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Philadelphia Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Out of fear, Philly says 'Adios' to Cinco de Mayo festival

This is a nation of diversity. In Philadelphia alone, various cultures are celebrated throughout the year, including the Mexican culture. Cinco de Mayo takes place in a few weeks. The holiday has become a day here and across the country during which not only those of Mexican descent celebrate their heritage, but Americans of all backgrounds get together and honor the culture.

Recognizing Cinco de Mayo usually means attending parades and festivals while enjoying mariachi music and Mexican treats. Philadelphia historically has held a large celebration on the holiday. This year, however, the plans have changed. More specifically, El Carnaval de Puebla en Filadelphia has been cancelled.

Seeking Asylum In The U.S.

As the number of countries impacted by war, gang violence, food and water shortages and oppressive governments continues to increase throughout the world, so too do the number of innocent civilians who are impacted. Faced with the daily threats of persecution, harm, starvation and death; a record number of men, women and children from around the globe are making the difficult decision to flee their homes and countries in hope of finding safety and a better life.

According to The United Nations Refugee Agency, during 2015, a record number of people, 65.3 million, were displaced by war and persecution. This startling number translates into approximately one out of every 113 world citizens and is forcing other more peaceful countries, including the United States, to reexamine their immigration and asylum policies.

Do immigrants want to learn English?

One immigration-related topic of controversy has to do with immigrants' willingness to learn English.

A study published in Social Science Quarterly in 2012 examined immigrants' attitudes about the English language. Respondents from a previous study were asked this question:

"How important is it that citizens be able to speak and understand English?

Facing Deportation? Know Your Rights

While there are many important issues at the forefront during this presidential election, United States immigration policy continues to be one of the most debated and contested of all. As a country founded and built by immigrants continues to struggle with issues related to immigration reform, the futures of millions of immigrants who currently live in the U.S. hang in the balance.

For these individuals and their children, uncertainty has become their daily norm as they live with the constant threat of deportation. The following are five actions that are likely to result in an immigrant facing deportation.

H-1B visa applications

Visas tied to a job are one way in which an immigrant might be able to make his or her way into the United States. Arguably the most popular type currently are H-1B visas. The application for these visas--which are specifically for high skilled foreign workers--are due in early April of each year. The number of such visas available each year is capped at 85,000. Of that number, 20,000 of the visas are specifically for individuals who hold master's degrees.

Reunited Families Act reintroduced

For many people being with their family and loved ones is an important part of life. There are many factors that could keep loved ones apart. Sometimes those factors involved immigration matters. Recently a bill, that could impact who is considered an immediate family member for purposes of family immigration, was reintroduced. The bill was previously introduced in 2013.

Readers may be aware that under the U.S. immigration laws currently in place, individuals who are considered immediate family members include the following of U.S. citizens:

  • Spouses
  • Unmarried children younger than 21 years old
  • Parents who are older than 20 years old

New rule extends stay for STEM OPT students

There are many reasons why people come to the United States from their home country. Education is one of those reasons. Individuals who seek to obtain degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are particularly welcome as some U.S. businesses are looking to employ people from those fields. A new rule could make it easier for some who fit this profile, to remain in the U.S. for a longer period of time, to work.

The rule, which was published last week, and will go into effect on May 10, makes it possible for those who are earning degrees in STEM fields, to remain in the U.S. for three years. During that time they will receive on-the-job training.

Victim of crime unwittingly triggers arrest by ICE

Criminal charges are stressful for most people to face. The consequences for a conviction can be serious and include large fines and possibly even jail time. These situations have even higher stakes for immigrants. This is because in addition to the criminal consequences that others could face, they might also find themselves facing deportation. In some situations an immigrant could unwittingly find this is happening to them.

Detained immigrants have right to legal counsel

When an immigrant is arrested in a raid in the United States, they potentially have a lot to lose. They could be deported to the nation of their birth, forced to leave other family members who are settled in the U.S., behind. Because of this, it is vital they are aware they have the right to legal assistance. In some cases an immigration attorney may be able to find a basis for an immigrant to remain in the country

Do you know what to do if immigration knocks on your door?

For individuals who are living in the United States without proper documentation, the fear of deportation is real. With the raids recently conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in cities throughout the nation, it brings to light an important question. Do you know what to do if immigration knocks on your door?

The best thing you can do is to be prepared. In addition to getting information about your rights and who might be of help at a deportation proceeding, it is also a good idea to make a plan for who will care for those who are dependent upon you for care, such as the elderly or children. If you are taken into custody, it is important to have the numbers of at least two trusted people, memorized so that you can call them.