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© Copyright 2016 Law Office of Mary K. Neal, LLC. This website is attorney advertising material. General information on this website should not be relied on as legal advice for any specific issue. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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The August Visa Bulletin lists the family-preference category of F2A as "current" for all countries.  What this means is that the spouses and children of Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) can receive immigrant visas as soon as their applications are approved.  This is truly a rare event. In recent years, there has more typically been a backlog of two or three years for these visas.  There is no telling just how long this lucky situation will last. If many application are received, the category may "retrogress" again.  For this brief moment, however, a green card holder who marries his hometown sweetheart or has a child overseas need only wait a few short months to be reunited in the United States, rather than years.

The funny thing is, this is how many people who do not need to deal with our immigration system imagine that it always works.  There is a sort of myth that once a person gets a green card, he can just bring the whole clan with him.  The reality is that optio...
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Yesterday was a banner day for the "Marriage Equality" movement in the United States.  In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme court struck down the federal "Defense of Marriage Act," (DOMA) a 1996 law which defined "marriage" as a union between a man and a woman for purposes of federal laws.  

When it was enacted, DOMA really just codified the status quo; no jurisdiction had yet recognized marriage between partners of the same sex. The law was a preemptive strike at a time when the earliest gay marriage cases were under consideration in the Hawaiian courts.  The situation now is vastly different.

Marriage equality, defined as recognizing same-sex marriages in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, has been gaining steam for the past decade.  As recently as ten years ago opponents of same-sex marriage could claim the "will of the people" was against marriage equality, because no state had legislatively granted same-sex marriage rights and many states had passed laws or constitutiona...
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As the full Senate is debating a comprehensive bill reforming federal immigration laws, across the street today the House Committee on the Judiciary was busy with a bill, the SAFE Act, which would have states enforce our immigration laws while the federal government foots the bill.  

As I have written earlier, under current laws and regulations, state and local law enforcement are encouraged to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement through the "Secure Communities" program, but not all police forces choose to do so.  As California Attorney General Kamal Harris stated in an informational bulletin on Secure Communities: "Under principles of federalism, neither Congress nor the federal executive branch can require state officials to carry out federal programs at their own expense."

The SAFE act would deny Homeland Security funding to any state or municipality which does not adequately cooperate with ICE, and also deny such funding to any jurisdiction with a "statute, policy, ...
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Our current immigrations laws are full of harsh provisions which grant no leeway for mercy, and INA Sec. 236(c) (8 U.S.C. Sec. 1226(C)) may be the harshest of all. This provision requires that any alien whom the Department of Homeland Security is trying to deport must be imprisoned for the entire length of the proceedings with no bond, if the alien has a previous conviction for any listed crimes, including simple possession of marijuana or drugs.  As I have written previously,  the Immigration Reform Bill currently under consideration in the Senate would bring some sanity to this detention provision by allowing alternatives to imprisonment such as probation-like monitoring and by giving immigration judges the discretion to issue bond to aliens who do not pose a threat to public safety.

However, in the other wing of the Capitol, the House Appropriations Committee is trying to increase imprisonments.  Buried within budget for the Department of Homeland Security is a provision which inc...
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As the Senate Judiciary Committee works over the new immigration bill this week, we have seen the familiar tug-of-war between factions demanding enforcement and accountability for rule-breakers, and those who would rather wipe the slate clean and give transgressors a chance to stay.  I support rule-of-law, but laws are human creations, which we write, amend and even ignore or forget as suits our circumstances.  When considering whether to adopt, amend, or reject a law, we must ensure that the law does not create greater harm than it seeks to prevent.

We must ask ourselves which would cause greater harm to society: breaking the law, or enforcing it?  For much of our current immigration code, the harm caused by enforcement is far greater than the harm caused by the breech.  Below is one family's story, representative of thousands more.


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I had intended today to write more about immigration in response to the Heritage Foundation's report which has been getting quite a lot of media attention.  However, in reading the report I find that it is really not about immigration at all.  Hence, neither is this blog.

I keep in my office a slim volume entitled "American Legacy: The United States Constitution and other Essential Documents of American Democracy."  I will begin today's blog with a quotation to remind us all of our nation's founding principles.  

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form as to them shall see...
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