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Orange County Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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The need for skilled foreign workers is great

A large number of U.S. employers would like to obtain more highly skilled foreign workers, but to do this they must first submit visa applications to a processing center. One such processing center is located in California. Ironically, many of these workers have advanced degrees that were obtained from American universities, and the education these people have received comes to no use for the U.S. if they are not allowed to work here.

The H-1B visa is the primary way for highly skilled workers to enter our workplace, and the demand for H-1B visas appears to be increasing. However, the level of acceptance of applications remains the same as was set back in 1990. The immigration system we now have in place based upon a lottery system ultimately results in about half of the applicants being rejected for these employment-based visas.

Mother of 2-year-old faces deportation due to shoplifting charge

A woman was accused of shoplifting from a Long Beach clothing store. After pleading guilty to the misdemeanor offense, she still was detained at the Lakewood Sheriff's Station and later transferred to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

A number of activists have protested these actions. They state that the woman should have been protected under the California TRUST Act, an act that applies to immigrants who have been arrested for non-violent crimes.

Trust Act credited with reducing immigration holds

It has been reported that fewer immigrants have been arrested by California authorities and turned over the federal government. This is due to a new law called the Trust Act that was designed to hold fewer individuals for deportation. When the law was originally passed in January, however, it was not clear how much of a drop that there would be.

California has reportedly accounted for a third of deportations that have occurred due to actions by the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement Secure Communities program. While reporting has not been completed, reporting that has taken place from Sheriff's departments has so far demonstrated a 44 percent drop in deportations.

Deportation can lead to separation of parents from children

A 10-year-old Los Angeles girl whose father was facing deportation spoke to Pope Francis on March 26 at the Vatican concerning her personal situation. Two days later her father was released from an immigration detention center on $5,000 bond for which he was being held following his arrest and conviction for a DUI.

The girl was part a small group of American children born of immigrant parents that visited the pope. The children raised concerns that their families could be broken up if deportation of a parent occurred. The day after their meeting the pope then met with President Barack Obama.

California-based contractor said to have exploited Thai workers

A California-based labor contractor called Global Horizons has been found to be liable in federal court for discrimination against hundreds of Thai workers.  Workers were said to be subjected to physical abuse.  Workers were reportedly threatened by the point of a gun.  Global Horizons was ruled to have controlled the working conditions, where these individuals lived, what they could eat and where they could travel.

From the perspective of immigration attorneys, it was noteworthy that the workers were threatened with deportation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2011 filed a lawsuit on the behalf of the workers.  It was asserted in the complaint that workers were subjected at six separate farms to inadequate wages, uninhabitable housing and insufficient food.  One of the farms also named in the lawsuit back in November separately settled this matter for $1.2 million.  A trial date of Nov. 18 has been set to determine how much Global Horizons will have to pay.

Immigrants do have various health care options in California

Many immigrants are badly in need of some sort of medical coverage. One young man who broke his arm did not choose to go immediately to the doctor out of concerns that it would be discovered that he and his mother had over stayed their visa. As a result of delay in medical care the physical damage to his arm is now permanent.

Without always being aware of it, many immigrants are qualified for health coverage in California. It's possible that this lack of awareness is due in part to these immigrants never being considered eligible for coverage before.

Immigrants remain skeptical concerning driver's license law

Though immigrant activists have welcomed laws granting driver's licenses in California to undocumented immigrants, many immigrants continue to express concerns that the driver's licenses may be used against them.  "I believe this license process is not secure," said one woman.

While at least one state senator states that this was not a trap, immigrants are understandably wary concerning measures that are taken by the government.  To begin with immigrants may be unwilling to provide the state government with information that is required before having a driver's license granted.  Part of this mistrust may come about because of a record number of deportations occurring throughout the country.  Immigration has also appeared to have stalled in Congress. 

Supreme Court will not revive anti-immigration laws

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided against hearing cases concerning ordinances that federal courts had annulled.  Two municipalities had previously passed the laws in the apparent attempt to deal with what these localities felt were problems popping up due to immigration issues.

One of the localities enacted a regulation that would punish landlords for renting out homes to undocumented immigrants.  It also required that tenants or renters provide identification allowing authorities to verify their immigration status.  An ordinance from a second community would have inflicted penalties upon employers who knowingly hired undocumented immigrants.

Deferred action status and Medi-Cal for immigrants

According to one report, there could be close to 125,000 California immigrants qualifying for Medi-Cal.  While the Affordable Care Act prevents undocumented immigrants from receiving insurance subsidies or enrollment in the Medicaid program, coverage may be allowed under California law for immigrants with "deferred action status."

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program came about in 2012 in an effort to grant immigrant children brought to this country a chance for two-year work periods and possible legal status.  California is only one of a small number of states that allows young people with deferred action status to participate in Medicaid. 

Harm to children that result from parental deportation

Individuals that are deported from the United States due to alleged crimes are not the only ones that suffer. The children of parents deported often end up being separated from their parents because of government actions and may suffer lasting mental trauma.

One immigrant child recalls the shock she endured when her father was arrested in 2011 and taken to a detention center. The father was charged by federal authorities with illegal entry and is serving a five-year prison term. (He will likely be deported when his prison sentence ends.) The child felt she had nowhere to turn due to the fact that she was also an undocumented immigrant.