Immigration News

USCIS began producing a “Security Enhanced U.S. Travel Document.” 

On Thursday, USCIS announced a new version of the U.S. travel document, which functions similarly to a passport. The document can be used by lawful permanent residents in place of Form I-327, Permit to Reenter the United States, and by refugees in place of Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document. The document can also be used instead of a passport in some cases. The enhanced security features include a redesigned booklet cover, four montages containing three images, each of notable U.S. architecture, used throughout the booklet, and a combination of first-, second- and third-level security features (overt, covert and forensic). Previous versions of the travel document are still valid until their expiration date. 

Several USCIS forms have been updated

USCIS posted updated editions of Form N-400, Application for NaturalizationForm N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, and Form EOIR-29, Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from a Decision of a DHS Officer. The edition dates are 9/17/19, 9/10/19, and July 2019, respectively. For Form N-400, the 12/23/16 edition will be accepted through 12/15/19.

A new PA law will require construction employers to use E-verify

The Pennsylvania state government recently passed the “Pennsylvania Construction Industry Employer Verification Act.” Starting in October 2020, this new law prohibits construction employers from knowingly employing unauthorized employees, and requires them to use E-verify.Use of E-verify will be enforced by the Department of Labor and Industry, but also creates a rebuttable presumption in court that the employer did not knowingly employ and unauthorized person.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled immigration status can be considered in sentencing

A man was sentenced to prison time instead of probation in part due to his immigration status. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that when deportation is a “certainty,” considering immigration status during sentencing does not violate constitutional due process. The court affirmed the lower court decision that prison time was permissible for this reason.

The House introduced a bipartisan bill to reverse a Trump policy affecting children of some service members and federal employees abroad

In August, the Trump administration released policy guidance making it more difficult for some children born abroad to service members and government employees to attain U.S. citizenship. USCIS clarified the impact was low, but affected about 20-25 people per year. On Wednesday, members of the House Judiciary Committee introduced bipartisan legislation to undo the change and make the process for children in this situation to gain U.S. citizenship simpler. 

The Supreme Court has taken a case on the rights of asylum seekers.

 On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider a case on the rights of undocumented asylum seekers to challenge their expedited removal orders. The Trump administration appealed after the 9th Circuit ruled that asylum seekers could make their claim in federal court after they are denied and ordered for expedited removal. Oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court have not yet been scheduled.

Federal authorities will gather DNA from immigrants at the border.

Attorney General Barr announced on Monday that the Department of Justice will collect DNA samples from immigrants and asylum seekers crossing the border. Under the plan, federal authorities would gather an estimated 748,000 individuals’ DNA each year. The stated purpose of the plan is to create a database of immigrants to help fight crime, and the DOJ plans to add this genetic information to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. Immigrant advocates have denounced the rule over privacy concerns and the lack of meaningful choice, especially for vulnerable asylum seekers. The rule was published in the Federal Register on October 22, and is now open for a 20-day comment period. 

More flights containing approved refugees have been canceled. 

Last month, many refugees preparing to be resettled in the United States were met with canceled flights when the State Department issued a moratorium on their travel until October 21. On October 18, the State Department announced the moratorium would continue until October 28. This caused already-rescheduled flights with refugees to be canceled again. This is especially concerning for some refugees who have medical exams or security checks near expiration, which was not an issue when they were originally scheduled for resettlement in September.

White House aides determined that Trump’s top DHS picks are ineligible

McAleenan’s departure left the top DHS role empty. President Trump has two top picks for DHS acting secretary: acting USCIS Director Cuccinelli and acting CBP Commissioner Morgan. However, a federal statute called the Vacancies Act limits who can be appointed to act in secretary roles without Senate confirmation. The role must go to a ranked official elsewhere in the executive branch who has already been confirmed by the Senate. The president’s advisors told the president that neither Cuccinelli nor Morgan fulfill this requirement. Either could serve as DHS Secretary if they were confirmed by the Senate, but that route is not certain to succeed. 

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.