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Orange County Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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Requirements for immigrants seeking health care

Orange residents may be interested in some of the difficulties that immigrants and others are having with signing up for health care under the new California insurance exchange. Eligibility requires submitting proof of legal residency or citizenship, but there may be issues in delivering this message.

After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, California instituted its implementation of the program, dubbed Covered California. Since this insurance exchange was established, over 1.2 million residents of California have signed up for health care. Generally, the person's citizenship or legal status in the country is checked against a federal database and automatically cleared. When this does not work, they must submit proof of their status in order to be eligible for coverage.

180,000 California immigrants taking advantage of DACA program

California residents who are interested in immigration issues may wish to know some statistics about the implementation of the DREAM Act in California. While many have applied for deferred deportation, there are still many others who are not taking advantage of the program, according to reports.

According to a report from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, 180,000 young people in California have applied for relief from the threat of deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This number is the highest in the nation. However, the Migration Policy Institute says that this number represents only around half of those in California who would be eligible for the program.

What is dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship is basically when an individual is a citizen of two countries simultaneously. Some California residents might hold dual citizenship if they were born in the U.S. to immigrant parents or if they were born in another country to a citizen of that country and a U.S. citizen. Someone who has become a naturalized U.S. citizen can also seek to regain citizenship in his or her country of origin, which will cause the individual to have dual citizenship.

Someone with dual citizenship does have several advantages over someone who is a citizen of a single country, such as the ability to become a resident of either country without excessive legal complications. However, there can be drawbacks as well; someone with dual citizenship might have to pay taxes to two different countries, regardless of where the individual lives. Each country might also have residency requirements.

Non-profits scramble to help reunite families

California residents might be interested in learning about non-profit organizations that are trying to reunite migrant children with their parents. The current situation of large numbers of children from Guatemala, Venezuela and Honduras arriving at the border because they are fleeing poverty and gang violence in their countries has been much in the news lately.

However, some of the children are making the long and dangerous trek simply because their parents have been living in the United States for years, and they miss them and want to be with them. That was the case with a 16-year-old girl who lived with her aging grandparents in Guatemala after her parents left for the U.S. before she turned 2. After the girl arrived, a Miami-based non-profit helped her parents to fill out the 16 pages of paperwork required by the federal government. The teen is now with her farm worker parents and her three younger siblings who were born in the U.S.

Immigrant detained for refusing to comply with health officials

On July 27, a 25-year-old transient worker in California was taken into police custody after he allegedly failed to cooperate with health workers. According to sources, the Mexican native was diagnosed with tuberculosis in March after he went to a hospital in San Joaquin for treatment of a severe cough. Without proper treatment, the illness is known to have fatal consequences to those who contract it.

Reports indicate that the man was instructed by hospital staff to reside in a hotel in Stockton where a health official would later provide him with medication. However, the man allegedly left the hotel room, and once located, authorities charged him with a misdemeanor for not complying with a tuberculosis order. Although a spokesperson with the San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney's Office claimed that this move was made in the public interest, it is unclear how it might affect the transient man's work eligibility.

Immigration reform interlaced with U.S. job market

The immigration issue, as many California residents know, is hotly debated. From the surge in children crossing the border from Central America to the immigration bills being debated in Congress, it is an area that is vastly complex. At the heart of the issue is the use of immigrants to fill both high-tech and low-wage jobs in this country.

Domestic companies are filling low-wage jobs in the U.S. with workers from other countries. Low-paying jobs such as health care aides and domestics use foreign workers to do work American workers generally do not want to do. The W-visas would allow immigrants to work in this country when a high number of vacancies in a job sector arise. Those workers could apply for permanent residency.

Immigration officials ignore Trust Act violation

Reliance upon inaccurate information in a computer database appears to be the cause of a violation by Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies of California's Trust Act. Under the law that went into effect in January, law enforcement agencies in the state cannot hold a person in custody on just a detainer request from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement except under specific circumstances enumerated in the statute.

According to the sheriff's department, Santa Ana police detained a 25-year-old man on an outstanding warrant and held in the local jail. Deputies from the sheriff's department reviewed the man's criminal record and immigration status. The man's record apparently showed a prior conviction for a crime for which the Trust Act authorized holding him for deportation. Although the conviction information subsequently proved to be incorrect, the man had already been turned over to immigration officials to be held under threat of deportation.

Service members granted citizenship at White House ceremony

As many Californians already know, President Obama welcomed 25 service members and their spouses to a White House ceremony where they were sworn in as citizens on July 4. Acknowledging that some of the new citizens joined the armed forces as a duty they welcomed before they were granted the privilege of citizenship, the President said America has always been a country of immigrants tied together by common beliefs. This, he said, is our heritage, and out of diversity comes strength.

All told, in that week 9,000 individuals were granted citizenship nationwide. Some new citizens shared their experiences along the way to becoming citizens. One woman, who immigrated from Egypt in 1981 and joined her husband here, built a life and a family in this country. On July 4, she described her emotions after becoming a citizen by saying she feels free and proud. While in this country on a visa, she had to abide by specific rules when she visited relatives in her native country. Now she was free of such limitations. Yet, she noted with children and grandchildren in the U.S., this is her home.

Immigrants to be sent to California to ease burden elsewhere

It has been reported that 140 illegal immigrants are being shipped from Texas to California before being released to friends and family members or being told to report to an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days to start the deportation process. Many of those who are being flown to a Border Patrol station near San Diego are part of a large number of Central Americans who have crossed the border in recent weeks. The plan is to have about 140 immigrants processed at a Border Patrol station in Murrieta starting on July 1, and the process may be repeated every 72 hours for a number of weeks. According to officials, the reason why immigrants have been sent to California to potentially be released to relatives or friends is because there are too many people to be held in Texas where many have crossed the border at the Rio Grande Valley. The mayor of Murrieta claims that this is spreading community resources too thin and that requiring them to do so is a failure to enforce federal law. The speaker of the House of Representatives has said that there will be no immigration reform bill anytime soon that many had hoped would help solve crises such as this one. President Obama has said that he will move more resources to the border from the interior of the country. Those who reach the United States without documentation may be sent back to their home country soon after arrival. However, it may be possible to petition the government for temporary or permanent residency if an individual knows someone in the country or asks for political asylum. Immigration attorneys may make it easier for anyone in the country illegally to obtain some sort of legal residency status.

Minimum wage hike could affect farmers, immigrant workers' wages

Orange County residents may be interested in details about the new minimum wage law and how it may affect farmers and immigrant workers. With many farm workers already above the minimum wage, the increase may still spell financial trouble for farmers.

In 2013, the California assembly passed a law that mandated a minimum wage of $9 an hour beginning on July 1, 2014. In 2016, the minimum wage will raise again to $10 an hour. One agricultural economics professor says that this minimum wage hike will have an effect on the wage structure of agricultural workers, even on those who are already making above the minimum wage. This is because there is a pre-existing hierarchy for wages, and those with more experience may expect their wages to rise in order to retain that existing structure.