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Ana M. Mencini, Chicago immigration attorney, discrimination, documented rights, expedited removal, undocumented, undocumented immigrantsThere is a common misconception that if someone is in the United States without proper documentation, they have no rights whatsoever in a court of law or in any area of public life. However, this is simply not the case. Undocumented immigrants have certain rights, which are enshrined in our jurisprudence, including the right to bring suit and the right to be protected from discrimination.

Rights Given by Case Law

As far back as 1886, the Supreme Court was clarifying the law with regard to undocumented immigrants. The case of Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886), dealt with a law requiring laundries to be operated in buildings that were not made of wood. On its face, this law was racially neutral; however, in practice, almost two-thirds of the city’s laundries were operated in wooden buildings, and of those, most were owned by Chinese immigrants. After a period of discrimination against the Chinese owners, culminating in a lawsuit, the Supreme Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection rules did apply to the undocumented.

Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights were also held to apply to the undocumented in a similar fashion; Wong Wing v. U.S., 163 U.S. 228 (1896) dealt with a young Chinese immigrant imprisoned under the Chinese Exclusion Act (an attempt at establishing a quota for how many Chinese immigrants could enter the country). He was arrested and held without trial, then sentenced to hard labor. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which found that while Congress may deport someone without a trial, being put to hard labor and/or imprisoned without trial was a violation of human rights.

Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982), granted undocumented children the right to a free public education. It stated simply that the undocumented are still people “in any ordinary sense of the term,” and as such, the Fourteenth Amendment applied to them.

Rights Given by Statute

The Immigration & Nationality Act grants immigrants, documented or undocumented, the right to defend themselves against removal if they have been picked up while living in the United States. If you are apprehended at the border, this is not the case; Customs & Border Protection may use a process known as expedited removal to simply put you back over the border.

Also, while undocumented immigrants do not have the right to work in the U.S., many do find jobs, and often at low wages. They are often exploited in these positions, but they do have rights. In some states, the undocumented are entitled to workers’ compensation if they are hurt on the job, and if they have paid into it with their paycheck. The Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1983 also prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, or on-the-job treatment on basis of status. Employees may be asked their status, but they may not be singled out because of their status or nationality.

An Immigration Attorney Can Help You

If you are encountering resistance or threats from an employer or another agency, it is important to know your rights. The experienced Chicago immigration attorneys at Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. are well versed in immigrant issues and can help you get what you are owed. Contact us at our Itasca offices today to discuss your options.

apply for asylum, asylum claims, asylum ramifications, Chicago immigration attorneys, country of particular concern, immigration status, refugee statusEach year, the U.S. State Department takes stock of the state of affairs around the world, in countries both allied and hostile. If there is a particularly problematic situation in a foreign country, the Secretary of State (currently John Kerry) can designate that country as one of ‘particular concern.’ This can have an effect on the immigration status of people from those countries—especially in asylum claims. An awareness of the positives and negatives of this designation is important.

Criteria for CPC Designation The Department of State has been making Country of Particular Concern (CPC) designations since the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) in 1998. The designation is designed to call attention to a country’s poor human rights record, especially in matters of religion.The criteria the Secretary of State uses to determine a country’s CPC status are the widespread use of:
  • Torture or other ‘inhuman’ or degrading punishments;
  • Detention or house arrest for long periods without charges being brought;
  • Causing people to ‘disappear’ through secret detention or acts of violence; and
  • Other denials of freedom, including the rights of life, liberty and security.
The current list of Tier 1 CPCs are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The list of CPCs at the website of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is longer, but USCIRF merely makes recommendations to the State Department; the State Department does not have to designate the entirety of USCIRF’s list as CPCs. There have been repeated calls in the past to also add Vietnam, but such calls have not yet been successful. Asylum Ramifications If your home country is designated a CPC, this may assist you in succeeding when applying for asylum or refugee status. In order to successfully apply for asylum or refugee status in the U.S., you must fit the definition of a refugee promulgated by the 1951 Geneva Convention. The relevant part of the definition is as follows, as amended by the later 1967 Protocol: A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country. If your country is on the CPC list and you fear being persecuted because of your religion—or have been persecuted in the past—it is a piece of persuasive evidence that there are indeed widespread religious freedom violations in your homeland. It is not probative—that is, that fact alone will not win you asylum. However, it will help to prove that your story is true and that your fears are well-founded. For example, given the currently pervasive harassment of Uyghur Muslims in western China, a person who could prove his or her membership in that minority religious group might have a slightly better chance at achieving asylum due to China’s CPC status. Contact An Immigration Attorney Regardless of whether you are from a CPC, Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. can help with your asylum claim. Please do not hesitate to contact us at our Itasca, IL offices today for a consultation. Our Chicago immigration attorneys are more than happy to help.

immigration updates, Chicago immigration law firmIt is important to seek the counsel of a legal authority, if possible, when going through the detention process. Without legal guidance, a person may be subject to illegal behavior and activities and may act in a manner that will preclude that individual from eventual relief during removal proceedings. A lawyer can counsel detained individuals throughout the entire ordeal.

Recent news from Fox News Latino demonstrates changes in relation to detaining suspects thought to not have the proper documentation to reside in the United States. The article discusses the decision of officials at 22 Iowa county jails. The officials have stopped accepting requests from federal immigration authorities to detain people in prison without a court order. According to the article, it has been a usual tactic for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to request that county sheriffs hold people who arrived for state or local infractions if the individual does not have proper immigration documentation.

The sheriffs have complied with the detention requests even though there were no charges filed against the individual or no court order from a judge. Researchers from Syracuse University showed that Iowa prisons have detained almost 3,000 people on ICE detainers in 2012 and 2013. Furthermore, 63 percent of the people held under these detainers had no criminal history.

Recent Judicial Decisions

The reason why county officials are less reluctant to comply with ICE requests is because of recent judicial decisions. In March 2014, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared that ICE cannot force local authorities to hold people without warrants. The following month a federal judge in Oregon ruled that a woman could sue for a violation of her constitutional rights because they could have decided not to detain her.

Driving for the Undocumented

The events in Iowa are important because they demonstrate the necessity of staying informed regarding immigration policy and matters. For example, in the state of Illinois, recent legislation has dictated that undocumented immigrants are able to apply for driver’s license. The program is officially known as the temporary visitor driver’s license. The licenses are valid for three years but may only be used for purposes of driving. The licenses do not provide any type of immigration benefits and cannot be used for documentation purpose.

This means that people with these driver’s licenses are not able to utilize them for matters such as purchasing a firearm, voting, or boarding a flight. In order to qualify, an applicant must demonstrate proof that they resided in Illinois for one year and are ineligible for a Social Security card. Applicants may use the following types of documents as proof: copy of lease, utility bills, passport, or consular identification card.

If you have questions or concerns regarding matters of immigration in Illinois, contact Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. Our Illinois immigration attorneys can discuss your case with you and advise you on the best course of action.

Posted on in Deportation

orders of deportation, Chicago immigration lawyerIf you or a loved one is in removal proceedings, you should have an attorney assist you with the matter. An attorney will be able to provide you with updated information regarding the process and possible relief available.  As the story below illustrates, there are at times communication problems with various agencies in the government, and a skilled legal professional can help overcome any obstacles along the way.

Problems within the Federal Immigration System

A recent post from CBS News highlights the dysfunction that seems to sometimes apply within the federal immigration system. According to a government oversight report, government officials decided to release more than 2,000 people in 2013 for budgetary reasons and did not tell the plan to the Secretary of Homeland Security. According to the 41-page report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, this lack of communication resulted in the Obama Administration’s incorrect denial for several weeks that the government had released more than 2,000 immigrants facing deportation. The budget cuts would also cause the government to eventually release 3,000 more immigrants confronting deportation.

The budget cuts were related to the sequestration that the federal government had to deal with last year. The report also declared that officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not plan adequately for the rise of arrests of immigrants at the Mexican border, and that they did not track the funds available or the spending accurately. The inspector general also stated that senior ICE officials did not inform the Secretary of Homeland Security or the White House about how the budget shortcomings would affect the organization. The inspector general has proffered recommendations so that there are no future problems related to reliable and transparent funding for ICE.

What to Do When There is an Order of Deportation

A fundamental point that this article should illustrate is the confusion that can occur when immigrants are facing the process of deportation. Normally, if the United States does not believe that you are able to reside in the country, the government will issue a notice to appear, which initiates removal proceedings.  If a foreign national fails to prevail on the relief sought, an order of removal will be entered. An order of removal can be issued for a variety of reasons, such as not having proper documentation to reside in the country, an expiration of a green card, or having committed a crime in the United States. However, if you are issued an order of removal, you still have the ability to file an appeal. Appeals are very time sensitive so your first act should be to contact an attorney so that you can consider any possibilities to help you continue to reside in the United States.

Speak to a Qualified Attorney for Help

If you are in the state of Illinois and have any questions or concerns about order of deportations or the immigration process in general, contact Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. Our Chicago, Illinois immigration attorneys can examine your case and take immediate action to keep you within the country.

Posted on in Chicago Immigration Attorney

citizenship, DACA, Chicago immigration attorneyThe beliefs of U.S. Representative Bill Foster, a democrat in the 11th Congressional District of Illinois, are the main focus of a new piece in Progress Illinois. While President Obama is currently pondering whether he will resort to executive action once again regarding immigration issues, Rep. Foster has stated that the Department of Defense should allow the so-called DREAMers to serve in the U.S. military. The world of immigration law is rapidly changing, and it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to answer any of the questions you may have.

DACA Program

Representative Foster is referring to the federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA grants a two-year protection from deportation. The goal of the program is to protect immigrants who came to the United States at a young age and, as such, may not have a strong attachment to the country in which they were born. While the DACA program allows immigrants to continue residing and working in the United States, it has received criticism because there is not yet a pathway toward citizenship for these immigrants, and they are not permitted to serve in the military.

Representative Foster continued by stating that it is a poorly designed policy for the United States to turn away young men and women that may desire to serve in the military while the U.S. struggles to find citizens who are able and want to join the armed forces. Representative Foster has put action behind his words, as he has joined 18 other members of Congress that have introduced a House resolution urging the Secretary of Defense to permit DREAMers to participate in the armed forces. The Illinois politician is hoping that President Obama will use executive action to pursue a possible change to the policy regarding DREAMers.

Who Qualifies for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program?

The U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services provides information for those wondering if they may apply to the DACA Program. To qualify for the program, there are specific educational and age requirements that a person must fulfill. A person must have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 to receive consideration for the program. In most circumstance, an applicant must be 15 years-old in order to apply for DACA.

A person younger than 15 years old may also request to participate in DACA if he or she is in removal proceedings, has received a final removal order, or has obtained a voluntary detention order while not currently in immigration detention. The educational component needed to qualify for the programs requires that the person must have graduated from a high school or secondary school or obtained a GED; the person may also qualify if they are currently in school or if they were honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or U.S. military.

The information needed for the immigration process can be difficult and daunting. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney to assist you in the process. If you have questions concerning immigration in the state of Illinois, contact an experienced Illinois immigration attorney at Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. We are here to serve you in whatever way we can.

Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C. represents clients throughout the Illinois, area, including the cities of Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Des Plaines, Palatine, Mt Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Park Ridge, Oak Brook, Northbrook, Joliet, Naperville, Wheaton, Evanston, Des Plaines, Lake Forest, Highland Park, Skokie, Niles, Hoffman Estates, Elmhurst, Cicero, Downers Grove, and Hanover Park, as well as the communities in and around Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County and McHenry County.
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