It appears that the Republican controlled Congress and the Trump Administration cannot get anything done on the contentious issues of immigration.

Right now, a slight bi-partisan majority in the Senate wants to provide a pathway to citizenship for young people brought to the US illegally as children (the so-called Dreamers) and will provide $25 billion for border security or a border wall.  Because it lacks other measures President Trump views as critical, the Trump Administration lobbied against this bill, resulting in its failure with only 54 of the 60 votes needed to pass.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan will not bring an amendment to a vote unless it will be signed by President Trump.  President Trump has stated he will not sign a bill unless it meets his “4 Pillars” requirement: a path to citizenship for Dreamers, billions to fund a border wall and other border security measures, limitations on legal family-based immigration, and elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery program.  A bill sponsored by Republicans John Cornyn and Chuck Grassley, which mirrors President Trump’s 4 Pillars, was brought to vote and failed 39 to 60.

Continue Reading Immigration Issues on Capitol Hill – Will Anything Get Done?

In another example of increased restriction on the rights of non-U.S. Citizens, on Thursday, April 27, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) published a policy memorandum limiting the privacy rights of immigrants and foreign nationals under the Federal Privacy Act of 1974.  This new guidance was issued to bring DHS policy in line with President Trump’s January 25 executive order.

The Privacy Act was established to govern the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of personally-identifiable information maintained by federal agencies.  The Privacy Act, with specific exceptions, prohibits disclosure of such records without the consent of the individual.  It also provides individuals a means to access and amend their records.

Previous DHS guidance stated that such personally-identifiable information would be treated the same, regardless of citizenship.  However, consistent with the January 25 executive order, the new guidance provides that immigrants and nonimmigrant foreign nationals may not utilize these provisions and may only access their information through a request made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Additionally, they may not request amendments of their records.  Furthermore, in connection with the new guidance, DHS stated that it permits the sharing of such information about immigrants and nonimmigrant foreign nationals from agency records with federal, state and local law enforcement.

In response to the current Administration’s “citizen-centric” policies, we are seeing an increased interest in applications for naturalization by U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents.