New Figures Point to Growth of Immigrant Population in the U.S.

By Peek & Toland on August 18, 2016

Immigrants make up a sizeable proportion of the population of the United States. New figures point to growth in the immigrant population to more than 42.2 million by 2014, comprising more than 13 percent of the overall population.

Statistics from the United States Census Bureau were contained in a recent report by the Migration Policy Institute. The most recent figures available about immigration found that from 2013 to 2014, the overseas-born population of the United States increased by 1 million or 2.5 percent.

New figures point to growth of immigrant population

When the US-born children of immigrants are factored into the equation, the growth number rises to 81 million people or 26 percent of the overall U.S. population.

The 1.3 million foreign-born individuals who arrived in the United States in 2014 was an increase from 1.2 million in 2013. Although immigration from Mexico and Central America is constantly in the headlines, India was the leading country of origin for new immigrants, with 147,500 arriving from the Asian country in 2014, followed by China with 131,800 arrivals, Mexico with 130,000, Canada with 41,200 immigrants, and the Philippines with 40,500.

The Census Bureau defines immigrants as people born outside the United States, who resided abroad one year earlier, including undocumented immigrants, lawful permanent residents, and temporary nonimmigrants.

How Many Immigrants Obtained Green Cards?

Census-derived data revealed 1,016,518 immigrants became lawful permanent residents in 2014. The number of new lawful permanent residents increased by 3 percent in 2014, although it remained lower than 2012 levels. Just over 40 percent were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. New arrivals made up about 47 percent (481,392) of those who received green cards in 2014. The others were status adjusters who were already living in the United States. Their green-card applications were approved in 2014.

There are a number of different routes to apply for a green card which our Texas permanent residency lawyers explain here.

A report released last year by the Pew Research Center said immigrants and their children will be the ones who are driving U.S. population growth over the next 50 years, transforming America into a country in which no ethnic group is in the majority.

Although Mexicans are often cited in the ongoing immigration debate, they will not make up the largest immigrant group in the future.

By the year 2055, there are projected to be more Asian immigrants living in the United States than Hispanic immigrants – 36 percent compared to 34 percent.

Our Austin immigration attorneys can cite many success stories about how we have helped people settle in the United States. Call us at (512) 474-4445 for assistance.

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Supreme Court to Review No Bail Policy for Immigrants Awaiting Deportation

By Peek & Toland on August 16, 2016

The Supreme Court is to decide whether immigrants who have been held in detention for at least six months awaiting deportation proceedings should be granted bail hearings.

The case of Jennings v Rodriguez will be held during the next term of the Supreme Court, which gets underway in October.

No bail policy for immigrants awaiting deportation to be reviewed by the Supreme Court

The justices will consider a federal appeals court decision that held immigrants in custody were entitled to a bond hearing after six months as well as every six months afterward.

The case of Jennings v. Rodriguez is also likely to consider when immigrants accused of having ties to terrorism should be released if the authorities are facing difficulties deporting them.

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that immigrants who are facing deportation from the country should usually be held no more than six months in custody. However, the justices alluded to special circumstances, such as when immigrants pose a perceived threat to national security when some immigrants could be incarcerated for longer terms.

As experienced Texas bond lawyers, Peek & Toland , have years of background in jail release issues which we combine with our immigration practice. It’s important to know your rights about how long you can be held in detention if you are facing deportation.

Civil Liberties Union Accuses Justice Department over Bail Information

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the Justice Department of understating the time immigrants are held to bolster its case before a previous case more than a decade ago.

The Supreme Court case of Demore v. Kim in 2003, upheld by 5-4 the controversial government practice of holding immigrants without bail, even U.S. residents who hold green cards who face deportation if they commit a crime.

The majority opinion relied on figures that showed the average detention was 47 days, while about 15 percent of immigrants who appealed their deportation orders had been detained for more than four months.

The ACLU disputed the figures that were provided by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. It argued the real number was 65 days after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

The forthcoming case is important because a system that can hold immigrants for months on end without a bond hearing is a demoralizing one for immigrant families. Clear rules are needed to prevent abuse.

Please contact us today to find out more about our legal services and how we can help immigrants who are facing deportation to fight for bail hearings as well as cancellation of removal.


Posted in Immigration, Jail Release, Uncategorized

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More than 300 immigrants arrested in six-month Midwestern Immigration sweep

By Peek & Toland on August 10, 2016

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants were arrested in a federal sweep operation in the Midwest that lasted a month and targeted those who ignored deportation orders.

The arrest of 331 undocumented migrants was reported by Fox News. The operation started on May 9 and was carried out in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

More than 300 arrests were made in immigration sweep

The sweep targeted two groups of migrants, namely:

1 – Migrants who had criminal convictions but reentered the country after being deported

2 – Migrants who had ignored deportation orders.

Many of those arrested were in the Chicago area. Media reports stated about 107 people were picked up in Chicago and 25 in the Indianapolis area.

Those who were arrested were accused of crimes ranging from domestic violence to fraud, robbery, drug offenses and weapons offenses.

Immigration officials described the operation as being consistent with the Homeland Security Department’s top priorities, which include finding, apprehending, detaining and deporting people who are deemed to be a threat to the safety of communities or are national security threats.

Earlier this year, immigration investigators picked up 121 undocumented immigrants in a series of raids in the southern states including Texas, reported the Washington Post.

The families were taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. They were living in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia and were held at detention centers before being deported to Central America.

ICE declined to say how many of these migrants were children. Most of them were among 100,000 plus families of both adults and children who traveled north to the United States from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador since 2015.

The crackdown on illegal immigration began in the summer of 2014 and has led to about 14 flights a week taking people who have been apprehended back to Central America.

When immigrants are charged with crimes, they can often be at a disadvantage because of their unfamiliarity with the legal system and the language barrier. Our Austin family immigration lawyers have represented numerous migrants who have been charged with crimes and have achieved many success stories.

If you are facing deportation in Texas, you may have a valid case for cancellation of removal. Our attorneys can talk you through the process and help you out.

Please contact us today for a consultation by calling (512) 474-4445 or visit the contact us page on our website.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Uncategorized

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Trump’s Plan to Deport 11 Million People Would Pose Logistical Challenges

By Peek & Toland on July 15, 2016

Donald J. Trump’s vow to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and to build a wall between the United States and Mexico is seldom out of the news. However, less attention has been paid to how the GOP nominee for President would achieve his aim.

In a recent article the New York Times, a news organization that has been critical of Trump, wrote he has “typically provided scant details” on how he would meet his aims and his policies on immigration fail to add up.

Although Trump has promised to provide more details about his immigration plans, major questions remain.

Donald Trump's immigration proposals are controversial

Trump has outlined a number of key immigration proposals that were noted on CNN, namely:

  1. The United States would build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.
  1. He would impose a nationwide system to verify workers’ legal status, increase the number of immigrations and customs enforcement agents threefold and put in place a tracking system to identify people who remain in the U.S. when their visas expire.
  1. He would reverse a U.S. law that gives American citizenship to any child born in the United States, regardless of whether the child’s parents are undocumented immigrants. Every year about four million children of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. become citizens because they are born here, states The Los Angeles Times.
  1. Trump would suspend the issuance of any new green cards, providing a pause for U.S. employers to hire from a “domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers.”
  1. He would remove about 11 million undocumented immigrants, deporting them to their native countries.

The deportation plan would present a challenge on a monumental scale and be a radical immigration reform. Deportations in recent years have peaked at about 400,000 annually, and 11 million would be unprecedented. Experts have warned just finding the immigrants alone would be difficult, and police officers would have to demand proof of residency or citizenship during random stops or traffic stops. It’s a scenario that threatens the development of a police state, critics say.

Michael Chertoff, who oversaw an increase in immigration enforcement when he was a Secretary of Homeland Security under former President George W. Bush, told the New York Times it was impossible to envisage the deportation of 11 million people without the apparatus of a police state.

Large scale raids would probably be required and the Obama administration’s focus on deporting those who had committed crimes would likely be muddied.

The New York Times article raises the prospect of a mass internment camp building program. At present, there are about 34,000 beds. There would need to be as many as 300,000, it states.

There’s also the issue of the judicial backlog. Presently, there are 57 immigration courts that face backlogs of as long as two years for a hearing. The federal government would face opening up dozens of emergency courts and appointing hundreds of new judges.

These logistical hurdles just relate to the deportation plans. The funding and building of the wall would be another massive headache and Trump’s insistence that Mexico would pay for it appears to be less than credible.

Recently, an article in Business Insider warned that in addition to the incredible human costs related to the deportation plan, losing 11 million workers and potential employees could lead to the loss of billions of dollars from the U.S. economy.

If you or a loved one is facing deportation, it’s important to talk to an experienced Austin immigration attorney as soon as possible. Contact the attorneys at Peek & Toland , to help you better understand your options and start the process of securing legal status in the United States. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration Reform

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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.

Posted in Deferred Action

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House Speaker Paul Ryan Softens His Tone on Undocumented Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on June 28, 2016

Paul Ryan, the House Speaker and one of the most prominent Republican politicians, has not always been known for inclusive views.

But when he joined 500 or so Georgetown University students on April 27, he emphasized his immigrant roots and struck a more measured tone on immigration, reported Fusion.net.

Speaker Paul Ryan's stance softens on immigration

Paul Ryan

Like most of us who live in the United States, Ryan is descended from immigrants. His ancestors came to America from Ireland. He described immigration as a “beautiful story that needs to continue in this country.”

He also eschewed the term “illegal immigrants” used by many people in the GOP. Ryan instead spoke of “undocumented immigrants.”

Words carry a meaning in this context and ‘undocumented immigrants’ is a less derogatory term. Ryan’s views on immigration reform were also at odds with those of the GOP’s prospective Presidential nominee Donald Trump who has pledged to deport as many as 11 million migrants.

Ryan said at the town hall.

“I’m a person who believes that for the undocumented, we have to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve mass deportation, that involves giving people the ability to get right with the law, to come in and earn a legal status while we fix the rest of legal immigration.”

Paul Ryan Has Avoided Entering Immigration Dialogue

Notwithstanding Paul Ryan’s softer stance on immigration, he has refused to talk about immigration reform while President Obama remains in the Oval Office.

Ryan spoke about immigration reform after one of the students asked why the speaker said he would not work on immigration reform before November.

Obama’s comprehensive immigration reforms have been held up by Congress and in the courts. Obama’s deferred action orders were considered by the Supreme Court in the case of United States v Texas in April. The fate of about 4 million immigrants who lack documentation and would otherwise be deported, is in the balance.

The two orders that the Supreme Court considered are Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Lawful Permanent Residents and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DAPA would give some classed of immigrants who lack and have children in the country, relief from deportation.

DACA applies to some classes of immigrants who arrived in the United States when they were children, to stay in the country.

You can read more details about the Supreme Court case here.

Immigration reform remains a contentious issue that splits the two major parties and the branches of government. If you are living and working illegally in the United States, you face the danger of being held and deported by immigration officials. Our experienced Austin immigration lawyers can advise you of your rights and provide you with the resources and information that you need to be more secure. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.

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Texas Advocates Act for Better Treatment of Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on June 3, 2016

As Texas immigration and criminal defense attorneys, we are acutely aware of some of the challenges immigrants face in custody. The deprivations suffered by some immigrants who are imprisoned are so extreme that advocates groups are taking legal action over poor treatment.

Last month, the Austin-based publication Statesman reported on how the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and its counterpart in New Mexico have filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Homeland Security.

Pressure groups are concerned at the treatment of immigrants by the feds

Treatment of immigrants by federal agencies is under fire

The action was launched on two fronts and concerned bond conditions and the seizure of property from immigrants. The ACLU claims:

1 – Border Patrol agents are seizing the property of immigrants, before deporting them to Mexico. In many cases, they are being deported to cities where they don’t know anyone. The complaint relates to 26 people and says some of them were intimidated by officers.

2 – The ACLU of Southern California has filed a legal action to demand immigration judges and deportation agents consider the ability of individual immigrants to pay when they set a bond, in the same way as criminal courts. The ACLU alleges immigrants are being jailed because they are poor and as many as 100 immigrants a day are detained, even though bond was granted.

Advocates claim some of the seizures endangered the immigrants. The report said a 23-year-old from Chihuahua, Mexico was forced by agents to sign a form giving up his rights to his belongings, according to the complaint.

They say nearly $400 was taken from a 23-year-old woman from Guerrero, Mexico after she was detained in El Paso. Many of these immigrants make little money and have saved hard for years. The money formed a significant part of the woman’s life savings.

The Department of Homeland Security, the department that oversees the Border Patrol, said its policy is to safeguard and eventually return detainees’ property, according to the Tribune article.

We have noted in the past many attempts by the authorities in Texas that undermine the rights of immigrants who are routinely treated in ways that run contrary to public policy.

If you or a loved one has been mistreated or is facing deportation, our Austin-based family immigration attorneys can help you and would like to hear from you. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445.

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Survey Finds Half of Nation’s Startups Were Founded by Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on May 25, 2016

The true value of immigrants to the creation of skilled jobs in the United States was made clear recently in a survey that found over half of the nation’s business startups were founded by immigrants.

The statistics were produced by the National Foundation for American Policy, a Virginia-based think tank that claims no political affiliation.

Immigrants founded half of all startups

Researchers found immigrants to the United States founded 51 percent of all business startups that are currently valued at $1 billion or more.

The Wall Street Journal reported on how those 44 new companies are valued at $168 billion collectively.

The companies in question created 760 jobs each on average. That’s more than 33,400 jobs in total.  We were pleased to see that immigrants are filling responsible positions within these companies. The study found they make up just over 70 percent of “key management or product development” positions at the startups.

The foundation carried out the study in January this year when it looked at 87 American companies that are valued at $1 billion or more.

The largest number of jobs created at any of the immigrant companies was at SpaceX, which created 4,000 jobs. This California-based company makes and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. It was set up in 2002 and says on its website it’s the only private company ever to bring back a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit.

Those featured in the survey include Jyoti Bansal, an Indian entrepreneur who founded AppDynamics eight years ago in 2008, and now provides jobs for 900 people at a company that’s valued at $1.9 billion.

The success of these immigrant-founded companies has put the spotlight on the visa system and whether it’s geared up for the creation of successful startups. The Wall Street Journal reported technology leaders including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have called for the government to increase the number of H-1B visas that allow skilled overseas workers stay in this country. The survey counters many of the negative stereotypes of immigrants that some politicians like to depict and shows how overseas investment is creating thousands of skilled jobs in the United States.

If you or your company is seeking to apply for an H-1B visa, our experienced Texas immigration employment attorneys can help you. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration

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Green Cards Are Being Sent to the Wrong Addresses

By Peek & Toland on May 17, 2016

Green cards are granted to permanent residents. You have to meet strict criteria to obtain a card which allows you to live and work in the United States, and they are highly valued.

It was, therefore, disturbing to read a recent report that detailed how large numbers of cards are being sent to the wrong addresses. Although new electronic systems were put in place in 2012, the problem appears to be getting worse.

Findings from the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Homeland Security revealed the number of green cards that are going to the wrong places increased since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) installed its Electronic Immigration System four years ago.

Green cards are being sent to the wrong addresses

Green cards are still being sent to incorrect locations

Alarmingly, the report said there is “no accurate means” of identifying exactly how many cards were sent to incorrect addresses after they were processed through the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS). Limitations in the system meant operators were unable to update addresses, even when green card holders requested an address change.

Applying for a green card can be a tortuous and nerve-wracking process. Automation was meant to improve the system but the audit published on March 9 this year found the new system “remains ineffective.” The notion that your permanent resident card may be sent to the wrong address, adds another layer of uncertainty.

How to Apply for Green Cards

The four main ways of applying to obtain a green card are set out by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. They are:

1 Family Based

Immediate relatives who include parents of a U.S. citizen, spouses and unmarried children of a U.S. citizen under 21-years-old do not have to wait for a visa to become available. There are also categories of “qualified relatives” who have to wait for a visa to become available.

2 Employment or Job Based

If you are seeking permanent residency based on a job offer you have received, you can apply for a green card or an immigrant visa abroad, when an immigrant visa number is available. It’s based on a preference system.

3 Refugee or Asylum Status

A refugee or the qualifying spouse or child of a refugee is required to apply for a green card, a year after entering the United States. If you were granted asylum or are a qualified child or spouse of someone who was granted asylum, you are not required to apply for a green card after a year but have the ability to do so, and it may be in your best interests to do so.

Although these are the three main routes to obtaining a green card, CIS sets out other ways. If you have entered the USA without documentation, we highlight here how consular process could be available for you.

If you are considering applying for a green card or are experiencing difficulties with the process, our experienced Austin family immigration attorneys can advise and help you. Contact us at (512) 474-4445 or view our immigration resources here.

Posted in Fiance Visas, Immigration

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