put it in place shortly after Trump won the presidential election.

Obama and Turnbull agreed in November that Australia would transfer around 1,250 refugees. They are incarcerated in offshore detention centers on Pacific islands. The leaders agreed the transfer would be administered by the UN High Commission on Refugees. Turnbull has described the Australia refugee deal as a “one-off” agreement that would not be repeated.

What Are the Nationalities in the Australia Refugee Deal?

CNN reported most of the refugees are from the Middle East and South Asia. The majority are from Iran.

Most of the refugees were detained after they arrived by boat. They were brought to Australia by human smugglers across a dangerous sea route. Thousands more lost their lives.

About 80 percent of the people in the centers are judged to be legitimate refugees.

Refugees found themselves targeted by the Trump administration.

Earlier this year, a temporary ban on the admission of all refugees was blocked by the courts along with a travel ban from arrivals from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Trump was said to be working on a new ban. Those opposed to the executive orders are concerned temporary bans will effectively turn indefinite.

They believe all of the countries targeted, as well as programs for Syrian refugees and other refugees, will be unable to meet the vetting standards that Trump decides allow the temporary bans to be lifted. The seven countries in question are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.

If you are seeking asylum in the United States, it’s more difficult now than ever. An experienced Austin family immigration lawyer can help you. Call Peek & Toland PLLC at (512) 474-4445.

 

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Sanctuary City Austin Takes Shape After Raids and Threats

By Peek & Toland on May 24, 2017

The idea of sanctuary city Austin is taking shape amid a series of raids aimed at undocumented immigrants and the targeting of the sheriff’s department by the Texas governor.

Major raids intended to round up undocumented immigrants have taken place across the country including in the Texas state capital.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started a series of raids in February in Austin when they rounded up dozens of undocumented immigrants.

ICE said the operation was part of a planned sting aimed at targeting people who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of America’s immigration system.

Sanctuary city Austin takes shape

The skyline of downtown Austin

In an interview with NPR, Austin mayor Steve Adler expressed his commitment to the idea of sanctuary city Austin.

Adler pointed out raids took place across the country in places where law enforcement officers don’t necessarily cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

He said it was right that suspects who are picked up by police in Austin should not be quizzed on their immigrant status. He said.

“Victims in our community feel free to come forward and seek help from our public safety, regardless of who they are. Witnesses to events and to crimes feel safe coming to our police because they know they can do that safely … what our police and our professionals tell us is, is that if they’re going to keep this community safe, they have to be able to preserve that relationship.”

The idea of sanctuary city Austin has been ratcheted up in a war of words between Texas governor Greg Abbott and Sally Hernandez, the new Democratic sheriff in Travis County.

War of Words Defines Sanctuary City Austin

Soon after her election, Hernandez kept a campaign pledge to scale back help to federal immigration agents by detaining suspects who may be in the country illegally.

Hernandez says she’ll only cooperate if a detainee is arrested for serious crimes like murder, sexual assault or human trafficking.

Abbott said he would withhold funding to Travis County unless the policies are reversed.

The Texas governor told Hernandez that if she does not reverse her policy Travis County will be disqualified from receiving grant money from the Criminal Justice Division (CJD).

Texas lawmakers are supporting a bill that would cut state funding to “sanctuary cities,” or those with policies or rules that impede federal agents apprehending people who may be in the country illegally.

If you are facing potential deportation, please call our Austin immigration lawyers today at (512) 474-4445.

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