Visa Difficulties Starves Rural North Texas of Doctors

Many parts of Texas suffer from a shortage of doctors. At the same time, there is a large pool of well-trained overseas doctors willing to work in the United States. Visa difficulties often bar them coming to Texas.

Doctors from counties like India perform a valuable role in parts of Texas. The shortage of medical professionals is particularly acute in rural areas.

The Dallas Magazine interviewed Dr. Arun Badi. The native of India arrived in this country in 1999 on a student visa.

He had a medical degree by the time he was accepted at the University of Utah to study for his Ph.D. In Utah, he continued his research on ear, nose, and throat and sleep medicine.

Badi conducted complex research with his American peers in Utah, He was able to remain in the United States on an E-B1 visa that grants employment-based, permanent residency here. He was sponsored in 2001 by the National Institutes of Health.

visa difficulties affect Texas doctors

Visa difficulties impact Texas doctors

Badi wanted to move to Dallas because of the warmer climate. He also wanted to specialize in sleep medicine. He now owns and runs a sleep clinic in Texas.

The success story of the Indian doctor is not typical. Although some foreign-born physicians receive permanent work visas to practice in North Texas, many others lose out.

Dallas Magazine reported many capable foreign physicians are not able to work in the United States, despite the current shortage of doctors in Dallas-Fort Worth.

It cited a report in 2015 by Merritt Hawkins, a search and consulting firm. The report notes there are 12,938 physicians in North Texas. The area has an average of 202 physicians per 100,000 residents.  That is below the World Health Organization national average of 226 physicians per 100,000 residents.

The report states more than 1,500 more doctors would need to be practicing in the Dallas area to make up the gap. In Dallas, the shortage of doctors contributes to the current wait time of approximately 10.2 days for patients to be seen by a physician, the report points out.

At present, about 30 percent of practicing doctors in Dallas and Fort Worth are foreign-born.

Scott Edwards, president of Adaptive Medical Partners, a physician placement firm in Irving, said the demand for physicians in Texas outstrips the supply. He said:

“Texas is the second-most populous state in the country, but we’re ranked No. 45 in physicians per capita.”

The difficulty in obtaining visas for medical workers has exacerbated shortages in certain parts of the country.

The United States is facing a shortage of 46,000 to 90,400 doctors by 2025. Primary care is taking the biggest hit.

Pay rates in primary care are lower than in other specialties. From 2000 to 2004, for example, the median income rose by just 10 percent in the primary care field compared to 16 percent for non-primary specialties.

If you require help in applying for a visa, contact our Austin immigration lawyers today at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Immigration, Visas

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San Antonio Violent Crime Surge Attracts New Resources

Violent crime and gang activity is rising in San Antonio. Now Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced extra resources to tackle the San Antonio violent crime surge.

In October, Abbott announced the San Antonio Police Department’s Violent Crimes Task Force will get additional help to fight violent crimes and gangs, reported ABC12.

The announcement followed a double-digit growth in violent crime in recent years, one of the largest in any Texas city.

San Antonio violent crime surge

San Antonio violent crime surge alarms politicians

San Antonio saw a massive rise in homicides in 2016. San Antonio reported 149 murders and non-negligent manslaughter cases to the Federal Bureau of Investigations that year. In 2015, San Antonio officials reported 94. According to the data, San Antonio saw a 58 percent increase year-on-year. It was one of the largest in Texas.

The city saw a large increase in many violent crimes as well as some property crimes.  It experienced a rise in known offenses like murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases, robberies, rapes, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larceny cases and thefts as well as thefts of cars.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus confirmed the department would take up Abbott’s offer. He said:

“I don’t know that we needed help. We certainly welcomed the help. So it’s not, ‘Why now?’ It was an offer that was made, and I readily accepted it.”

McManus said the extra resources will not go to any particular part San Antonio. It will be directed to where it’s needed.

The task force will be taken where crime activity dictates, he said. It can be anywhere in the city. McManus said the extra money will increase police visibility and allow officers to cover a greater area of the city.

McManus said a lot of violent criminals and gang members were picked up. Police made 4,100 arrests for violent crimes from the start of 2017 to October, including 400 gang members.

Violent crime rose in many places in 2015 and 2016, including some of the smaller cities in Texas.

If you have been charged with a violent offense, it’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Call us at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Uncategorized

Firing People for Having Criminal Records – Why Texas Wants to Make it Easier

It’s tough to get back on your feet if you have a criminal record. It may become even tougher in Texas if the state is successful in winning a legal battle to make it easier to fire people with criminal records.

The U.S. Department of Labor says as many as one in three people have a criminal record. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not allow discrimination against people based on their criminal records. However, Texas is seeking to circumvent this requirement.

Recently, The Nation reported on how the Lone Star State wants to make the process of firing people with criminal records considerably easier.

More than five years ago, the EEOC passed enforcement guidance that said Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids blanket employment discrimination of people with criminal records. This was seen as a potentially discriminatory policy. The EEOC said black people are six times more likely to have served time in prison than whites and people from impoverished communities of color are more likely to be convicted of crimes.

Firing people with criminal records

Texas seeks to make it easier to fire people with criminal records

The new guidance was passed by a bipartisan vote, noted The Nation. Hiring policies that impose blanket prohibitions on candidates with a criminal record discriminate against minorities, the politicians said.

The EEOC wants employers to give employment candidates individualized assessments and look at pertinent factors like the seriousness of the crime, the time since the crime and whether rehabilitation was successful.

Notwithstanding the EEOC stance, a criminal conviction is still a major bar to employment.

The article in The Nation noted Texas challenged the codification of these standards in federal law.

More than four years ago, Texas attorney general and present Governor Greg Abbott filed a suit to block the EEOC order.

Abbott sought a declaratory judgment from a federal court that would permit state agencies to deny employment to people with criminal records. Abbott wanted to prevent the EEOC from issuing right-to-sue letters, the form of legal notification the agency issues when officials see grounds for a discrimination claim.

The lawsuit was dismissed only to be revived by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in June 2016, The Nation reported.

Texas is bound by Title VII. However, because the State of Texas hires people it has a right to challenge the guidance in court.

Last August, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Employment Law Project, filed a motion to intervene in the case.

They raised the case of Beverly Harrison, a woman from Dallas who was stripped of her job as a crossing guard because of a previous criminal conviction. They sought to add Harrison as well as the Texas Conference of the NAACP as new parties in the litigation. Lawyers sought to be able to defend the guidance in court.

US District Judge Sam Cummings denied the motion. The EEOC and Department of Justice promised to “vigorously litigate” the case.

Fears remain that it will become easier to fire people with criminal records in Texas.

The NAACP believes the Trump administration likely will not defend the EEOC’s ruling.

A criminal conviction can ruin your career prospects and be a stain on your future. In some cases, records can be expunged. Call our experienced Austin criminal defense lawyers at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Criminal Defense

Why Police Shootings Seldom Go to Trial

Police shootings make for graphic headlines but they seldom go to trial and end in convictions even more rarely.

America has been hit by a series of fatal shootings of unarmed black men in recent years, sparking demonstrations and concern over police use of lethal force. Notwithstanding several high-profile cases and more video evidence, convictions are rare.

Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, was not indicted by a grand jury, a decision that sparked civil unrest.

It set the pattern for other killings of black men in cities like Baltimore and New York.

One researcher at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University reported as many as 1,000 police shootings occur every year in the United States and black men are three times as likely to die from police force.

A CNN report noted from 2005 to April 2017, 80 police officers were arrested on murder or manslaughter charges for on-duty shootings.

police shotings

Police shootings seldom end up in court

Over those 12 years, 35 percent of the officers were convicted. The rest were pending or not convicted, according to work by Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University.

In 2017 in Austin, the Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore confirmed a jury would not hear the case of Morgan Crocker, a man who was shot dead by police in 2016.

Two police officers shot Cocker who police said fired at them with a handgun.

Moore determined that credible investigative facts established each officer’s use of force was “justified under applicable Texas law.”

The 34-year-old Crocker died on Sept. 15, 2016, from injuries he sustained after exchanging gunfire with two officers, Bernardo Ramirez, and Brett Fritz and at the Sedona Springs apartments in Southwest Austin.

Police encountered Crocker as they investigated reports of a suspicious person looking into vehicles at the apartment complex.

Fritz initially fired a stun gun to slow Crocker during a chase. However, Crocker removed the prongs before falling to the ground, according to the district attorney’s office.

More officers including Ramirez arrived at the scene. They heard Fritz telling Crocker to show his hands. Crocker is then said to have rolled over and pointed a handgun at officers before firing several rounds.

Police opened fire and Crocker died of his wounds. It was the fourth police shooting case in Austin in 2016 that did not lead to any proceedings against the officers, The Statesman reported.

Cases elsewhere in the United States proved more controversial. In the same year, Philando Castile, 32 from Minnesota was fatally shot while at a traffic stop by police officer, Jeronimo Yanez.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the confrontation and said Castile was reaching for his identification when he was shot.

However, a jury found the police officer not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death.

At Peek Toland & Castañeda PLLC, we defend suspects charged with a wide range of crimes. See our frequently asked questions and call us at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Criminal Defense

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Student Visas Clampdown is Questioned by Oracle CEO

The Trump administration implemented a crackdown on a wide range of visas in 2017. One CEO has taken issue at the student visas clampdown.

Mark Hurd is the co-CEO of Oracle Corp. He said he does not understand immigration policies of the Trump administration that make it difficult for people from foreign counties to work in the United States after earning an education in the U.S.A.

In the summer of 2017, the Trump administration sought to change the H-1B program which is widely used by tech companies. The administration implemented the suspension of an expedited approval process for these visas.

Anger over student visas crackdown

Student visas clampdown draws fire

During a conference, Hurd said it doesn’t make sense not to allow people who have learned their trade in the United States to work here. He said:

“I don’t understand how we let somebody into this country go to our schools, earn degrees and then not allow them to practice the trade that they trained and learned out here in this country and start companies here, pay taxes, have kids.”

While the Trump administration’s “America First” policies take a restrictive view of immigration, Hurd stressed the benefits in answer to reporters’ questions at the Oracle Open World conference.

He described immigration as an “amazing opportunity for us to attract talent and grow our economy.”

Hurd said Oracle Corp hires about 20,000 workers on average every year, Reuters reported.

Studies have concluded immigration, even when unlawful, can have a beneficial impact on the economy of Texas, stated the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

An analysis from the Perryman Group found Texas needs undocumented workers to keep its economy going.

The amount of workers who lack documentation in Texas is roughly twice as the size of the total number of unemployed people who could work. Even if all of the unemployed people filled jobs now held by undocumented workers, the state would be left with a gaping skills gap.

Obtaining a visa can be difficult and complicated. If you are seeking help with a visa issue, please contact our experienced Austin immigration law firm for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.


Posted in Visas

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Trump Administration Makes it Harder for Immigrant Businesses in the U.S.

Foreign entrepreneurs who want to set up businesses in the United States face many hurdles. Nevertheless, some of the most successful enterprises in the nation were set up by new arrivals from overseas. Now new rules under the Trump administration are taking aim at immigration businesses.

A report on CNN noted the delay of the International Entrepreneur Rule has impacted fledgling overseas businesses.

It noted the case of Kathy Tuan, a 22-year-old senior from Taiwan who is running a company called NASTEA & Co., which sells dirty chai beverages.

When Tuan graduates from the University of Washington this year, she may no longer be able to stay in the United States to run her business.

immigration businesses face issues under Trump regime

Immigration businesses face hurdles

Unlike countries such as France and Canada that have special visas intended to encourage entrepreneurs, the United States lacks this system.

People from abroad who want to start a business have to deal with a complex web of existing visas, like the H-1B. The H-1B visa for skilled workers is popular but does not always encourage investment because it requires people to work under the control of an employer.

The Obama administration hit on the International Entrepreneur Rule as a solution to allow fast-growing companies from abroad to do work in the United States.

Foreigners building rapidly growing businesses could apply for “parole status” to work in America. Before the rule, parole status was only granted only to people who carry out humanitarian or medical relief.

The rule was scheduled to go into effect on July 17, 2017. However, the Department of Homeland pushed the launch back to March 14, 2018 shortly before the rule was due to come into effect. The Department of Homeland Security said it would seek to rescind the rule entirely.

The DHS was hit with a lawsuit by the National Venture Capital Association. The delay on the rule was overturned by a judge in late 2017.

The pertinent issue is whether Homeland Security was required to issue a formal “notice-and-comment” period before it postponed the rule, as required under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Entrepreneurs like Tuan were disappointed by the derailing of the International Entrepreneur Rule.

She asked what the backup plan was, CNN reported.  Tuan is likely to be able to stay in the United States until the summer of 2019 under an extension of her student visa. Her co-founder, Minnie Yuan faces a greater time crunch because her OPT expires in June 2018.

If you are seeking to invest or set up a company in the United States, you have options but you face negotiating a complex minefield. An experienced Texas family immigration lawyer can help you. Call us today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Visas

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Why Cubans Face Additional Hurdles Visiting the United States

Cubans traveling to the United States to visit family members are facing additional visa hurdles.

An article in the Miami Herald noted how traveling to the United States where as many as two million Cuban Americans live is becoming more difficult and expensive for family members back home in Cuba.

A number of factors are to blame. There has been a severe cut in the number of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. As of the summer of 2017, Cubans who apply for non-immigrant visas to visit relatives or for tourism of business will only be able to do so via consulates or embassies in third countries.

The issue also includes Cubans who started the process and even paid the required fees.

Travel hurdles for Cubans

Cubans face additional travel hurdles

In a statement, the U.S. Department of State said:

“The U.S. embassy in Havana will cancel all previously-scheduled nonimmigrant and immigrant visa interview appointments. Cuban applicants for U.S. nonimmigrant visas must apply at a different U.S. embassy or consulate, but they must be physically present in that country.”

Cuba is not the only country to suffer U.S. embassy staff cuts that has impacted visas.

A similar situation occurred in Russia, Venezuela, and Iran after embassy closings or staff cutbacks at U.S. embassies forced residents to travel to neighboring countries to seek U.S. visas.

The Herald report stated a mysterious attack on 22 U.S. diplomats and their families in Havana led to the withdrawal of non-essential personnel. The attack impacted the health of staff but its cause is unclear. Some reports blamed a “sonic wave machine.”

Staff who remain in Havana will be limited to core diplomatic and consular functions. Most visa processing in the Cuban capital has been halted.

The State Department has not said whether its embassy will be able to process emergency visas for Cubans.

The U.S. government has declined to refund the $160 fee required for applications for tourism, family visit visas, or business trips.

The payment is valid for one year, but this will be little help unless relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments improve.

Family reunification issues were left up in the air by the diplomatic breakdown as well as other immigration visas. Under immigration accords between the two counties, the United States should issue at least 20,000 immigrant visas to Cubans every year. It’s a process that was dogged by delays before the current breakdown of relations between the United States and Cuba.

If you have a question or need help with a visa matter, please call our Austin immigration attorneys today at (512) 474-4445.


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Supreme Court Looks at Filipino Legal Immigrant Deportation Case

The question of whether a Filipino legal immigrant can be deported from the United States was recently discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court considered whether a Filipino legal immigrant convicted of two home burglaries in California could be deported. The justices heard the wording of the federal law used to determine whether he could be removed from the U.S. was so unconstitutionally vague it could not be enforced in the criminal courts.

According to the Los Angeles Times, James Garcia Dimaya pleaded no contest to charges of residential burglary in 2007 and 2009.

The Filipino was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident when he was 13, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The Board of Immigration Appeals decided one of the convictions was an “aggravated felony.” It agreed with the Homeland Security Department that Dimaya should be deported.

Supreme Court looked at Filipino Legal Immigrant deportation

Supreme Court considered Filipino Legal Immigrant deportation

That definition of an “aggravated felony” was later questioned. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It overturned the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, halting the deportation.

It stated the definition of “aggravated felony” as used in immigration law contained a definition of “crime of violence” similar to a different law the Supreme Court concluded was too vague to be constitutional in 2015.

During oral arguments in the Supreme Court, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler said the law at issue in the Dimaya case was not impacted by the same vagueness problem. Kneedler said even if it was, immigration is distinctive and deportation should not be a punishment for a past offense.

He argued even if the law was overly vague to be used for the purposes of criminal punishment, it could still be used for deportation.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court was not impressed with the argument, according to the LA Times. He said:

 “I can easily imagine a misdemeanant who may be convicted of a crime for which the sentence is six months in jail or a $100 fine, and he wouldn’t trade places in the world for someone who is deported.”

Gorsuch questioned the drawing of a line between criminal punishment and civil penalties like as deportation.

In its editorial, the Los Angeles Times agreed with the Gorsuch. It said if a court decides the wording of the law that triggered Dimaya’s removal order was unconstitutionally vague, the Filipino should be entitled to relief.

A law too vague for a criminal sentence should not be a good pretext to expel someone from the country.

All too often, immigrants have not received fair treatment from the courts. If you are facing deportation, you may have rights. Please call our Austin cancellation of removal lawyers today for a free consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal

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Supreme Court to Rule if Immigrants Should Have their Detentions Reviewed by a Judge

The question of whether immigrants can be held for indefinite periods in detention centers again came before the U.S. Supreme Court in October as the justices looked at whether detentions should be reviewed by a judge.

The Washington Post noted a divide between liberal and conservative judges on the question in the case of Jennings v Rodriguez.

It was the second time the nation’s highest court heard arguments in the case which has been hailed as one of the most important immigration cases to come before the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years. Last term, an evenly divided court lacking one member was deadlocked.

The Washington Post noted the liberal justices on the Supreme Court dominated discussions about the indefinite detention of immigrants facing deportation.

At issue is whether immigrants slated for deportation have a right to a bail hearing and potential release after six months if they do not pose a flight risk or a danger to the public. The hearing could impact thousands of immigrants being held in detention centers as they await possible deportation.

Should immigrants have their detentions reviewed by a judge?

Supreme Court to decide if immigrants should have detentions reviewed by a judge

The conservative justices were skeptical about whether the high court should be setting firm deadlines for hearings in the immigration courts.

The court heard from attorneys in the Justice Department that noncitizens – documented and undocumented – had no constitutional rights in the U.S.A.

A lawyer for the Justice Department told the high court that noncitizens — whether documented or undocumented immigrants — have no constitutional right to be in the United States.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch who has joined the bench since the last hearing is expected to cast the deciding vote.

Previously, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled immigrants who are fighting deportation should be given bond hearings if they have been held for over six months.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor mounted a strong case for bond hearings. She said noncitizens are languishing for years in detention centers, a situation she branded as “lawlessness.”

This case remains one of the most important immigration battles currently in the courts. It could have a major impact on the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

If you or a family member is fighting deportation, please contact our Texas immigration lawyers.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

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Texas Teens to be Trained on Police Interactions

Police interactions have become increasingly tense in recent years. A series of high profile incidents in which officers have killed suspects, has led to tension between police officers and minorities.

In Texas, the case of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was put in a cell after a police stop for a traffic infraction went awry made national headlines. Bland never made it out of the cell where investigators say she took her own life.

A new law that went into effect in September will mandate high school students, new drivers, and police on how to act during police interactions.

Although the legislation was passed in 2017, the courses are unlikely to start until September 2018, because the content is still being developed, noted the Texas Tribune.

The Tribune noted Senate Bill 30 was discussed by Texas lawmakers to address a growing rift between police and communities after a string of fatal police encounters.

Sandra Bland was found hanged in her cell just three days after a heated traffic stop resulted in her arrest. The bill also followed the fatal shooting last year of five police officers in Dallas.

Teens to be trained on police interactions

teens are trained on police interactions

Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas authored the bill. He noted growing tension between police officers and citizens during traffic stops.

West said he hopes some of that friction will be relieved by teaching the different groups what is expected of citizens and police during interactions, primarily traffic stops.

Although Bland’s death led to legislation that would have curbed the powers of police during traffic stops, these measures were culled from the final legislation.

From September, the public high school curriculum in Texas, driver’s ed classes and training for existing and new police officers must include instructions on the duties and role in society of police officers.

Issues such as the rights of the individual during a police interaction, the correct behavior between citizens and cops, the laws relating to questioning and detention by police and how to file a complaint, will be covered,

Suggested actions are put forward by the Texas Department of Public in its latest version of the Texas Driver Handbook, released in the fall.

The book suggests drivers should keep their hands close to the steering wheel and never reach into the glove box for documents until asked to do so by an officer.

A section has been added to the publication that explains drivers can ask to leave if they are detained at a traffic stop for an extended period of time. They can decline search requests in the absence of a probable cause.

In Texas, suspects are often the victims of improper police procedure. This can render evidence collected inadmissible in court.

If you have been accused of an offense in Texas, call our experienced criminal defense lawyers today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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