California Immigration Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in New Immigration Legislation

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California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano representing San Francisco has co-sponsored a bill called “The Trust Act” (AB 1081) The Trust Act is a bill which would allow counties to opt-out from full participation in federal enforcement program called “Secured Communities,” also known as S-Comm.

Currently anyone who is arrested and booked has their fingerprints taken. The “Secure Communities” program allows the prints to not only be checked against FBI criminal history records but also against Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration records. If the fingerprints match DHS records, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”) determines if they should become involved in “enforcement action” – another name for deporting the person.

According to Assemblyman Ammiano’s discussion of the bill on his website, ICE has misled the public about Secure Communities, “whose real focus is more spin than safety. In fact seven in ten Californians deported under S-Comm had committed no crime or were picked up for minor offenses like traffic violations.”

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Yesterday President Obama announced the elimination of the HIV inadmissibility ban at the signing of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. Currently individuals with HIV are inadmissible to the United States. As part of the new legislation, individuals with HIV will be admissible and individuals seeking permanent residence will no longer have to be tested for HIV as part of the medical exam that is given to all new immigrants.

The final rule was published yesterday and goes into effect on January 4, 2010.

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On Memorial Day, I was driving through Salinas and noticed that the farm workers were out in the fields working. They apparently were not given the holiday off. I could not help but wonder what legal status if any those people have in the United States and wondered if any type of immigration remedy would ever be available for them. It appears that a remedy may be on the horizon. On May 14, 2009, Rep. Berman (Democrat, California) introduced the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2414) or AgJOBS. A companion bill (S. 1038) was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Feinstein (Democrat, California).

This bill would give “blue card” status to agricultural workers who have worked in the United States during a 24 month period ending on December 31, 2008. In order to receive the status, an applicant would have to show that he or she: 1) worked for 863 hours or 150 work days; or 2) earned at least $7500 from agricultural employment. An individual receiving “blue card” status would be eligible to travel and to work in the United States.

Individuals with “blue card” status would be eligible to adjust to lawful permanent residents (i.e., receive green cards) upon a showing of continued agricultural employment as specified in the Bill. (There are three alternate methods of meeting the continued agricultural employment requirements.) Derivative family members (spouses and children) would also be eligible for the status.

A prior version of this Bill was introduced in 2007 but had failed. This bill is a very legitimate remedy to give status to those who are in the United States already and who are performing work that is much needed in our economy.