Haitians Apply by the Thousands for Legal Status in the U.S.

Over 12,000 Haitians have applied for Temporary Protected Status in the U.S., which provides designated people with the chance to live and work temporarily in the United States.

Many of these immigrants hope to assist their families by working in the U.S. and sending their money home to Haiti, where it can be used to rebuild lives that have been decimated by the massive earthquake that destroyed parts of the country in January. Those who are granted Temporary Protected Status can stay in the U.S. for eighteen (18) months. The government has the ability to extend this grant of status for a longer period.

USCIS will be accepting applications by Haitians for Temporary Protected Status until July 20, but only those Haitians in the United States as of January 12, 2010 are eligible to apply. The government has stated that it does not want to encourage a huge influx of illegal immigrants from Haiti. USCIS has estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 Haitians are eligible to apply for Temporary Protected Status.

Temporary protected status is available to nationals of countries with unsafe conditions including armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary or temporary conditions. The list of countries whose people are eligible for temporary protected status is created by the federal government. This list currently includes El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan.


StartUp Visa Act Introduced in the Senate

New legislation aimed at increasing opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs has been introduced in the Senate. The StartUp Visa Act of 2010 would allow an immigrant entrepreneur to apply for a two year visa if he or she can show that a U.S. investor will dedicate a minimum of $250,000 to the immigrant’s start-up venture

Over 160 venture capitalists have endorsed the proposed Act in a letter to the Senators. "Companies such as Google, Pfizer, Intel, Yahoo, Dupont, eBay and Proctor & Gamble are all former start-ups founded by immigrants. Yet immigrants have not only founded major well-known companies. Foreign-born residents made up just 12.5% of the U.S. population in 2008, while nearly 40% of technology company founders and 52% of founders of companies in Silicon Valley are foreign-born."

"Our country should strive to attract to the United States the most talented and highly skilled entrepreneurs. We should channel the power of innovative thinkers from around the world and American investors towards creating jobs and encouraging economic growth and future prosperity," said Ranking Senate Member Lugar.

The StartUp Visa Act of 2010 seeks to create a new employment based category for immigrant entrepreneurs, taking visa numbers away from the existing EB-5 category for immigrants who are investing at least $1 million in the United States.

After receiving this entrepreneur visa, the immigrant would have two years to show that the start-up has generated at least five full-time jobs and has received $1 million in additional investment or has produced $1 million in revenue. If the immigrant can prove this, he or she can become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.


Two New Lawsuits Filed Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Two new lawsuits have been filed by Arizona residents against Joe Arpaio, the controversial Sheriff of Maricopa Country, Arizona. In February, Arpaio was sanctioned by a U.S. District Court Judge for destroying evidence in a racial-profiling case currently being heard in Arizona.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio was previously enforcing federal law in Arizona by relying on section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This section allows state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws, provided that the officers receive appropriate training and report to U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security took away the Sheriff's authority to enforce immigration laws in October 2009. But this isn't stopping Sheriff Arpaio. He has continued to instruct his deputies to enforce federal immigration law as well as Arizona state laws directed at undocumented immigrants.

Celia Alejandra Alvarez was detained in a workplace raid of Handyman Maintenance Inc. in February 2009. She alleges that she was later slammed into a wall, which caused injuries to her teeth, jaw, and face. While being detained, she was refused medical care to assess and treat these injuries. A doctor later confirmed that she had torn cartilage in her jaw, consistent with her story.

Armando Nido, a U.S. citizen, was driving his car in February 2009 when Deputy Jim Carey began following him in an attempt to stop Nido for a broken tail light. Nido drove home and when he got out of his car, Nido alleges that Carey ran him over, pinning Nido underneath the squad car. Nido had rib, pelvis and tailbone fractures and later required a skin graft due to road rash caused by the incident. Carey threatened Nido's family members when they attempted to take photographs while all of this was happening. All charges filed against Nido were dropped.

The racial profiling lawsuit was filed in December 2007 and is currently being heard in an Arizona district court. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit accuse the Sheriff and his deputies of targeting people, including U.S. citizens, because they are Latino. This targeting of Latinos has resulted in unnecessary traffic stops as well as arrests and detentions for no reason, according to the plaintiffs. At the beginning of February, District Court Judge G. Murray Snow sanctioned the Maricopa County Sheriff's office for systematically destroying evidence relating to the office's immigration enforcement.


Born This Month

Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla, born on March 17, 1962 in Karnal India, was the first Indian-American in outer space. She studied aeronautical engineering in India and then came to the United States to complete a Master's degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington and a PhD in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado. She became a U.S. citizen in 1990 and joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as an astronaut in 1995.

In 1997, Ms. Chawla was selected for her first space mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. She spent over 360 hours in space and was responsible for deploying the Spartan Satellite. She became the first Indian-born woman and the second person of Indian origin to fly in space. Ms. Chawla was selected for a second space mission in 2000, but this mission was eventually cancelled.

Ms. Chawla was a crewmember of the STS-107 mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, which flew on January 16, 2003. While aboard, she conducted numerous microgravity experiments. On February 2, 2003, Ms. Chawla and all six of her crewmembers died when Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

After her death, Ms. Chawla was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. She is survived by her husband, Jean-Pierre Harrison, who is a flying instructor and aviation writer.



USCIS Will Reissue Advance Parole Documents Containing Incorrect Issue Dates

USCIS is reissuing Advance Parole documents that contained an incorrect issue date of January 5, 1990. The reissue will be automatic. Individuals do not need to take any action to receive corrected Advance Parole documents. People who received an Advance Parole document with an incorrect issue date who need to travel urgently may travel with the Advance Parole document containing the wrong date and a print out from the USCIS website explaining the mistake.

Change in Filing Location for Form I-824

The filing location for Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition, has changed. This form must now be sent to a USCIS Lockbox facility. The facility will depend on which USCIS Service Center or local office approved the original petition or application. A chart containing the new filing locations can be found on the USCIS website.

Change in Filing Location for Form I-102

The filing location for Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Departure Document, has changed. This form must now be sent to the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facility or the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility, depending on where you are located. A chart containing the new filing locations can be found on the USCIS website.