Discussion Points for Punto Legal –February 13, 2019
1. USCIS Processing Times.
The immigration service is the federal agency that issues work authorization cards, permanent residence, citizenship, and humanitarian protection, such as asylum and TPS. So what it does is really important to the Latino community. Let’s take a look at some numbers that tell us what President Trump has done to the immigration service since he took office. For the most recent period that numbers are available, fewer people have applied for these benefits-yet processing times for application have increased substantially. USCIS now has a backlog of 2, 330, 143 cases. This is more than double the backlog reported when Trump took office.
The benefits you receive-again, these include work authorization cards, permanent residence, and citizenship-are paid for by you. For example, a work authorization card application costs $410; an application to fix your papers in the U.S. costs $1,760.00 in government fees. Yet, the immigration service requested the transfer of over 200 million dollars in fee revenue out of USCIS into ICE. That money would have been used for the hiring of over 300 ICE enforcement officers. This money transfer was stopped by Congress. But, why at a time when families are suffering due to long USCIS processing delays, did the immigration seek to transfer over 200 million dollars of USCIS resources to ICE? It is because the immigration service, ICE, and the Department of Homeland Security are run Trump political appointees.
2. Adam Walsh Act.
When I talk to people who want to become permanent residents, I ask them about their criminal history because certain crimes can require waivers or prevent you from immigrating. Sometimes the U.S. relative who is petitioning for his spouse or children wants to know if his criminal history is relevant to the process. I tell them that we have fixed papers even where a citizen -petitioner was in prison. But there is one exception to this rule. A law entitled the Adam Walsh Act, which was passed in 2006. It imposes immigration penalties on U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are convicted of certain crimes against minors. A U.S. citizen who is convicted of a "specified offense against a minor" may be prevented from filing a visa petition on behalf of a close family member. The law provides an exception only if the immigration service makes a discretionary decision that the citizen or permanent resident petitioner does not pose a risk to the petitioned relative despite the conviction. Here is an example: Hector is a U.S. citizen who pled guilty in 2005 to soliciting a 17-year-old girl to engage in sexual conduct. In 2017 he submits a visa petition on behalf of his immigrant wife. Immigration authorities will run a background check on his name to discover the prior conviction. His visa petition will be denied, unless he is able to obtain a waiver based on proving that he is not a danger to his wife. "Specified offense against a minor" includes offenses that are not extremely serious, such as false imprisonment. It is defined as an offense against a victim who has not attained the age of 18 years, which involves any kind of sexual activity with a child.
3. Criminal Practice at Ted Hess & Associates.
We have a criminal defense attorney who speaks Spanish! His name is Sam Crary. Sam is busy in the criminal cases in Eagle County and Glenwood Springs. He is handling a variety of criminal cases from DUI cases to sexual assault cases. He also understands immigration law. Now, you don’t have hire an American attorney-who can’t speak Spanish and does not understand immigration law. You can hire a criminal defense attorney who will (1) defend you in court, (2) know immigration law and (3) explain everything in Spanish.