An Overview Of The History Behind Birthright Citizenship

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One of the biggest political issues that is circulating in the news lately is birthright citizenship. With all of the controversy going on, it can be hard to keep track of the exact details of the laws  in question.

 

Birthright citizenship is the citizenship that a person is granted based on the location and other circumstances of his or her birth. Any person born in the territory of the U.S. is granted citizenship. This right is called “jus soli.” U.S. citizenship is also granted to a child born overseas to U.S. citizen. This social policy is called “jus sanguinis.”

 

A person’s citizenship is governed by federal law, which is a large part why the issue has caused national disputes throughout history. The first time that a Supreme Court focused on the issue of citizenship was during the Dred Scott case. In 1857, the ruling that declared that black people were not U.S. citizens, even if they were the children of freed slaves. In 1868, this was changed and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The first sentence states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The ruling in the Dred Scott case was overturned and black Americans were legally U.S. citizens.

 

But there were still a number of unanswered questions. The 14th Amendment contained the clause “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”, which was ambiguous. People were unsure whether the children born to Chinese immigrants were conferred birthright citizenship, since they were once under law not permitted to become naturalized citizens. There was also confusion as to whether the law applied to Native Americans born on sovereign reservations.

 

The questions were settled in the 1898 Supreme Court Case United States v. Wong Kim Ark. The court decided that the concept of jus soli should be applied to the 14th Amendment with a few exceptions. Children born to diplomats or hostile occupying forces, as well as those born on foreign ships, were not included in the 14th Amendment. Most legal scholars feel that these restrictions do not exclude children of undocumented immigrants from gaining automatic citizenship, and current jurisprudence follows suit, giving citizenship to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

 

When it came to Native Americans, the court ruled that the Amendment did not give birthright to those born on reservations because they aren’t subject U.S. jurisdiction. However, this changed years later. The Nationality Act of 1940 stated that all Native Americans born in the US are citizens.

 

The U.S. is different from the rest of the world. The majority of other countries provide people with citizenship based on jus sanguinis, which follows the mentality that people are bonded together by ancestry, according to sociologist John Skrentny. Skrentny states that the U.S. follows the idea that you are bonded by your current location and the ideas that you might share locally.  
One of the biggest conversations surrounding immigration is that of birthright citizenship. With everything happening in the U.S. currently, it’s important that we keep in mind the history of birthright citizenship.

Immigration Reform and Hillary

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The Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump election is at its peak. The candidates have been in hot water every now and then over controversial statements regarding their opinions. However, one of their most important stances is the one on immigration. With the final showdown not too far off, it is more important than ever to know who stands for what and how much the two candidates differ on one of the most serious issues.

While Donald Trump has called for a ban on immigrants who seek asylum from terrorism in their homelands, Hillary’s plan differs substantially.

Trump’s plans of building a wall along the Mexican border and calling Mexicans rapists and murderers has been a central point of his campaign. Trump says U.S. immigration rules should focus entirely on American citizens only. Keeping their safety as the only priority. His three core ideas for the immigration reform are:

  1. Building a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.
  2. Increasing enforcement of immigration laws.
  3. Focusing on American workers.

Clinton, on the other hand, has presented herself as an advocate for comprehensive immigration legislation. She stresses the importance and pledge to keep immigrant families together. One of her most important initiations includes creating opportunities for undocumented laborers a chance to “come out of the shadows”.

On the matter of immigration legislation, Hillary Clinton supports new immigration legislation that would create the opportunities and address the hindrances such as the time restrictions on undocumented immigrants. Clinton argues that this policy weighs heavy on the families in which members having dissimilar legal status are told to leave the United States before returning legally.

Clinton encourages immigrants to become naturalized citizens by making it easier for people to become U.S. nationals. She aims to do this by increasing fee waivers for the estimated 9 million people eligible for citizenship, as there are many people are only being held back due to lack of funds. Her plan further includes the growth of education’s outreach. This will help potential citizens in communication while their process takes place. She vows to reduce education, language, and economic barriers. And one of the basic steps for this would be to teach immigrants English.

Clinton has kept the same stance on immigration for quite a while now. On speaking about the immigrant situation in 2014 she said, “As a senator, I was proud to sponsor the national DREAM Act and to vote for it. I am a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and I believe that we have to fix our broken immigration system. We have to keep families together. We have to treat everyone with dignity and compassion, uphold the rule of law, and respect our heritage as a nation of immigrants striving to build a better life”.

Her position on immigration policies and the future of immigrants living in the United States represents a far better image of the future of millions than that of Donald Trump. But with Clinton’s past of being involved in donation conspiracies, voters face a serious doubt over what her intentions may be. What could be the outcome now?

 

How to Find Your Immigration Lawyer

Finding a lawyer at the best of times is difficult, but when immigration and citizenship is involved it can seem so much harder. Here are some tips to get you started:

Knowledgeable:

This is key when you are in the market for any lawyer, obviously, but it is so important it bears listing first and foremost. Law practice is complex, and laws are added, amended, changed, or made obsolete every day. It is important that they not just understand the law as they knew it when they passed the bar, but the law as it stands today, with all the changes that have taken place. Also key is making sure that your lawyers is trained in the specific laws of your state, as many laws vary based on location. If your lawyer doesn’t have the right information he or she can’t provide you with the best legal representation.

 

Resources:

Your State Bar, National Immigration Law Center, American Immigration Lawyers Association are all good places to start. Your local state bar will be able to connect you with licensed lawyers in good standing, and point you in the direction of specialty practice if you have specific needs. NILC is a non-profit organization devoted to assisting low-income individuals with immigration services they can afford. AILA is a national association of attorneys and legal experts who can teach and/or practice immigration law, so this is a good place to begin a search and feel good that you are finding someone well-versed in immigration policy. An AILA membership is not required to practice immigration law, so membership can show that they have dedicated themselves specifically to the practice.

 

References:

Ask friends, coworkers, family, or anyone else you know if they know an immigration lawyer. Even if they haven’t been through immigration processes themselves, they may know someone who has, or have heard of a success story in your area. People love to talk about good experiences, and love to talk about bad ones even more. Word of mouth, online reviews, and references from clients of the lawyers are all helpful when beginning your search. When you interview your lawyer, make sure to ask them for references from former clients, a reputable lawyer should be happy to introduce you.

 

Speaks Your Language:

Literally and figuratively. It is important that you fully understand your lawyer and that they understand you. Multi-lingual immigration lawyers exist is most places, and it is important to make sure that they are fluent in the language you speak natively. It is also important that you speak with them in person, trust them, and feel comfortable putting your future into their hands, so make sure that your personality and goals as client and lawyer are a good match. Honesty is key, and so is communication. Make sure that they are willing to educate you on your case so that you full understand their responsibilities, and your own.

 

Costs:

Make sure that you understand the fees and costs. Some attorneys charge hourly fees while working on your case. Some charge a fee per task, set in advance. Some charge one single fee for the entire case, beginning-to-end. Make sure that you understand the pricing of your lawyer, and that you compare prices of more than one attorney to ensure you get one that fits your budget.

Senate Democrats Block Bills To Take Funds Away From “Sanctuary Cities”

city-restaurant-lunch-outsideOn Wednesday July 6th, Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have taken away federal grant money from “sanctuary cities.” These cities protect undocumented immigrants from being sent to federal agents for deportation. These cities will continue to operate in this way thanks to the Democratic block.

 

Democrats also blocked an immigration-related bill by Senator Ted Cruz. The bill would have increased prison sentences for any undocumented immigrants who repeatedly enter the US without legal permission to do so. The law was dubbed “Kate’s Law.” Senators voted 55 to 42 to advance that bill, but since 60 votes were needed to advance it, the bill was blocked.

 

As the Senators were voting, the White House issued veto threats. Both of these bills were very similar to legislation that Democrats blocked last year. Some Democrats claimed that Republicans were just bringing these issues up again to give Republican Senator Pat Toomey an issue to fight for in this challenging re-election fight against Katie McGinty, the Democratic challenger.

 

Republicans said they were trying to save lives with “Kate’s Law.” In fact, the law was named after Kate Steinle, who was killed by an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. The case led to national outrage as it was discovered that the man charged with Steinle’s murder had been deported five times for a number of felonies and was released from a San Francisco County Jail without being turned over to federal immigration authorities.

 

San Francisco has policies that prohibit keep undocumented immigrants in custody for federal agents unless the agents in question have a court order or warrant. In cities with large immigrant popular, police say that residents will not trust them enough to report crimes if police are seen as immigration agents who will help in their deportation.

 

Under Toomey’s bill, local governments with sanctuary policies would not have received community development block grants. These grants go toward providing housing to low-income and moderate-income families, creating jobs, and helping communities recover from natural disasters.

 

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said that he felt that Senator Toomey was intentionally using this bill as something to to talk about in his re-election campaign, and maybe even in a speech as the Republican National Convention. Harry Reid, a Democratic Senator Minority Leader, said Republicans’ desire to pass this legislation was an attempt to follow Donald trump’s rhetoric in criminalizing immigrants and Latino families.

 

Reid felt that Toomey’s bill would take away from the local law enforcement’s ability to police their own communities and maintain public safety. It would also deny millions of dollars in community and economic development funding to any areas that refuse to target immigrant families.

 

For an undocumented immigrant who re-entered the U.S. after being deported or denied admission, Kate’s Law would have increased the maximum prison term from two years to five years. It would have also created a maximum 10-year term in prison for any immigrant who re-entered the U.S. illegally after having been removed three or more times previously.

 

Reid also felt that the mandatory-minimum sentences enacted by the bill would cost billions of new dollars, take funding from state and local law enforcement, and increase the prison population. He also felt that it would take away from bipartisan efforts to change the nation’s criminal justice system for the better.

 

Democrats have blocked the bills, thus allowing sanctuary cities to continue getting funding and preventing the prison population from skyrocketing.

 

Immigration Raids to Continue in US

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In a political climate rife with contentious and emotional immigration debate, with coverage from everyone from NPR, to USA Today, to BuzzFeed covering the presidential election and the centralized issue of immigrating, U.S. Immigration has announced earlier this month that officials plan sweeping raids throughout May and June in an effort to deport immigrant families who have entered the country illegally.

 

According to statements from the Homeland Department the raids are part of a plan implemented in January of removals and targeting “convicted criminals and others who constitute threats to public safety and national security, as well as recent border crossers.” The department described the recent border crossers as those who were caught at the border after Jan. 1, 2014, “have been ordered removed by an immigration court, and have no pending appeal or pending claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief” under U.S. laws.

 

They have said that in all but emergency cases the Department of Homeland Security would avoid arresting migrants at “sensitive locations,” such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship. They are removing families that the administration says did not show up for their court appearances or those who have refused to comply with orders to leave the country. They also said that the raids are in response to a surge of undocumented immigrants from Central America. From CBS News: “Apprehensions at the southwest border are up, with 32,117 family units (a child with an adult family member) for fiscal 2016 through March, compared to 13,913 for the same time period in 2015. Similarly, in fiscal 2016 through March, 27,754 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the border, compared with 15,616 last year in the same period.”

 

However, all of this is ignoring the fact that the focus here is undocumented mothers and children. The Department of Homeland Security is is making targets out of women and children who should be protected rather than deported. These mothers and children from Central America are not coming here to work, they are coming here to flee the brutal and violent situation in their home countries. Instead of seeing these Central American immigrants as refugees or asylum seekers, we are currently treating them as undocumented workers smuggling themselves over the border. In fact, there are more and more cases of women walking across the border openly and appealing a case to stay to the Border Patrol agents.
From CNN: “Defending the raids, on Friday White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “If this serves to discourage people from considering to make this journey, that would be a good thing.” Still, nothing can change people’s minds when they are literally fleeing for their lives. The women and children targeted by the Obama administration are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three countries that regularly rank among the world’s most dangerous nations. In these countries, forced gang conscription, sexual violence and homicides are a fact of daily life; one El Salvadoran dies every hour due to violence.”

Federal Authorities Make a Fake College To Catch Visa Scam

visa-applicationA fake university was recently created order to catch people suspected of running a visa scam. The university was called the University of Northern New Jersey, and while it was not real, it had a very convincing website. It claimed to offer “exceptional” education for students from other countries wishing to study in the U.S.

The federal authorities were behind this project, creating the phony university’s website in order to arrest 21 people on charges of conspiring to assist over 1,000 foreign people in fraudulently keeping or obtaining student or work visas. There is, however, one unexpected twist. The defendants who were arrested knew that the school was phony and so did the foreign people who allegedly pretended to be students at the university in order to remain in the U.S.

What they didn’t know was who was behind the fake school. This university was set up by undercover agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Most of the foreign “students” who benefitted from the visa scam were already in the U.S. on student visas. They have been identified and while they will not be prosecuted, they could face deportation.

The 21 people arrested were considered recruiters, employers, and brokers. These 21 people were charged with “conspiracy to commit visa fraud and to harbor aliens for profit”. The latter of the two charges carries up to 10 years in prison. Most of these defendants are in the U.S. legally, residing in New York, New Jersey and California. One lives in Georgia and another lives in Illinois.

The University of Northern New Jersey’s website was very elaborate, with appealing photos, a message from the “president”, and links to academic programs. The website stated that the “president” was a man named Dr. Steven Brunetti, Ph. D. The site even had a school seal which appeared to have been based on Princeton University’s seal, but the fake institution’s colors were green and bluish-purple instead of Princeton’s orange and black. The university even listed an address. This address was that of a real building about 15 miles outside of New York City in Cranford. The University’s site was taken down on the afternoon of Tuesday April 5, 2016.

You may be wondering how exactly the undercover agents caught the middlemen that are currently under arrest. The 21 people who are now arrested paid the undercover agents who were running the school to create paperwork that made it appear as if the foreign people were enrolled at the University of Northern New Jersey. This way, the students would be able to keep their visa status without going to class. Overall, the middlemen paid the undercover agents thousands of dollars.

This is not the only example of a fake school being created for visa-related purposes. Immigration officials have looked into hundreds of possibly fake schools in recent years. Some of these investigations have already led to charges. Officials at one school in Georgia and two schools in California have received prison sentences due to these investigations. One of these officials even received 16 years in prison for visa fraud in addition to other charges. This case differs from the other cases because the federal authorities created their own phony institution, but it reveals a phenomenon that is occurring throughout the country.

Immigrant Children Representing Themselves in Court

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Recently, during federal court proceedings, Senior Justice Department official Jack H. Weil, (who, along with other responsibilities, is tasked with training other judges in proper procedure and conduct,) made a statement under oath that he believes three and four year old migrant children can learn immigration law well enough to be able to represent themselves in court, which would in turn save the citizens the costs of assigning taxpayer-funded attorneys to them.

“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds,” Weil said. “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

Obviously, the backlash to this statement from both legal experts, and child psychology experts, was immediate and disparaging. Obviously immigration law is a deep and complex branch of practice, and children of that age are still learning how to cooperate with other children and develop fine motor skills, let alone represent themselves in a court of law.

“I nearly fell off my chair when I read that deposition,” said Laurence Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University, who is a witness for the plaintiffs in the Seattle case. “Three- and 4-year-olds do not yet have logical reasoning abilities. It’s preposterous, frankly, to think they could be taught enough about immigration law to be able to represent themselves in court.”

This testimony from Justice Weil came out during a case that is arguing for legal representation for every indigent child who cannot afford a lawyer to represent themselves in court. Immigrant rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union are both demanding that the courts be required to provide this. The Justice Department is contesting suit, and Weil has, in the aftermath of his statement receiving loud and virulent backlash, insisted that the statements that are being attributed to him do not “present an accurate assessment of my views on this topic” and are being “taken out of context.”

The ACLU officials are nonplused by this recant. “This is the person in charge of training immigration judges about how to treat children? And this is the witness the government puts forward to present their views as to how this is supposed to happen?” said ACLU deputy legal director of Southern California Ahilan Arulanantham, the attorney who questioned Weil under oath. “That is horrifying.”

According to statistics that were collected by the Justice Department, more than twenty thousand unaccompanied children that were involved in deportation proceedings that took place over the course of 18 months from July 2014, a whopping 42% of those children had no attorney. In many cases the children facing these charges do not speak English, and are relying on government-provided interpreters to understand what is happening to them, let alone to understand how to argue for themselves in court. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats recently introduced legislation stipulating that government-appointed counsel be afforded to all children in immigration court who had crossed the border alone or are victims of other duress such as abuse, torture or violence.

 

2016 Presidential Election: Immigration Policy and Reform

This summer, candidates from both sides of the political spectrum, vying for their party’s support for the 2016 Presidential Election, have been vocal with their proposed policies on immigration. While the issue remains a hotly contested topic of conversation in the United States, for voters, the differing views of each candidate can make them difficult to decipher. With that in mind, here are the top Republican and Democratic candidates’ stances on immigration reform:

Democrats:

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Clinton has remained largely liberal on immigration issues, and called for a “path to full and equal citizenship” during a Nevada rally. She also campaigned for the parents of undocumented immigrants that entered the U.S. as children to be legally allowed to remain in the country.

US Senator for Vermont Bernie Sanders

Sanders believes America is a “nation of immigrants,” and stands against the removal of undocumented people based on the traditional concept of the American Dream, supports allowing individuals to come to the States and seek better lives, and opposes the building of a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico.

Former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley

Candidate O’Malley prioritized shifting undocumented immigrants from the dark and into mainstream society, and signed an act into law that granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants in Maryland during his time as Governor.

Former US Virginia Senator Jim Webb

Webb believes in securing the border first, and supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country later. He voted in favor of the DREAM Act in 2010, which aimed to provide legal residency to undocumented individuals brought into the country as children.

Republicans:

Businessman Donald Trump

Trump is campaigning for the building of a border fence between Mexico and the U.S., and his policy outlines that it should be paid for by the southern side. He proposes an immigration plan that supports employment, security and wages for American citizens, and wants to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Officers. Needless to say, his views on immigration policy have been the most controversial throughout the past months.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Bush has sympathized with those who have entered the U.S. illegally in search of a better life, and believes in securing the border and providing a path for citizenship that is controlled, where undocumented immigrants work for their status, and are liable for fines for breaking the law.

US Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz also wants to enhance border security, while also opening up opportunities for skilled workers to come to the U.S., green card chances and preventing those with undocumented status from obtaining welfare support.

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina

Fiorina believes in awarding citizenship to immigrants that have “earned” it through legal entry and abiding by American laws, and wants to secure the border in order to begin mending current immigration problems in the U.S.

Tracking the Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

Back in May, Francisco Lopez-Flores, a UCLA alumni, pitched the project “DACAMENT ME” to potential investors. The goal of DACAMENT ME is to track the economic benefits of immigration reform following 2012’s Executive Order by President Obama to implement DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). While DACAMENT ME has been gaining attention from beneficiaries of DACA as well as investors, one potential investor chalked Lopez-Flores’ project to a mere hobby telling him and his team to not waste their time with it.

However, for many students and young adults like Francisco, DACAMENT ME is far from a mere hobby. It is very personal. The executive order allows those individuals to acquire important documentation to obtain jobs, bank accounts and licenses in certain states. Needless to say, it was and still is met with heavy opposition and that is where DACAMENT ME hopes to help. A new member of the DACAMENT ME team, Kayleen Ports, explained the goal and use case of the project very well when she said that while activists have already attempted to make the emotional argument for immigration reform, a data driven argument is also needed.

The idea for DACAMENT ME came to Lopez-Flores when he noticed that after the implementation of DACA, his own wages increased since he no longer had to be paid under the table and was able to apply for steadier, higher paying jobs. After surveying over 200 students who benefited from DACA, Lopez-Flores and fellow UCLA students Stephanie Ramirez and Rudy Morales traveled to the White House where they presented their findings and analysis of DACA’s economic impact to key policymakers. By expanding their initial project for their Chicana/o studies class, Lopez-Flores and his team are hoping to use DACAMENT ME as a way to survey and track DACA recipients over a long period of time to show the positive effects that the policy has on the U.S. economy. Part of their findings demonstrated how recipients of DACA saw an average wage increase of nearly 100%. The research also showed that if the trend continues, it would add nearly $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy.

Currently, DACAMENT ME is growing their team and working on a platform to turn DACAMENT ME into an official program at UCLA so that future students can continue participating. In May, apart from presenting the project to potential investors, the team won first place at the Latin@ Coder Summit hosted by Stanford University. The $1,000 price is being used to acquire the tools necessary to build the DACAMENT ME computer platform over the summer.

Immigration Law Post World War II

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Abogado Aly Immigration Law

The passage of the Walter-McCarran Act in 1952 was the next major piece of immigration legislation. This act implemented a quota not on the origins of the U.S. population, but extended the quota to people with high skilled labor that the United States felt like they needed in their labor force. It also set up preferences towards relatives of U.S. residents. This was a fundamental change, implemented by the Truman administration, in immigration policy from national origins to family unification and labor needs. Finally, in 1965, President Kennedy amended the 1952 act as part of the civil rights legislation to completely eliminate the inherent racism in the old immigration policy. This new policy completely eliminated the national origins quota and granted  complete priority to family members of American citizens and other immigrants that had complete U.S. residence. This immigration policy was on a first come first serve basis, and annually allowed no more than 20,000 immigrants per country with a global limit of 290,000 immigrants. Eighty percent of the 290,000 limit were saved for close relatives of American citizens or residents, so it is obvious that family unification was the driving force for the 1965 immigration policy. This preference in family unification caused a decrease in the number of European immigrants and an increase in the number of Asian and Hispanic immigrants. This immigration policy is the policy that the United States has today, and this immigration policy is unique compared to other countries such as Canada, England and Japan.

In Canada, the early history of immigration policy is similar to that of the United States. In the mid to late 19th century, immigration policy in Canada was fairly open only restricting criminals and other extreme undesirables. There were not many immigrants coming to Canada before 1896, so Canada was actively seeking immigrants to tend to their large amounts of land. The Dominion Land Act was then established in 1872 which gave land in northwestern regions of Canada to any male over the age of 18 who in return had to promise to cultivate and take care of that land. At the turn of the century, Canada was trying to obtain low skilled labor to enter their vast agricultural sector in the Northwest region. Frank Oliver, a Canadian politician who represented a vast majority of the Northwest region, implemented the Canadian Immigration Act of 1910 that gave more power to the federal government and prohibited the entry “of immigrants belonging to any race deemed unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada.” This new immigration policy became even more strict during and after the First World War.  Just like the United States, Canada’s immigration policy at the beginning of the 1920s became increasingly race oriented because of the rising world tensions. Canada’s immigration policy was split up into two groups: the preferred and the non-preferred. Since not many immigrants found incentives to immigrate to Canada, Canada implemented policies to incentivize immigration from England, America, and Western Europe. On the other hand, Canada also implemented numerous policies to keep the so-called “undesirable races,” in the eyes of the Canadians, out of their country.