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Los inmigrantes protegidos según la Acción Diferida tienen la posibilidad de la renovación

July 21st, 2014 by Romona Paden

Durante dos meses después de la aprobación de la ley de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA) de Barack Obama en 2012, los inmigrantes no podían inscribirse para obtener protección en el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de EE. UU. (USCIS). Debían inscribirse en el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) de EE. UU. Ahora, esos inmigrantes elegibles tienen la posibilidad de renovar su condición y extenderla por otros dos años, y las personas que recibieron la Acción Diferida del ICE serán los primeros en realizar la renovación. El USCIS afirma que, de las personas que solicitaron la Acción Diferida, solo una pequeña cantidad lo hizo en el ICE.

La condición de Acción Diferida protege a los jóvenes inmigrantes indocumentados que fueron traídos a EE. UU. de niños y les permite permanecer legalmente en el país y trabajar durante dos años. Aquellos que deseen renovar su condición deben realizar la solicitud en el USCIS, sin importar la agencia que les otorgó la Acción Diferida inicialmente. Si un beneficiario deja que su condición caduque sin renovarla cada dos años, ya no podrá trabajar legalmente en EE. UU. El USCIS ha sugerido que los titulares de la condición de Acción Diferida envíen las solicitudes al menos cuatro meses antes de la fecha de vencimiento de su condición.

A diciembre de 2013, el USCIS había aprobado la Acción Diferida para más de 500.000 inmigrantes jóvenes. La mayoría de los inmigrantes que obtuvieron esta condición, un 77 %, son de México. Los otros tres países que conforman más del 2 % de la población total de jóvenes elegibles son Honduras, El Salvador y Guatemala. Corea del Sur es el siguiente país de origen más común, con más de 7.100 aprobaciones que constituyen el 1,4 % de la población total de inmigrantes elegibles en EE. UU. para solicitar la Acción Diferida.

En el caso de los titulares de la condición, las tarifas de la solicitud de renovación suman USD 465, y dicho monto se ha mantenido constante a lo largo del programa, desde su creación en 2012.

WhatsApp Immigrant Connects the World

July 16th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Ukrainian FlagWhen Jan Koum and his mother migrated from their native Kiev, Ukraine in the 1980’s, they started their lives in the U.S. with meager means. After becoming a Silicon Valley rock star in the tech industry, however, Koum is now one of the newest of the world’s billionaires.

Koum is the co-founder of WhatsApp, an instant messaging service that improves on traditional SMS. WhatsApp offers premium messaging service that bypasses mobile carriers’ data usage fees. The app costs subscribers 99 cents per year after a free-year trial period. What’s more, the service carries no advertising.

Formed in 2009, the WhatsApp model is rooted in Koum’s childhood in a communist country. Because secret police activity was commonplace, Koum grew up with an appreciation for unmonitored communication. To this end, WhatsApp users only provide their phone number to use the service—no name, address, age or gender identification required.

After gaining political asylum status in the U.S., Koum and his family relied on food stamps to survive. Before coming to the U.S., Koum and his family lived in a rural Kiev community with no hot water or electricity.

The stark nature of Koum’s reality for much of his life could well be at the core of his inclination toward rolling up his sleeves and getting down to work, regardless of the setting. And although flash and cash are perpetual temptations in Silicon Valley, WhatsApp grew its service to more than 450 million users in only five years. It didn’t use advertising or public relations efforts at all.

Just as much as having a reputation as a very good programmer with a solid head for business, Silicon Valley knows Koum as virtually ego-less. For much of its existence, stained carpets in the WhatsApp offices and the lack of the company name on its front door show Koum’s disinterest in material trappings.

In February, Facebook Inc. CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp and Koum’s addition to Facebook’s board of directors. Koum played the irony of his story to the fullest when he signed paperwork for the deal in front of the welfare office where he collected food stamps not so long ago.

Immigrant Investors Seek Reform

July 14th, 2014 by Romona Paden

immigrant companiesWhile global entrepreneurs often see the United States as the ideal country to put business ideas into practice, calls to update immigration laws for business owners and investors are growing louder. Updating laws around E2 Treaty Investor Visas, activists say, is necessary in order to keep the U.S. as an attractive option for entrepreneurial immigrants.

E2 visas are issued to business owners and investors who want to do business in the United States through a new or existing enterprise. It requires immigrant entrepreneurs to invest in a bona fide venture through financial and skilled means. Recipients of E2 visas are business owners who employ U.S. citizens and pay taxes.

The rules surrounding E2 visas have remained relatively unchanged since 1952. As part of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the E2 Treaty Investor Visa was intended to stimulate the national economy by creating investment opportunities to infuse the U.S. with new capital. Although a tweak of the rules a few years ago means E2 visa spouses can now work anywhere through Work Authorization eligibility, many E2 visa holders say many more updates to the rules are needed.

Current E2 rules require visa holders to invest time and money to renew paperwork every five years and to continually update entry permits in order to maintain legal status both in the native country and in the U.S. Additionally, the renewal process isn’t guaranteed. Even though there is no limit to the number of times an E2 visa can be renewed, officials can always deny a visa request. E2 visa holders are considered nonimmigrants and don’t have the option to apply for a green card and to eventually gain citizenship.

The situation means investor immigrants face massive uncertainty in terms of life in the United States. Where immigrants with children are concerned, the situation is even more severe. Once children reach age 21, they lose their dependent status on parent E2 visa holders. This opens up the possibility of deportation back to their country of origin or the accrual of illegal status for these young people.

There are approximately 100,000 E2 businesses in the United States that employ more than 1 million Americans.

The Rising Sun of America

July 9th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Sunlit-rippled-US-flag-300x200Even though isolationism was Japan’s official position within the global community for many years, developments in industrialization during the mid-nineteenth century made the policy a near impossibility. Because of the social and economic disruptions in Japan brought about by industrialization, natives soon began to look to immigration to build a better future. The United States ended up being a popular destination for Japanese immigrants during this time period.

In the late 1800’s, Japan experienced a period of rapid urbanization and industrialization. Like in the rest of the world, the boom of industrialization brought a corresponding decline in agriculture. Farmers were forced to leave their land and to look for other work.

In terms of non-farming work, however, industrialization necessarily translated to competing on a global scale. Japanese workers were competing with foreign companies that worked to sell products and services in Asia. The competition often left Japanese workers jobless or with insufficient wages, forcing them to look for better opportunities. The booming economy in the U.S., then, made America a good choice for immigration.

Many of these Japanese immigrants—there were more than 400,000 of them who came to the U.S. between 1886 and 1911—settled in Hawaii and in the Pacific Northwest. In particular, railroads in the Columbia River Basin were largely built by Japanese immigrants who are credited with construction of the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Oregon Short Line and other railroads. The Japanese contribution was so massive that by 1907 it comprised around 40 percent of Oregon’s railroad labor force.

While Japanese immigrants’ contribution in constructing much of modern U.S. infrastructure is easy to see, the group also made plenty of sacrifices. Many of the early Japanese immigrants, for example, had been accustomed to living with utilities in their homes. The still largely undeveloped Northwest region, however, was void of electricity and plumbing. This forced immigrants to not only endure the pressures of creating a life in a foreign culture, but also to adapt to a much more primitive lifestyle.

What’s more, early Japanese immigrants faced discrimination in the same way as many other immigrant waves. This discrimination, however, was amplified in the 1940’s when the nation of Japan attacked the U.S. on December 7, 1941. In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government forced Japanese immigrants into internment camps as the war raged. No immigrants were ever found to have committed treasonous acts against the United States.

 

Executive Action to Lead Immigration Reform

July 7th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Congressional InactionFrustrated by continued Congressional inaction to overhaul outdated immigration laws, President Barack Obama has said he will wield the presidential pen to take executive action toward reform. Reaching out to advisers, the president plans to have a course of action in place by the end of summer.

Although immigration reform is a topic Washington leadership has long promised to address, continual stalls around the issue are forcing the president’s hand. Several weeks ago, House Speaker Boehner told the president that no vote on immigration will occur this year. “They’re unwilling to stand up to the Tea Party and do what’s right for the country,” the president said.

The situation means the president is looking to color outside the lines, so to speak, as Obama is unapologetically looking to bypass lawmakers to ease deportation and to improve immigration processes. The president has asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson to find those executive actions he can take without congressional approval.  President Obama expects to implement at least some of those actions by the end of summer.

DHS Secretary Johnson defines his role as finding ways to move forward with reform efforts while also working within the confines of existing laws. Whatever we do in the executive branch, we have to do within the confines of existing law. So we have a fair amount of discretion when it comes to how we prioritize our enforcement activities,” he said.

In the summer of 2012, President Obama put Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in play. Now, however, the undocumented immigrants for whom DACA is intended to help—DREAMers—are facing Republican calls to roll back the program.

The immigration reform stumbling blocks are more than political games, President Obama said.  “While I will continue to push Republicans to drop excuses and act,” Obama said, “Americans cannot wait forever for them to act.”

Immigrant Forces in America’s Revolution

July 7th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Thomas Paine's Contribution to American RevolutionImmigrants have always played a major role in developing the shape and character of the nation, but immigrants were also critical in the founding of the United States. Ranging from promoting revolution against a tyrannical monarchy to fighting British soldiers in combat, the American Revolution was largely won through the sweat and labor of immigrants.

Possibly the most famous of these founding immigrants is Thomas Paine. Paine was an English immigrant who fell in love with American liberty and independence. Paine made a brilliant, direct and elegant argument promoting separation from Britain in “Common Sense.” In the 40-page pamphlet, which was published in January 1776, Paine argued for American independence from Britain on both logical and emotional grounds. It doesn’t make sense for the island nation of Great Britain to rule over the continent of America. Paine also makes the point in “Common Sense” that London-based politicians would promote the interests of populations living in England over the interests of those living in America. What’s more, British taxation policy made it clear that politicians were more than willing to use America’s productive wealth to support England.

In 1776, America’s population was around 2.5 million and in just three months, “Common Sense” sold 120,000 copies. Sales of the pamphlet hit 500,000 within the year. Taking the pass along rate into consideration—where the pamphlet was shared with friends and family— the revolutionary ideas within “Common Sense” soon won over a substantial portion of the population. In only a few short months, the revolutionary ideas Paine espoused sparked the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the start of the American Revolution.

But the impact of immigrants on the Revolutionary War also extends to the battlefields of the time. While Irish immigration wouldn’t peak for several more decades after the revolution, soldiers who identified as Irish immigrants or of Irish heritage accounted for nearly half of General Washington’s Continental army. The figure includes 1492 officers and 22 generals.

Independence Day Brings Echoing Calls for Immigration Reform

June 30th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Statue of LibertyFor at least the last several years, Independence Day in the U.S. has taken on a political flavor as July 4 fills unrelentingly with immigration news. Now in 2014, as the celebration of 238 years of declared independence from British rule comes around, the massive influx of undocumented Central American immigrants brings more amplified echoes for immigration reform.

Two years ago during a naturalization ceremony for immigrant members of the military, President Barack Obama commented that the Independence Day timing of the event was a “perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday – the world’s oldest democracy – with some of our newest citizens.” At the time, the president was still campaigning to win a second term in the White House over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

“You put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own. In a time of war, some of you deployed into harm’s way. You displayed the values that we celebrate every Fourth of July – duty, responsibility, and patriotism,” Obama said to the new citizens who were born in countries from Mexico, Ghana, the Philippines, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Russia.

Calling for immigration reform a few months before the general election in November 2012 most definitely won over Hispanics—a bloc that places immigration as critically important. And even though immigration reform continues to make its way into the news, officials in Washington are still stalemated on the issue.

Approaching Independence Day in 2014, the duty, responsibility and patriotism that President Obama spoke of two years ago are still among the dominant characteristics exhibited by many of the nation’s immigrants. Unfortunately, these are also the characteristics that get lost so easily when the political aspects of immigration continue to go un-addressed.

The platitudes espoused around reform ring hollow as thousands stream across the Southwest borders. As the U.S. prepares to celebrate another birthday, let’s hope Washington leadership becomes willing to follow through on their commitment to truly address immigration reform for so many who are now in limbo.

Climate Change: Oklahoma’s Resident Immigrants Prepare for Midwest Weather

June 30th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Major gaps in public safety communication were revealed last year when tornados ravaged the Midwest and a disproportionate number of Latino families lost their lives during the catastrophically-intense storms. According to a National Weather Service (NWS) report, the tragedy of the tornados that ripped through Oklahoma were amplified due to the lack of non-English speaking warning methods available to the burgeoning immigrant population in the area—primarily Latino and Vietnamese.

After the May 20, 2013 EF-5 tornado hammered Moore, Oklahoma, another twister ravaged the Oklahoma City metropolitan area just 11 days later. The second storm claimed 23 lives, nine of whom were part of the local Latino community. Of those who lost their lives, seven were victims who had taken shelter in a storm drain and then drowned.

“They didn’t drown because of the tornado,” said Ruben Aragon, president and CEO of the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma City. “They drowned because of misinformation.”

In exploring the Oklahoma tragedy, it looks like the misinformation comes from multiple fronts. First, understanding local weather patterns and how to deal with severe situations is outside the box of newly-arrived immigrants to an area. In other words, a native of Puerto Rico who’s well-versed in safety protocols around hurricanes likely doesn’t have any idea as to how to stay out of harm’s way when in it comes to a tornado.

Secondly, formal relationships between the NWS and non-English speaking institutions are too lax. Authors of the NWS report suggest formalizing and strengthening their relationship with non-English-speaking broadcasters and other typical go-to sources for emergency information.

Another difficulty in conveying severe weather information, reads the report, are cultural differences in terms of warning language. For example, translations of “tornado emergency” and “tornado warning” are indistinct, “so meaningful distinctions between an average tornado and a catastrophic one are lost,” according to the report.

“The NWS, working with the entire weather enterprise, should initiate risk communication for non-English speakers and other underrepresented groups. This should include the incorporation of images and other non-verbal forms of communication to NWS warning products and information exchange. Outreach to organizations that work with these populations can help design risk communication strategies to meet the needs of these populations,” the report concluded.

Victorias para los defensores de la reforma a nivel de condado

June 29th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Reform RallyLos defensores de la reforma migratoria lograron una pequeña victoria el viernes, cuando dos condados en distintas partes del país decretaron que ya no cumplirán con las solicitudes de detención de inmigración. Hasta este momento, estas solicitudes provenían del Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE), y tenían un impacto directo sobre los inmigrantes indocumentados detenidos en prisiones locales.

Efectivamente, si el ICE determinaba que una persona detenida en una prisión local no estaba autorizada para estar en EE. UU., se emitiría una solicitud a las autoridades locales para pedir la detención de la persona hasta que el ICE pudiera venir y llevarla. El problema que surgió de esto fue que existía una posibilidad muy real de que la persona detenida por las autoridades locales fuera arrestada de manera inconstitucional. Si las autoridades los detenían hasta que el ICE pudiera buscarlos, no habría procedimientos legales y, por lo tanto, tampoco habría revisión de la validez del arresto inicial.

El condado de Napa en California y el condado de Hennepin, el más poblado en Minnesota, anunciaron esta semana que ya no cumplirán con dichas solicitudes. Si bien cumplir con las solicitudes nunca fue obligatorio para las autoridades locales, muchos distritos policiales se habían sometido a un control de la práctica luego del juicio federal de 2012 de María Miranda-Olivares en Oregón.

Miranda-Olivares había sido arrestada por violar una orden de restricción y los funcionarios rechazaron la fianza debido a una pedido del ICE. Miranda-Olivares admitió su culpabilidad sobre uno de los cargos y fue sentenciada a 48 horas de prisión, pero su caso pasó al ICE antes de que terminara la sentencia. Un juez federal finalmente resolvió que el Estado había violado sus derechos. Esta resolución, si bien implicaba directamente a Miranda-Olivares, demostró ser una victoria clave para los defensores de la reforma al impulsar la intervención en las detenciones del ICE al nivel de condado.

Napa se une al menos a otros siete condados de California al anunciar su rechazo de todas las solicitudes de detención futuras del ICE, y Hennepin se une a su condado vecino, Ramsey, al fallar en contra del proceso.

El USCIS anuncia el proceso de renovación de la Acción Diferida

June 27th, 2014 by Romona Paden

Dado que las primeras aprobaciones otorgadas a inmigrantes indocumentados del programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA) comenzarán a expirar en septiembre de este año, el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos ha anunciado un proceso de renovación de la condición que utiliza un formulario DACA actualizado. El USCIS comenzará de inmediato a procesar las solicitudes de renovación, que otorgan una extensión de dos años de la condición DACA.

Para aquellos a quienes se les vence la DACA en los próximos meses, el proceso de renovación comienza con la presentación de la nueva versión del Formulario I-821D: Consideración de la Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia, el Formulario I-765: Solicitud de Autorización de Empleo, y la Planilla I-765. La tarifa de presentación es de USD 465 para cubrir el procesamiento de la solicitud y los datos biométricos (huellas digitales y fotografía). Al igual que con las solicitudes DACA iniciales, el USCIS lleva a cabo controles de antecedentes de los solicitantes que realizan la renovación.

Las personas con la DACA tienen autorización para permanecer en EE. UU., al igual que autorización para trabajar por un período de dos años. La DACA se aplica a personas que eran menores de 31 años al 15 de junio de 2012, y que vinieron a EE. UU. antes de cumplir 16 años. La aprobación de DACA también exige residencia continua en EE. UU. desde el 15 de junio de 2007.

Además de tener que cumplir con los requisitos iniciales de DACA, las pautas de renovación de la DACA incluyen lo siguiente:

  • Usted solicitó y recibió un Permiso Condicional Anticipado en cualquier momento que haya abandonado EE. UU. o a partir del 5 de agosto de 2012.
  • Residió de manera continua en EE. UU. desde que se aprobó su solicitud DACA más reciente; y
  • No ha sido condenado por ningún delito grave, delito menor importante, o tres o más delitos menores, y no representa de ninguna manera una amenaza para la seguridad nacional o pública.

La DACA se desarrolló específicamente para abordar las necesidades de inmigrantes jóvenes indocumentados que fueron traídos a EE. UU. de niños. A pesar de sus diversas nacionalidades, estos jóvenes inmigrantes se identifican principalmente como estadounidenses debido a que su crianza ha tenido lugar fundamentalmente en EE. UU. A fines de 2013, el USCIS había aprobado el 97 % de las solicitudes DACA que recibió.

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