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Los Angeles Immigration Law Blog

Qualifications allowing you to apply for asylum or refugee status

Many immigrants leave their home countries in hopes of a better life in the United States. There are numerous valid reasons to want to relocate to America. Unfortunately, some people flee their countries because of the threat of oppression or bodily harm. If you are being persecuted or fear persecution because of your race, gender, religion or other factors, you may be eligible to apply for asylum or refugee status. The attorneys at Ronzio & Associates have a full understanding of asylum law and can help if you and your family are fleeing to this country for your own safety.

What does it mean to be a refugee or to gain asylum? These two terms are similar, but differ in when you apply. You would apply to the United States for refugee status before you’ve left your home country; however, if you’ve already reached U.S. borders or come into the country, you would need to apply for asylum status. If approved, both of these would allow you to remain indefinitely in the country, as well as to work and to apply for a green card.

What should you know about the U.S. naturalization test?

If you want to become a citizen of our country, the naturalization test is an important step in the application process. You might worry about how difficult this test is, especially if English is not your native language. Fortunately, the naturalization test has been designed for almost anyone to pass if they are dedicated to becoming a U.S. citizen. If you are willing to study and learn about our country’s history and governmental processes, you stand a good chance of passing the test. What are the basic elements of the naturalization test that you should know?

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you will be tested on your understanding of government and U.S. history fundamentals. This can include basic knowledge of how federal and state systems work, as well as notable presidential and historical United States trivia. During the test, a naturalization official will interview you in English to assess your comprehension of the language. You will also be required to read and write a brief passage in English to demonstrate your competency.

Sexual abuse widespread in immigration detention facilities

When a person is being detained, no matter the reasons or circumstances, it is reasonable to expect to be treated with at least a minimum of human dignity. This includes not having to fear a sexual assault when in jail or immigration detention. Unfortunately, many undocumented immigrants in detainment in Los Angeles and other areas across the country face many degrees of sexual violence every day.

The problem is much more pervasive than people might think, states the National Immigrant Justice Center, especially in immigration detention facilities. Human Rights Watch conducted a report in 2010 that suggested the problem of immigrant sexual abuse is rampant in facilities across the nation. Sadly, many of these victims are underage.

Immigrant minors being sent home without deportation hearings

There are many reasons a family might wish to immigrate to the United States. The chance of a better life, being able to provide for one’s family and escaping violence or injustice are some of the most common reasons for family immigration. Children escaping their home countries on their own often try to come into our country for more urgent reasons. Sadly, many are being sent back home from Los Angeles and other cities without even having the chance of a trial.

Since 2013, large numbers of minors without adults have been crossing over into the country from Central America. This is due to increasing violence and other abuses that they are trying to escape in countries like El Salvador and Honduras. To deal with the huge influx of illegal immigrant minors, authorities have reportedly sped up deportation hearings, and are even deporting children without notifying them of hearing dates.

Many deported out of the U.S. for minor crimes

Immigration authorities in the United States have specific laws when it comes to deportation, particularly when an immigrant has been accused of a crime. However, many of these laws are so broad that they can be misconstrued. As a result, thousands of immigrants who posed no danger to others have been removed from their homes in Los Angeles and other areas of the country, away from their families. If you’re facing deportation, the immigration lawyers at Ronzio & Associates know what you’re up against. You might have been apprehended only for a minor crime or no crime at all, but laws can still state that you fall into one of several categories allowing for deportation.

According to the American Immigration Council, most immigrants who are being deported are not dangerous to society. Statistics by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) show that out of 368,644 removals in fiscal year 2013, most people had only committed minor crimes or did not have any criminal history.

Los Angeles headmaster charged in illegal immigration scheme

The majority of immigrants to the United States are law-abiding citizens who don’t have any intention of doing anything illegal. Unfortunately, there are some people who would take advantage of a foreigner’s desire to live in our country, including supplying a student visa for a price. This was apparently what was happening in several Los Angeles colleges recently.

After immigration officials made an unannounced visit to one of the schools in 2011 and found many classes virtually empty, they started to get suspicious. A subsequent investigation revealed that the owner and headmaster of several schools in Los Angeles was accepting as much as $1,800 every six months from foreign students in an illegal immigration scheme that allowed them to “pay to stay” in the U.S. According to authorities, the headmaster or other members of the staff would provide immigrants with paperwork for student visas, but the students rarely attended classes, if ever.

Immigrants can find great success in the U.S.

Since the founding of the United States, this country has been about providing opportunities for everyone who lives here. This includes immigrants. In fact, most American citizens today are descended from immigrants at some point in history. Many people have gone on to have their wildest dreams come true after coming to this country, while others have found success and happiness in more modest ways.

Among the most well-known immigrants of our time, according to Forbes, are numerous actors, inventors, musicians, athletes and even politicians. These include Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron, who emigrated from South Africa. Freddy Adu, originally from Ghana, became a Major League Soccer player after coming to our country. Rupert Murdoch, hailing from Australia, is a highly successful media mogul. There can hardly be a more famous foreigner-turned-U.S. citizen in the state of California than actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, who later served two terms as state Governor.

What is DACA and how can you qualify for the program?

Recently in this blog we discussed how aspects of the DREAM Act can affect Los Angeles residents, particularly when it comes to furthering your education. Although the DREAM Act in its entirely hasn’t passed yet, several parts of it closely relate to a program called DACA, or “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” In many ways, DACA can benefit young people who wish to legally stay in the United States temporarily, or who need some time to pursue permanent citizenship.

According to the National Immigration Law Center’s FAQ page, the DACA program in its entirety has been active since June 2012, but there have been recent changes that expand some of the program’s benefits. To summarize what DACA is all about, it means that you will not be deported from the U.S. if you’ve resided in the country since childhood, as long as you meet certain requirements. Some of the most important of these requirements include:

  • Being at least 15 years of age, and having come to the country before your 16th birthday
  • Having a high school diploma, a GED or other valid high school equivalency, being a current student or having been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces or the Coast Guard
  • Not having a felony conviction, a significant misdemeanor conviction or three or more misdemeanors on your record

Defining marriage fraud

The idea of the American dream is something that millions of people aspire to, including countless people from other countries who hope to make it to America to build a better life. There are many ways that immigrants can relocate to Los Angeles and other parts of the country, including arriving on a work visa or obtaining their green card. These avenues are accessible and legal to many people; however, some foreigners may use other means of getting into the country that are less than legal.

One of these methods is by getting married to a United States citizen under false pretenses. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a legal citizen and an immigrant must be living in a real marital relationship with a genuine interest in building a life together, otherwise the marriage may be considered fraudulent. A fraudulent marriage can occur under any of the following conditions:

  • The immigrant pays or solicits help from a U.S. citizen to be get married in order to remain in the country.
  • A U.S. citizen participates in a “mail-order” marriage situation.
  • An immigrant leads a U.S. citizen to believe the marriage is real, until the period of time passes for gaining a green card or other legal documentation and the immigrant files for divorce.

What are some of the challenges new U.S. citizens face?

The milestone of gaining a U.S. citizenship is something that you have a right to celebrate. The application process and citizenship testing for immigrants in Los Angeles often come at the end of a lengthy, arduous and stressful period. While this is a happy time for you and your family, it does not necessarily mean the end of your troubles. In fact, you may continue to face much of the same misunderstandings and even discrimination that you endured while working toward your citizenship.

According to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, you can face a number of economic and social challenges after passing your naturalization test. These challenges can be discouraging, especially after you’ve worked so hard to become a part of this country.

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