Thursday, October 27, 2011

Immigration Questions and Answers

By Atty Byrd
Question:  Hello Attorney Byrd.  Thank you for your weekly column, and your advice to our community.  My cousin was brought here with her parents when she was 3 years old.  She is in college now.  Can she benefit from the new immigration policy that we’ve been reading about?  Thank you Attorney Byrd.  Fernando
Answer:  Hello Fernando.  Thank you for your question. It’s great that your cousin is able to continue her education.  Unfortunately, as your cousin is not in deportation proceedings, and apparently not in imminent danger of being placed in deportation proceedings, there is nothing for your cousin to benefit from at the moment.  There is no official Dream Act at the moment.  I have been asked by some clients if it is to their advantage to turn themselves into ICE.  The general answer is a resounding “No.”  Your cousin, and any other readers contemplating turning themselves into ICE should consult with a competent immigration attorney, and preferably one who focuses on deportation, before they come into contact with ICE.  Stay tuned, however, as ICE’s policies continue to evolve.
Question:  Hi Attorney Byrd.  I and my friends read your column every week, and find it very informative.  I have a question that I hope you can answer.  My sister’s husband died last year, and she filed on her own for a green card as a widow of a U.S. citizen.  She now has a green card interview in Las Vegas in December.  Should she have had two interviews for the petition and the green card, and does she need to show any documents about her marriage since her husband can’t be there?  Thanks Attorney.  God Bless. Jocelyn
Answer:  Hello Jocelyn.  Thank you for your question.  I’m sorry to hear the sad news about your sister’s husband.  Yes, the widow of a U.S. citizen is able to self-petition for a green card by filing Form I-360.  This form is filed at the same time as the green card application, and USCIS will schedule just one interview to make a decision on both forms.  Your sister does have to prove that she and her husband married in good faith.  The interviewing officer will want to see documents proving that they lived as a real married couple, such as a joint lease or mortgage, joint utility bills, joint health, life or auto insurance, and photographs among other things. 
Good News!  Santa Clara County Making it Harder for Immigrants to be Put in Deportation Proceedings
In what has been heralded as the most progressive policy in the nation, Santa Clara County voted last week in a new set of guidelines for civil immigration detainers, which in effect ends the county’s collaboration with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). An official stated that Santa Clara County now has the most progressive policy in this field, and ” the whole nation will be looking at Santa Clara County as it makes it official: we don’t do ICE’s job.” Civil immigration detainers are requests from ICE to the county to detain jailed individuals after the completion of their sentence from a criminal charge in order for them to get picked up for immigration detention and deportation proceedings.
For immigrant advocates and county officials, the new policy -- which will only honor detainer request if, “there is a written agreement with the federal government by which all costs incurred by the County in complying with the ICE detainer will be reimbursed” -- is a way to exert local control in the face of a controversial federal ICE program called Secure Communities. Having been rolled out in 2008, Secure Communities uses fingerprints gathered at jails to notify ICE agents of immigration status of individuals to then initiate detainer requests.
The program has received pushback from counties and states who say Secure Communities violates targeted individuals' constitutional protections, places financial hardships on cash-strapped counties, and jeopardizes public safety by making immigrant communities fearful of law enforcement. In describing the often contentious relationship with ICE regarding Secure Communities, Supervisor Dave Cortese said, “Frankly, there has been a lack of integrity from ICE on these issues. Today, we are sending a message, one county at a time, you need to fix what’s broken before you ask us to enforce bad laws.”
Attorney Beverly Byrd has exclusively practiced U.S. immigration law at Byrd & Associates for over ten years, helping thousands in the Filipino community.  She obtained a law degree and then graduated with a Master’s in International Law from the prestigious Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.  Georgetown Alumni include Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and President Bill Clinton.
Attorney Byrd is also active in the immigrant community, and has served on the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association’s Extended Board for the past several years as a liaison to the DHS San Francisco Asylum Office, DHS Customs and Border Protection, DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and currently as the Continuing Legal Education liaison.
Attorney Byrd currently offers for a limited time a $25 consultation on the phone or in the office.  Please contact her to schedule a consultation via e-mail at, or call toll free 877-987-9906.  You can also see her website at for more information and to read her immigration blog, see her LinkedIn profile and follow her on Twitter.

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