Arizona Passes Tough Law Targeting Undocumented Immigrants

The Arizona State House and Senate recently passed a new bill that requires law enforcement officers to investigate a person´s immigration status if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" that the person might be undocumented.

Numerous immigrant rights groups have criticized the law, primarily because it is highly likely to result in racial profiling. It also is likely to cause unreasonable consequences for U.S. citizens and those here legally. People without proper identification are subject to arrest, even if they have legal status in the U.S. This means that if a U.S. citizen in Arizona forgets his wallet while rushing to pick up his child from school, he could be arrested if a law enforcement officer has a reasonable suspicion that he is undocumented.

Other provisions of the bill allow law enforcement officers to arrest people who are merely in the company of undocumented immigrants. This includes family members of undocumented immigrants even if the family member has legal status.

The governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, must sign the law before it will become effective.


Supreme Court Decision Requires Immigrants Be Informed of Immigration Consequences to Criminal Convictions

The Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that provides more rights for immigrants convicted of criminal offences. Criminal defense lawyers are now required to advise immigrants of the potential risk of deportation if they plead guilty. The Court noted that news laws requiring mandatory deportation for certain criminal convictions make these warnings even more important. "These changes to our immigration law have dramatically raised the stakes of a noncitizen´s criminal conviction. The importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens accused of crimes has never been more important," stated the Court.

The ruling was issued in the case of Padilla v. Kentucky. Jose Padilla, a legal permanent resident and Vietnam veteran who had been in the U.S. for almost 40 years, pled guilty to three drug counts in 2001. Padilla´s crime was considered an aggravated felony under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and his deportation was mandatory under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IRIRA) enacted in 1996.

Padilla asked his lawyer if agreeing to the guilty plea would trigger any immigration consequences. The lawyer told Padilla that he would not face any immigration consequences because he had been in the U.S. for so long. This was incorrect.

Until this ruling, different courts approached this problem in different ways. Some courts allowed immigrants to appeal a decision only if the lawyer had given incorrect advice. Other courts only allowed an appeal if the advice was "flagrant misadvice" and did not require lawyers to provide any advice at all. Still others offered no protection for lack of advice or incorrect advice. The Supreme Court´s ruling sets a new standard for the accountability of criminal defense lawyers.


Born This Month

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan was born in Ireland on May 16, 1953. His grandparents raised him before he moved to London to be with his mother when he was about 11 years old. After brief interludes in art school and the circus, Brosnan studied for three years at the Drama Centre London.

Shortly after graduating, he appeared in the Tennessee Williams play, "The Red Devil Battery Sign." His performance was acclaimed in London and led to the launch of his career as an actor, which eventually started to include films.

In 1982, Pierce Brosnan started appearing in the television series, "Remington Steele" which ran for five seasons. He appeared as James Bond in four movies from 1995 to 2002. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his 2005 performance in "The Matador."

Brosnan became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004. He decided to become a citizen so that he could vote in the 2004 presidential election. He is a long-time supporter of environmental causes and nuclear disarmament. He has served as the ambassador for UNICEF Ireland since 2001.



H-1B Visas Still Available

As of April 15, USCIS received 13,600 petitions subject to the regular H-1B cap and 5,800 petitions subject to the H-1B Master´s cap. This means that as of April 15, over 51,000 visas are still available under the regular cap and over 14,000 are available under the Master´s cap. USCIS began accepting H-1B cap petitions on April 1.

USCIS Conducts Agency-Wide Policy Review

USCIS is currently conducting an agency-wide policy review to determine areas in which it can implement improvements. As part of the review, USCIS is asking interested parties to complete an online survey available at the USCIS website. This survey asks participants to weigh on areas that should be given priority. The survey will be available through April 29.

Diversity Visa Lottery 2011 - Results Coming Soon!

In May, the Department of State will begin notifying the winners of the 2011 Diversity Visa Lottery. Selected applicants should receive notification via mail between May and July. This notification will include instructions regarding the next steps to be taken. Applicants that were not selected will not receive any notification from the Department of State.