Law Offices of George Giosmas

25 years of experience

Hollywood Florida Immigration Law Blog

Affirmative and defensive asylum applications

When foreign nationals come to the United States seeking asylum, there are two different applications available to them. Which one is right for any particular migrant depends upon whether removal proceedings have begun against them. Some parts of each asylum application are the same, but there are also very important differences that each person must carefully consider.

Both affirmative and defensive asylum applications are an attempt by a refugee to escape persecution in their home country and live in the United States legally. An affirmative application requires that the asylum seeker currently reside in the U.S., and the application must be filed within the first year of arriving. An asylum officer will decide whether or not the application is approved. If rejected, the case will be sent to an immigration judge.

How to avoid deportation with a waiver

Undocumented immigrants living in Florida may have a path to becoming a legal resident. However, it involves leaving the country for a decade before return. Those who believe that doing so would cause a significant hardship can ask for that requirement to be waived. This is referred to as a "601 waiver." However, even if it is granted, there is no guarantee that the applicant will be given permanent resident status.

The decision to allow a person to stay in the country despite being inadmissible is based on how it could impact a relative. A qualifying relative is generally a spouse or parent is who is a legal resident or citizen of the United States. It is important to note that a job loss or requiring an entire family to move are considered typical hardships and generally won't qualify for a waiver.

Immigration policy details still unclear for many

Florida residents may be aware of a shift in policy that would see the United States keep its asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases are being heard. There are currently more than 800,000 cases pending, and the new policy could mean that immigrants will live in Mexico for months or years. Immigration judges are also left wondering how the policy will impact how they hear cases.

Typically, someone who is seeking asylum after entering the country will be released and assigned to a nearby court. It is unclear if those who are in Mexico will have their cases heard at border courts. This could result in judges having to move closer to the border to handle the majority of their cases. A representative from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services claimed that the agency didn't know that there was a change of policy until after it was announced.

Trump's asylum ban faces challenges in court

People in Florida concerned about the effect of President Trump's attempt to impose restrictions on asylum claims may have been relieved to hear that the Supreme Court upheld a block placed by federal District Judge Jon Tigar on the regulations. However, the high court has not yet heard arguments on the merits of the administration's claim to have the right to modify established immigration law. Last month, Trump signed a proclamation seeking to bar people who entered the United States without authorization at the southern border from seeking asylum anywhere but an official port of entry.

The presidential order was issued despite the fact that U.S. immigration law explicitly exempts asylum applications from a requirement to enter legally. Due to the conflict of law, Tigar issued a temporary order preventing the ban from going into place. This temporary injunction was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then, on Dec. 21, by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts cast the decisive vote. Roberts earlier rebuked Trump for his comments criticizing the 9th Circuit.

Credible fear asylum claims increasing dramatically

Florida residents with questions about immigration may be interested in knowing that credible fear asylum claims have climbed considerably over the past year, according to figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Credible fear is the initial step toward claiming asylum, which is one of the ways immigrants are able to gain legal access to the country. Between 2017 and 2018, these claims climbed 67 percent.

Because there are so many asylum claims, U.S. border authorities have requested that hopeful immigrants remain in Mexico for several weeks to give them time to process applications. Before the latest caravan arrived, the wait time to claim asylum from Tijuana was six weeks. In an attempt to deny access to the country, the President of the United States attempted to deny asylum to anyone illegally entering the country from Mexico. However, a federal judge blocked his order.

ICE nearly deported citizen who had the same name as immigrant

As the current administration cracks down on immigrants, including those who reside in the United States legally, it has made at least one stunning mistake: Arresting, detaining and nearly deporting an American citizen who had the same name as an immigrant.

The 50-year-old man in question was born in Philadelphia, and has lived in the Florida Keys for a decade. In April, the Monroe County Sheriff’s office cooperated illegally with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest and deport him to Jamaica—a country the man had only ever visited while on a cruise. The man had never even heard of ICE until his detainment.

Trump pursues asylum ban to Supreme Court

Many people in Florida have been concerned about the effects of President Trump's policies on immigration, especially those with some involvement of their own with the immigration system. After two federal courts blocked an attempted ban on asylum applications for people who crossed the southern border without authorization, the administration is going to the Supreme Court in an attempt to legitimize its proclamation. Following the emergence of caravans of migrants from Central America in November 2018, Trump issued a proclamation barring people who crossed without authorization from seeking asylum.

The proclamation differs substantially from current immigration law, which expressly allows people to seek asylum despite an unlawful entry. A federal appeals court said that the attempted ban violates federal law and is an attempt to avoid legislation that has been enacted by Congress. The administration claimed that it has national security reasons to seek the ban and that the policy is an attempt to ensure that asylum seekers receive orderly processing of their applications at ports of entry. On the other hand, a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union said that this is an attempt to reinstate an illegal policy.

Trump administration policies leave migrants in fear

Many people in Florida and across the country are concerned about asylum seekers facing new restrictions imposed by the Trump administration at the southern border. There are currently thousands of migrants, mostly from Central America, near the border in Tijuana and elsewhere, and the administration wants to force them to remain in Mexico until their asylum claims are completed. However, refugee rights advocates have highlighted the potential abuse that these migrants may face.

One migrant justice advocate noted that areas near ports of entry to the United States are frequently under the control of cartels. Asylum seekers have experienced kidnappings for ransom, human trafficking and other threats in these areas. One woman from Guatemala who fled a violent gang noted her own experience in Mexico while seeking to flee to the United States. The bus she was on with other migrants was stopped by masked, armed men who demanded their identification before ransoming them to their families. The woman's family in Guatemala paid $3,000 for her release.

Migrant taken into custody at immigration appointment

As a general rule, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will not take enforcement action in schools, churches or similar locations in Florida or elsewhere. That's why one man lived in CityWell Methodist Church in Durham, N.C., for roughly a year in an effort to evade deportation. However, he was taken into custody on Nov. 23 while attending an immigration appointment at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS) office in Morrisville, N.C. After being taken into custody, he was sent to Wake County Detention Center before being moved to Georgia.

Prior to his being taken to the detention center, protesters surrounded a van that was transporting him to the facility. They were there for about two hours before Morrisville police showed up and took 27 people into custody on various charges. According to a statement from ICE, the man who they originally sought to take into custody had no basis for remaining in the country.

Federal judge bans enforcement of controversial asylum rule

Florida residents may have seen news reports in the days leading up to the midterm elections about a caravan of immigrants from Central America making their way north to the Mexican border. The caravan has now reached Tijuana, and many of its approximately 3,000 members are said to be planning to seek asylum in the United States. Asylum has traditionally been offered to immigrants who are already inside the United States, but that all changed on Nov. 9 when President Trump issued a proclamation that changed the asylum rules.

President Trump proclaimed that immigrants who cross the Mexican border illegally would no longer be able to petition for asylum. The presidential proclamation is being challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. On Nov. 19, a federal judge in California ruled that the proclamation runs contrary to both international agreements and U.S. law.