Monthly Archives: November 2014

Top Democrats Support Obama on Immigration

Top Democrats in both Houses support President Obama’s plan to take executive action on immigration. Obama is considering an executive order that would protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and grant work permits to many of them.

In a November 17 letter to the President, current Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and five other top Senate Democrats said they will “stand behind [Obama] to support changes to keep families together.”

“Immigrant communities have waited too long for House Republicans to catch up with the American public’s support for comprehensive immigration reform,” the letter to Obama states. “We strongly support your plan to improve as much  of the immigration system as you can within your legal authority, and will stand behind you to support changes to keep families together while continuing to enforce our immigration laws in a way that protects our national security and public safety.”

In a November 13 letter to the President, 117 House Democrats, led by Representatives Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), called on Obama to take “bold and meaningful executive action” on immigration.

Meanwhile, some 59 House Republicans, led by Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon, issued a letter calling on House leaders to “prohibit the use of funds by the administration for the implementation of current or future executive actions that would create additional work permits and green cards outside of the scope prescribed by Congress.”

Senate Democrats are likely to block any bill that contains such language and Congress needs to extend funding by December 11 to keep the federal government running.

Keeping the threat of a government shutdown alive, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “We’re going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path.” He added, “This is the wrong way to govern.”

Unlike President Reagan’s 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, executive action by Obama would not provide sweeping immigration reform. Reagan’s bill granted “amnesty” to nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants who entered the country before 1982. An executive order by Obama would not create a path to citizenship or permanent resident status, but could grant temporary relief to millions of undocumented immigrants.

This article provides general information only. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Photo by: Shubert Ciencia

Watch for changes in the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct

Watch for possible changes in the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, thanks to a petition for proposed amendments by the Minnesota State Bar Association and Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.  The proposed amendments are attached to a Minnesota Supreme Court order inviting public comments until November 18.

Some of the proposed amendments reflect changes in technology, which have transformed the practice of law. They include:

1) Rule 1.0 – Terminology. The word “e-mail” is replaced with the term “electronic communications” in the definition of “writing” or “written.” This accounts for the many ways of communicating by electronic media besides email.  Comment (9) is also amended to clarify that screening procedures must screen a lawyer from electronically stored information, not just physical documents.

2) Rule 1.1 – Competence. Former comment (6) is renumbered (8) and amended to require the lawyer to keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks of relevant technology.

3) Rule 1.4. – Communication. Comment (4) is amended to replace the last sentence, “Client telephone calls should be promptly returned or acknowledged.” with “A lawyer should promptly respond to or acknowledge client communications.” This is to reflect that lawyers not only must return or acknowledge telephone calls, but also email, instant messaging, Skype and other electronic communications from clients.

While these proposed amendments are not earth-shattering, they heighten the professional standards for Minnesota lawyers to meet.

The State Bar Association and Lawyers Board based its petition largely on recommendations by the American Bar Association Commission on Ethics 20/20. The Court has amended the MRPC from time to time for good cause shown.

This article provides general information only. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation.   The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

The author, Dyan Williams, is admitted to the Minnesota state bar and focuses on the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct in her articles.  Check your individual state rules of professional conduct, regulations, ethics opinions and case precedents, instead of relying on this article for specific guidance. 

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Veterans Day honors non-citizens serving in the military

U.S. citizenship is not required to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. In a Veterans Day post titled, Honoring the Contributions of Immigrants Serving in the Military, the White House noted, “Currently, we have more than 30,000 lawful permanent residents who are serving in our Armed Forces.” 101110-N-6477M-070The White House added, “Since 2002, more than 102,000 men and women, including individuals serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, Germany, Japan and elsewhere, have become citizens while wearing the uniform of the U.S. military.”

Once they join the military, non-citizens are eligible to naturalize more quickly than their civilian counterparts. In wartime, any non-citizen who serves honorably during specified periods of conflict may naturalize even if he or she does not yet have a green card.  In peacetime, anyone with a green card and one year of military service may naturalize, even if he or she has not served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.

The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) Program also allows certain non-citizens who are lawfully present in the United States to join the U.S. military and apply immediately for U.S. citizenship without first obtaining lawful permanent residence. The program applies to lawful nonimmigrants with critical skills — physicians, nurses and certain experts in languages with related cultural backgrounds.

In late September, the Department of Defense extended the MAVNI Program to undocumented immigrants (specifically, those who came to the U.S. with their parents before age 16 and are approved under a 2012 Obama policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA). For more information, see the DOD’s Fact Sheet.

This article provides general information only. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Photo by: U.S. Pacific Fleet

Obama pledges immigration fix by executive order

Now that Republicans control the U.S. Senate in the wake of Tuesday’s midterm elections, President Obama promised to use executive orders to implement immigration reform.

In an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Obama said he had waited long enough for Congress to act. “I’m going to do what I can do through executive action,” Obama said. “It’s not going to be everything that needs to get done. And it will take time to put that in place.”

The U.S. government does not have the capacity to deport an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.  This year’s upsurge in apprehension of unaccompanied children from Central America at the Southwestern border put further strain on the immigration system.

Th U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that 68,541  unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Honduras, and other Central American countries have been apprehended this year, compared to 38,759 last year.

Although the numbers have since declined, the crisis sparked growing public concern over illegal immigration and weakened support for legalization of undocumented immigrants, according to some polls.

Immigration reform

 

 

 

“Everybody agrees the immigration system’s broken. And we’ve been talking about it for years now in terms of fixing it,” Obama said.

“I’d prefer and still prefer to see it done through Congress,” Obama added. “But every day that I wait, we’re misallocating resources, we’re deporting people that shouldn’t be deported, we’re not deporting folks that are dangerous and need to be deported.”

For national policy change to occur,  Congress must usually approve a bill before the president signs it into law. An executive order allows the president to bypass the legislative process to meet limited policy objectives.

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in July 2013, but it was not taken up by the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Speaker John Boehner.

In his first press conference since Tuesday’s midterm elections, Boehner said Obama will “poison the well” and “there will be no chance for immigration reform” if he pursues unilateral, executive action.

Executive orders provide only a temporary, short-term fix.  They can also be revoked by Congress, a federal appeals court, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Ultimately, Congress has to decide whether it will pass a bill to deal with permanent immigration reform.

Obama said that if a bill gets passed, “nobody’s going to be happier than me to sign it, because that means it will be permanent rather than temporary.” He noted, “the minute they pass a bill that addresses the problems of immigration reform, I will sign it and it supersedes whatever actions I take.”

Watch the full interview on CBS’ Face the Nation here.

This article provides general information only. Do not consider it as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Each legal case is different and case examples do not constitute a prediction or guarantee of success or failure in any other case. The sharing or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Photo by: SEIU