Deferred Action

Texas AG and Other States File Federal DACA Lawsuit

By Peek & Toland on July 29, 2018

Even as various federal lawsuits attempt to block the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program wage on, the Texas Attorney General, along with six other states, has filed yet another lawsuit. The difference is that the Texas-led suit has the opposite goal than the pending lawsuits; these states are seeking to force the Trump administration to end DACA as an illegal exercise of executive branch authority. In the suit, these states argue that the executive branch cannot “unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization.”  

Aside from Texas, the other states joining the suit include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia. The suit is an indication of the growing frustration of Republican states over the Trump administration’s failure to end DACA as promised. In the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, these states claim that the court has the power to rescind all existing DACA permits as unlawful and block the federal government from continuing the program in the future.

Texas AG and Other States File Federal DACA Lawsuit

The suit sets up a strange situation between the parties, who both want the same thing: to end DACA. Since Trump’s efforts to end the program have stalled in pending federal lawsuits in Washington, San Francisco, and Brooklyn, the Texas suit aims to set up conflicting rulings on the DACA issue. This situation is likely to prod appellate courts, and even the U.S. Supreme Court, into hearing the suit and issuing a ruling on the issue.

Whether you are a DACA recipient or you are facing another type of immigration issue, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases on a daily basis, including those related to the DACA program, and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to successfully resolve your immigration law case.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration

DACA Initial Applications Likely to be Accepted Again Starting in July

By Peek & Toland on April 25, 2018

The word daca on an american flag immigration concept 3D illustration

Federal Judge ruling on Tuesday clears the way for U.S. Immigration authorities at USCIS to begin processing DACA initial applications again. Since September of 2017, the Trump administration announced changes to DACA to “wind it down” and that it would no longer be accepting new initial applications. This ruling yesterday indicates the government will be required to continue to process all DACA applications until the pending lawsuits over its legality and the legality of the Trump administration’s efforts to end the DACA program is finally decided by the Federal courts.

This is amazing news for young people who are eligible for DACA but had never had the chance to apply or missed out on applying.

Call Peek & Toland now at 512-474-4445 or email us at [email protected] to discuss if you are eligible and make plans to be ready come July 2018 when initial DACA applications will likely be accepted again under this ruling

Posted in Deferred Action

Homeland Security Secretary Floats Citizenship for People Shielded from Deportation

By Peek & Toland on January 5, 2018

The Trump administration announced the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a level of amnesty to some undocumented immigrants, last year. In the following months, the question of what should happen to those temporarily shielded from deportation has been discussed.

This month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen floated the idea of citizenship for people who were temporarily shielded from deportation.

The Homeland Security Secretary’s comments came as the future of so-called “Dreamers” was discussed.

Nielsen said the Trump administration would consider immigration legislation that might include a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people.

However, Nielsen stressed no decision has been made on the issue of Dreamers and a border wall remains a priority. The so-called ‘wait and see’ policy as reported in VOANews represents little change in the official stance.

Help for people shielded from deportation

The White House is considering options for people shielded for deportation

 Almost 790,000 young people, many who came to America as children, gained the right to work, live and seek education under DACA. It gave them breathing space from deportation proceedings.

President Donald Trump has called for Congress to address the issue after his executive order ended DACA.

However, discussions in Congress were complicated by issues like the wall and wider immigration reforms.

In an interview, Nielsen said Congress is considering three options which include citizenship or permanent legal status for people who were shielded from deportation.

She said details on how these people would qualify for citizenship, including how many years they should wait and other pertinent requirements, would have to be addressed.

Nielsen said the president is open to different scenarios including citizenship but the White House had not made any decisions. Nielson indicated any protections for Dreamers should be limited to those who benefitted from the program that is being phased out rather than new recipients.

In September, Trump stated he would not consider citizenship for DACA recipients. Trump gave Congress until March to deliver a legislative fix.

Options being considered by Congress include permanent residency, defined as residency for a certain time period such as three or four years, subject to renewal, as well as citizenship, Nielsen said.

“It will be interesting to see where (Congress) can get comfortable with what they mean by what is a permanent fix but the idea would be that you move away from a temporary status.”

However, the Homeland Security Secretary maintained she is hopeful the White House and Congress can reach a deal including a border wall and immigration enforcement measures.

The wall between the United States and Mexico remains a contentious issue for Democrats and some Republicans in Congress. Nielsen said building a wall was “first and foremost.”

The administration has also targeted so-called “loopholes” on issues including the handling of asylum claims and local police co-operating with immigration authorities.

Nielsen and other senior officials in the Trump administration will discuss a potential deal with members of Congress this week. Trump met with senators working on a legislative fix over Dreamers on Jan. 4.

Trump had earlier attacked Democrats for doing nothing to protect DACA recipients. Nielsen said the president is also set to request $1.6 billion for the border barrier, as well as a similar amount to build or replace 74 miles of barriers in California and Texas. Barriers currently cover about a third of the border, just over 650 miles.

If you are impacted by immigration changes at this difficult time, please contact our Austin immigration lawyers at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Citizenship, Deferred Action, Immigration

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What The Ending of the DACA Program Means to Dreamers

By Peek & Toland on September 15, 2017

Immigrants brought to the United States as children endured a rollercoaster ride in recent months as the future of the DACA program was debated. Although President Trump gave a safeguard about the program four months earlier, he suddenly announced the program would be rescinded this month.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the decision to end DACA at a press conference at the Justice Department on September 5. He argued that the program, originally created by President Obama, is unconstitutional and was an executive branch overreach.

The Obama administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012, we noted on our website.

The DACA program includes almost 790,000 recipients. Its goal is to permit young people, most of them who lived the majority of their lives in the US, to work and contribute to their communities without fear of deportation.

Under the program, undocumented immigrants under 30, known as “Dreamers” gain the temporary right to live, work and seek education in the United States provided they pass background checks. They do not receive citizenship or legal status.

Four months ago, President Trump indicated the DACA program was safe. However, in August reports surfaced that he was considering scrapping it, noted CNN.

The Department of Homeland Security is providing a six-month window to consider pending requests, reported CBS. It will give Congress the chance to pass a legislative alternative to DACA. This means the program will end at different times for different recipients, expiring on a rolling basis.

Outlining the DACA pogram

THe DACA program is seen as part of the American Dream

For Dreamers, the decision comes as a bitter blow. People who have been in the United States for many years, often since they were young children, face losing the right to contribute to their communities and even the possibility of deportation to their birth nations.

However, there remains uncertainty about what will happen in Congress and the decision will impact different DACA recipients in various ways. The issue took a new twist this week when Trump was reported to be hashing out a DACA deal with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill that might save aspects of the program.

The main scenarios are as follows according to the CBS article.

  • Initial DACA requests and applications for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) received as of Sept. 5, the date of the announcement will be adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on a case-by-case basis.
  • USCIS will automatically reject all initial DACA requests and associated EADs received after Sept. 5.
  • USCIS will adjudicate requests for renewing DACA benefits and associated applications for EADs on an individual, case-by-case basis if received before Sept. 5.
  • Dreamers whose DACA status expires between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, will be eligible for adjudication of renewal requests, but only if documentation is received by Oct. 5, 2017.
  • Individuals whose DACA protection expires on March 6, 2018, or a following date who have not already submitted a renewal application, would be subject to deportation on March 6, 2018, or a later date.
  • USCIS will continue to process lost, stolen or destroyed EADs, to give Dreamers replacement documents for the remainder of the time that they’re valid.

USCIS will close all pending applications for Advance Parole associated with the DACA program. This is a permit allowing a non-citizen to reenter the United States after traveling abroad.

USCIS will honor the validity period of a previously approved Advance Parole. But if a person doesn’t have a previously approved parole application and travels outside the country, his or her departure would automatically terminate their deferred action under DACA.  Customs and Border Protection are unlikely to allow them to re-enter the U.S.

A wide range of legislators, non-profits and other agencies urged Trump not to end DACA, reported USA Today.

In a Facebook post , former president Barack Obama branded Trump’s choice to end the program “cruel,” “wrong” and contrary to common sense.

Trump’s initial stance to retain the DACA program met opposition from Republican states, spearheaded by Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with nine other state attorneys, issued an ultimatum to the Trump administration in July, threatening to take legal action. Paxton referred to the failure of the Obama administration to extend DACA after the former president’s executive orders were deadlocked at the U.S. Supreme Court. Paxton wrote:

“The courts blocked DAPA and Expanded DACA from going into effect, holding that the Executive Branch does not have the unilateral power to confer lawful presence and work authorization on unlawfully present aliens simply because the Executive chooses not to remove them.”

The action by Texas put additional pressure on the president to announce a new policy on DACA before a potential court challenge.

Government officials say from August and December, 201,678 people are set to have their DACA and associated EADs expire.  Of this group, 55,258 have requests for renewal pending with USCIS. Next year, more than 275,000 will see their DACA and EADs expire and more than 300,000 in 2019.

Although the government has reiterated its policy that anyone who is illegally in the United States could be deported, DHS officials made it clear criminals who are undocumented will still be the priority for removal.

These are difficult times for the so-called Dreamers in Texas and elsewhere. However, there is still an element of uncertainty about what will happen in Congress. If you need help with an issue related to the DACA program or another issue, please call our experienced Austin family immigration attorneys at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration Reform

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DACA Dreamers are in Deferred Action Limbo

By Peek & Toland on January 12, 2017

The failure of President Obama’s deferred action directive that would have led to a radical immigration reform left DACA dreamers uncertain and despondent.

Meanwhile, the election of Donald Trump as president means a new immigration policy that will take a very different direction to that of Obama, according to commentators.

DACA is deferred action for childhood arrivals. On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security outlined how certain people who came to this country as children and meet certain guidelines could request consideration of deferred action for two years, subject to renewal. They were also made eligible for work authorization, stated U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

DACA dreamers are in limbo

While the 2012 DACA announcement raised the hopes of millions of undocumented immigrants, Obama’s proposals to widen his deportation relief program ran into difficulty in Congress while a number of states led by Texas, challenged his executive orders in the courts.

An article in The Atlantic stated the expansion of DACA and another program – Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) – stood to add another 5 million people to the American workforce.

Instead, the Supreme Court’s deadlock in Texas v. United States halted the program and left millions of undocumented immigrants in deportation limbo.

The Atlantic article highlighted the dilemma facing about 800,000-plus undocumented youth who can work in the United States under the original 2012 DACA program.

The program gave them protection from deportation – at least in the short term.

This group faces many uncertainties. Obama in his response to the Supreme Court ruling said the existing injunction was aimed at the expansion of DACA. It does not apply to the young people who benefitted from the 2012 program.

The future of deferred action depended on who became the next president and which judge was chosen to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

Donald Trump, the president-elect, has pledged to overturn the 2012 and 2014 executive actions on immigration, according to the International Business Times.

The DACA dreamers who hoped for a more stable future in the United States would be facing a very uncertain future if this was the case.

Obama renewed the program for another two years, but his successor may let it expire, according to The Atlantic article.

These are uncertain and frightening times for immigrants. If you or a family member is facing possible deportation from Texas and need help to fight the action, please call Peek Toland & Castañeda PLLC at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration, Immigration Reform

Death Hints at Terrible Conditions in Private Immigration Detention Centers

By Peek & Toland on January 6, 2017

We often hear reports about terrible conditions at private immigration detention centers. However, the sad story of the death of Jose Jaramillo after a collapse in a correctional center in New Mexico sheds new light on the issue.

Jaramillo was 60-years-old when he died this year. He collapsed at a correctional center a few years earlier but never fully recovered. A report in the Guardian alluded to a failure to give him medical care. An undiagnosed infection turned to sepsis and then to pneumococcal meningitis. Jaramillo’s health never recovered.

The Guardian noted 13 private immigration detention centers were due to be shut down following a critical audit that indicated they were much less safe than immigrant detention facilities run directly by the government.

private immigration detention centers under fire after death

Death raises fears over medical facilities in private immigration centers

Jaramillo was in the middle of a three-year sentence when he collapsed inside his cell at the Cibola County correctional center in May 2008, the Guardian reported.

Medical Care Under Fire in Private Immigration Detention Centers

Cibola County prison was highlighted as having the worst medical care of all of the private immigration facilities.  The Department of Justice said medical complaints were the most frequent grievance of inmates. Although Cibola was slated for closure, that decision was reversed this fall.

The Guardian report noted Jaramillo’s crime had been to illegally enter the United States to be with his wife and children. After his collapse, he never fully regained his cerebral functions. His poverty-stricken family battled to keep him in America. They sued the prison’s private contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), for medical negligence.

Jaramillo was a diabetic. The report stated he should have been given a routine pneumococcal vaccine soon after he was diagnosed with diabetes. The Guardian pointed to what appeared to be major lapses in the standard of medical care at the facility.

The next few years are likely to see major immigration reform in Texas and elsewhere. Immigration detention centers remain a controversial idea and many commentators believe more may be built and operated by private companies. We have previously noted the furor over children being housed in Texas immigration centers.

If you are facing deportation or being housed in a detention center, it’s vital to hire an Austin immigration attorney as soon as possible. Contact us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration, Immigration Reform

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Survey Finds Obama’s Immigration Actions Are Popular with Americans

By Peek & Toland on August 23, 2016

There has been much speculation about how popular President Obama’s immigration policy is with the general population. When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its verdict on the President’s flagship immigration actions, it was a disappointing blow to the administration.

But while the justices were split over the decision that could affect more than 4 million undocumented immigrants, there is evidence of support for the deferred action measures outlined by the president.

Obama's immigration policies are generally popular

The 4-4 ruling in June came seven months before the President’s term in office ends. It means immigration reform is practically dead in the water until a new president is elected and appoints a ninth Supreme Court judge.

The Supreme Court considered the case of United States. v. Texas, a lawsuit brought by 26 states against the contentious executive actions allowing certain undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S.

The two deferred actions in question were Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). They would give deferred action status to some undocumented parents who lived in the US since 2010 who have children and some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. DACA was set up in 2012 but its expansion was discussed by the courts. The expansion would make an additional 270,000 people eligible for DACA.

You can read more about the programs here on our website.

Notwithstanding the opposition of states, the programs appear to be less contentious and popular with the general public.

Take the PRRI/RNS survey from a year ago that found 73 percent of Americans support DAPA. Although much has been made of the opposition of Republican-led states, 65 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats were supportive of DAPA.

Research Found the DREAM Act was Popular

Research also found that 66 percent of Americans backed the DREAM Act, a policy that would allow undocumented immigrants who arrived in America as children to obtain legal status by joining the military or attending a college. The DREAM Act has stalled in Congress.

Last year, a CNN poll also suggested the President’s flagship policy was popular. It found just a quarter of Americans thought Obama’s immigration policies went too far, while half of those who responded agreed with it. Another 22 percent said deferred action did not go far enough in reforming the immigration system.

However, the survey found a majority of the respondents – 56 percent – thought the President had gone too far in using executive action to override opposition.

We are concerned that the alternative to deferred action is families being broken apart by deportation. The fact that deferred action not been implemented has left the lives of millions of immigrants in limbo at a time when they could be making a valuable contribution to the economy of Texas.

If you or a loved one is facing possible deportation, we can help you. Call our experienced Texas cancellation of removal lawyers for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

 

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration

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How Supreme Court Stalemate over Obama’s Immigration Plan Affects Undocumented Immigrants in Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 8, 2016

President Obama’s flagship policy to allow almost 4 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States has ended in disappointment after the Supreme Court was deadlocked.

The court was split 4-4 on Obama’s executive actions on immigration, meaning the policy won’t proceed during the remainder of his presidency.

Supreme Court stalemate leaves immigrants in limbo

The one line ruling was greeted by CNN as “crushing blow to the White House.”

The President didn’t attempt to hide his disappointment over the ruling. He said.

“For more than two decades now our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be.”

The programs in question were DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

DAPA would confer deferred action status to certain classes of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2010 and have kids.

DACA is aimed at non-citizens who arrived in the United States as children but remain undocumented. You can read more about the programs here.

What Effect Does the Supreme Court Deadlock Have on Undocumented Immigrants in Texas?

According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas has 1.5 undocumented immigrants which is the second highest number after California.

The ruling won’t mean drastic consequences such as deportation but it will continue the period of limbo faced by undocumented immigrants ever since the immigration reforms were first outlined by Obama in 2012.

Millions of undocumented immigrants had their applications for deferred action ready, only to enter a holding pattern as the issue became a political football and then a matter for the courts.

June’s ruling in United States v Texas was not a final ruling. Instead, it continued the injunction that prevents the deferred action programs from being implemented. The lives of about 4 million undocumented immigrants won’t be changed, and they will remain undocumented for the rest of Obama’s term.

The failure of the Supreme Court to make a decision means the case will now go back to the lower courts for further proceedings. It could also return to the Supreme Court, and the 2016 general election could determine whether the policy can be resurrected. If Hillary Clinton wins the election and appoints a Supreme Court justice, the fifth vote needed to allow the DAPA and DACA programs to take effect, would likely be secured.

A report on NBC said the deadlock in the Supreme Court could prove beneficial to undocumented immigrants because the implementation of DACA and DAPA would have been “an adrenaline shot to the arms” of the opponents of immigration and help supporters of Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for President.

As Austin immigration attorneys who help undocumented immigrants, we can sympathize with those affected by this decision. However, the tie was not the worst possible outcome. If you are affected by DAPA or DACA, we can help you figure out the process. Contact us at (512) 474-4445.

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Texas Judge Causes Outcry by Demanding Names of DACA Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on July 14, 2016

Federal judge Andrew Hanen has provoked an outcry by demanding detailed personal information that identifies young immigrants caught in a bureaucratic bungle. Now the immigrants are fighting the move.

The Texas judge has ordered the Department of Justice to provide the names of more than 100,000 immigrants who received three-year renewals of deferrals of deportation as well as work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012.  They should have been given two-year renewals, reported ABC news.

Texas Judge Causes Outcry by Demanding Names of DACA Immigrants

Federal Judge Andrew Hanen

It’s not the first time Hanen has courted controversy. He was the judge who blocked President Barack Obama’s immigration executive action. The issue recently came before the U.S. Supreme Court which heard evidence in April. Texas and 25 other states are opposing Obama’s orders.

Hanen has ordered the DOJ to provide the names of all of the immigrants who were given DACA benefits from November 20, 2014, to March 3, 2015. Although the lists would be sealed, the judge ordered the government department to separate out states and send sealed copies to each one. He wants the lists to include:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • A comprehensive list of contact information
  • The immigrant’s identifying “A” file numbers.

Four Immigrants Challenge Personal Information Release by Judge

The Department of Justice was told to provide the immigrants’ names by June 10. However, four immigrants launched a legal challenge just days earlier.

They sought a decision that would have prevented personal details from falling into the hands of states that are seeking to block Obama’s executive actions. The petition asked the New Orleans-based federal fifth circuit appeals court to make a ruling before June 10.

Many undocumented immigrants are understandably sensitive about providing personal information because they fear it could be used against them.

Angelica Villalobos, one of the four immigrants to launch the appeal, told the media Judge Hanen’s order could lead to immigrants thinking twice before submitting personal information.

It has also been condemned by Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, who told reporters that the judge’s ruling lacks legal justification and would involve providing the personal details of thousands of teenagers and young immigrants.

If you applied for deferred action, you are likely to be facing considerable uncertainty and upheaval as the issue is fought in the courts. The prospect of the states that are hostile to the program gaining your personal details may be an added worry. Read more about the deferred action programs here on our website.

If you are eligible for deferred action or have another concern about an immigration matter, please call our experienced Texas deferred action attorneys for help at (512) 474-4445.

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Deferred Action Program Would Allow Woman to Visit Her Daughter in Austin

By Peek & Toland on June 1, 2016

There has been a lot of publicity in recent weeks about President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program after a Supreme Court hearing in April.

But very little of the material we have read about the legal arguments relates to how it would affect real people. An article in My Statesman highlights how the impasse over the executive orders is affecting the relationship between a woman from Austin and her mother.

DAPA is Deferred Action for Parents of Americans

Maria Reza is a student at The University of Texas at Austin. She received temporary legal status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the other initiative that was considered by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Texas in April, with a decision likely in June, according to the Huffington Post. You can read more about DACA, here on our Austin immigration attorneys’ website.

My Statesman reported that Reza’s mother lives in Houston. She qualifies for the DAPA program because her younger children were born in the United States. However, her life is dogged by uncertainty ahead of the Supreme Court ruling.

Reza told My Statesman that her mother avoids making a drive of more than 160 miles between Houston and Austin because she’s afraid of being pulled over for a traffic infraction and facing possible deportation if officials find out she is an undocumented immigrant.

Reza said her mother had initially been hopeful about the orders but after more than a year-and-a-half of uncertainty as DAPA became a political battleground, she has started to lose hope.

Deferred Action Would Allow Fort Worth Woman to Start a Business

My Statesman also highlighted the case of Sheridan Aguirre, whose mother started working at a Wendy’s restaurant in Fort Worth in Texas a decade ago to support her family. She earned $8 then. She only earns $11 an hour now.

Her life would be transformed if she was granted legal status through deferred action. It would allow Aguirre’s mother to obtain a work permit, giving her the chance to “fulfill her dream of starting her own business.”

DAPA promises to provide employment eligibility and to give relief from deportation to immigrant parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents on the condition they have not committed offenses. Under the program, they would receive rigorous background checks and must have well-established ties to the United States.

A recent article in Fox News Latino stated Texas, the state that has led the charge against DAPA, would be one of the biggest beneficiaries. The Migration Policy Institute estimates the state’s GDP would increase by more than $38 million a year and DAPA would create an extra 4,800 jobs a year in Texas for the next decade.

The stories of families who would be split apart if their parents are not allowed to stay in the USA highlights the importance of the case that’s currently before the Supreme Court.

Peek Toland & Castañeda PLLC, help people who are facing these painful situations on a regular basis. Our Austin-based immigration attorneys can advise you on the next steps and provide peace of mind. For your convenience, we have set out the latest details of Obama’s immigration reforms here, to help you keep up to date. Call us at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation.

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