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Texas Immigration And Criminal Defense Law Blog

Important tips for immigrants coming into the United States

There are a lot of considerations for a person immigrating into the United States. With the constantly changing guidelines, regulations and other shifting aspects of immigration, it is imperative that you have a complete understanding of what you need to do and what rights you have here.

You will probably have a lot on your mind when you first make it to this country. Here are a few reminders that you might find beneficial.

The truth about medical repatriation

In the United States, the law requires that hospitals treat anyone in need of a medical emergency, regardless of immigration status. For example, if you are in sudden need of surgery, a hospital will treat you until you are stable.

However, after a patient is stable, the hospital must move them to a new facility in order to recover, be it home, a rehabilitation center, or nursing home. When undocumented immigrants come into the hospital to be treated, some hospitals resort to medical repatriation after stabilization.

New visa policies could lead to instant deportations

Immigrants in Texas and across the U.S. could have their visa applications suddenly rejected for clerical errors and other mistakes, according to new policy memos issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. According to immigration experts, applicants who have their visas denied could be immediately deported.

Prior to the new policy memos, USCIS officials were required to send "Requests for Evidence" to people who had missing or inaccurate information on their visa applications. This allowed applicants 30 days to provide the required information before their visa would be rejected. However, a new policy memo issued in July gives USCIS officials the right to immediately deny applications if they are missing any required evidence. The policy, which will take effect on Sept. 11, applies to both new visa applications and renewals.

Sanctuary cities are no more

In early March, Texas ruled in favor of banning sanctuary cities. What are sanctuary cities, you ask? These are places that offer protection to illegal immigrants, due to their not needing to identify their status of citizenship. The federal government is the primary enforcer of immigration laws; however, state officials were previously able to choose whether or not to follow their policies.

Sanctuary cities were rare, but available, to immigrants, until Republican governor, Greg Abbott passed Senate Bill 4 (SB4). This bill allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone that they come across. Any violation of this law on official's end will lead to consequences of a hefty fine or misdemeanor charges.

Deadlines for reuniting separated kids with their families

Texas residents might be interested in developments from the immigration cases where children have been separated from their parents. A court established July 10 as a firm deadline for the return of 102 children under age 5 who were separated from undocumented immigrant parents. At a hearing on July 10, lawyers for the Justice Department said that only 38 of the 102 children would actually be reunited with their families by the end of that day; only four had rejoined their parents prior to the hearing.

Lawyers for the Department of Justice told the presiding judge that logistical issues were behind the failure to meet the deadline. Before the hearing began, representatives of the Trump administration told the judge that 16 children were ready to be returned, in addition to the 38, and need only wait until confirmation of their eligibility. The judge told the government that an update would be required on July 12, along with explanations as to why some children remained separated from their parents. Another deadline, for the return of 2,900 older children, looms on July 26.

Sponsors of separated children can face obstacles

Those in Austin, Texas, and other southwestern cities are witnessing the impact of the current administration's "no tolerance" policy for undocumented immigrants crossing the border. Much of the headlines have focused on separating children from their families and placing them in temporary facilities.

Though some may see the separation as a temporary circumstance, it can be a lengthy process to place the children in the custody of family members or friends. First, parents are often detained after being separated and sometimes deported back to their nation of origin. Second, even if there are relatives residing in the U.S. to take custody of a child, the process of placing children with them may take months.

The penalties for overstaying a visa

When an individual's visa expires, he or she must leave the country. However, an individual may be able to extend his or her visa to remain in Texas or any other state legally. This can be done by mailing a request to the USCIS or through the organization's website. An extension may be granted if the individual is lawfully in the country and has not committed an illegal act while here.

If a person's visa expires, he or she must leave the country. Failure to do so could result in a prison term of up to four years. The sentence may be extended to 10 years if a person is being removed for smuggling or committing other serious crimes. There could also be a $2,000 fine for not leaving the country in a timely manner, and penalties may also apply to those making it difficult for the government to remove another individual.

Travel ban is upheld

Texas residents should be aware that the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that states the executive order issued in September 2017 to restrict travel from many countries with a Muslim majority to the United States was constitutional. According to the 5-4 ruling, the travel restriction was within the authority of the president. With its ruling, the court rejected allegations that the motivation for the ban was based on religious hostility.

In the opinion, one justice asserted that the order had a legitimate basis, which was to prevent the entry of individuals who could not be properly vetted. According to the justice, the order was also intended to compel other nations to enhance their immigration laws. He continued to state that the wording of the order made no reference regarding religion.

Tips for maintaining green card status

People in Texas who have a green card might wonder what rules must be followed in order to keep it. There are basically two major types of violations that could lead to a green card being rescinded. One is by leaving the country for an extended period of time, and the other is by breaking the law.

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules about how long a person may leave the country. The concern of the U.S. government is whether a person intends to make another country home while still holding the green card. Therefore, a person should try to reduce the appearance that this might be the case. It may be best to avoid leaving the country for more than six months at a time.

Attorney general may deny asylum to domestic violence survivors

Major shifts to immigration policy and enforcement have occurred in the first two years of the Trump administration. One issue that has yet to be resolved is whether some victims of domestic violence will continue to gain asylum status in U.S. immigration courts. For women who escape abuse in their home countries to states like Texas, how the attorney general decides to rule on these cases will have a serious impact on their future.

Previously, victims of domestic violence in countries throughout South and Central America won asylum status in the United States because they were members of a protected group: women abused by partners who received no help from their own government. More than 100,000 asylum cases were filed in 2017, but there's no information about the percentage of these that involved victims of domestic violence.

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