Due Process and the Cuban Adjustment Act

Citizenship and the Trump Administration – “Time to File”

By Leslie I. Snyder and Lee H. Snyder

President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric opposing most immigration and the relatively “simple” qualifying test (“wet foot dry foot” on US ground, etc.) should compel Cubans to file their applications for residence in the United States.

Potential applicants may include long term residents, individuals with previously denied cases, and those who entered the U.S. recently; extending not only those individuals who were born in Cuba, but also those who are married to Cuban nationals, are children of a Cuban parent, or even those have been arrested and convicted; in every effort to take advantage of the favorable laws currently in effect for Cuban nationals and current avenues of procedural due process through the administrative bodies and courts of the U.S.

The Trump Administration could decide to immediately repeal the “Cuban Adjustment Act”. Once the Act is repealed, either by Executive Order or otherwise, Cubans will no longer have the option to file for residence under this provision, and they could even face deportation and removal from the United States. Also, the immigration filing fees for all applications are scheduled to increase in less than one month — on December 23, 2016.  For example, currently an application for Cuban Adjustment on Form I-485 (official government website found at www.uscis.gov) costs $ 1070 to file including the employment authorization document fees. After the fee increase, the filing costs for this application will be  $ 1,225.

The first step to becoming a U.S. citizen is to file for and become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.  In general, most residents other than Cuban nationals must wait 57 months to file for naturalization, after which time processing could take about 6 months for an interview. On the other hand, since the Cuban Adjustment Act was enacted, Cubans have had the added advantage of the “rollback provision” which has allowed Cuban residence to receive ‘roll back treatment” providing an accelerated path  to citizenship, as their effective date of “adjustment” to permanent residence can be deemed to be the day that they first arrived or were paroled into the U.S.  under Section 1 of the Cuban Adjustment Act, 80 Stat. at 1161, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

The status of any alien who is a native or citizen of Cuba and who has been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States subsequent to January 1, 1959 and has been physically present in the United States for two years, may be adjusted by the Attorney General, in his discretion and under such regulations as he may prescribe, to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if the alien makes an application for such adjustment, and the alien is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the United States for permanent residence. Upon approval of such an application for adjustment of status, the Attorney General shall create a record of the alien’s admission for permanent residence as of a date thirty months prior to the filing of such an application or the date of his last arrival into the United States, which ever date is later.

See Matter of Raul Carillo, 25 I&N Dec. 99 (BIA 2009) Interim Decision #3658

Lawful permanent residents under this provision of law can apply for citizenship under the “rollback” provision, as it is likely that this  avenue of lawful immigration for Cubans could be terminated by the new administration. Pursuant to the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act of November 2, 1966, Pub. L. No. 89-732, 80 Stat. 1161 (“Cuban Adjustment Act”). The Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), Public Law 89-732, is a United States federal law enacted on November 2, 1966. Passed by the 89th United States Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, the law applies to any native or citizen of Cuba who has been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States after January 1, 1959 and has been physically present for at least one year; and is admissible to the United States as a permanent resident.

Will Cubans be stripped of due process by the new administration of the U.S.?  Only time will tell. In the meantime, time may be of the essence.

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