Carlos Batara – Immigration Lawyer header image

Why Permanent Residents Should Become Naturalized Citizens

Mixed Status Immigrant Families With Permanent Resident Parents

What’s the number one cause of the breakup of immigrant families when the immigrant parent is a permanent resident?

Aggravated felonies ?

Failure to naturalize?

When I’ve posed this question at public forums, critics attempt to undermine its importance by suggesting it asks the immigration equivalence of whether the chicken or the egg came first.

Actually, it’s doesn’t.

Rather, their kneejerk response reflects a reckless indifference towards the failure of lawful permanent residents to take actions to ensure family unity. [click to continue…]

Citizenship And Midwives: A Government Witch Hunt?

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A few months ago, two twin brothers in the mid-60s came to my Riverside immigration law office to discuss a letter they had received in the mail a few days before.

They had been scheduled for an appointment at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office to provide proof that they were really born on American soil.

They had been U.S. citizens since their birth over six decades ago.  They had no arrests or convictions.  They had faithfully paid their taxes each year and owned homes.  They were married with adult children.

They now faced possible deportation.

The problem?

They were born in a Texas border town with the assistance of a midwife. [click to continue…]

Citizenship, Immigrants And Voting: Political Triad For Reform

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When I learned about the Obama plan to begin citizenship drives across the nation a few weeks ago, I had mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I wanted to cheer from the top of my lungs.

On the other, I suspected the current effort to push the merits of naturalization was driven by self-serving Democratic Party manipulation. [click to continue…]

Immigration Looney Tunes: The Anchor Babies Myth

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For months, the signs were clear.

A revival of an anchor baby attack was on the way.

Most colleagues scoffed at my warnings. They claimed the battle against xenophobic terminology had been won. The era of using mean-spirited terms, like anchor babies, for political purposes had passed.

I was a town crier, a few said, over-reacting to isolated news events.

Sure, just like the building of new detention cells is unrelated to future arrests and deportations.

Alarmist or not, here’s what I saw. [click to continue…]

Why American Samoans Should Be Granted Birthright Citizenship

I was warned.

About the darkness.

My client’s first master calendar was scheduled for early November. As I walked from my hotel room to the immigration court, it was not only cold, but also pitch black.

It seemed like 9:00 p.m.

It was only 9:00 a.m.

Later that morning, as I sat in the Anchorage immigration court waiting for our case to be called, I noticed about two-thirds of the matters involved Samoans.

In each case the judge inquired about the specific area of their birth. “Samoa or America Samoa?”

Each time the question was asked, the darkness – a legal darkness – seemed to engulf the room.

I was warned. [click to continue…]

The Callous Politics Of Deporting Immigrant Military Veterans

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Immigration reform is not a zero-sum game.

Despite the delirious ranting from those opposed to all forms of immigration reform, fixing our dysfunctional immigration system is possible.

And it’s possible in a manner which benefits U.S. citizens, as well as legal residents.

To resolve our immigration concerns requires at least one consensus: allowing some immigrants to become lawful permanent residents. [click to continue…]

Immigration Policy Based On Fear: The Erosion Of Due Process For Middle Eastern Immigrants

Middle Eastern Students

Her immigration history seemed spotless.

No arrests. No convictions.

A native of Afghanistan, Jawan had lawfully entered the U.S. to study. She met and fell in love with Tony, a naturalized citizen from Egypt, in an economics course.

After their marriage, he filed to immigrate Jawan. She became a legal resident in the early 1980s.

They raised three children, all born in the U.S. All were graduates of top-ranked American universities.

Now, over 25 years later, she decided to apply for U. S. citizenship. Her naturalization process looked like smooth sailing.

Instead, it turned out be a long, drawn-out nightmare.

Her case took over four years to complete. As a citizenship lawyer, I felt foolish when I tried to explain the unexplainable delays.

During this period, I ran into this same problem on naturalization matters more times than I care to admit.

There was a common denominator.

The clients who faced endless delays were either Muslim, Arab, or Middle Eastern immigrants.

Having served as an immigrant defense attorney for over two decades, I suspected the government was once again playing fast and loose with due process protections for immigrants.

I had no concrete proof.

Nonetheless, I made a point of advising clients from certain countries, cultural roots, and religious backgrounds that they would have to be patient because it seemed immigration authorities were taking longer than normal with cases of immigrants from their homeland.

Most were not amused. All had experienced some form of prejudice or discrimination since the incidents of 9/11.

Secret Anti-Muslim, Anti-Arab Immigration Program CARRP Exposed

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As a result of these experiences, I was not surprised when the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area released a 70-page report exposing a covert government program called the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP).

It revealed that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for processing immigrant petitions for permanent residency and citizenship, had been secretly blacklisting a select group of law-abiding applicants.

These individuals were arbitrarily labelled as “national security concerns.”

Once so labelled, their immigration applications were cast into a vacuum where they would languish for years, if not denied for the slimmest of reasons.

Not surprisingly, the national security label was routinely based on nothing more than religious affiliation, national origin, and innocuous associations.

The report, Muslims Need Not Apply, showed that under CARRP, it became extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many law-abiding Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian individuals to become American citizens, or otherwise obtain legal residency or asylum in the United States.

USCIS officers and employees, in short, are required to follow FBI orders in whether to approve, deny, or suspend applications for immigration benefits. Over the years since its implementation, thousands of immigrants, like Jawan, who had lived lawfully in the U.S. for many years, were suddenly suspects in the eyes of our overly-paranoid government.

As I had suspected due to my Riverside law practice experiences, their green card and naturalization applications were excessively delayed, if not denied altogether.

Despite the ACLU report, months later, nothing appears to have improved.

In cases involving U.S. residents with Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian roots, processing delays and evasive government replies continue.

Strangely, despite such obvious infringement on due process, there has been limited coverage in the mainstream media.

As I asked a few years ago, are we, as a nation, so afraid of a Muslim or Middle Eastern bogeyman that we are willing to throw away our commitment to essential constitutional principles?

Immigration Policy Based On Ethnic And Cultural Prejudice Is Not Global Leadership

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The release of the CARRP report, juxtaposed with ongoing immigration reform discussions, shows the extreme uphill battle for immigrants seeking legalization.

On the one hand, Congressional leaders debate whether any immigrants who entered unlawfully should be given a path to earned citizenship.

On the other hand, immigration authorities are engaging in undisclosed efforts to derail naturalization and lawful permanent residence petitions for many who entered lawfully and have remained law-abiding throughout their residency.

In the long run, immigration policy cannot successfully operate from a position of fear.

The degeneration of immigration policy and insecurities of immigration law enforcement agencies must cease if we are to remain a beacon of liberty and freedom for other countries to emulate.

By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics

(Note: An earlier version of this article was was originally posted in Batara On Immigration: Personal, Passionate, And Provocative.)

 

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The Attack On The 14th Amendment And The Myth Of Anchor Babies

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At a recent green card interview, the officer asked my client, “Why did you return home in 1985 and 1988?”

“To give birth to my two children,” she responded.

“I couldn’t afford the health care here.”

The officer gave me a confused, dazed look.

I couldn’t bite my lip.

“Sort of kills the anchor baby rhetorical nonsense, doesn’t it?” [click to continue…]