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The Law Offices of Haitham Ballout

News and Articles

Breaking News: Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced an important new rule, set to take effect on March 4, 2013:

"Under current law, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents must leave the U.S. and obtain an immigrant visa abroad. Individuals who have accrued more than six months of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver to overcome the unlawful presence inadmissibility bar before they can return to the United States after departing to obtain an immigrant visa."

"The [new] rule establishes a process that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before they depart the United States to attend immigrant visa interviews in their countries of origin."

"In order to obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her U.S. citizen spouse or parent. USCIS will publish a new form, Form I-601A, Application for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, for individuals to use when applying for a provisional unlawful presence waiver under the new process."

For More information, please see:

USCIS Press Release
New Rule Text
Immigration Change to Ease Family Separations via NY Times

Immigration Myths Debunked

A CNN Opinion piece challenges popular assumptions about U.S. immigration.

Read More: Dispel the Immigration Myths via CNN

Local California Jails May Cease Holding Immigrants Without Felony Convictions

Talks are underway between California Governor Jerry Brown and leaders in local law enforcement to determine how much local police should cooperate with federal immigration enforcement by participating in Secure Communities. Secure Communities is a program whereby immigration authorities check the residency status of immigrants in county jails using fingerprint data and then decide whether to place an immigration "hold" on those immigrants that are without legal status. Many local law enforcement agents have expressed a frustration that cooperating with this practice takes time and resources away from apprehending real criminals. Laws may soon be amended so that local law enforcement only comply with immigration holds on immigrants with previous felony convictions.

Read More: Local Jails May Limit Immigration Holds to Convicts via KQED News

Advocacy Groups Ask Immigration to Delay Decisions on Same-Sex Visa Cases Until Supreme Court Rules

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases involving same-sex marriage: the constitutionality of Article III of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal marital benefits to same-sex spouses even if their marriage is legally recognized in their particular state of residence; and the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California, which is a voter-approved referendum to the state constitution recognizing marriage as only between a man and a woman. Oral arguments will likely take place in March of 2013 and a decision would likely come down in June of 2013.

If the Court were to strike down Article III of DOMA, there would be no legal basis for denying immigration visas to same-sex couples that are otherwise eligible. Gay rights and immigration advocacy groups, hoping for such an outcome, are asking immigration authorities to delay decisions on same-sex visa cases until the Supreme Court makes a definitive ruling on the matter.

Read More: Delay Sought for Visa Cases That Involve Same-Sex Spouses via NY Times

New York Times Features Immigration Debate

The New York Times "Room for Debate" section features an immigration debate by six thoughtful debaters.

Read More: Understanding Immigration Reform via NY Times

Former President Bush Encourages "Benevolent" Immigration Dialogue

Former President George W. Bush entered the fray to encourage benevolvent immigration reform talks, speaking favorably of immigrants and their benefit to U.S. communities and to the economy. Bush had hoped to pass immigration reform legislation during his presidency but was unable to do so. Bush, who remains popular amongst Republicans in and out of government, is notably softer on immigration than Governor Mitt Romney, who took a hard line on immigration during his recent campaign for the presidency.

Read More:

Former President George W. Bush Calls for "Benevolent Spirit" in Immigration Debate via Dallas Morning News
G.W. Bush Seeks "Benevolent" Immigration Policy via USA Today
Bush Calls for "Benevolent Spirit" in Immigration Debate via CBS News
George W. Bush to Republicans: Embrace Immigration via The Daily Beast

Tighter Border Security Hampers Border Town Commerce

Tighter restrictions on the U.S.-Mexico border have scared away many border town consumers causing many small businesses in these towns to go under.

Read More: Effort to Secure Border Crimps Commerce Along It via NY Times

IRS Changes Rules on Tax ID Numbers

The IRS has changed its rules on obtaining a tax ID number. The changes will take effect for the 2013 tax cycle. Rule changes include that persons must now reapply for tax ID numbers (also known as "ITIN"s) every five years, and that persons applying for ITINs must submit original documents, copies of original documents as certified by the issuing agency, or copies of original documents reviewed by Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAAs). 

Read More: In Effort to Curb Immigration Related Fraud, IRS Changes ITIN Procedures via Forbes

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Offers Nine Principles for Immigration Reform

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus held a press conference yesterday urging fairness in immigration reform, exemplified by nine principles. These principles, including preventing the separation of families and same-sex couples, are meant to guide what many hope will be a productive, bipartisan discussion of immigration reform legislation in Congress.

Read More: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Announces Nine Principles of Immigration Reform via America's Voice

President Obama to Meet With Newly Elected President of Mexico, Immigration Discussion Likely

President Obama will soon sit down with the newly elected President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, to discuss several issues that impact the U.S.-Mexico relationship, including immigration reform. 

Read More: Mexico's New President to Talk Immigration, Drug War, Trade with President Obama via ABC News

Defining Moments in Immigration

Immigration has come a long way since the birth of this country, but how did we get to where we are today? What laws and policies have shaped the current immigration landscape?

Read more: 23 Defining Moments in Immigration Policy History via ABC News

ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Mandatory Immigration Lock-Up

The ACLU has filed a class action lawsuit challenging mandatory immigration detention without bail for those who are not flight risks and have strong arguments for being allowed to stay in the country. Currently, many immigrants are detained and held without bail until their immigration case is concluded, which can take several months to several years. The ACLU argues that too many immigrants who are not dangerous and who will likely be granted permission to remain in the United States are unnecessarily detained and separated from their families.

Read More: ACLU Files Class Action Lawsuit Challening Mandatory Immigration Lock-Up via Huffington Post

ICE Detention Centers Criticized, Calls for Closures

A new series of reports by the nonprofit Detention Watch Network criticize the patterns and practices of immigration detention as well as call on specific ICE dentention centers to be closed.

Read More:

10 Immigration Detention Centers Called Worst in U.S. via ABC News
OC immigration facility called one of 10 worst in nation via LA Times

Surge in Deferred Action Approvals as Efficient Processing of Applications Continues

53,273 undocumented immigrants have received deferred action approval, up from 4,591 last month. A steady stream of applicants coupled with efficient application processing has increased the output of deferred action approvals.

Read More: More Young Illegal Immigrants Apply For, and Receive, Reprieves via NY Times