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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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This week the "gang of eight" senators introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.  At 844 pages, the bill proposes more changes than can be addressed in a blog post.  I think the bill in its current form takes some good steps, but needlessly makes an already complicated system even more complicated. Here is a quick rundown of the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good:

One of the best changes that is proposed is finally allowing a waiver for false claims to U.S. Citizenship.  As I have written previously, this is one of the harshest provisions of immigration laws today.  A person who EVER claimed to be a U.S. Citizen is permanently inadmissible forever and ever with almost no exceptions allowed.  If BSEOIMA (Great Acronym!) becomes law, at least a person with a false claim will have a chance to ask the government to waive the false claim if he can show that keeping him out of the country would cause extreme hardship to himself or his family...
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Happy International Women's Day!  March 8th is celebrated around the world as a day to honor women's contributions to economy and society.  This date actually commemorates strikes by female garment workers in New York in 1857 and 1908, according to this article in today's Christian Science Monitor, and was initially called "International Working Women's Day."  Women around the world will have some time off work to celebrate, and will receive flowers and small gifts from employers and students.  In many nations, the day is also being used for events and demonstrations highlighting the special challenges that women still face, including gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, patriarchal oppression, and unequal pay.  The date is little marked in the United States, perhaps due to our national aversion to publicly condoning anything that's ever been associated with or approved by socialists anywhere. 

Yesterday, however, our President did give the 51% an early Women's Day pres...
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Last week Governor Quinn signed a law that sets up a licensing protocol for Illinois drivers who do not have legal immigrant status.    The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights was a driving force behind this bill, and has created this information sheet describing the features and limitation of the Temporary Visitor Driver's License.

I hope that this begins a trend among our legislative bodies to carefully consider the purpose served by any particular license, benefit, or right and whether that purpose is served by restricting it to persons of certain status.

Far too often in our nation's recent history, lawmakers have responded to shocking tragedies by placing sweeping restrictions on entire classes of people who share some characteristics with the perpetrators of horrific acts.  Thus, the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 begat the "REAL ID Act" of 2005.  Since many of the terrorists who planned an implemented the attacks had been living in the United States, ...
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The immigration laws are truly "writ in water."  Our Constitution makes only the barest mention of immigration, Article I gives Congress the power "To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization" and "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations."  In essence, our Constitution says that who can enter our country and who can become a citizen is entirely up to Congress.

How Congress has chosen to regulate has varied from letting in everyone with no restrictions (1776-1875), to excluding certain nationalities altogether and setting quotas on others (1882-1965), to promulgating a litany of misdeeds which will bar any person from entering for many years or forever (1996-present).

Now, with politicians and pundits both left and right calling for change to a system that is ill-serving thelabor needs of our employers, separating children from their parents, and leaving far too many productive would-be citizens with no path to legal residence, Congress seems poised to re-write the immigration co...

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On this Veteran's Day, I would like to call attention to the many thousands of immigrants who have served in our nation's armed forces. In the most recent decade, non-citizens have made up approximately 4% of the active duty enlisted military.  These men and women serve despite limited opportunities for advancement (non-citizens are ineligible for the officer corps with limited exceptions), and are more likely than the general population to serve out their full term of service.*

Non-citizen soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen/women are rewarded for their service by a faster path to citizenship.  Spouses of U.S. servicemembers also qualify for some special treatment with repsect to citizenship, but many rules and restrictions apply.

For more information on citizenship for servicemembers and their families, visit www.statesidelegal.org

*See: Non Citizens in the Enlisted U.S. Military, Molly F. McIntosh and Seema Sayala, CNA Analysis and Solutions, November, 2011.  Accessed at http:...
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Categories: Citizenship Military

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The decision of whom to allow into our country and on what terms is a matter of national sovereignty, and our Constitution gives the federal government the power to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization," Art. I Sec.8, cl. 4. Thus immigration laws and regulations are set at the federal level by Congress and by the President, not by individual states, cities, or towns.  The Supreme Court just affirmed this in June in the case of Arizona v. United States.

However, the fact that states and cities can't regulate immigration does not mean that they all treat immigrants the same.  Federal law provides that state and local law enforcement can "cooperate with the Attorney General in the identification, apprehension, detention or removal of aliens not lawfully present."  8 U.S.C. Sec. 1357(g)(10)(B).  State and local governments go to great lengths to show themselves to be either the most or the least "cooperative" in the enforcement of immigration laws.  Federal law also bars most imm...
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