Month: December 2014

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Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone Designated for Temporary Protected Status

Due to the Ebola outbreak that ravaged West Africa, the Department of Homeland Security issued an announcement designating Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”).   TPS may be granted to foreign nationals who are present in the United States when disaster hits their home country or when conditions in their home country prevent safe return.  TPS is granted for temporary conditions such as civil war and/or armed conflict and environmental disasters.

While a foreign national holds TPS, he or she:

  • may not be removed from the United States;
  • may apply for employment authorization; and
  • may be granted travel authorization.

TPS is a temporary grant of lawful immigration status in the United States that does not lead to citizenship, permanent residence, or any other immigration status.  At present, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone nationals who qualify for TPS may be granted an 18 month temporary stay in the United States.  The registration period is from November 21, 2014 until May 20, 2015.

 

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President Obama Announces the Restoration of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba

President Obama announced yesterday that after 54 years diplomatic ties would begin to be rebuilt with Cuba.  This announcement came after more than a year of secret negotiations between the United States and Cuba moderated by Pope Francis.  Both President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have made public announcements welcoming the change in policy.  Through these changes President Obama pledged to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and put an end to an “outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance” US interests.

US-Cuba diplomatic relations have been nonexistent since the 1960s, and trade and travel embargoes have been in existence ever since.  Following this announcement, the United States is planning to open an embassy in Havana within the next few months.

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Dilley, Texas Detention Center Opens

On Monday December 15, 2014 the largest family detention center in the United States was opened 85 miles northeast of Laredo, Texas. The Dilley Detention Facility, also known as the South Texas Family Residential Center, was built to hold up to 2,400 immigrant mothers and children. Detainees will begin to arrive at the Dilley Detention Center in the coming days as the final detainees are transported to Dilley from the Artesia Facility, which will be closed. The Dilley Detention Facility will be managed by the Correction Corporation of America, a private prison company, and will cost taxpayers approximately $296 every day to house each individual detainee.  Many families being detained at the Dilley Detention Facility are fleeing from persecution in their home countries and are in the United States to seek asylum. We extend our gratitude to all the volunteer attorneys in Artesia and Dilley who have donated their time to help the many immigrant families in detention.

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The Omnibus Spending Bill Passes Congress and Goes to President Obama

This weekend the Senate approved a $1.1 trillion bill to prevent a government shutdown and keep the government up and running for another year.  The bill, which passed 56-40 with both bipartisan support and opposition, notably does not fund the Department of Homeland Security.  The move to withhold funding from the Department of Homeland Security is an attempt by Republicans to put pressure on President Obama to withdraw his recently announced Executive Order.  If Congress can’t pass a funding bill by February 27, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security will shut down.

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New Refugee/Parole Program for Children in Guatemala, Honduras & El Salvador

The Department of State announced a new program to help children located in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador reunite with their parents who are lawfully present in the United States.  This in-country refugee/parole program is designed to discourage children who are located in Central America from making the perilous journey to the United States unaccompanied.  As such, parents lawfully present in the United States will be allowed to submit an application requesting that their children be allowed into the United States as refugees or via parole.  Only parents with lawful immigration status may submit an application.

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