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Questions about seeking asylum

Mexico mapMany of the migrants trying to enter the United States at the Mexico border are seeking asylum, or protection from persecution. These asylum seekers may not know much about how the process works or what kinds of protection it offers. They may also not know how to apply for asylum or whether they qualify. The American Immigration Council has created a document to answer those questions that’s available for downloading. 

Federal hearing on DACA in Texas

Court battles over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have left the program in limbo. On Friday, a federal judge in DC ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to end the immigration program. Now, a federal judge in Texas is holding hearings on a case that would shut down the DACA program. Vox reports that the Texas judge is an immigration hawk likely to rule in favor of ending DACA. That ruling could leave DACA under mutually contradictory orders from two federal judges. Vox explains the legal limbo that could end with the Texas judge’s ruling.

Disinherit the Wind

Whenever a party is disinherited in a will, family drama is sure to follow. Because it’s the deceased’s last message, it doesn’t leave the person who was disinherited a chance to address the reason why. The disinherited person may not know the answer to the statement “for reasons known to them.” Above the Law has more on the dramatics that can come with being disinherited.

Judge Rules USCIS Must Adjudicate Employment Authorization for Asylum Seekers Within 30 Days

A judge has ordered that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must adjudicate work authorization applications for asylum seekers within the prescribed 30-day deadline.

In Rosario v. USCIS, a federal district court judge in Seattle found USCIS’s delay unreasonable and ordered the agency to adjudicate asylum seekers’ initial employment authorization applications within 30 days of filing.

Asylum seekers must wait 150 days after filing their asylum applications to be eligible to apply for work authorization. Then, USCIS must act on their applications for work authorization within 30 days after applying. USCIS has regularly failed to adhere to this deadline, often delaying adjudication of applications for months at a time. This delay can cause severe hardship for asylum seekers, many of whom are left in precarious situations with no ability to legally work while their applications are pending.

“This decision helps many vulnerable asylum seekers and gives them the opportunity to work and support themselves and their families while their asylum applications are pending,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council.

“Asylum-seekers already face so many difficulties in getting their cases heard. When a decision on their case is delayed, it negatively impacts their ability to support family and build a life here in the United States,” said Chris Strawn, staff attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

“We are hopeful that this decision will enable class members to promptly receive the work authorization documents to which they are entitled under law,” stated Devin T. Theriot-Orr, principal attorney at Sunbird Law, PLLC.

Members of the class are represented by the American Immigration Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Sunbird Law, PLLC, and Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP.  The named plaintiffs also are represented by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, PC, and Gibbs Houston Pauw.

The judgment can be found here. The court’s decision is not yet publicly available.

American Immigration Council’s Statement on the Trump Administration’s Failure to Reunite Separated Families

migrant familiesThe Trump administration will miss the court deadline to reunite the nearly 3,000 children separated from their parents under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. The government’s failure to meet the deadline leaves hundreds of children separated from their parents, including 463 parents who have already been deported.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, an attorney at the American Immigration Council, led a team that interviewed over 90 parents detained in the El Paso, Texas area and learned firsthand how many felt pressured into relinquishing their rights or were unaware that they had done so. His account is captured in a declaration filed in the ongoing family separation litigation brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The following is a statement from Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

“The government’s failure to comply with the court order to reunify the thousands of separated children and parents confirms the administration’s utter disregard for the humane and fair treatment of families coming to our country in search of protection. We have grave concerns about the large number of parents who have been coerced into signing papers ensuring their deportation. Many signed these papers without knowing what their options were and without first consulting an immigration attorney.

“No one should be forced to make decisions about their deportation or potential indefinite separation from their children under these circumstances. The U.S. government must ensure that no asylum seeker is pressured to waive their rights and prevented from having a fair day in court.”

Be clear: The importance of designating beneficiaries

Making sure who gets what in your will is a critical part of an estate plan. If it’s not done right, assets can be diverted from those intended to receive them, increasing the likelihood of litigation. The National Law Review takes a look at why it’s important to designate precisely which beneficiaries should receive specific assets in an estate plan.

Beneficiary designations override the terms of your Will or Trust with respect to that asset. For example, if a friend is designated as the beneficiary on your life insurance because the form was completed before you had kids, that policy will be paid to the friend upon death even if all of your other estate plan documents direct your assets to your children. Or, alternatively, if no beneficiary is listed we may end up having to open a court process to administer the assets.

It’s important to periodically review the recipients in an estate plan. Click here to read more about the items you should consider.

Trump changes hiring process for administrative law judges

social security administrationPresident Trump has signed an executive order that changes the way administrative law judges are hired. Trump’s executive order eliminates exams and competitive hiring processes for administrative law judges, and leaves hiring authority to agency heads, reports the ABA Journal. There are about 1,900 administrative law judges in the federal government, but the vast majority of them work for the Social Security administration, according to the Washington Post. According to a member of Trump’s staff, the only requirement to become an administrative law judge is an active bar license or a state judgeship.

Judge refuses extended custody of migrant families

migrant familiesA federal judge in California has denied the Trump administration’s request to hold migrant families in custody long-term, the Associated Press reports. US District Judge Dolly Gee called the administration’s request a “cynical attempt” to undermine a longstanding court settlement. The Justice Department had asked the judge to modify a 1997 settlement to allow the government to hold undocumented immigrant families for longer terms. Judge Gee rejected a similar request from the Obama administration three years ago. Her ruling then said that immigrant children couldn’t be held in custody for more than 20 days. The Justice Department says it’s reviewing the judge’s decision and hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal. More on the judge’s decision is also available at the Washington Post. 

 
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