Recently in Immigration Category

November 19, 2014

Breaking news on Immigration - President Obama will announce Executive Action tomorrow

Breaking News --

President Obama will announce his plan for Executive Action on Immigration in a televised message tomorrow night at 8:00 PM. Tune in tomorrow, November 20th, to see what he has planned.

We at Betts & Associates are ready to represent you in your immigration case. Just call our office in Atlanta at (404) 577-8888 or our office in Rome, GA at (706) 235-7575 to schedule an appointment.

Our immigration attorney is also available to do home visits for appointments in Floyd, Bartow, Gordon, Polk, Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, and DeKalb counties. Call us today!

Noticias Urgentes --

El Presidente Obama anunciará su plan para Acción Ejectiva sobre inmigración mañana a las 8:00 PM. Esté pendiente de las noticias mañana, 20 de noviembre, para enterarse de su plan.

Nosotros en Betts y Asociados estamos listos para representarle en su caso de inmigración. Simplemente llame a nuestra oficina en Atlanta al (404) 577-8888 o nuestra oficina en Rome, GA al (706) 235-7575 para hacer su cita.

Nuestro abogado de inmigración también está disponible para visitarle en su hogar para su cita en los condados de Floyd, Bartow, Gordon, Polk, Fulton, Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett y DeKalb. Llamenos hoy!

October 16, 2012

United States Supreme Court Expected to Make Important Rulings on Immigration, Civil Rights & Affirmative Action

The United States Supreme Court began its 2011-2012 term on October 1 and is expected to make some historic rulings on major laws pertaining to Immigration, Civil Rights, and Affirmative Action over the next few months.

One of those cases will address the Court's interpretation of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As over 26 states have passed strict voter identification laws, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has sued on the grounds that these laws violate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court is now poised to make a judgment on this contentious issue.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires states and voting jurisdictions with a clear history of voter discrimination get federal approval from the DOJ before they can implement any new voting practices or procedures. In other words, the states have a burden to prove that these new practices will not have a discriminatory purpose or effect on voters.

The 26 states that have passed these new voter ID laws claim their primary purpose is to crack down on "voter fraud." However, the DOJ disputes this claim citing that there is no clear evidence of widespread voter fraud but there is very clear evidence that these new voter ID laws could disproportionately curtail voting especially amongst people of color, as well as poorer and elderly citizens.

Indirectly related to the DOJ's challenge to the various voter ID laws is whether or not Arizona's new law requiring a person to show proof of citizenship before they can register to vote conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. That law allows any eligible voter to complete a federal voter registration form which asks whether he or she is a United States citizen. If anyone incorrectly identifies themselves as a US citizen then they will be subject to charges of perjury. Arizona, by implementing its own rules to show proof of citizenship before one can register, is directly challenging this nearly 20 year old federal law.

Another critical Supreme Court case centers around whether or not individual states can base college admission standards on affirmative action. In the case Fisher v. University of Texas former white undergraduate applicant, Abigail Fisher, contends that she was unfairly denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin (UT) because of reverse racial discrimination. UT has argued that Ms. Fisher did not meet the school's normal admission standards and that it is free to admit a varied and diverse student body as a part of its overall academic and societal mission statement, which includes granting preferential treatment to students with specific racial and ethnic backgrounds.

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in the landmark case, Grutter v. Bollinger, that a public college and/or university had the right to consider such matters of racial diversity when establishing its own admission standards. That decision is now at risk of being overruled as the current Supreme Court Justices review this new case.

Finally, in what is sure to be one of the more publicly discussed decisions in recent history, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether or not same sex couples can legally marry and/or be denied the same marital benefits as non-same sex couples. This ruling may decide whether or not the Defense of Marriage of Act (DOMA) of 1996 is constitutional. Yet there are several other outstanding cases the Court can elect to review in order to make a decision on this issue including a lower court ruling that overturned a California statewide ballot initiative, Proposition 8, which denied same-sex couples the right to marry.


October 12, 2012

Georgia Secretary of State's Office Not Equipped to Handle New Law Requiring Proof of Legal Residency to Obtain a Professional License

A Georgia law passed earlier this year requiring all applicants to prove legal residency in order to obtain a professional license has created a major backlog for the Georgia Secretary of State's office, and is delaying the issuance of the licenses to Georgia residents who have done everything correctly.

The professional licensing renewal process that covers over 200 professions (e.g., nurses, hair stylists, plumbers, pharmacists, etc.) and over 475,000 workers used to just take just a few days, but now because of this new proof of legal residency requirement the waiting period can take up to several weeks. And for new applicants the amount of time could stretch out for several months.

This is proving to be a challenge for Georgia workers looking to stay at their job, not to mention large and small business owners alike who want to keep their trained workforce in tact without an interruption in service.

Adding to the slowdown are cuts in state government jobs that have reduced the personnel necessary to take on this extra amount of responsibility. For example, there are not enough state licensing employees to answer the nearly half a million calls the agency has received as a result of these stricter licensing requirements.

The New York Times reported on October 8 that the entire Georgia state licensing division has been reduced to just 87 employees. This is a 30% reduction from 2008, which is four full years before the proof of legal residency requirements went into effect.

The Georgia Secretary of State's office has pledged not reduce any more positions in the state licensing department so instead it has scheduled to close the Georgia State Archives to the public on November 1 and has drastically reduced its staff. As a result, the work of researchers and historians looking to gather information on the state's long and storied history will have to be set aside for now as the state does what it can to implement this new certification requirement for professional employees.

Georgia professional license applicants used to be able to renew their licenses entirely online. However, the new proof of legal residency law requires that state licensing staff personally verify everyone's proof of citizenship or legal residency before a renewal application can be approved. This is happening across the board despite how many times an individual may have renewed their license in previous years.

So far this year more than 8,300 applications have arrived at the Georgia state licensing board without proof of citizenship or legal residency, which has significantly added to the slowdown. Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, has said that he will petition the legislature to amend the law so that proof of citizenship and/or legal residency will only be required for first time applicants. Until then there is no end in sight for what is proving to be a huge logistical nightmare for Georgia's limited state resources.

Other states with similar proof of legal residency laws, such as Alabama, could face even greater problems since their oversight is not run by a central state government office but rather operate independently with legislative approval. It remains to be seen how these independent professional boards and commissions will cope with these new requirements. It is not difficult though to anticipate problems and delays will occur on the same or even greater scale than they already have in Georgia.

October 11, 2012

Georgia Immigration Law Results in More Applications for Citizenship

According to the United States Census Bureau, large numbers of foreign-born Georgia residents are taking the necessary steps to become naturalized United States citizens. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on October 9 this appears to be a direct result of Georgia's new, strict immigration law as the state has seen an increase in over 43,000 naturalized citizens between 2010 and 2011. That is a jump of 13% overall.

This increase in naturalization is logical given the harsh consequences of Georgia's new immigration law and the flexibility local law enforcement officers now have to enforce its terms. For example, local law enforcement officers have the authority to check the immigration status of virtually every suspected non-citizen or legal resident who cannot provide identification upon request. Such inquiries had been handled exclusively by federal immigration authorities in the past, but under Georgia's new law local authorities can now pursue matters of immigration on their own.

Moreover, strict penalties have been proposed to any business owner who does not verify their current workers' and new hires' legal authorization to work. This requirement is burdensome to companies and has reportedly resulted in a diminished labor pool in vital areas of Georgia's economy such as farming and agriculture.

The threat of arrest and trouble finding a job simply for not having all or your necessary paperwork in order is only part of the new law. Suspected non-citizens and/or legal residents can also be denied basic public benefits such as health care, education, and food assistance unless they can prove their status upon request.

Given all of these new requirements it comes as no surprise that more and more eligible people are looking to become naturalized citizens. Any foreign citizen or national can become a naturalized US citizen as long as he or she is able to meet the necessary requirements set by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This process is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

If you are a Georgia resident and think you are eligible to become a naturalized citizen then it would be advisable to seek legal counsel from a local attorney who specializes in immigration law in order to get the most up to date information on how best to proceed.

October 2, 2012

Mitt Romney Vows to Honor Deferred Action Applicants

Many young people in Georgia and elsewhere who qualify for deferred action under Barak Obama's executive order had shied away from applying. Not because they were afraid of being turned down, but because of fear that a President Mitt Romney would use the information to deport them.

However, speaking to a Denver Post reporter on Sunday, September 30,, Mr. Romney stated "The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," Romney said. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."

This is great news for the millions of undocumented residents in America. This should allow individuals to move forward with the procedure. Betts and Associates can help Georgia residents in the following ways if you wish to apply. For $250, Betts and Associates will advise you on how to gather the necessary documents and proof, fill out the paperwork, update you on your status, and represent you at one administrative hearing or meeting if such a meeting is ever required in your case. There may be additional filing costs that will be the responsibility of the client. More information on those fees will be known once the federal government creates the documents. Also, it will be the client's responsibility to acquire and pay for any official documents. If the client wishes help in acquiring documents, Betts and Associates will charge an additional fee. Out of State clients can also be assisted. Read more about that here.

September 17, 2012

Arizona Judge Upholds "show-your-papers" measure in mixed ruling

Reuters) - On Wednesday a U.S. judge ruled that a controversial Arizona "show-your-papers" immigration provision that has been upheld by the Supreme Court may go into effect, but in a split ruling blocked another measure making it a crime to harbor illegal immigrants.

The measure that was upheld, part of a broader law to combat illegal immigration in the state bordering Mexico, home to an estimated 360,000 undocumented immigrants, requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop and suspect are in the country illegally.

In allowing that measure to proceed, District Court Judge Susan Bolton ruled the law's challengers had failed to show they were likely to prevail on the merits of the case, but noted that the top court had left open the possibility of contesting the provision "after it goes into effect."

In a mixed ruling, Bolton also issued a preliminary injunction blocking a part of the state law, known as SB 1070, that made it a crime to transport, shield or harbor an illegal immigrant within Arizona's borders.

Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer, a major White House foe in the battle over illegal immigration, signed the state crackdown on illegal immigrants into law in April 2010, complaining that the federal government had failed to secure the state's border with Mexico.

Brewer welcomed the ruling, which she said brought Arizona "one big step closer to implementing the core provision of SB 1070."

"With this provision, Arizona makes a clear statement that it will not tolerate sanctuary city policies, and will now have thousands of additional officers to collaborate with the federal government as state and local law enforcement do what they always have: enforce the law," she said in a statement.

OPPONENTS TO DOCUMENT RACIAL PROFILING

The administration of President Barack Obama challenged Arizona's tough immigration law in court two years ago, saying the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government sole authority over immigration policy.

Opponents of the law also decried it as a mandate for the racial profiling of Hispanics, who make up nearly a third of Arizona's population of 6.5 million people.

Alessandra Soler, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to block the provision, said the group would focus on documenting and litigating any instances of racial profiling once the provision is implemented.

"The ACLU of Arizona will act on the court's message and document racial profiling abuses throughout the state as the first step to guaranteeing equal treatment under the law," Soler said in a statement.

"Once this 'show-me-your-papers' provision goes into effect, racial profiling will become rampant statewide ... We intend to ramp up our reporting and litigation efforts to seek justice on behalf of the victims of police abuse," she added.

The June Supreme Court ruling on upholding the controversial measure also struck down three other provisions of the law including one requiring immigrants to carry immigration papers at all times, another banning illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places and one allowing police arrests of immigrants without warrants under some circumstances.

The provision that was upheld still cannot be implemented until Bolton formally removes a block she placed on the law two years ago. That is expected to take at least 10 calendar days.

The Supreme Court ruling was referred back to Bolton, who originally enjoined sections of the law before it took effect in July 2010.

September 15, 2012

Deferred Action: Too Much Is Riding on It to Go It Alone in Georgia

The first 29 Deferred Action applications have been approved by the federal government, according this report in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

The article also says that over 82,000 people have already applied for this new immigration status. It profiles one such eligible man, named Lionel Jimenez, who is only 19. According to the report, after getting the help of an attorney, "He planned to go home and type up his application again, draft a table of contents for it and turn the whole thing into something like a book. He wants it perfect. Too much is riding on it."

Betts and Associates agrees with Mr. Jimenez. Too much is riding on Deferred Action for thousands of residents in Georgia to do fill out the application alone. Betts and Associates is committing to helping you create as perfect an application as possible when you file for Deferred Action.

Georgia Residents:

For $250, Betts and Associates will advise you on how to gather the necessary documents and proof, fill out the paperwork, update you on your status, and represent you at one administrative hearing or meeting if such a meeting is ever required in your case. Meetings can me scheduled in the firm's Rome or Atlanta office.

There may be additional filing costs that will be the responsibility of the client. More information on those fees will be known once the federal government creates the documents. Also, it will be the client's responsibility to acquire and pay for any official documents. If the client wishes help in acquiring documents, Betts and Associates will charge an additional fee.

Out-of-State Clients:

For $250, Betts and Associates will advise you on how to gather the necessary documents and proof, fill out the paperwork, update you on your status, and help you to find an attorney if you were to need in-person representation in your case.

There may be additional filing costs that will be the responsibility of the client. More information on those fees will be known once the federal government creates the documents. Also, it will be the client's responsibility to acquire and pay for any official documents. If the client wishes help in acquiring documents, Betts and Associates will charge an additional fee.

If you would like to hire Betts and Associates to handle your case, please call 404-577-8888, email sherellemckinley@bettslaw.net or submit a short form on this website. For quickest attention put "Immigration" in the subject heading. We look forward to working with you.

September 6, 2012

Undocumented Students Barred from Public University in Georgia, But for How Long?

President Obama's new Deferred Action for undocumented or illegal immigrant children is now in effect. On August immigration offices began accepting applications for the new procedure. But, there are many questions that are still up in the air. One that presses on many young adults is "What will this mean for applicants to the University of Georgia?"

In October 2010, the State Board of Regents voted to ban illegal immigrants from attending the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Medical College of Georgia and Georgia College.This was before the Obama Administration created the Deferred Action Program. Now, with this new pathway to residency, it is an open question as to whether those who qualify for deferred action can apply for and be admitted to one of those five institutions.

According to Georgia Public Broadcasting News, in the eyes of Georgia's Regents Board, deferred action will not change a student's status from illegal to legal. They report that, "University System of Georgia officials say President Obama's immigration order in June doesn't change anything for undocumented students now barred from the state's top colleges...Board of Regents spokesman John Millsaps says the university ban follows state law. And he says Obama's order doesn't change state law. 'The decision of the administration does not change lawful status in Georgia," he said in an interview. "You know, whatever the state law is that affects us, then we have to make sure our policies are in compliance with it.'"

But, there are many who say that what Obama did was actual transform those students from "illegal" to "legal." According to same article, "the ACLU's Azadeh Shahshahani says the Board of Regents needs to reassess how it treats these students, regardless of the ban.'Individuals granted deferred action should be able to attend all colleges and universities -- even the top five -- because they are granted deferred action, and because deferred action per federal law is considered lawfully present,'she said."

There has been no case test on whether the ban applies to this newly created status. To counteract the ban, in 2011 four professors at the University of Georgia created something they call "Freedom University." They state their mission as "Freedom University is a volunteer-driven organization that provides rigorous, college-level instruction to all academically qualified students regardless of their immigration status. Our faculty are fully committed to providing our students with college courses equivalent to those taught at the state's most selective universities. We believe that all Georgians have an equal right to a quality education. Separate and unequal access to higher education contravenes this country's most cherished principles of equality and justice for all."

But Freedom University cannot confer degrees and is no solution to the real problem of access and disparate treatment to the Georgia University System. Thankfully the ban does not apply to all Georgia colleges and universities. However, undocumented students must pay out of state tuition, even if they graduated from the Georgia high school.

If you are interested in applying for deferred action and wish the help of a lawyer, you can read about what Betts and Associates would do for you here.

August 26, 2012

Today Betts & Associates Opens The Rome Georgia Office

We are proud to announce that today will be day one of our new office in Rome Georgia. The address is 1900 Turner McCall Blvd SW Rome, GA 30161-3329. You can contact us at (706) 235-7575. Our new office manager Ms. Izzy Reyes will be glad to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney over the phone or in person. Ms. Reyes is bilingual and is fully capable of handling initial correspondence in both English and Spanish. Please feel free to fax us your information using fax #: (706) 235-7590. The hours of operation for the Rome location will be Monday through Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.. We look forward to making your acquaintance and as always "Justice Matters".
August 25, 2012

Illegal Immigrants with Deferred Action Can Get a Georgia Driver's License

Not having a valid driver's license is a significant obstacle for many undocumented workers. The driver's license is an important way to get to jobs or school, but also much needed form of identification. Until a few years ago, getting a driver's license was possible for all Georgia residents who could pass the written and road tests. But a national crackdown lead by anti-immigration forces, change that. Now, when applying for a license, you must present your full social security number, and proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the United States, which is not possible for those who were brought to this country as children and who are currently lacking lawful status. For those immigrants who obtain work permits under the deferred action plan created by President Obama, getting a Georgia driver's license has become possible.

This week Attorney General Sam Olens wrote a letter to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The Associated Press reports that AG Olens, a Republican said in the letter, "While I do not agree with the actions of the President in issuing the directive, it has been implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), and state law recognizes the approval of deferred action status as a basis for issuing a temporary driver's license." According to the article, this letter came after "a Georgia Department of Driver Services spokeswoman said last week that Georgia law considers those with deferred action status eligible for driver's licenses and added that the agency would issue them unless it got other instructions."

Although it might seem like this would be a universal decision, in many states governors are taking the opposite action and expressly barring their Departments of Motor Vehicles from issuing license. Not surprisingly, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is refusing to grant licenses. Following her lead are Nebraska and Texas. Though it is not completely clear if Governor Deal will follow the recommendation of his AG and the Georgia DDS, by seeking their guidance it suggests that he is interested in following their recommendations, particularly because to do otherwise would be at odds with his own party's Attorney General.

In order to obtain a driver's license in Georgia, a person will have to first apply and qualify for deferred action. Information on apply for these programs and how Betts and Associates might be able to help you can be found here and here. Once you have your work permit, you would then be eligible to apply.

Like any new driver, deferred action participants would first need to get a permit. and then after the required wait time, could apply for a license.

Drive safe and good luck!

August 16, 2012

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Where to Go and What to Do in Georgia

Yesterday the Office of Immigration began accepting applications for deportation reprieves in the case of persons who were brought as children to the United States illegally. According to the official immigration site, you may qualify for deferred action for childhood arrivals if:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The New York Times reports that "the initiative allows deportations to be deferred for up to two years for as many as 1.7 million people and grants work permits to illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. The work permits will allow them to obtain a Social Security number, apply for driver's licenses and receive financial aid at colleges."

To review the government forms you would need to fill out when applying for this program and see a video about the progress, click here.

You can also call to speak to a customer service representative: 1-800-375-5283.

There is a field office in Georgia. The federal immigration office is located in Atlanta. The USCIS office that serves all of Georgia is: The Atlanta Field Office, 2150 Parklake Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30345. In order to make an appointment you must go through INFOPASS.

This new deferred action could be life-changing for many people living illegally in America. If you happen to be one of those people, you may also wish the assistance of a lawyer when applying. You can review the assistance that Betts Law and Associates would offer, here.

Good luck in your application. And remember that Betts Law and Associates is willing to help Georgia residents in this progress in any ways we can.