Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Reconsideration of DACA Applications, Immigration Status in Court, ICE Enforcement in Disaster Zones

– U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to Reconsider Delayed DACA Applications.  When the Trump Administration announced in September that DACA would be ending, and that the final applications would be accepted no later October 5, 2017, many DACA recipients and their attorneys quickly worked to send out renewal applications.  Recently, the New York Times reported that a little over 100 DACA recipients had mailed their applications well in advance of the October 5 deadline, but their applications had arrived after that date and had been rejected by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.  It soon became clear that the delay had been caused by the U.S. Postal Service.  Nevertheless, at the time, USCIS said nothing could be done and the rejection decisions were final.

However, on November 15, USCIS announced via their website that they would allow for those applicants to resubmit their applications, provided they can prove they had mailed the applications in a timely manner prior to the October 5 deadline and that the delay was caused by U.S.P.S.

If you believe you may qualify for refiling of your DACA application, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible about filing a second submission.

– Immigration Status Becomes Inadmissible in Washington State While Justice Department Threatens Seattle’s Sanctuary City Status.  Recently, the Washington Supreme Court adopted a rule that a person’s immigration status is “generally inadmissible” in court.  The rule is designed to help those who may be afraid to bring a civil or criminal case due to their immigration status.  The court’s justices decided that unless lawyers are able to establish a compelling reason to raise the issue of someone’s immigration status, the status of a person is inadmissible, as it may be used to improperly inflame the jury and influence the outcome of a case.  When the rule takes effect in September of 2018, it is believed that Washington will be the first state in the nation to adopt such a rule.

– Bill to Suspend Immigration Enforcement in Disaster Areas.  A bill co-authored by Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) was introduced on November 16 to require federal immigration authorities to suspend their enforcement duties in areas affected by natural disasters.  This move was spurred by the recent Hurricane Harvey disaster in Texas, during which many immigrants were afraid to follow evacuation orders due to the possibility of encountering immigration officers.  Rep. Diaz Barragan said that “[u]ndocumented people and mixed-status families must be able to safely evacuate from disaster areas without fear of deportation.”  Ms. Lofgren added that “[r]eports of immigration enforcement activities in the wake of emergencies not only strikes fear in the immigrant community, but puts lives in jeopardy and makes it harder for first responders to do their job.”

In the event of a natural disaster, the bill would put enforcement restrictions on ICE and CBP, as well as state law enforcement agencies, to ensure the safety of those who need to evacuate disaster areas.  The bill currently has ten Democratic co-sponsors, and Representative Diaz Barragan also indicated that there was initial interest from Republicans in supporting the law.

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