Immigration Alert – 5.11.2015

Lots of interesting immigration news this week, including a very harsh decision forimmigrants who mistakenly vote in a U.S. election.

Author Tells Sad Tale of Not Being Able to Get Lawful Permanent Residence

The Huffington Post published an interesting account of what is like living in the U.S. while hoping to obtain a work-based green card.  People ask us all the time whyimmigrants don’t all just get in line and wait their turn for permanent residence.  Unfortunately, there is no line to get in for most people.  Bronwyn Lee described having her family’s entire future depending on some bureaucrat at USCIS.  Ms. Lee’s husband is a super-successful researcher.  Due to the arbitrary nature in which our nation’s immigration agency hands out green cards, there is no certainty that Ms. Lee and her family will be able to stay.  This piece highlights, in a very personal way, how many of our clients feel when waiting on a discretionaryimmigration benefit from USCIS.  In short, it is very painful and frustrating.

USCIS Officer Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison, Asked for Cash & Egg Rolls

A few months back, we told you about the USCIS immigration officer who was accused of asking for bribes of cash and of egg rolls in exchange for favorable decisions on pending immigration cases.  Last week, the officer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.  Officer Mai Nhu Nguyen, an 8 year officer, offered to approve questionable green card applications in exchange for envelopes of cash and/or Vietnamese food, including egg rolls.  The scheme “unrolled” after one immigration applicant notified the FBI of the shakedown.  Federal agents swooped in and arrested Nguyen after the applicant recorded the bribe on tape.

Democrat Hillary Clinton Shifts Position on Immigration

As the process to nominate the 2016 Presidential candidates gets under way, the Democratic frontrunner has shifted her position on immigration and shifted to the left.  Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a harsh stance on immigration for years. Now that she needs the Latino and progressive vote to get the nomination (and the Presidency as well), the Democratic stalwart is singing a different tune.  Last week, Ms. Clinton sat down with student leaders in Nevada and stated that immigration reform must include a path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.  It sounds like a bunch of convenient rhetoric from someone who wants to get back to the White House.  On a related note, Think Progress had a handy chart this week to show each candidate’s position on immigration.

Immigrants Who Vote Can Be Deported, Regardless of Intent

The federal Board of Immigration Appeals recently ruled that an alien who voted in an election was deportable.  Federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in federal, state and local elections.  In fact, it is a crime to even register to vote in such elections if you are not a citizen.  Ms. Margarita del Pilar, a Peruvian national, obtained lawful permanent resident status in 2004 and obtained an Illinois driver’s license the next year.  In obtaining her driver’s license, she also registered to vote.  She later voted.  When she applied for citizenship in 2010, her application was denied and she was placed in deportation proceedings. DHS alleged that Margarita was deportable for having violated federal law by voting.  The lady argued that she had no intent to violate the law and that she had simply been mistaken.  The BIA rejected the argument, finding flatly that the law prohibiting immigrants from voting before becoming citizens had no intent or knowledge requirement.  As such, the order removing the woman back to Peru was upheld.