The cost of citizenship may go up
Immigrant advocacy groups are decrying an array of proposed federal measures, including application fee increases and online filing requirements, that they fear will sharply reduce the ability of some legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
The midterm elections are extraordinarily important this time around. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which being immigration reform, it is very important that the Democrats win the House this year. The Republican controlled House of Representatives has approached immigration with an eye on enforcement only. The more balanced and thoughtful Senate has proposed a more comprehensive immigration initiative. Should the Democrats end up with a majority of seats in the House it is very likely that they will agree with their colleagues in the Senate that a more comprehensive immigration plan is better for the country. This would probably mean that many undocumented individuals and families would be able to start on the path to permanent residency and then citizenship. The basic hurdles are likely to be time spent in the US, good moral character issues, and security issues. Itâ€™s important that undocumented individuals be prepared to show how long they have been in the United States using whatever means they have necessary. It would be smart to start the process of collecting documentation showing residence and family ties now in anticipation of the Democrats taking the House this fall as there is no telling what sort of application deadlines the Congress will set to take advantage of whatever relief they offer.
Beginning October 30, 2006, local USCIS offices will forward any new filings for Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, for F-1 and M-1 student reinstatement, to the California Service Center or the Vermont Service Center, depending on where the student is engaged in academic or vocational study. More here
Federal Reserve Chairman Bob Bernanke believes that immigration will assist in offsetting the imminent economic problems facing the United States due to the aging workforce. The current rate of immigration is insufficient to completely offset the problem and at least a three-fold increase in immigration is necessary if immigration alone were to be the solution to the problem.
Starting in January, all visitors to the US arriving by air will need a passport to enter. Vistors from countries previously exempt from the requirment, such as Canada, must comply as well.
In January 2008, this requirement will be extend to all land and sea travel as well.
Don’t forget your passport!
Summary: The United States is far less divided on immigration than the current debate would suggest. An overwhelming majority of Americans want a combination of tougher enforcement and earned citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Washington’s challenge is to translate this consensus into sound legislation that will start to repair the nation’s broken immigration system.
Tamar Jacoby is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the editor of Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means to Be American.
The US Government pledged to reduce the backlogs on cases in the USCIS pipeline. Long waits and inconsistent processing times are par for the course when dealing with immigration cases.
This is true for N-400 naturalization applications along with all of the other applications filed with the USCIS. They claim the backlog is being reduced but to do so they are engaging in some Enron-esque calculations.
Though Congress has seen fit to take away jurisdiction (for just about everything) from the courts, they still have the power to compel federal agencies to act.
A petition for a writ of mandamus, is the vehicle through which a person who desperately needs the USCIS or other federal agency to act, and who has no other avenue of making them act, asks the federal district court to compel the action of the government agency.
For example, if a US citizen and their spouse attended the adjustment of status interview but no decision was made on the case at that time. And despite repeated attempts to have the matter wrapped up through inquiries to the USCIS nothing happens.
Personally I’ve heard of cases where the USCIS (who would have been the INS at the time) didn’t make a decision for years and only after they were forced to.
A petition for mandamus is the way to force them to make a decision and is a safe and powerful mechanism where there are no underlying grounds to deny a petition.
However, the only thing a mandamus petition does is compel the USCIS to make a decision and the courts have no power to decide what decision should be made and no power to review the decision after it has been made to determine if a fair decision was rendered.
And that’s the weakness of the petition. The USCIS can make any decision it wants for any reason and the court loses power over the case at that point. Perhaps the USCIS decision can be appealed but in many instances it cannot. So if there are grounds to believe that the petition may fairly be denied this approach may be risky.
Furthermore, the fact that the court loses power over the case when a decision has been made means the decision making process has a great potential to be abused. In most instances, from my experience, it will not be abused and the officials will follow the rules. But I have seen instances where the rules were not followed (or at least standard procedures were not followed) because that would have led to a decision that (in my opinion) the USCIS did not desire.
When thinking about using this powerful tool it is very important to take an honest look at your case and weigh the costs vs. the risks before proceeding.