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Chicago Immigration Law Blog

Lawsuit filed over withholding of sanctuary city safety grants

Many immigrants across Illinois are voicing their support for the city mayor, who has sued the U.S. Department of Justice in response to its new guidelines and decisions about withholding grant money used by sanctuary cities. Per the Chicago Tribune, the lawsuit questions three specific conditions used to determine whether to issue such grants to certain cities.

To qualify for grant money under the new guidelines, cities must meet three specific conditions, which some say are unlawful and unconstitutional. Under one of those conditions, cities must alert federal officials at least 48 hours ahead of releasing anyone suspected of immigration violations. Another condition dictates that sanctuary cities must grant federal officials complete access to their police stations, and a third condition asserts that sanctuary cities must share information about immigration statuses with federal officials working to enforce deportation laws.

What is the process for obtaining an immigrant visa?

Immigrating to the United States is a big topic right now in Illinois and across the country as reforms are being made. There is a legal process for moving to the country that must be followed to avoid future issues with deportation. If you have family that would like to come to this country, you need to follow the specific procedures outlined by the federal government.

Many people choose to move to the U.S. to be with family. This is so common the government has created a family immigration process, according to the U.S. Department of State. If you have a relative that wants to move here, he or she must first make sure it is allowed under the family visa category. Relatives include siblings, parents, spouses or fiancés and children.

Court rules immigrant children are entitled to court hearings

When federal authorities place immigrant children living in Illinois, Wisconsin and across the United States in detainment, those children have a right to challenge the decision and understand the reasoning behind it. So says the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to NBC Chicago, which recently ruled that immigrant children who do not have parents who reside in the country still have a right to a court hearing.

Currently, immigration advocates believe there are several hundred immigrant children in secure custody, and that denying these children a right to hearing, and therefore leaving the length of the detention up for debate, can have serious psychological effects. The U.S. Department of Justice also noted in 2016 that immigration judges frequently lack the knowledge and education necessary to make determinations about what it is best for an immigrant child. The organization suggested that the job is perhaps better left to those within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Fear keeping immigrant women from reporting domestic abuse

Signs indicate that immigrant women living across Illinois and the United States are more fearful than ever when it comes to reporting that they are victims of domestic abuse, but if you are among them, you may have options. At Francis Law Center, we have helped many clients navigate these and other complex issues relating to immigration, and we may be able to do the same for you.

According to the Chicago Tribune, many women like you are afraid to report acts of violence at the hands of their partners because they either fear deportation for their abusers, or for themselves. Often, the abuser is the father of a victim’s children, and this, too, can complicate matters and make women more afraid to speak out.

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 ThinkProgress.com, 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.

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