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Chicago Immigration Law Blog

Supreme Court decision seeks to treat fathers and mothers equally

Many immigrant families first rely on the support of one parent working in the United States for their livelihood. Once that parent obtains citizenship, he or she can sponsor the rest of the family into the country. However, this idea can make for precarious immigration guidelines for children born of unmarried parents with mixed status.

A recent Supreme Court ruling will level the playing field for children born outside the U.S. who were previously treated differently based on the citizenship of their unwed father or mother. Before the ruling, unwed mothers who were naturalized citizens of the United States could pass on citizenship to their children after being in the U.S. for one year. Meanwhile, unwed fathers had to be citizens of the U.S. for 10 years to pass on the same rights to their children.

What is a U visa?

If you are an immigrant living in Illinois, a victim of a crime and looking to apply for what is known as a U visa, you may find that local law enforcement officials are reluctant to assist you. Per the Chicago Sun, U visas, which are visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes, are routinely denied to immigrants throughout Chicago and surrounding areas.

Originally created to encourage undocumented immigrants who may be otherwise afraid to come forward to notify law enforcement if they have information about crimes, U visas were given to 755 residents of Illinois within a recent 12-month period. Unlike other immigrations policies, among them the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, U visas offer immigrants a permanent path to citizenship.

What unique mental health concerns do immigrants face?

If you are an immigrant living in Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the nation and you have experienced an uptick in anxiety, chronic stress and related mental health issues, you are not alone. Many immigrants like you are reporting significant increases in mental health issues and struggles in the wake of the most recent presidential election and the president’s promises to continue to take an aggressive approach to immigration in the nation.

Per Fox2Now, the mental health issues affecting the nation’s immigrants are not limited to adults, although they, too, are affected by the uncertainties associated with their life in the United States. Many of those who came to the country illegally as children are also under considerable emotional duress as a result of their questionable immigration status and near-constant fears of deportation and separation from their family members.

Farm industry expressing concerns about immigration enforcement

The vast majority of farm workers across Illinois, Wisconsin and the United States are foreign-born, and if you are among the more than two-thirds of farm workers who fall into this category, you may have concerns about whether you will be able to continue your employment under the current presidential administration. At Francis Law Center, we have a firm understanding of immigration laws and practices as they relate to employment, and we have helped numerous clients navigate complex employment and visa-related immigration issues.

Last month, per Reuters, a roundtable discussion involving 14 farmers and others with close ties to the industry took place at the White House to address concerns many shared about how immigration enforcement policies would affect their workforces. Many of the concerns involved the H-2A guest worker program, which you may be familiar with if you came to work a short-term job (lasting no longer than 10 months) in the U.S. from another country.

Undocumented immigrants at airports may be subject to questioning

Fears about deportation and calling attention to themselves have many immigrants across Illinois and Wisconsin making changes to their daily routines, and a newly issued warning may lead to even more deviations. Per CBS Chicago,  immigrants at airports are increasingly receiving unwanted attention from customs and border patrol agents, even if they are not actually traveling by plane, and the crackdown has immigrants throughout the region fearful of getting stopped and questioned.

Customs and border patrol officials have considerable power and jurisdiction at airports, and many of them are enhancing their efforts to identify undocumented immigrants under the current presidential administration. Though tactics used by agents at O’Hare and other airports are not necessarily new, some immigration advocates feel customs and border patrol agents are now less hesitant to exercise their powers, given the current nationwide crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

Deportation fears leading immigrants to avoid critical services

As an immigrant living in Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the United States, you may have noticed some widespread changes that have permeated many immigrant communities in the months since the most recent presidential election. If you are like many residents, you may be fearful of going about your day-to-day life as you once did or relying on health and wellness-related services you need due to fears relating to deportation. At Francis Law Center, we understand these common fears, and we have helped many clients navigate through complex immigration issues and concerns.

Per, many immigrants nationwide are now fearful of receiving assistance in the form of Medicaid, food stamps and other health-related services, with many organizations offering these programs reporting sharp drops in enrollment in recent months. Statistics show that you may also be less likely to report on-the-job injuries as an immigrant in modern-day America, with some workers’ compensation attorneys also reporting a drop in the number of clients they are seeing.

How might new immigration guidelines impact computer programmers?

If you are looking to obtain an H-1B visa so that you can work as a computer programmer in Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the United States, you may find that the process of obtaining one is becoming more difficult. Similarly, if you are a company looking to sponsor an H-1B visa applicant or employ an immigrant in a computer programming or technology-related role, be prepared to make a strong argument for why you need to do so.

The Chicago Tribune reports that new guidelines governing the hiring of foreign technology employees recently took effect nationwide, and that they are being implemented in an effort to discourage abuse of the H-1B visa system. As of 2015, about 12 percent of all approved H-1B visa applicants were computer programmers, but the new guidelines should only affect you if you are seeking a lower-paying, or entry level, technology job.

Chicago teachers learning to combat student immigration anxieties

While many immigrant parents across Illinois, Wisconsin and the United States likely refrain from discussing their deportation concerns with their children, many immigrant children are expressing their own fears at school, and it is raising ire among educators. Per the Chicago Sun Times, more than 240 educators within the Chicago Public Schools system have undergone specialized training recently to help them reduce the growing anxiety felt by so many of their students.

Educators who participated in a March “Know Your Rights” workshop learned about a broad range of immigration-related topics, such as how to pursue a path to legal citizenship via channels such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Teachers also learned methods of explaining to students that not having a visa, or not having the correct type of visa, is not necessarily a criminal act.

What might a merit-based immigration system look like?

Many immigrants across Illinois, Wisconsin and the rest of the nation are seeking further clarification following President Donald Trump’s recent hints at plans to move the United States toward a merit-based immigration system. Per, such a system would navigate the country away from its current, family-based immigration system and transition it into one that favors those with particularly strong skills or educational backgrounds.

The current system, in place since 1952, replaced an earlier merit-based system that gave preference to those who scored well on a literacy test. Proponents for transitioning the current system into a more merit-based approach believe the move would sharply reduce the number of immigrants relying on public assistance by ensuring only those with high employability are able to gain entry. Supporters also believe such a transition would position the United States more competitively in the global marketplace and allow the nation to maximize the benefits of immigration while minimizing the drawbacks.

Who is eligible for a green card?

If you are a U.S. citizen and you have family members who want to become residents in the United States, you may be able to petition a green card for them. A green card allows your family member to legally live in the U.S. and work here. They may be able to obtain a green card through an employer too, if they were offered a job in the United States.


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