Deportation Numbers Down Since Last Year
According to a report issued by USCIS, deportation numbers in the last year are the lowest they have been since President Obama first took office. Since last year, deportation numbers dropped 14% to 315,943. Record numbers of immigrants entered the country illegally, but unexpected circumstances and immigration policy changes contributed to a statistically low number of deportations.
Many immigrants who were apprehended in the last year originate from countries that require air travel to return home. While it is relatively simple to send an immigrant to Mexico, air travel to other countries requires consulate paperwork that often comes with lengthy processing times. This year immigrants from countries other than Mexico made up over half of all immigration apprehensions, a significant increase from one third of apprehensions in 2013.
The sheer number of immigrants who entered the country this year have flooded the immigration system. Since many who entered this year are asylum seeking mothers and children who require asylum hearings, immigration courts have been overwhelmed and many pending immigration cases have been backlogged. In November, Obama announced some major immigration policy changes that will alleviate some of that weight and allow the court system to move more smoothly.
In his immigration accountability executive action, President Obama announced his plan to allow up to 5 million immigrants deportation deferrals through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. Obama has also shifted removal efforts to focus on deporting serious criminals. Instead of deporting immigrants whose only crimes are singular illegal entry, Obama instead wants to focus on deporting dangerous felons and those with a long history of criminal activity.
Many Republicans in the House disapprove of President Obama’s immigration policies. Representative Michael McCaul from Texas worries that lax enforcement policies will invite larger numbers of immigrants to enter the country illegally. Meanwhile, Obama continues to gain support from the Latino community for his efforts to reform immigration.
USCIS Reached Annual 10,000 Cap for U-Visas
USCIS has approved the maximum number of U-visa petitions allotted for the 2015 fiscal year. Nonimmigrant U-visas are granted to immigrant victims of crimes who aid law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of crime. For the sixth straight year, USCIS has reached the statutory maximum of 10,000 U-visas.
USCIS will continue to review pending U-visa applications. Those who qualify but cannot receive the visa due to the cap will be placed on a waiting list. Those individuals will receive instructions from USCIS for how to proceed until visas become available. Applicants must continue to meet eligibility requirements when visas become available in the new fiscal year.
USCIS will begin issuing U-visas again on October 1, 2015, the first day of the new fiscal year.
More information on U-visas is available on the USCIS website: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status/victims-criminal-activity-u-nonimmigrant-status
USCIS Expands H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs
Effective January 18, 2015, USCIS and DHS have expanded the H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant visa programs to include the Czech Republic, Denmark, Madagascar, Portugal, and Sweden. The H2-A and H2-B visa programs allow nationals of eligible countries to fill temporary agricultural and non-agricultural positions in the U.S. A full list of eligible countries is available on the USCIS website: http://www.uscis.gov/news/uscis-announces-68-countries-eligible-participate-h-2a-and-h-2b-visa-programs
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