Blog - Don Chairez Answers Your Legal Questions

Island of Hope Island of Tears – A Documentary About Immigration & Ellis Island

Enjoy this free National Park Service film directed by Charles Guggenheim, starring Gene Hackman, and produced by the National Park Service in 1989.

Island of Hope – Island of Tears is a short film, which is about 29 minutes in length. This film is in the public domain:

Ellis Island was the port of entry for millions of European immigrants from 1892-1954, . This interesting documentary weaves a narration and archival footage to tell a moving story of families with dreams of opportunity who left their homes with only what they could carry.

Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor, served as a port of entry, between 1892-1954, for millions of European immigrants hoping for a new life in America.

Government records reveal that nearly 15 million people, principally from Southern and Eastern Europe, passed through Ellis Island.

The gateway of Ellis Island originally covered about 3 acres.  Over the years, however, it expanded to about 28 acres with the help of excess dirt from the construction of New York City’s subway system.  The first immigration station was built of wood and opened in 1892 and was destroyed by fire in 1897.  The second immigration station opened three years later.

Before it became an immigration-processing facility, Ellis Island was known for its large amount of oyster beds.  During the time that Dutch and English colonials occupied nearby territory, the place was known as “Oyster Island.”  Local Native-Americans called it “Kioshk” or Gull Island.

A man named Samuel Ellis purchased the island in the 1770s.  Over the years, it would change from a sandy island, to a place frequented by pirates, to a harbor fort, known as Gibson, to an immigration portal.

First opened to the public on a limited basis, in 1976, it has since undergone a major restoration which began in 1984.  The main building, now known as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, was open to the public in September of 1990.  It is estimated that about 2 million people visit Ellis Island every year.

On May 20, 2015 the Ellis Island Immigration Museum was renamed the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration which coincided with the opening of the new Peopling of America galleries, which tells the entire story of American immigration including before and after the Ellis Island era.

The Wall of Honor outside of the main building contains a partial list of immigrants processed on the island. Inclusion on the list is made possible by a donation to support the facility. In 2008 the museum’s library was officially named Bob Hope Memorial Library in honor of one the station’s most famous immigrants.

Interesting Facts About Ellis Island:

  • Since the passage of the “Steerage Act of 1819”, passenger manifests have been required for all arriving vessels to be delivered to the U.S. Government and reported to Congress. This document, used for inspection at Ellis Island, has become an important starting point in researching family history.
  • Ellis Island’s south side contains 25 buildings that are mostly unrestored. These structures included general hospitals, isolation and psychiatric facilities for immigrants needing treatment or isolation. The U.S. Public Health Service staffed these facilities during the station’s operation.
  • Many government agencies have administered the Ellis Island immigration depot. The Bureau of Immigration, later called the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS), inspected immigrants. The agency was restructured in 2003 under the new Department of Homeland Security and is now 3 entities : U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Most Americans remember Bob Hope for his work in the entertainment business as a comedian, actor, dancer and singer, as well as his work with the American troops abroad. Few people know that Bob Hope was an immigrant from England who came here with his family and passed inspection at Ellis Island on March 30, 1908, at the age of 5.
  • Ellis Island was added as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965 by Presidential Proclamation. The main building was re-opened in September 1990 as the national museum of immigration after what was considered at the time, the largest restoration project in American history.
  • During the island’s 62 years of operation, over 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island, including quite a few who went on to become famous such as: Frank Capra, Bela Lugosi, Baron Von Trapp, Irving Berlin, Max Factor, Claudette Colbert, Rudolph Valentino, Igor Sikorsky and Bob Hope.
  • Annie Moore was the first immigrant processed at Ellis Island on January 1, 1892, after she arrived from Ireland on the SS Nevada. Charles Hendley of the Secretary of the Treasury’s office inspected Annie, she was then given a $10 gold coin by Immigration Superintendent Colonel John Weber.
  • From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay processed approximately 1 million Asian immigrants entering into the US, leading to it sometimes being referred to as “The Ellis Island of the West”. Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, many immigrants spent years on the island, waiting for entry. Access to the island is by private boat or public ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo. Ferry services are reduced during the winter.
  • In its time, Ellis Island was the busiest federal immigration station in America. In 1907, Ellis Island processed 1,004,756 immigrants, a record number for the Immigration stations. April 17, 1907 was the Island’s busiest day, when 11,747 immigrants were processed. Today, the US Customs and Border Protection processes over 700,000 visitors daily through 326 official Ports of Entry.

Important Dates:

  • 1890, Congress appropriates $75,000 to build an immigration station at Ellis Island.
  • January 1, 1892, The immigration station at Ellis Island officially opens.
  • June 15, 1897, Fire destroys station and records of immigrants back to 1840.
  • December 1900, The new and currently standing main building opens at a cost of $1.5 million.
  • 1907, Ellis Island has peak number of immigrants arrive.

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Learn English for Free – Best Free YouTube Channels to Learn English

I have compiled a list of over 40 free YouTube Channels to help immigrants and foreign students learn both American and British English. This is the most comprehensive list of free English lessons/courses currently available. Remember to bookmark this page, and share this page on social media (facebook, twitter, etc.) with all of your friends and family.

It is absolutely essential to learn English if you seek to become a Permanent Resident or Citizen of the United States.

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  1. VOA Learning English An official English learning channel sponsored by Voice of America. The news reports are read to the audience at a much slower pace than regular English.
  1. Learn English with Steve Ford Steve Ford has been teaching English for many, many years. This channel is rich in content. Whether you’re prepping for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), studying English for business purposes, or just improving your everyday skills, Steve Ford’s exciting videos will help you learn English.
  1. Business English Pod Business English Pod lessons cover a wide range of common topics, situations, and skills. Each Business English podcast lesson is focused on a particular workplace skill such as giving presentations, telephone conversations, negotiation, social conversations, and more. While the goal of this channel is to sell a service there is a wide variety of free content. Their mission is to teach effective language skills. They currently have 56,932 subscribers, and 7,075,145 views on their channel. The organization also provides free weekly MP3 podcast lessons, audio, and e-Book courses for intermediate and advanced learners.
  1. BBC Learning English BBC Learning English offers a wide variety of free training courses, and has been teaching English to global audiences since 1943, offering free audio, video and text materials to learners around the world. Their YouTube channel offers a wide variety of free training videos. Please note: this channel is primarily for learning British English, not American English, but it is still a very useful resource.
  1. EF podEnglish Learn English with EF podEnglish, in short 5-minute English lesson YouTube videos. This YouTube channel is perfect for beginners, intermediate and advanced students, these lessons are like having an English teacher right by your side! EF podEnglish was created by EF, the world’s largest language school with over 400 schools in 50 countries worldwide. You may also visit EF’s website at http://www.ef.com
  1. English with Jennifer Jennifer will teach you vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, verb tenses, slang and other English skills with videos. This American English teacher is extremely skillful in putting you at ease in order to teach English as a second language. I recommend this channel for intermediate and advanced learners of English. When you learn English with Jennifer, you feel like you’re learning from a caring mentor. Jennifer’s videos cover a variety of topics and include nice-looking graphics to assist with your training.
  1. Real English This channel shows you the videos that Mike makes with his friends and with the teachers at The Marzio School in the South of France. The videos are free content provided by the Real English webite. All of the lessons on their YouTube channel are completely free, featuring interactive exercises and activities.
  1. The Daily English Show A show for English language learners and lovers by Sarah, a talented young lady who makes great videos. Her accent sounds British because she’s a New Zealander. Her videos are always professional and entertaining.
  1. Sozo Exchange Learn English with Sozo Exchange and improve your English pronunciation! This YouTube channel focuses almost exclusively on how to pronounce English correctly. Featuring over 270 videos, 10,000+ subscribers, and 300,000+ channel views.
  1. ESLJoan Also known as growenglish.com. Some good videos. The material is generally for lower-level students covers things like prepositions, address vocabulary, etc. Joan, the site’s author, does a great job of teaching slowly and including professional-looking graphics in her videos. Intermediate and advanced students will find nice stuff as well. For just $10 a month you gain access to more videos, quizzes, etc. through her website. She also offers private lessons at low prices.
  1. British Council | LearnEnglish Kids This YouTube channel provides animated cartoon videos for children to learn British English. Step inside the world of Learning Time with Shaun & Timmy for English learning your child will never forget. The British Council and Oscar award-winning animators Aardman are excited to offer young kids a great learning experience which will spark their imagination. Learning Time with Shaun & Timmy offers young children the opportunity to learn English through play in an immersive environment designed just for them. By joining the UK’s world-leading Early Years Foundation Stage methodology with the world-famous film and TV characters Shaun the Sheep and Timmy, the British Council has created an enjoyable and easy way for kids to learn English.
  1. TeacherPhilEnglish Phil’s channel allows you to learn how to speak English with less accent and more amazing skills. This channel has recently become very popular. It has over 100,000 subscribers, and nearly 29 million channel views.
  1. JamesESL Free English Lessons James is very entertaining with his videos and his videos a very polished. His motto is as follows: If you TRY, you can do anything! It’s always been his belief that you cannot put information in other people’s heads. If you find a way to show them something, they can use their own intelligence to learn. This is his approach to teaching
  1. Speak English With Mister Duncan Duncaninchina’s channel is launched by an Englishman Mr. Duncan. He worked in China for 4 years as an English Teacher offers many interesting and humorous video lessons for you to learn English on YouTube.
  1. Holmwood’s Online Learning – HolmwoodsELT specializes in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) The main focus of their YouTube Channel is grammar, but they also host lots of other videos as well. Their website, Holmwoods.eu, is designed for schools, colleges and any other institution where groups learn a language with a teacher guiding them. On their website each video or text has an associated exercise which is automatically marked. The results of each exercise are then stored in an online database. Holmwood’s Online Learning is suitable for both schools and individual learners.
  1. Fluency MC– Learn English with music! Fluency MC (a.k.a Jason R. Levine) is a teacher and rapper from the United States. He creates and performs songs with learners around the world. Fluency is all about the 3Rs: Relax, Repeat, Remember.
  1. iswearenglish – ESL english teacher YouTube channel. 600+ Videos. Over 3 million channel views. The aim of iswearenglish is to help English students improve their understanding, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and understanding of British culture. There is also a companion website where you can discover more resources: www.iswearenglish.com
  1. Learn English with EnglishClass101.com – Appears to offer professionally produced videos with clever animations and sound effects. This channel claims to be the fastest, easiest, and most fun place on YouTube to learn English. They offer the opportunity to master real conversations, perfect pronunciation, and learn new words and cultural insights. Learn from an interact with real teachers with their videos. New lessons come out every Tuesday and Friday.
  1. Learn American English– Learn American English advertises the opportunity to improve your spoken English faster than you can imagine. Quickly improve your English vocabulary, understand real American slang, idioms, phrasal verbs, and much more. Gain confidence in speaking English fluently with native speakers. Attain much better listening skills while learning the standard American accent and pronunciation tips. Our lessons will also help you understand business English and achieve better scores on the IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL, etc. Please note: As of 10/7/2015 this channel does not appear to be active. They claim to offer free daily videos, but their latest video is over 2 years old.
  1. English Lessons with Alex (link unavailable)
  1. Rachel’s English – 359,909 subscribers and 4,898,078 views as of 10/7/2015. Rachel’s English is an American English pronunciation resource. All videos have closed captioning to help non-native speakers understand.
  1. Daily English – Learn daily easy English expressions. Coach Shane’s YouTube Channel has 27,296 subscribers and 2,643,925 views This channel will have one video a day. The videos are for ESL learners. Each video will introduce a common American English expression. Over 900+ videos as of 10/7/2015.
  1. EnglishAnyone – Learn real English from native speakers. The channel has 160,000+ subscribers and about 14.5 million views. Started in 2010. The site advertises itself has a place to learn the real, conversational English native speakers actually use.
  1. Twominute English – learn English in 2 minutes lessons with Twominute English. The channel has 61,181 subscribers and 7,640,492 views and started in 2012. It features approximately 300 individual videos.
  1. OMGMeiu’s Channel – Chinese based YouTube channel to learn American English. The channel has 36,169 subscribers and 3,217,000 views. Monday thru Friday “Bai Jie” posts one show discussing the newest and most authentic American English slang terms and phrases!
  1. EFL Classroom 2.0 Videos  Join 1,000s of teachers on the world’s #1 ELT resource community. One payment for lifetime full access. Not satisfied? Contact us within 1 week and we’ll refund your payment. A free TEFL Certificate course, dozens of free ebooks, download videos, PD resources, Top 50 lists, worksheets, ppts, a weekly magazine, newsletters, file access (over 165,000 items) and more
  1. ESL Video ESLvideo.com provides educational resources for English as a Second Language Students to improve their listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary skills. The quiz activities and lessons are created by teachers, and are free to use in class, lab, or at home. Teachers are welcome to build a library of favorites, assign quizzes, view student scores, and create new quizzes.
  1. English Central This is not a YouTube channel, but its big selection of videos and its interactivity is so interesting that I decided to include this on this list. They bill themselves as “the leading provider of online English conversation solutions. The EnglishCentral platform combines the web’s best English videos, our proprietary IntelliSpeech℠ assessment technology, an adaptive vocabulary learning system and live tutors, delivered seamlessly over web and mobile.”
  1. Grockit Answers lets you pick any video from YouTube and create a series of questions about it. The great feature is that you can set the time on the video for each question to alert the viewer when the answer will appear. It’s an excellent resource for new students of English.
  1. Gogo’s Adventure with English is not quite a “channel,” but I’m still including it here because I think it’s interesting.
  1. Anglo-Link
    557,745 subscribers, 44,242,319 views. Their goal is to help you learn, improve and master the English language as well as to help you build confidence when speaking and listening in English. They regularly add new English lessons. Anglo-Link teaches all aspects of the English language, from important grammar and vocabulary topics to ways of improving your fluency, pronunciation and listening skills.
  1. EnglishLessons4U 799,169 subscribers and 72,694,220 views. Free English lessons in pronunciation, grammar, spelling, and more!
  1. Let’s Talk
  1. ESL and Popular Culture
  1. KidsTV123
  1. Learn English
  1. ESL Basics
  1. English Teacher Emma Emma is a TESOL-certified instructor and has taught students from various backgrounds, ages, and levels including immigrants and international students. She is probably one of the more popular teachers on YouTube and has a stunning 457,123 subscribers. Her channel has over 28 million views as well.
  1. Learn English with Papa Teach Me These guys make videos for English students. Whether you’re studying for exams, (IELTS, CAE, CPE, TOEFL, TOEIC, etc…) trying to better your Business English, or conversational skills in English, they can help you improve!
  1. Learn English Conversation with Hello Class Learn English Conversation is a free Channel for English learners. You will find free English vocabulary Videos, English grammar Videos, English exercises and English lessons. Thousands of English Videos are waiting for you. They will help you learn English.
  1. Learn English with Ronnie (link unavailable)
  1. English Class 101 (link unavailable)

 

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Why do Mexicans and Other Latin Americans Come Into the U.S. Illegally?

Questions: Why do Mexicans and other Latin Americans come into the U.S. illegally. Why don’t they want to obey the law the same way my ancestors did?

Answer: Thank you for this question. This is a question that sometimes pops up when I attend political events and you’ll see Republicans bring this up in the news as well. I think for many people, Trump fans for example, it tends to be an insincere question. They really don’t really care if they come here legally or not, they just don’t want Mexicans here at all. Remember the Trump supporter at a recent Trump press conference? The infamous press conference where Trump kicked out Jorge Ramos? The Trump supporter told Jorge Ramos of Univision, an American citizen, to “get out of my country.” Ramos informed him he was an American citizen. The supporter replied with “Well, whatever. Univision-whatever. It’s not about you” Do you think that ignorant Trump supporter really cares how Jorge Ramos arrived in the U.S. Do you think that supporter really cares if Ramos is actually an American citizen?

But to answer your question, it’s very simple, immigrants from south of the border who come here illegally are coming here illegally because they are effectively prevented from obtaining a visa. For instance, in order to get a tourist visa you need to show Immigration that you have 25,000 to 50,000 dollars in your bank account, a good job, wife and children back home, a family you intend to return to. This information convinces the officer your real intent is to visit the U.S. for a short time and then leave. Most Mexicans and other Latin Americans are poor, hungry, and looking for work so by default they cannot meet the criteria and they are almost always denied a visa.

seasonal workers from mexico

Seasonal Workers from Mexico topping sugar beets near Stockton, California in 1943

Now, looking back at history, the Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted citizenship to “any alien, being a free white person” who had been in the U.S. for two years. The Act didn’t mention indentured servants, slaves, and most women. And in the latter half of the 19th century the U.S. Congress went out of its way to ban Asians with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that the southwestern United States was once the territory of Mexico. The United States conquered the territory in a war with Mexico in 1848. There wasn’t any illegal immigration before that time from Mexico because Mexicans were already here! Thereafter, the migration that took place between Mexico and the United States tended to be seasonal. Mexicans would work for part of the year in the United States and then return to Mexico. Because the migration between Mexico and the U.S. was seasonal there wasn’t ever the need on the part of the U.S. government to institute laws preventing immigration. It just wasn’t as much an issue as say Asian immigrants who were coming over to the U.S. in vast numbers during the 19th century to work and not returning home.

Mexican_agricultural_laborers_arriving_by_train_to_help_in_the_harvesting_of_beets_

Seasonal Agricultural Laborers Arriving in the United States from
Mexico by Train in 1943

However, it’s very likely that if Mexicans and other Latin Americans had wanted to immigrate to the United States in any significant amount of numbers after the Mexican-American war they would have likely been rejected purely on racial grounds just as the Asians were prevented from immigrating after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Chinese Railroad Workers

This photo shows a group of Chinese coolies on a switchback on the Cascade Mountain Range, in 1886. Heavy snowfall sometimes buried tracks so deep that rotary snowplows could not operate. Then it was necessary to employ shovel gangs to clear tracks.

Ultimately, in modern times, Mexicans and other Latin Americans come here because many employers in the United States are looking for workers and are happy to find workers that just want to come and work. In the U.S. for the last 30, 50 years there was a push to educate as many as possible, most middle class Americans were encouraged to obtain a college education and learned how to do hard, technical things, with their minds. Now, they don’t want to send their kids to work in the field, cutting grass, or any other sort of dirty, yet necessary jobs. But most immigrants don’t seem to care or they’re willing to do that based on their economic circumstances. But, I will agree with those who say foreigners are taking away jobs from Americans. However, they’re not doing it in the United States. They’re taking away American jobs in the factories in China, Thailand, Pakistan and India where the price to manufacture goods in those countries is far, far less than price in the United States. The average Chinese worker is making 300 dollars a month. I have to agree with people like Lou Dobbs or Donald Trump on that point. All these American companies are selling us out by outsourcing jobs overseas because they can make everything at a fraction of the cost compared to the cost in the United States. Unfortunately, many middle-class Americans have lost their jobs as a result of this policy, but that’s not the fault of immigrant Mexican workers. Whether you’re a Republican, or a union worker, you’re blaming the wrong people when you point to Mexicans and Latin Americans. The real cause of our plight is the fact that the corporate and political leadership of the United States has a long-standing policy of outsourcing our jobs to foreign factories which employ workers willing to work at a much lower cost. They are doing more harm to the job prospects of Americans than any landscaper or dishwasher from Mexico.

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Why Trump Is Wrong About “Anchor Babies”

Question: I watched the Republican debate on CNN yesterday and they asked Trump about his stance on birthright citizenship. I always thought if you were born in the United States you were automatically a citizen no matter what. Trump said that birthright citizenship doesn’t apply to Anchor Babies. Is he right? Also, I’ve heard Trump and other Republicans use the term Anchor Babies at previous events and on television. What does that term mean exactly?

Answer: I’ll respond to your second question first. The term Anchor Baby is a term for a Mexican child born in the United states to an undocumented mother who is not a Lawful Permanent Resident. There is an assertion that Mexican mothers are crossing the border to give birth to their children in the United States with the intention of having their now American children quickly petition themselves and the rest of their family to become Permanent Residents in the United States.

Trump is correct in some respects. It is true that prior to 1977, under the old Immigration law, if an undocumented immigrant had a child here in the U.S. that child could petition for their parents, but it wasn’t instantaneous. It would take 2 to 5 years in order for them to get a green card. In January of 1977 that rule changed, and now a child must be 21 years old in order to petition for their parents in order to get a green card. So this concept of an anchor baby goes back to the rules of law that were in effect from 1965 to 1977, and it just hasn’t been the case since then.

Also, Trump did mention something that people don’t usually focus on and that’s the fact that many of the people coming over to have babies are Chinese, but even here he gets the facts wrong as well. Trump should be commended for bringing up this often overlooked point. The Chinese mothers aren’t coming here to have babies so their children can abuse the welfare system in the U.S. The mothers come when they’re 5 or 6 months pregnant. They tell Immigration they’re having some medical treatment or something, and they come, they have their child here, they pay cash to have their child delivered here, and that child is now a United States citizen. But in this case the Chinese mothers aren’t coming over so they themselves can obtain permanent residence or to acquire welfare payments. The Chinese doing this are usually the upper middle class and the wealthy. They’re doing it for their children in the hopes that their children might one day have access to better university-level education, and also be given the opportunity to escape China if the political or economic situation there ever deteriorated. There is a great degree of uncertainty in China for people with wealth, and the wealthy are very afraid that any day their government will come and take what they’ve earned. So the idea that Chinese mothers are coming here to have babies in order to milk the system is simply not true.

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011.

Photo captured by the hardest working political photographer on Wikimedia Commons – Gage Skidmore

With regard to your first question, the idea that birthright citizenship doesn’t apply to the children of undocumented immigrants let me first begin by quoting the pertinent section from last night’s debate:

JAKE TAPPER: Mr. Trump, you say that babies born in the United States to undocumented immigrants should not any longer get automatic American citizenship. Ms. Fiorina says that you are pandering on this issue and acting like the politicians that you rail against. What’s your message to Ms. Fiorina on birthright citizenship?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, first of all, the 14th Amendment says very, very clearly to a lot of great legal scholars, not television scholars, but legal scholars, that it is wrong. It can be corrected with an act of Congress, probably doesn’t even need that.

A woman gets pregnant. She’s nine months, she walks across the border, she has the baby in the United States, and we take care of the baby for 85 years. I don’t think so.

And by the way, Mexico and almost every other country anywhere in the world doesn’t have that. We’re the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough to have it. And people, and by the way, this is not just with respect to Mexico. They are coming from Asia to have babies here, and all of a sudden, we have to take care of the babies for the life of the baby.

The 14th Amendment, it reads properly, you can go and, it’s probably going to be have to be check,  go through a process of court, probably ends up at the Supreme Court, but there are a lot of great legal scholars that say that is not correct.

And in my opinion, it makes absolutely no, we’re the only — one of the only countries, we’re going to take care of those babies for 70, 75, 80, 90 years? I don’t think so.

With respect to the 14th Amendment it says “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Trump and others are arguing that, “Oh, because the parents are not American citizens then they’re not subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” But, with all due respect, he’s wrong. I’m a populist too, and I agree with a lot of what Trump has to say, but what he’s saying here is  confusing. Is he saying that somebody who is here illegally is not subject to the criminal laws of the United States? Can a criminal say I want to look to the 14th amendment in this way and say, “Oh, you can’t prosecute me!” Can this same criminal, now being sued in a civil court, say, “Well, I’m not subject to the jurisdiction thereof, so you cannot sue me and I cannot sue you. See you later!” This is the strange result we’d have if we interpreted the U.S. Constitution like this. That clause, subject to the jurisdiction thereof, was originally intended to be applied to diplomats because diplomats have diplomatic immunity. Diplomats are immune to the laws of the United States and therefore they could argue back then in the days prior to when dual citizenship was recognized by the U.S. and other countries that the children of diplomats were still citizens of France or Germany or whatever country their parents happened to be from and not United States citizens. But sometime after we began to accept the concept of dual citizenship and then people could be citizens of two different countries. For the record, I, myself, am against this idea of dual citizenship. My father was from San Antonio, Texas. My mother was from Chihuahua, Mexico. I was born in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. So if the United States and Mexico were to go to war there’s no question in my mind. I would fight for the United States against Mexico. What when you have citizens from other countries that want to be both American citizens and a citizen of another country and the U.S. later becomes engaged in a war with that respective country? What if we go to war with Iran and you have a person living in the U.S. who is both an American and Iranian citizen? To which country would they really be loyal to? The bottom line is that the dual citizenship creates conflicting loyalties. But, returning to the main point again — for me that clause has more to do with children of diplomats rather than children of illegal aliens.

Trump is a master communicator. I am constantly amazed by Trump’s ability to turn the tables on the mass media, but on this point, unfortunately, he’s incorrect. U.S. children of illegal aliens cannot immediately petition their family members to become legal residents. He’s also incorrect about birthright citizenship not applying to illegal aliens. I’m well acquainted with Constitutional Law on this issue because of my time as a Judge, Immigration Attorney, author of the P.I.S.T.O.L Ballot Initiative (amended the Nevada constitution to prevent government from abusing Eminent Domain), so I can assure you that the vast majority of Constitutional Scholars do not agree.

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My Dad Was Caught at Border. He Came Back. Does he Qualify for I-601A?

Question: My father was caught at the border and sneaked back in. Does he qualify for I-601A – Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver? He has been kicked out by border patrol 3 times in 2000, 2001, and 2003. They got his fingerprints every time. He has been here in the United States since 2003. He’s been a very good person. He has had no problems, criminal convictions, or violations of any sort. He hasn’t even had a traffic ticket. He’s just been working the entire time. I filed a I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for him and it has been approved. Would he qualify for an I-601A or should I just wait and file the I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, after the interview?

Answer: Well, when you say he’s been kicked out. Was he deported or removed? The other thing is how much time did he spend in the United States before he was kicked out? If he had 1 year of unlawful presence, then left the country because he got kicked out, then returned illegally as you point out, and then got kicked out again then it seems to me it’s very likely he’s subject to what they call a Permanent Bar. So, No, until you know exactly what his prior immigration history is I think it’s very dangerous to file anything for him and I think ultimately when he goes to the U.S. Embassy he is going to be denied a visa because he’s going to be found inadmissible under 212(a)(9)(C), the Permanent Bar.

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Surprise Visit of Immigration Officers – What Do I Do?

Question: I applied for Permanent Residency about 2 and a half years ago. My wife and I have been married for about 3 years. Our marriage is totally legitimate. I have received no updates about my case this entire time, and a few days ago two Immigration officers suddenly dropped by my house and searched my entire house and asked me a bunch of questions about my wife and I. They took pictures of the entire house, even the photographs hanging on the wall. They even took pictures of my wife’s clothes and other things. As they were leaving they said if I had any further questions I should check online or call their customer service number. What does this all mean? Why hasn’t my application been approved yet? Why did they suddenly pop up out of nowhere and search everything? I’m a little nervous and scared now. What should I do? What is your experience with this?

Answer: Well, quite simply, they suspect you and your wife of having a fraudulent marriage. That’s the reason they came to house. They wanted to see what kind of bed you slept in. They wanted to look through your drawers to be sure that your clothes and your wife’s clothes were there. They wanted to see if everything was authentic. That you really lived in the same house and had a real marriage. If everything looks like it is being “staged” then that’s something which would work against you. If everything looked in order, and they thought it looked like a real home, and they came away with the impression that you two really loved each other and wanted to spend your lives together then the bottom line is that the visit will be something which will work to your advantage. Also, they can use the information searches to check against any information you will submit or may have submitted. For instance, did they look in the bathroom? Do you know what kind of shampoo your wife uses? Do you use the same kind of shampoo? Does she use some fancy shampoo and do you just use the cheapo stuff? If you really are living together you guys will know all those intimate details about one another. Those are the reasons why they searched your house.

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Can I Travel Outside the U.S. While My Asylum Case Is Pending?

Question: I’m here on a Tourist Visa. I plan to obtain Permanent Residence based on Asylum. Will there be problems if I try to travel outside the United States while my case is pending? Let’s say there is a problem with traveling outside the United States while my Asylum case is pending would it then make more sense to delay my Asylum application so I can travel? My Tourist Visa expires in a few weeks. So if I decide to travel and because of that I am then forced to apply for Asylum after my Tourist Visa expires would that have an impact on my Asylum application?

Answer: Whooa. Hold on. Well, first off, you assume that the Asylum case will be granted, and that’s a very, very bad assumption to make. My estimate is that less than 10 percent of the Asylum are approved. If you think you’re going to get a Green Card based on Asylum that’s extremely wishful thinking. Yes, technically, you can travel while your Asylum case is pending by applying for Advance Parole, but it’s generally a bad idea, and if you travel to the country you’re trying to gain refuge from it’s a really, really bad idea. Tell me, which country are you applying for asylum from? Are you talking about traveling on this Green Card back to that same country? If you do then in my view you’re committing fraud. You’re telling the United States government I fear for my life, that I am afraid to return to X country, where I will be persecuted based upon race, religion, particular social group, or a political opinion. It seems to me you are already making plans to travel back there. Immigration is not stupid. If you actually have a genuine fear of returning then you wouldn’t want to have any desire to want to leave the the United States at all. You should be saying, “I want to stay in the United States and get refuge.” In response to your second question, yes, you should file your asylum application before the Tourist Visa runs out, which will toll your lawful presence here.

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Immigration Wants Proof Our Marriage is Legitimate. What Can I Provide?

Question:  Immigration is asking for more proof that our marriage is legitimate. What proof should I give? I received a letter from Immigration asking for more proof about our marriage. My wife and I got married in 2012. She entered the United States on a J-1 Visa. We submitted the application and from my perspective the interview went well and she received a two-year conditional Green Card. When we first got married I was just a college student. We didn’t have any money so we didn’t have a shared bank account or anything like that. I’ve been employed for about a year now. Last February we sent in the I-175 petition to remove conditions. We recently moved into a new apartment and I plan to add her to all the various bills very soon. I also plan to add her to my new investment account. Do you think this will be enough to persuade Immigration that our marriage is legitimate?

Answer:  Well, I think all the proof that you’ve talked about is good, but I think it’s very suspicious because you’ve done all of this after immigration has asked you to provide more evidence. They are suspicious about whether or not you really have a legitimate marriage based on the evidence, or lack of evidence, that you’ve already submitted for the period of time that has already passed; and they also have access to information that you may not be aware of.  Metaphorically speaking, because of computers in the modern age, we essentially live in a police state. There is probably a great suspicion on Immigration’s part, that you and your wife may have never lived together and are now not really married. That’s why they are asking for more evidence. So it makes since for you to exert more effort in order to scrounge around to find more evidence for the period of time that has already passed. For instance, did you have health insurance at the university or did you get life insurance at your present job, or any prior job? Was your wife made a beneficiary on the life insurance policy once you got married? Obviously, somebody must have had health insurance back then. Has your wife ever worked? Where was your wife working? What address did she use on that W-2 that’s being reported to the IRS? If it’s a different address than yours then I can almost guarantee you that your application won’t be approved, and it is doomed. Immigration sees something in your background that has tipped them off that you’re trying to make everything appear that you’re really married when in fact you may not have been married at all.

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May I Adjust Status After Entering U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

Question: May I Adjust Status After Entering U.S. on Visa Waiver Program (VWP)? I entered the U.S. to look at colleges in November of 2014 on the Visa Waiver Program. While in the U.S. I met my current husband. We bumped into each other at a college seminar. We exchanged numbers and soon started dating. We got along so well together, and we didn’t want to be apart from each other a single moment, so he decided to propose to me over the holidays. I have overstayed my Visa Waiver Program by about 3 months and I am 2 months pregnant. We just got married in August. My question is this: Am I still eligible to adjust status here in Seattle, Washington? I am very worried about deportation because of my pregnancy.

Answer: In all likelihood, yes, you can adjust status here in the U.S. You entered with inspection and even though you’ve overstayed your visa waiver, most of the districts in the United States would allow you to file even though you’re already out of status. But, and this is very important, you will not be eligible for a re-entry permit, so when you file for adjustment of status you cannot leave the country, and you cannot leave until your Green Card is approved. Also, the other possible danger here, in this particular case, is Immigration might wonder whether or not you had the preconceived intent to enter the United States and get married. They have what they call the 30, 60 and 90 day rule. For instance, if you got married within 30 days of entering the United States it is presumed you’ve had the preconceived intent. If it’s been over 90 days, which it has in your case, then that presumption doesn’t necessarily apply. Also, the fact that you’re pregnant is a good thing because it shows that this is a real marriage. The real trick here is you need to check with the local attorneys in Seattle to see what the policy is about overstaying the visa waiver, and whether or not you can still adjust there. Here, in Los Angeles its okay. In Las Vegas, where I also have a practice, its okay too. In San Diego, for a long time, it wasn’t okay. The district director there in San Diego wouldn’t let them do it if they were out of status. I don’t know what the policy is for Seattle.

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I’m a Mexican. I’d like to Marry a U.S. Citizen. What is My Best Option?

Question: I’m a Mexican. I’d like to Marry a U.S. Citizen. What is My Best Option? My boyfriend and I are going to get married soon. I’m a Mexican citizen. I live here. My boyfriend is a United States citizen and he lives in Maryland. I have the Tourist Visa, but I discovered it’s not a good idea to go to the United States and marry after one enters with a Tourist Visa. Is that true? Also, I was reading about the Fianceé Visa. I read that it can take up to 12 months to get that one approved. Is there a way we could marry here in Mexico and then quickly move to Maryland, and file for a green card and a working permit? Or, is it still a better option to file for a Fiancee Visa (wait up to god knows how long), visit him with my tourist visa during that time, and then wed after the Fianceé Visa is approved, then apply for the green card and working permit? Thank you.

Answer:  Since you already have the intention of marrying your boyfriend I think you’re looking at a one year wait or longer no matter what you do. Okay? If you get married in Mexico you become an immediate relative, and he cannot bring you over. He has to file the I-130. He then has to file it with the appropriate service center.  And after that is approved it will be sent to the National Visa Center and that’s yet another 6 to 9 months of waiting. So you may have to wait 6 months to get the I-130 approved and then after everything is sent to the National Visa Center wait another 6 to 9 months, but when it’s all said and done when you come you will have the immigrant visa, and you will have the green card.  If you go the other route and come on the Fianceé Visa it will still take about 6 months once you get that visa. You then go to the embassy, and they give it to you, and then you can enter the United States, and then you have 90 days to get married and submit your paperwork in order to get a green card. But for me, yes, maybe the Fianceé visa is a little faster, but for me, the bottom line is neither one is the fast track in order to come in here and live here permanently since you’ve already expressed the desire to get married.

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