Category: Uncategorized

Attorney Ahmad Yakzan

I Told You So!! Judge Limits Trump’s Travel Ban, Again!

I wrote a post when the Supreme Court ruled on Trump’s travel ban arguing that the decision was more expansive than the Administration’s interpretation. I also said that there will be more litigation to clarify who is encompassed within the “bona fide relationship” language the Supreme Court used. Yesterday, a federal judge in Hawaii agreed with my interpretation of the decision. The judge expanded the definition to encompass more family members than included in the Administration’s definition, which was limited to parents, in-laws, and siblings.

Advocates suing the Administration over the ban asked the judge to expound on the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision, and to clarify the “bona fide relationship” language in the decision. The judge previously refused to grant that request, but yesterday, he did.

The Judge ruled that the Administration’s interpretation is antithetical, ruling that such interpretation was erroneous. The judge reasoned that such interpretation does not comport to the Supreme Court ruling, since grandparents, in-laws, siblings, uncles and their children meet the close familial relationship encompassed in the Supreme Court’s decision.

The judge also agreed with my interpretation of the decision, where I argued that a simple promise of refugee status is enough to make refugees exempt from the ban. The Administration disagreed with the Plaintiffs’ argument, which simply out says that any refugee who has had the necessary background checks , medical tests, and has received a contract for resettlement is included within the scope of “bona fide” relationships. The Administration argued that individual refugees did not directly receive such commitment and that should bring out of the scope of the decision. The judge disagreed, saying that going through all these steps shows a bona fide relationship. He added that “[b]ona fide does not get more bona fide as that”.

This is yet another blow to the Administration’s travel ban. The think there will be more litigation about this ban, especially when I know that the “bona fide relationship” language in the Supreme Court’s decision was vague.

Please let me know your thoughts. To read the decision, click here.

TPS

Got Options? How to Deal with President Trump’s Inhumane Stance on Haiti.

I volunteered yesterday at Catholic Charities’ clinic on Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Trump Administration decided to extend such protection for six months, ending in January of next year. I keep getting questions on what might happen in January 2018, and honestly, I do not know. We were working under the assumption yesterday that the protection will not be extended past that date.

What is Temporary Protected Status?

Temporary protected status or TPS, is a protection that the United States government has used to stop the removal of citizens of countries that have experienced a civil war, national disasters, or other humanitarian crisis that would hinder a national’s ability to return to his or her country. For example, the Obama Administration designated Syria in 2012 for its civil war, and Syrian nationals will not be returning to Syria for the foreseeable future. Consecutive administrations have designated several countries, and Haiti was designated in 2010, following the 2010 earthquake which has left the country in ruins.

What is Redesignation?

Redesignation is the process used by the US government to redesignate a country for TPS, if the humanitarian crisis persists. Haiti has been redesignated for at least one year since its original designation. However, the Trump Administration, as mentioned above, redesignated the country for an additional six months only. We do not know what prompted the short duration.

What Should You Do if You are a Citizen of Haiti?

I believe that citizens of Haiti should apply for the renewal of TPS if they qualify for the redesignation. However, doing so comes at a high cost, which could be more than $500 and would only be for a very limited duration. In some instances, the renewal would not be adjudicated before the designation expires, which would mean that applying might mean that you lost out of more than $500, which most people could certainly not afford.

What are Your Other Options?

I have met with several Haitians who have numerous options of which they do not know. I have spoken to potential clients who have potential claims to permanent residence through their relatives. Some of the possible options are below:

  1. Permanent Residence: Several individuals have potential claims to permanent residence through their relatives. Some of these potential clients have children, for example, that are US citizens. If the latter is above 21 years of age, they may be able to petition for their relatives.
  2. Asylum: Many of the individuals with whom I have met also have bona fide asylum claims because of threats they have received because of their circumstances. I met someone who has received such threats because of his work at an orphanage for example. There are other basis to apply for asylum, and you should consult with an immigration attorney to discuss your options.
  3. Withholding of Removal: Man individuals who have been here since the earthquake may not be able to apply for asylum because of they missed the one-year deadline and may be able to apply for this form of relief, unless they fall under an exception.
  4. Deferred Action: I have also met with several individuals who may be able to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). You should also consult with an immigration attorney to discuss this option.

I do believe that the six month extension is inhumane. What do you think?

Call us today at 1(888)963-7326 to discuss your options.

the president should not consider the ban decision a win

Beware Mr. President: The Supreme Court Did Not Give You a Win!!

I read the Supreme Court’s decision on the travel ban today, and all I have to say is that it is not a win for the President. I will discuss below.

What did the Court Say?

The decision to grant certiorari on the case is not a final decision, it is a decision limiting the application of the injunctions currently in place against the President’s executive order. It ruled on two issues 1) whether the states and individuals had the standing to sue to stop the ban and 2)  whether the President can limit refugee admission based on national security grounds.

What will the Court Do?

The Court ruled that the injunction should stay in place for individuals, similarly situated to the Plaintiffs, who had a bona fide relationship with an individual or entity in the United States. The Court lifted the injunction when it came to individuals who do not have such connections. This reasoning also applied to refugees who may claim standing if they have such relationships. This reasoning is sure to lead to more litigation regarding the ban.

What is the Strategy Against the Ban?

I do not believe that the President should claim victory in this case. The simple reason is that this decision, in essence, gave potential standing to refugees, and gave organizations who help refugees standing to sue to further enjoin the ban.

The decision allowed refugees to claim standing if they have connections to an organization in the United States. So for example, a refugee who has gone through the background checks and has been approved for relocation to the United States might, potentially, have the standing to sue if they were denied admission to the United States. This also expands standing to the organizations themselves, who may, in essence, claim the necessary standing based on potential economic injury from the ban. Let us remember that these organizations receive government payments for the relocation of these refugees.

The decision also allows standing to family members to sue if there is a discriminatory reason for the denial of admission for their family members. Basically, the decision will expand standing to affected individuals as applied to their family members. Thus far, the ban has been challenged on facial grounds. In other words, the ban is being challenged because it is discriminatory on facial grounds, i.e. as it is read. if we move forward, the ban will also be challenged on “as applied” grounds i.e. as applied to these individuals with family members in the United States. These two grounds will surely lead to more challenges to the ban in court.

What are the possible Outcomes for the Case?

There are three possible outcomes to this case, and I believe that the Court will punt on the issue to allow a decision on the merits in the lower courts.

The first outcome might be for the Court to decide that the case is moot. The executive order itself will sunset within 90 days after the government conducts a study on the “extreme vetting” procedures for which the President advocated during the campaign. So when this case comes up for a decision before the Court, it might already be moot. However, one possible strategy against this issue is the fact that the issue might be capable of repeated in the future and evading review. This is the argument used in Roe v. Wade for example.

The Court may also remand the case to the lower court for more fact-finding and for a decision on the merits. The main issue here will be whether there are enough facts for the Court to make a decision. The main issue here is the discriminatory intent behind the executive order itself. The Court may remand the case to the lower court who are more equipped for fact-finding than the Supreme Court. The Court may keep the injunction in place until the decisions on the merits are issued.

Lastly, the Court may either uphold the injunction or remove it, allowing the ban to go into effect. This, however, will be unlikely, since the Court will essentially be giving a partial win on the merits to the Administration. I must say that the Court’s prior decisions give standing to states to challenge the President’s authority to enter such executive orders when they harm their interest.

I disagree with the President that today’s decision is an outright win for him. Stay tuned for future posts on this issue. Call us at 1(888)963-7326 to schedule a consultation with us.

eleventh circuit rules on drug convictions under mellouli

The Ninth Circuit Made the Right Decision: Now What?

The Ninth Circuit travel ban decision has now dealt another blow to the Executive Order limiting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. This decision is the latest in a series of decisions that have upheld the restraining order against the ban. I believe that this decision is the right decision, however, I do believe that the Justice Department has made a mistake in appealing the case to the Supreme Court, which I would discuss below.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision is a reiteration of its previous decision dealing with the issue. The Ninth Circuit, in essence, said that the President and the Administration did not articulate a rational basis for the ban, which is a classification based on religion. The decision goes through all of the Administration’s arguments to support and the ban, and, one by one, the Court struck them down. The Court did allow the enhanced vetting procedures to go forward, which, in due time, would be in court. I believe that these procedures will also be unconstitutional based on the procedures once they are released.

  • Why Did the Administration Make a Mistake? 

I believe that the Administration made a mistake in asking the Supreme Court to review the restraining order decisions from two different cases. It is worth noting that the two courts, at least the Fourth Circuit, is not a bastion of liberal jurisprudence. This, in my opinion, would make a decision overruling the restraining orders much more difficult.

It is also worth noting that in a case called United States v. Texas, which reviewed President Obama’s Executive Order upheld the lower court’s decision enjoining the order based on the same grounds the new order was restrained. In that decision, the Supreme Court upheld the restraining order from the Fifth Circuit. That case held that the states had standing to challenge President Obama’s Executive Order granting relief from removal for millions of undocumented immigrants. I do not believe that there has been a shift in the law to change that decision. The Administration is sure to challenge jurisdiction based on state standing. Moreover, the chances of the Supreme Court granting certiorari to review the lower courts’ decision have diminished because of that binding prior decision.

I believe that the Administration should have waited for a ruling on the merits to appeal to the Supreme Court.

  • Why Are the Vetting Procedures Problematic? 

I believe that the vetting procedures will also be a problem under this administration. Unfortunately, we will not be able to know them until there are regulations dealing with these procedures are published. Then, immigration attorneys and the public at large would be able to review them. There will be legal challenges to the procedures if they were based on discriminatory criteria.

We now await the Supreme Court’s decision on whether it will take the case.

Refugee Crisis Ahmad Yakzan

Trump Tells the World to Covfefe Itself: What Does Pulling Out of Paris Mean to Refugees ?

I am watching the President make one of the worst decisions that he has ever made; pulling out of the Paris Agreement puts it at bar with Syria and Nicaragua (which has not signed because it does not go far enough).

The Paris Agreement has been signed by almost every country in the world to safeguard our future. It sets goals for countries to meet to decrease the number of pollutants in the air to deal with global warming. Experts believe that global warming will lead to an international refugee crisis because people in low-lying countries will be forced to migrate from their countries to others.

The problem is that international refugee law, as it stands now, does not offer protections for environmental refugees. To qualify for asylum as a refugee, a person must meet the persecution bar under one of six protected grounds, which do not include environmental refugees. I was recently a speaker at a panel discussing the issue at Stetson University College of Law.  There are discussions to amend the Refugee Convention to allow victims of climate change to apply for refugee protections if they were truly subjected to persecution based on environmental issues. Applicants would be able to claim that they were persecuted by their government by the latter’s failure to protect the environment to protect them. This change would be cataclysmic and would be a major change in refugee law.

I think the decision was erroneous for many reasons. We are the world’s only remaining superpower and with us pulling out of the agreement, other countries will follow suit. International law is customary in nature, and such action will undoubtedly lead to major changes. It is enough for the United States not to sign the International Criminal Court’s treaty for many countries to refuse to ratify the convention. On a side note, this will be an issue in the 2018 election.

I am interested in your thoughts. Please comment or email me at yakzan@americandreamlawoffice.com.

FidelUSCIS Cuba

Fidel Castro is Dead, now what?

I was stunned this morning Fromhearing that Fidel Castro’s dead. The relationships between the United States and Cuba nation have been thawing recently. They are election of Donald Trump and the death of Fidel Castro are definitely going to change US -Cuba relations for the long-term.

Obama promised that the embargo would be lifted if Democrats were elected this year. These two events might change the way that we see relationships fifth between the two countries. There have been many sticking points that stopped normalization of relations. Although we have opened our embassy for the first time since the 1960s, the Cuban adjustment act and several other things stopped us from fully normalizing relations with the island nation.

There are two possible ways but that’s the Castro may change US Cuba relationship. Castro’s death may lead to further thawing of relationships to the extent and Cuba’s peaceful transition into the 21st century. The other possible outcome is for a new revolution for the Island nation which would lead to a long civil war. This second scenario may mean that US policy might need to be strengthened and further support to the Cuban nation might be needed. In this scenario we might need to increase the number of Cubans allowed under the CAA.

No matter which scenario becomes reality, our course of action sold not be to further isolate Cuba. I believe that our policy should be further normalization with our neighbor to the south. This way we will win either way. I wish Cubans the best of luck in this very crucial time in their history.

Refugee Crisis Ahmad Yakzan

Attorney Ahmad Yakzan Participates in Discussion about the Global Refugee Crisis

Attorney Ahmad Yakzan participated in a discussion about the international refugee crisis. The discussion was held at Stetson University College of Law and included experts on international law.

Attorney Yakzan spoke about his experience in representing high profile individuals in affirmative asylum filings in the United States. He also discussed his recent visit to Lebanon and his experience relating to Syrian refugees.

The event was sponsored by the State Department and the participants included more than fifty international journalists most of whom were from Arabic speaking countries. To view the discussion visit this link.

What does a Trump victory mean for (un)documented immigrants? 

I’m sitting here at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Tampa, FL, still in shock over what happened two nights ago. Now that I have thought about it, I’m calmer than I thought I’d ever be. I’m calm because we have laws and rules that even a President would not be able to repeal. 

My first thought is, relax. You have rights. Even if you are undocumented, you may not be removed without due process . This means that you may not be removed without appearing before a judge. This is the case unless you fall in a very low percentage of cases where you have a very serious conviction.

Being placed in removal proceedings might not be the worst thing either. Being in removal proceedings will allow you to apply for relief in court that you might not have thought about like Cancellation if Removal or asylum. 

The key to fighting is to hire a competent lawyer who will help protect your rights. Call me today to schedule a consultation. I’ve zealously represented documented and undocumented immigrants and will do the same for you. 

America has a deep immigrant root that cannot be removed that easily.