U.S. Immigration News: Next for DACA, Asylum interviews, National Vetting, and more.

Last update: April 29, 2019

No DACA deal

No legislation offering protection for DACA came out of the U.S. Senate. Four votes on four very different proposals took place on February 15th, 2018 and they all fell short of the necessary 60 votes (out of a 100).

What is next for DACA?

Due to a federal court order, USCIS has been again accepting applications for DACA renewals since January 13th, 2018.On January 19th, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice tried to bypass the normal appeal process and asked directly the Supreme Court to overturn the judge’s ruling. On February 26th, 2018 however, the Supreme Court refused to review the court order that  ‘re-opened’ DACA immediately

In the near future, that leaves the future of DACA in the hands of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Because any decision made by the court of appeals will in turn be appealed to the Supreme Court, DACA will eventually be before the Supreme Court. The question is when.

The most likely scenario at this point is that DACA will not be back before the Supreme Court until October 2018 (the Supreme Court has a summer recess and is not hearing cases between late June until early October) and that the DACA program could be opened on its current basis until a ruling of the Supreme Court ruling that would then be expected in early November 2018.

According to Supreme Court expert Lyle Denniston, the Court of Appeals is on an expedited schedule that will have legal written arguments filed by April 10th, 2018, but could try to shorten it even further. Can they shorten it enough that the Supreme Court can take the case before its recess. That is what we will pay close attention to.

Visa Bulletin for March 2018

For the month of March 2018, and for all countries except the Philippines and Mexico:

Asylum Interviews: Last In, First Out

On January 31st, 2018, USCIS issued a new procedure for how asylum interviews will be scheduled. New order: most recent applications first, then all other pending applications, starting with newer filings and working back toward older filings. USCIS stated goal is to prevent ‘frivolous’ applicants from backlogs, as asylum seekers generally obtain work authorization while they wait.

This focus on asylum has been a recurring theme in USCIS Director declarations. “Delays in the timely processing of asylum applications are detrimental to legitimate asylum seekers,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna before Congress. “Lingering backlogs can be exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum system.”

‘National Vetting Enterprise’ announced

The President of the United States announced on February 6th, 2018 that a new entity placed under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “shall coordinate agency vetting efforts to identify individuals who present a threat to national security, border security, homeland security, or public safety”. According to DHS, one of the primary goals of the entity will be to “fuse intelligence and law enforcement data from across the government in one place to detect threats early”

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Tougher Affidavit of Support standard under consideration

We quote extensively from original reporting done by Yeganeh Torbati of Reuters. Under new rules drafted by USCIS, applicants could be considered a “public charge” if they depend on “any government assistance in the form of cash, checks or other forms of money transfers, or instrument and non-cash government assistance in the form of aid, services, or other relief”. Current guidance is specifically directing officers not to consider most non-cash benefits, such as government food assistance programs, Head Start, Children’s health insurance program (CHIP), housing benefits, transit vouchers, … It is expected that any such new rule would have to go through a ‘comment’ period before it would be implemented.

Our thanks to Lauren Coleman on Unsplash for the picture.