Help protect abused and neglected children: Tell your VA representatives “no” to SB1592

On January 24th, representative Richard H. Black introduced legislation that would prohibit the juvenile and domestic relations (“JDR”) courts from making determinations regarding the best interest of a child for purposes of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status unless that child is lawfully present in the United States.  The federal statute enables JDR judges to determine whether a child was abandoned, abused or neglected and whether or not it is in the best interest of that child to return to his/her home country.  The law does not differentiate between children who legally present, on a visitor or student visa, or those who are not legally present.  If the legislation passes it will have a devastating impact on many immigrant children.  Most of our SIJ kids fled horrible situations in their home countries and have no legal status in the United States.  Under the proposed legislation, these children living in Virginia would not be able to seek the protection afforded to them under the federal law.

The bill will most likely be on the Senate Courts docket tomorrow!  We need your support; either with phone calls or in person at the meeting tomorrow!  If you don’t know who your Senator is you can click here for more information: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php.  You can find the names of the committee members here: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?171+com+S3.  If you are a resident of Virginia we urge you to call; tell them you oppose the bill and to vote “no” to SB1592.

Trump’s first 100 days in office: no mention of immigration

Earlier today, Mr. Trump released a video outlining some of the actions that he plans to take during the first one hundred days in office.  His priority is to “put America first” and named several changes he will make; focusing mainly on steps he could take with executive actions that do not require Congressional approval.

Mr. Trump stated that he plans to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations (“TTP”), cut government regulations and cancel environmental restrictions.  What was missing from his statement, however, was any mention of immigration.  Mr. Trump took a hard stance on border security, undocumented individuals, and President Obama’s “illegal” DACA program during the campaign season.  He could eliminate DACA his first day office because executive action created it; yet no mention of the issue during his statement.  Does Mr. Trump intend to surprise us with how he will handle DACA?  Perhaps he will not eliminate the program after all; a program that was created to help individuals who were brought here as children.  That would be keeping with his message that he intends only to send “criminal immigrants” back home.   To watch the video simply follow the link below.

Our experienced immigration attorney, Lesley Ellefson-Porras, has assisted countless immigrations with family reunification; citizenship, fiancé visas and unlawful presence waivers.  She is available to meet with you in her office in Alexandria, Virginia.  Since immigration is a federal matter, Ms. Ellefson-Porras can serve clients from anywhere in the United States.  Most of her clients reside in Virginia, Maryland, and the of Columbia.  Contact her today at 703-596-0235.

 

President Trump & Immigration

In the early morning hours, the world was stunned to learn that Donald Trump had been elected to serve as the next president.  The weather in D.C. matched how many of us were feeling; disbelief and gloom that so many people in our country voted for a man who incites so much hatred.  For some it was a vote against the Washington “establishment;” President Obama and a female candidate who many wanted to see fail from the start. 

While I worry about what this will mean for my future as a woman or the children of my two young daughters, my thoughts went immediately to all my clients and the family members of my clients.   I have had the opportunity to help families reunite and protect children; however, there are so many people that I’ve been unable to help.  Mothers crying in my office because their children’s lives have been threatened by gang members and fear that if return to their home country, they will be killed by gangs. One such mother was told that she would find her son’s body parts in black bags.  Fathers that have been here for over fifteen years, working to support their families and paying taxes.  What will become of these individuals who need our protection?  Who deserve our compassion? 

The ugly campaign season is behind us and as Hillary Clinton said today, “that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strengthen our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.”

This morning I have already received phone calls and emails from people concerned and terrified for their loved ones.  We don’t know what will happen when Donald Trump takes the oath of office in January 2017.  Now is the time for those who are undocumented to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to see if there is some way to fix their legal status.  It may be a more expensive or difficult way, but the alternative is more terrifying.

If you have been considering filing for naturalization, a family petition, or an unlawful presence waiver now is the time to get it filed.  Our experienced immigration attorney, Lesley Ellefson-Porras, has assisted countless immigrations with family reunification; citizenship, fiancé visas and unlawful presence waivers.  She is available to meet with you in her office in Alexandria, Virginia.  Since immigration is a federal matter, Ms. Ellefson-Porras can serve clients from anywhere in the United States.  Most of her clients reside in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  Contact her today at 703-596-0235. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to increase fees

Yesterday, on October 24th, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it will increase fees for most immigration applications and petitions.  This increase will become effective on December 23, 2016.  USCIS is almost entirely funded by fees and after a two year review the agency has determined that a fee increase is necessary.  This is the first time that the fees have been increased in six years.  Most fees will be increased by 21%; for example, the current filing fee for the I-130 is $420 and will increase to $535.  The application for naturalization (N-400) will increase from $595 to $640.  Any application or petition that are filed or postmarked on or after December 23, 2016 must include the new filing fee.  Packages that are mailed with the old filing fee will be rejected by USCIS.

For more information, please visit https://www.uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.

If you have been considering filing for naturalization, a family petition, or an unlawful presence waiver now is the time to get it filed before the fee increase takes effect.  Our experienced immigration attorney, Lesley Ellefson-Porras, has assisted countless immigrations with family reunification; citizenship, fiancé visas and unlawful presence waivers.  She is available to meet with you in her office in Alexandria, Virginia.  Since immigration is a federal matter, Ms. Ellefson-Porras can serve clients from anywhere in the United States.  Most of her clients reside in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  Contact her today at 703-596-0235.