Long Term Benefits of Immigrating to the United States

You can change your life by immigrating to the U.S. It can lead to a better job. It can lead to a better education. It can lead to your children being born here and becoming. There are more long term benefits. This blog guide will highlight them.

Better Jobs

Earning a better jobs is the #1 reason most immigrants come to the U.S., especially from Mexico and other Latin countries. The jobs are simply better. Wages are better. Work life is better. Benefits are better. You have a chance to move up the ladder, often without prejudice against race or gender. Not all countries have these advantages.

Better Education
While the schools in the U.S. have not been the best in the world, the shear number of quality schools from elementary through secondary school gives many long term benefits for families. Some of the best teachers in the world are in the U.S. Compared to most countries, the U.S. has far more quality colleges and universities. There are programs for people from low income families to get support to pay for a college education. There is a reason immigrants come from worldwide to study in U.S. schools.

Better Way of Life

While crime is a problem in the U.S., there are drugs, violence, and gangs, the way of life is still much better than other countries. There has not been a war on U.S. soil in hundreds of years. We live in a democracy, something not all countries have. There are police officers. There are elected politicians. Simply put, you can live a safer and more productive life.

Right to Vote
As noted, the U.S. has a democracy. And because of that, all citizens have the right to vote. If you immigrate here, and become a permanent resident, you do not get the right to vote. But if you stay long enough, follow all laws, and fill out the proper forms, you can become a U.S. citizen. If you are born here, you are automatically a U.S. citizen, so if you have children born here, they will be citizens. If you have a spouse who is a citizen, the process is also faster.

Right to Benefits
Working grants you the right to have benefits. Working makes you pay taxes. Paying taxes means you have the right to certain benefits, namely social security benefits for when you retire. This means a regular monthly stipend and medical help. While you won’t be rich with these benefits, for many hard working immigrants they are a life saver.

Better Life for Children

Your children can have a better life. They can become U.S. citizens. They can grow up with good schools. They can get educated in college. They can help your family transition into the United States. We are a nation of immigrants. If you are curious on how to get this process started, it’s time to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer.

Why did the DREAM die?

The DREAM Act, a bill that would have provided a path to U.S. citizenship for tens of thousands of young people in the United States, died before it reached the floor of the U.S. Senate, leaving supporters wondering what went wrong. As any measure working its way through the halls of Congress, this bill was guided, redirected and stopped by good old fashioned American partisan politics.

“As part of this legislative session there has been no serious movement to do anything that would improve the grievous situation of illegality at our border,” said Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, who led the opposition.  “Leaders in Washington have not only tolerated lawlessness but, in fact, our policies have encouraged it.”  Mr. Sessions added, “This bill is a law that at its fundamental core is a reward for illegal activity.”

Opposition to the bill seemed to be centered around the fact that potential candidates for citizenship – some 65,000 or more high school graduates per year, according to DREAM Act advocacy groups – are undocumented or illegal aliens. The problem with that line of thinking, supporters say, is the youth are not illegal by choice. They are in the United States because they were brought to this country by their parents.

One Republican Senator in favor of the bill, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, released a statement after the failed vote saying she sympathized with their difficult situation.

“I support the goal of the DREAM Act which is to enable children who were brought to the United States by their parents to earn citizenship through service in the armed forces or pursuit of higher education,” she said. “ I do not believe that children are to blame for the decision of their parents to enter or remain in the United States unlawfully. The reality is that many of these children regard America as the only country they ever knew. Some were not even told that they were unlawfully in the United States until it came time for them to apply for college. America should provide these young people with the opportunity to pursue the American dream. They have much to offer America if given the chance.”

President Obama, in his year-end news conference Dec. 22, said the defeat of the DREAM Act was his “biggest regret” of the lame-duck session of Congress.

“It is heartbreaking,” Mr. Obama said, pointing out how these youth don’t even realize they are illegal aliens until they try to enroll in college or sign up for the military.  “That can’t be who we are. To have our kids, classmates of our children, who are suddenly under this shadow of fear through no fault of their own. They didn’t break the law – they were kids,” the president said.

Republican members of Congress stated in interviews this week that they opposed the DREAM Act because it would “open the door” for some 11 million undocumented aliens to gain citizenship. They said the bigger problem to address is the country’s southern border with Mexico, a portal for millions of illegal immigrants.

“It is pointless to talk about any new immigration bills that grant amnesty until we secure the border, since such bills will only encourage more illegal immigration,” Republican Senator Lamar Smith of Texas said in a statement.

Senator Smith and other Republican colleagues said the bill would “reward violators of the country’s immigration laws and encourage new waves of illegal immigration.”  Opposing Senators also said the requirements of the DREAM Act, that candidates attend two years of college or serve at least two years in the military were too easy and that it would allow “lawbreakers to become citizens.”

President Obama said his administration is working hard on border security, and that is something the American people have a right to expect. The president said the fate of the young people should not get lost in the shuffle, though.

“I think it is absolutely appropriate for the American people to expect that we do not have porous borders and anyone can come in here anytime,” Obama said. “But I also think about those kids and I want to do right by them.”

Details of the DREAM Act and immigration law reform will certainly remain fuel for debate until the Congress reconvenes in the new year.

Senate Squashes the DREAM

A block by Republican members of the U.S. Senate as time was running out on the lame duck session of Congress squashed – at least for now – the dreams of tens of thousands of young people of becoming a United States Citizen.

The DREAM Act, or the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which would provide a way for children of undocumented aliens to gain U.S. citizenship after attending four years of college or enlisting for military service, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and went to the Senate for approval.  There, Republicans opposed to the bill used a filibuster, a political technique similar to running out the clock in a football game, to ensure it never came up for a vote before the current session of Congress ended December 17.

The bill was not without supporters in the Senate, however, gaining a vote of 55-41 in favor, but 60 votes were required to block the filibuster and bring it to the floor for a vote.  Senators that approved the bill told media outlets they were encouraged the DREAM Act won a majority, and despite disappointment over the filibuster, were encouraged enough to push the bill in the next session of Congress. They said they would continue to champion the bill, on its own or part of the overall reworking of U.S. immigration law Democrats support.  The Republican Party controls the majority in the House of Representatives, but the Senate Democrats said they believe the parties could come to agreement on the bill.

President Barack Obama, in a statement, called the outcome “incredibly disappointing” and said that he would continue fighting to win approval of the bill.

“It is not only the right thing to do for talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own, it is the right thing for the United States of America,” Mr. Obama said. “Our nation is enriched by their talents and would benefit from the success of their efforts.”

“The DREAM Act is important to our economic competitiveness, military readiness, and law enforcement efforts,” he said, adding, “It is disappointing that common sense did not prevail today but my administration will not give up.”

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois was one of the fiercest supporters of the bill. He urged his colleagues for weeks to enter a “yes” vote.  “I want to make it clear to my colleagues, you won’t get many chances in the United States Senate, in the course of your career, to face clear votes on the issue of justice,” he told the New York Times.

“Thousands of children in America who live in the shadows and dream of greatness,” he said. “They are children who have been raised in this country. They stand in the classrooms and pledge allegiance to our flag. They sing our ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ as our national anthem. They believe in their heart of hearts this is home. This is the only country they have ever known.”

Young Hispanic men and women filled the spectator galleries of the Senate, many of them wearing graduation caps and tassels in a symbol of their support for the bill. They held hands and bowed their heads in silent prayer as the Senate clerk called the roll.  When the bill’s defeat and the filibuster’s victory was announced, many wore a shocked expression.

At a news conference after the vote, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, former superintendent of the Denver school system, said he was thinking about the thousands of students he knew there as he cast his vote in favor of the DREAM Act.

“Please don’t give up,” Mr. Bennet said. “Don’t be disappointed because we couldn’t get our act together.”

Some Immigration Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make

We all make mistakes, but some are bigger than others. In immigration, mistakes are quite common because of how complex immigration law is. No matter how straightforward your green card application is, or how many years you have followed laws in the U.S. and maintained your status, sometimes mistakes happen. They may not even be your fault, but often something does occur which delays the process if not leading to a refusal. This blog guide will go over several common immigration mistakes you need not make.

Not Hiring An Immigration Lawyer
Yes, some try to get a visa, green card, or citizenship without having an immigration lawyer to help. An immigration lawyer saves you time, money, and legal problems. Your lawyer can help you through every step of this process, answering your questions and resolving problems. Perhaps the most important part is simply filling out applications correctly, which can be complicated.

Staying Here Permanently

Overstaying your welcome is another common immigration mistake. It happens all the time. Of the 40 million or so immigrants here, only 10 million are here illegally, and the great majority of these in fact have overstayed their welcome. You might get a green card, which gives you 10 years in the U.S.,  never renew your card, and never apply for citizenship. You are then here illegally and can be deported. Don’t make this mistake, and if you need help in applying, consult with a lawyer.

Breaking the Law
If you break the law, you can also be deported. Sometimes even seemingly minor problems like getting a DUI can lead to deportation. You may not even be able to ever visit the U.S. again and can spend time in jail.

Entering Illegally
Illegal immigration is obviously a major problem for the U.S. There are millions of illegals in the country already and many more come every year. This occurs for various reasons, namely the better way of life the U.S. has than certain countries. However, you can immediately be deported, be denied entry for 5-10 years, and may even spend some time in jail.

Showing Hostility to America

If you show any kind of hate or hostility toward the U.S., you can be barred entry. If you are in the U.S., you can be deported. If you are suspected of being a terrorist, you can be arrested. The point is not to show this kind of attitude to U.S. officials, who will keep out hostiles.

Lying on Applications

When in doubt, consult with your lawyer. We are not saying you should lie, but you need not give away discriminating information if possible. You should avoid lying about anything on your application. If you lie about certain activities, such as being a former drug user or seller, you may run into problems. If you had problems in the past, try to explain them, and are honest, you have a much better chance.

Giving Too Much Information
When you are arrested for a crime in the U.S., you are told you have the right to remain silent. One common mistake immigrants make is simply giving away far too much information. Only answer what is asked; do not volunteer information. If you are questioned, that is another story. But you may be nervous, simply say too much, and run into trouble.

5 Rights Undocumented Immigrants Have

What is an undocumented immigrant? It is someone who is in the U.S. illegally. But by nature, every person in the U.S. has rights. And you always have the chance to earn immigration rights even if you’ve been here illegally. It’s a common problem many have, thinking they cannot do anything legally because they lack documents. In fact, if you are an undocumented immigrant, you have many rights. This guide gives you five.

Right to a Lawyer
You always have the right to a lawyer. Say you are arrested on a charge of drinking and driving. You may wonder what your rights are. You may be scared. The officers may try questioning you without a lawyer. You should say nothing until you have a lawyer. You have the right to remain silent, as should be noted in the arrest, and you have the right to legal representation.

Right to Fair Trial
Simply because you are undocumented does not mean you have no due process. You have a right to a lawyer and a trial. You have a right to question the charges made against you. You have a right to appeal in court. If the trial goes against you, you can take the case to appeals court, which has been done by undocumented immigrants.

Right to Know Charges
You always have the right to know any charges made against you. If the arresting officers are not clear about this, just ask. They are legally bound to tell you why you are being held. Sometimes it’s obvious: you were drinking and driving. But other times, especially if you’re innocent, you may be unaware of what really happened. If a charge is made against you, you get to know the charges, get a lawyer, and get a trial.

Right to Education

Simply because you are an undocumented immigrants does not mean you cannot get an education, nor will your children have this problem. All residents of the U.S. have a right to go to public schools, sometimes even colleges and universities, even without a green card.

Right to a Search Warrant

If an officer wants to search you or your home, he or she needs a search warrant. You cannot be searched simply for looking like an immigrant, because you are of a certain nationality. If this were allowed, officers would have reason to search anything and everything they want. If an officer gets a search warrant, that is due process, and he can search you or your property. Otherwise, you need not allow it.

The subject of illegal immigrants is a controversial topic. Some may wonder what right an immigrant has to be protected by our laws. They keep our society strong and fair. The best thing you can do is get your proper documentation by hiring an immigration lawyer. But if you are ever charged with a  crime and are undocumented, it’s time to consult with an experienced lawyer.

The DREAM of Immigration: A New Path to Citizenship?

The immigration law community is all abuzz over recent developments in an idea first introduced in 2001 that would give certain undocumented young people a pathway to United States citizenship.  The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, would provide a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of people that came to this country when they were children, in exchange for either serving in the military or enrolling into college.

According to the DREAM Act Portal (http://dreamact.info), an advocacy website, over three million students graduate from high school in the U.S. each year, with some 65,000 of them undocumented immigrants. Because they carry the label of “illegal immigrant,” the website says, these young people are unable to pursue the American dream, even though they have lived in America most of their lives.

The DREAM Act was was  re-introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives back in March, and passed last week.  It is written to provide high school graduates of “good moral character” that arrived in the U.S. illegally as minors and have lived in this country for at least five straight years, after enrolling in college for two years or enlisting for at least two years of military service, to get six years of temporary residency.  Within these six years, they must have, as the Act states, “acquired a degree from an institution of higher education in the United States or [have] completed at least 2 years, in good standing, in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the United States,” or have “served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years and, if discharged, [have] received an honorable discharge.”  If they choose to serve in the military, they must sign up for an eight year commitment, and serve in active duty for between two and six years.

Like other bills moving through the Congress, the U.S. Senate had its own version of the DREAM Act, but it was put aside by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, in hopes the House version of the bill would be accepted before the current “lame duck” session of Congress comes to a close December 17.  Reid said he was certain the Senate’s version of the bill would fail, eliminating the possibility of it getting approved. If the Senate approves its version of the bill, which is pretty much identical to the one in the House, it would go to President Obama to be signed into U.S. law.

“The DREAM Act is not a symbolic vote,” Reid and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durban (D-Ill.) said in a statement released last week. “We owe it to the young men and women whose lives will be affected by this bill, and to the country which needs their service in the military and their skills in building our economy, to honestly address this issue. Members on both sides of the aisle need to ask themselves if we can afford to say to these talented young men and women there is no place in America for you.”

Opponents of the DREAM Act include mostly Republican lawmakers and some Democrats that say the bill is too broad and needs to more specifically address how the provisional citizenship would work.  They have stated their fear is others could slip into citizenship alongside the students the DREAM Act was intended to help.  Whatever happens in next few days, DREAM Act supporters say, the futures of hundreds of thousands of people hang in the balance.

We’ll keep a close watch on the proceedings in this blog space, and try to make sense of it all along the way.  Stay tuned.

4 Immigration Law Myths

Myths about immigration law abound. The problem is under a microscope because of the Arizona debates, where immigrant rights are being questioned. Whether you side with those who believe immigrants hurt our economy or those who say they help, we might all agree that there are many myths which seem to take a life of their own. Some of these myths are debatable, but debate is good. Let’s go over some common myths on immigration law.

Immigrants Take Jobs

Immigrants account for about 12 percent of the population, and take about 15 percent of our jobs. However, this number can be confusing. In a recent editorial on the Washington Post by Dorris Meissner, the point is made that many Americans are simply not in the work force, more than at any point in our history. First off, many of us are getting older, approaching retirement age. The numbers of immigrant jobs being taken is not entirely hurting us, though it can seem so in a tough economy. These same immigrants are also spending millions of dollars in the U.S., creating new jobs, and the jobs they take tend to be on the lower end. The amount of money immigrants pour into our economy is important, and these new jobs are helping us. On the other hand, most of the jobs taken are not college level jobs; these are minimum wage and other unskilled positions where 1st and 2nd generation immigrants can create opportunities for themselves. The myth has some basis for truth in that immigrants do take positions, but most are not educated, and most of the money they make is both taxed and goes back into the economy.

Most Immigrants Come Illegally
There are about 30 million immigrants currently in the U.S., and about 20 million of these immigrants actually are citizens or hold green cards. Many who are here illegally actually came legally and overstayed their visas. In other words, most immigrants come legally, stay legally, and follow all laws.

Immigrants Aren’t Integrating

This is another myth with some basis in fact. The problem is that immigrants have rarely integrated entirely in the 1st generation, and many current immigrants are 1st or 2nd generation. It takes time to learn English, to master U.S. laws, and to understand how our job system works. Almost all immigrants eventually integrate and learn how our society works. They learn English. They get educations. They hold skilled jobs. They follow laws. And they pay taxes.

Immigration Lawyers Can’t Help
Immigration lawyers can get a bad name. Well, there are only about 7,500 practicing in the U.S., and there are more who call themselves “immigration consultants,” where much of the myth is based. Immigration consultants hold no legal degree, often break immigration laws, and quite often lie to their clients. Experienced immigration lawyers, on the other hand, can help you get a green card, follow U.S. immigration laws, and become naturalized U.S. citizens.

Taking Advantage of Your Green Card

If you are going to live in the U.S. for a longer period, how can you take advantage of this opportunity? There are many ways. This blog guide explores your options as a new resident of the United States.

You Can Live Here Longer
One definite option you want to take advantage of is the fact you can stay for at least 10 years once you get a green card. You might be able to find a good job in this time. You might start a family. You might get an education. You can also consider becoming a U.S. citizen. And there is no reason you can’t apply for an extension once your green card has run out.

Study At a School
If you get a green card, you are considered a permanent resident of the U.S. Because of this, you are going to pay less tuition at colleges than most foreign nationals. You might save as much as 80% of your tuition costs simply because you have a green card. With your education, you can learn a trade. It’s historically been true that the better the education you get, the better job opportunities you will have. If you have children, you can send them to better colleges and give them opportunities too. The point is that you stand a much better chance with a college education. And because you can save more money and often live on campus, you can have a better college experience.

Get a Better Job
You can try different careers if you get an education, thought it’s not a requirement. You might learn on the job instead. In any case, you stand to get paid much better and have more opportunities for advancement with a green card. If you earn citizenship, you can even land federal jobs where pay is competitive. Though the economy in the U.S. is tough right now, there are still many skilled jobs available, and many pay more than in other countries.

Start a Business
There is no reason you can’t venture out into your own business once you get a green card. You might save up some money after school by working some jobs. You can start your own business; there is no law against it. This can in many ways lead you to the American dream.

Finally, you might decide to retire in the U.S., in a place safe from war and political strife, with a stable economy and many opportunities for retirement packages after working a job. Retirement in the U.S. is very possible with a green card.

The next logical step after a green card is to earn your citizenship. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you gain the most rights, such as voting and being eligible for certain benefits, and never having to reapply for a visa.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen: 10 Minute Civics Lessons (Part 11)

Part of the process of becoming a naturalized United States citizen is demonstrating knowledge of your new country’s history and government. During your interview, you will be asked up to 10 questions from a list of 100, and must get six correct to pass. Applicants 65 years old and up who have been living as a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years follow a “20 for 20” rule: They are only required to study 20 of the 100 civics test questions, with a minimum of six correct required to pass. We’ll mark these with bold type. More information can be found in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services booklet M-638 (revised 12/09), called  “Learn About the United States: Quick Civics Lessons for the Naturalization Test.”

Section B. System of Government (continued)

Q29.  What is the name of the Vice President of the United States?

A.  Joe Biden

Joseph “Joe” Biden is the 47th vice president of the United States, and was elected along with President Barack Obama in 2008.  Mr. Biden was born November 20, 1942 in Pennsylvania.  The Biden family later moved to the state of Delaware, where he grew up to become elected as a U.S. Senator from that state.  Mr. Biden served in the Senate for 36 years, from 1972 until 2008.  Vice President Biden has a special role in the government.  He serves as the president of the United States Senate, and is second in command.  The vice president assumes the role of president if something happens the the holder of that office.  For example, after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, took the oath of office and replaced JFK as president.

Q30.  If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

A.  We answered this test question above.  The next in succession after the president is the vice president.  Because the vice president is so close to the office of president, the offices have the same qualifications. The vice president should have the same level of experience as the president, and should be able to step up in case of national emergency.

Nine times in U.S. history the vice president has become president, including the case of President Kennedy we discussed above.  In 1841, President William Henry Harrison died in office, as did President Zachary Taylor in 1850.  President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and in 1881 President James Garfield was assassinated, only four months after he took office.  President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, succeeded by Vice President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.  President Warren Harding died in office from a heart attack in 1923, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in 1945, suffering a brain hemorrhage while he sat for a portrait painting at the “Little White House” in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Unlike his counterparts that  left the office because of death, President Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1974, in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

Q31.  If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

A.  The Speaker of the (United States) House (of Representatives).

The path of succession to the presidency after the vice president was not made official until the passage of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution in 1967.  Before then, the president pro tempore of the Senate was next in line after the vice president. The president pro tempore (temporary) presides over the senate when the U.S. vice president (president of the senate) is absent.  Later, the U.S. Secretary of State was third in line after the vice president, but in 1947, the Presidential Succession Act restored the duty to a member of congress, which eventually became the Speaker.

Tips to Hire a New York Immigration Lawyer

With hundreds of immigration lawyers in New York and over 7,000 working in the country, you have many options when it comes to hiring an experienced lawyer. The problem is in choosing from so many. How do you differentiate a good New York immigration lawyer from a bad one? Where do you look for a lawyer? How much will it cost? These questions and more will be answered in this blog guide.

Are they an AILA member?
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a good reference point for hiring a New York immigration lawyer. All immigration lawyers should be a part of this association. It keeps them informed on changes in laws. It keeps them connected with the government. And it shows they have a vested interest in immigration law.

How much do they charge?

Oddly enough, you don’t want a low priced lower nor one much higher than everyone else. Most immigration lawyers charge based on a flat rate – where you pay a certain fee for the entire service. Some charge on hourly, but usually you want a flat rate. If a lawyer charges too little, it may show inexperience. If they charge too much, much higher than other lawyers, you may be able to save some money by hiring someone else. In any case, it’s time to find out what you can afford, what the going rate is, and who you can get the most value from.

How much experience do they have?
You want someone who has been practicing immigration law for some time. While being fresh out of law school is not necessarily bad, it does show some inexperience, especially in handling problems. A lawyer needs court room experience and problem solving abilities. This comes over time. You also want a real lawyer, and not someone who defines themselves as a consultant – lacking a legal degree. Most of the time these consultants have no real power if you run into problems, and sometimes even break laws.

What is their specialty?

First off, you should get a lawyer who specializes in immigration law. Second, you want someone with relevant experience for your case. There are many niches within immigration law, including getting a green card and employment based immigration. Therefore, you can find a New York immigration lawyer with experience in your particular need. If you simply want to get a green card, you might prefer a lawyer well versed in these laws rather than employment visa laws.

How big is their caseload?
Some lawyers take on too many cases to handle. Some have paralegals who handle too much of the caseload. You want your lawyer actually spending time on your case, especially if there are problems. If your green card is rejected, you need to reapply, and this takes time. If you are deported, you must appeal. If you want to earn citizenship, this too takes time. If a lawyer has dozens of other cases, he or she may lack the time to truly help.

How well do you communicate with them?
Finally, what kind of personality does your immigration lawyer have? We all get along with certain types more than others. Be sure you can get along well with this lawyer, that you can communicate concerns, and that you can always ask him or her questions.