By Autumn Byas, Gorman Law Firm Paralegal Intern.

When you think of qualities a good attorney will have, what do you think of?  Personally, I think of a good attorney as someone who will have the following qualities:

  • Professionalism

By Autumn Byas, Gorman Law Firm Paralegal Intern            

            Divorcing a spouse is one of the most stressful and tragic things that can happen to a family.  Whether it is only affecting the couple who once was in love, or a couple who has a child(ren), a divorce is an extremely stressful situation for anyone in the family to be in.  If you are seeking information about divorcing a spouse in North Carolina it is a good idea to start educating yourself on the laws surrounding divorce in our state.  They can be found here:  http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Statutes/StatutesTOC.pl?Chapter=0050.  Chapter 50 of the North Carolina General Statutes outlines the laws surrounding a divorce proceeding, and also about custody and alimony matters.  The Chapter has 100 sections and is filled with a lot of information; therefore, it is wise to seek out help from an attorney who is experienced in divorce law.  Gorman Law Firm is experienced in handling these sensitive issues.

            Why do people get divorced?  There are numerous reasons as to why.   A blog posted by  Divorce Source News & Information entitled “Problems that can wreck a marriage” goes into some of these reasons. (Divorce Source Editorial Staff. “Problems that can wreck a marriage.” Web blog post. Divorce Source news and information. Divorce Source, Inc., 2 May. 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.)  Marriage infidelity is one major cause of a broken marriage. Infidelity is defined as “1) Lack of belief in a religion 2) A: unfaithfulness to a moral obligation: disloyalty B: Marital unfaithfulness or an instance of it.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. March 2015).  A collaborative divorce coach, psychotherapist, author and parent, Micki McWade stated “marital infidelity is a symptom of underlying issues in the relationship.” Read the entire article at the following website:  http://www.divorcesource.com/blog/problems-that-can-wreck-a-marriage/  (Divorce Source Editorial Staff. “Problems that can wreck a marriage.” Web blog post. Divorce Source news and information. Divorce Source, Inc., 2 May. 2014. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.)

After living in the United States illegally for so many years, a cautious life becomes a normal life. It becomes normal to stay in the same job for as long as you can keep it, no matter what the conditions are, because the risk of finding another job without a Social Security card or with a fake number is too high. It becomes normal to drive only when necessary because one traffic stop, one wrong answer to a police officer, could destroy the life you created here. However, President Obama has recognized that this sense of normalcy is false, unfair, and goes against the ideals this country was founded on.
On November 20, 2014, President Obama’s Executive Order considered three important aspects of immigration in the United States. First, he has affirmed that additional resources for law enforcement personnel will be provided at the boarder. Second, it will be easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to the United States economy. Third, and most importantly, the United States will take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country. The goal of the order is to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to national security. “To focus on felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.”

To be clear, the executive order does not grant citizenship or permanent residency; it does not apply to anyone who has come into this country illegally recently; and it does not apply to anyone who might come to American illegally in the future. It is a temporary excuse from deportation and gives the people an opportunity to get their immigration status corrected. There are five different categories that people must fall into in order for the Executive Order to apply to them:

1. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
Who •    Current DACA recipients seeking renewal and new applicants, including individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, who meet all other DACA guidelines.
What •    Allows individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA (removing the upper age restriction) provided they meet all other guidelines.

•    Requires continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007.

•    Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.

When •    Approximately 90 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.
How •    Go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page for instructions which will be updated over the next several months. Subscribe to this page to receive updates by email.
2. Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents
Who •    An undocumented individual living in the United States who, on the date of the announcement, is the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and who meets the guidelines listed below.
What •    Allows parents to request deferred action and employment authorization if they:

•                      Have continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010;

•                      Are the parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014; and

•                      Are not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States, pursuant to the November 20, 2014, Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum.

Notes: USCIS will consider each request for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) on a case-by-case basis. Enforcement priorities include (but are not limited to) national security and public safety threats.

When •    Approximately 180 days following the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement.
How •    Subscribe to this page to receive updates by email.
3. Provisional waivers of unlawful presence
Who •    Undocumented individuals who have resided unlawfully in the United States for at least 180 days and who are:

◦                      The sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; and

◦                      The spouse and sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents.

What •    Expands the provisional waiver program announced in 2013 by allowing the spouses, sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents and sons and daughters of U.S. citizens to get a waiver if a visa is available. There may be instances when the qualifying relative is not the petitioner.

•    Clarifies the meaning of the “extreme hardship” standard that must be met to obtain a waiver.

When •    Upon issuing of new guidelines and regulations.
How •    Subscribe to this page to receive updates by email.
4. Modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs
Who •    U.S. businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.
What USCIS will:

•    Work with the Department of State to develop a method to allocate immigrant visas to ensure that all immigrant visas authorized by Congress are issued to eligible individuals when there is sufficient demand for such visas.

•    Work with the Department of State to modify the Visa Bulletin system to more simply and reliably make determinations of visa availability.

•    Provide clarity on adjustment portability to remove unnecessary restrictions on natural career progression and general job mobility to provide relief to workers facing lengthy adjustment delays.

•    Clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver may be granted to foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the U.S economy.

•    Authorize parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but who:

◦                      Have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing; or

◦                      Otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.

•    Finalize a rule to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are on the path to lawful permanent resident status.

•    Work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop regulations for notice and comment to expand and extend the use of optional practical training (OPT) for foreign students, consistent with existing law.

•    Provide clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” to bring greater clarity and integrity to the L-1B program, improve consistency in adjudications, and enhance companies’ confidence in the program.

When •    Upon issuing necessary guidance and regulations.
How •    Subscribe to this page to receive updates by email.
5. Promote the naturalization process
Who •    Lawful permanent residents eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship
What •    Promote citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents.

•    Allow naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee.

•    Assess potential for partial fee waivers in the next biennial fee study.

•                Notes: Go to the U.S. Citizenship page to learn about the naturalization process and visit the Citizenship Resource Center to find naturalization test preparation resources. You can also visit the N-400, Application for Naturalization, page.

When •    During 2015
How •    Subscribe to this page to receive updates by email.

Information from: http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

All who fall into the above categories must be in good standing with the law and must not have a criminal record or ties to terrorism. Additionally, they will not have access to social welfare or any other form of government assistance. Thus, if you register, you must pass a criminal background check and must be willing to pay your fair share of taxes in order “to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.”

Under the United States Constitution, “We the People of the United States” have been conferred fundamental, unalienable rights. Some people believe that “we the people” only refers to legal citizens of the United States; however, the Supreme Court has consistently disagreed. Although the term “illegal immigrant” does not appear in the Constitution, some of its rights and freedoms apply to illegal immigrants even though they are strictly prohibited from voting and possessing a firearm.

The Supreme Court has rejected the argument that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is limited to U.S. citizens. The Court concluded that “an alien, who has entered the country, and has become subject in all respects to its jurisdiction, and a part of its population, although alleged to be illegally here” is entitled to equal protection of the laws. Yick Wo. V. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886). Thus, regardless of the citizenship status of an immigrant and whether or not they are lawfully present in the United States, they are entitled to equal protection under the laws of the United States.

Moreover, the Court has settled that the Fifth and Sixth Amendments apply to all people, including illegal immigrants. The Court stated, “ . . . it must be concluded that all persons within the territory of the United States are entitled to the protection guaranteed by those amendments, and that even aliens shall not be held to answer for a capital or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896). Therefore, regardless of an individual’s immigration status, every person is entitled to due process under the law. Generally, due process means: (1) notice to the person to fully inform the individual of the decision or activity that will have an effect on their rights, and (2) the right to be heard (a trial or hearing). Further, equal protection extends First Amendment protection to everyone covered by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Under the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law [establishing religion] or prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]; or abridging the freedom of speech.”

As an influx of undocumented immigrant children enters the U.S., the city of Baltimore is in the spotlight.  Attention on Baltimore results from the way in which they are approaching unaccompanied-minor cases. The city is expediting these cases so rapidly, the approach has garnered the name “Rocket Docket.”  This removal style was applied in response to President Obama’s directive to fast-track these cases. As a result, these minors have roughly 21 days to retain an attorney, which directly relates to an individual’s success in avoiding deportation. According to  the Transnational Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), 47.5 percent of undocumented minors with legal counsel are granted the right to stay in the United States at their removal hearing whereas nine out of 10 children without an attorney are deported.  However, there is no indication from this study how many children out of 10 appear for their hearing if they do not retain an attorney.  A failure to appear for removal proceedings results in an automatic removal “in absentia.”  Despite that unknown statistic, it is important to note that if these undocumented immigrant children do indeed retain an attorney, they are almost certain to appear for their hearing.  It is likely that a “Rocket docket” style removal program is actually reducing the amount of unaccompanied children that end up appearing for their hearings because they have not been afforded time to find an attorney and an opportunity to understand both the legal implications of their entry and legal protections available to them.

When weighing public support of this tactic directed by the president, roughly half of Americans support the speeding up of removal in these types of cases, 47% Democrats support while 60% of Republicans support the measures.  It is unlikely, however, that both party members in support of this rapid process have taken into account that “Rocket Docket” removal actually discourages minors from appearing for their cases altogether, a situation that does not seem to solve any problems that the rocket docket style attempts to address.  This style of removal serves no purpose but to appear as if the influx problem is being dealt with, but in reality the problem is being swept under the rug.

Jose vargas - handcuffs

Jose Vargas, an undocumented but decorated journalist, was detained Tuesday morning in a McAllen, Texas airport.  Mr. Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning writer born in the Philippines, who most notably covered the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 with the Washington Post, has most recently written about the current immigration climate and the experiences of undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children by their families.  Jose was brought by his grandparents when he was twelve years old with what he thought was his very own green card, leaving his mother, his half-siblings, and his childhood in the Philippines behind. It was not until he turned 16 and attempted to get his driver’s license that an employee at the department let him know that his green card was not real.  Jose had no idea that he came without documentation.  He carried a green card with him for years believing it was valid because his grandparents gave it to him.  In the CNN documentary “Undocumented,” Mr. Vargas discloses the devastation and shame he experienced over the years following this revelation.  It highlights the feelings that many undocumented individuals experience who were not aware of their undocumented status.  To “fix” his situation, Mr. Vargas was determined to outwork the reality of his situation.  He gave false information to every employer he has ever had and has accomplished great successes in the journalism field in the process.  However, his work ethic has never been able to cure his undocumented status, something over which he had no control.

There are no confirmed facts as to the grounds for Jose’s current detention although it is hard to imagine that it does not involve his undocumented status.  After the publicity of his status through his documentary, it was only a matter of time that a traveling journalist such as himself was detained at an airport where all persons much show valid identification to board a flight, especially in a border town like McAllen, Texas.  Under stated federal procedure, if a person is not able to show valid identification, he or she may fly if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is able to verify the person’s identity.  It may be at this stage that Mr. Vargas’s name flagged Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or if he used his false credentials in getting through security.  However, his troublesome situation may bring much desired publicity to the situation of millions of young adults in America.  Perhaps this will be the event that changes the fate of immigration reform for undocumented childhood arrivals who have been dubbed DREAMers.

Yesterday, President Obama addressed two immigration issues plaguing the nation.  First, to address the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing Central American countries, President Obama requested that Congress give him more authority to send these children back to their home countries under the Nation’s expedited removal program.  Ordinarily, expedited removal is reserved for “arriving aliens” (people who are attempting to enter the United States at a border or other lawful entry point and people who recently entered the United States unlawfully). They may be placed into expedited removal proceedings, but before issuing an expedited removal order, an immigration officer must determine that the person is inadmissible to the United States because he or she either:

  • lied or misrepresented a material fact, including falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, in obtaining U.S. entry documents or admission, or
  • does not have a valid entry document (such as a visa or border crosser card) or travel document (such as a passport).

As of Thursday morning, the Department of Homeland Security began accepting renewal applications for approved DACA applicants (deferred action for childhood arrivals).  The earliest expiration of DACA is in September 2014, but Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the process to renew enrollment will begin today.  The Department of Homeland Security will begin adjudicating renewal requests immediately, and although application for renewal is now available, USCIS will continue to accept requests for DACA applicants who have not previously sought access to the program as well.

As stated on the Department of Homeland Security website, “DACA is a discretionary determination to defer removal action against an individual. Individuals in DACA will be able to remain in the United States and apply for employment authorization for a period of two years. Individuals who have not requested DACA previously, but meet the criteria established, may also request deferral for the first time. It is important to note that individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since June 15th 2007 are ineligible for DACA.”

Requirements for a DACA renewal

In what appears to be one of few fruitful recommendations to come out of either political party’s immigration rhetoric, the 3-and-10-year bar may be on the chopping block.  As of the end of last week, the Washington Times indicated that Rep. Labrador (R-Idaho) suggested a compromise with Democrats to ease the harsh punishment to immigrants who have accumulated unlawful presence in the United States.  Under the current law, undocumented immigrants who entered without inspection and have since accumulated unlawful time in the U.S. suffer a penalty if that accumulation of time exceeds either six months or reaches one year.  This provision affects roughly 25% of undocumented immigrants.  It has hindered those with lawful means of immigration from seeking such statuses without accomplishing its intention which was deterrence of unlawful immigration.

In negotiation, Rep. Labrador has indicated that in conjunction with easing the punishment for immigration violators, he and other Republicans seek to extend more lawful immigration benefits in the form of visas to non-immigrant students.  This offer comes by way of the Heritage Foundation, “a research and educational institution whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”  House Republicans met at a Heritage Foundation forum to discuss immigration, a topic which has become quite controversial for the GOP in recent years.

But according to the Washington Times, Mr. Labrador’s proposal didn’t impress those who it referred to as “immigration advocates.”  These “advocates” say “they will only accept a broad reform package that covers all parts of the immigration debate.” Democrats want a monolithic bill that addresses all immigration grievances at once at the expense of any progress.  However, in effect, repealing the “3-and-10-year bar” to immigration will address both past and present hurdles that many current and future immigrants face.  It will remove the bar to entry on those individuals who are present in the U.S. and have lawful means of immigration but have remained here without seeking the benefit for fear of that bar upon departure.  Currently, these individuals can leave and only reenter upon receipt of their available visas immediately if the immigrant’s U.S. citizen family member has an extreme hardship.  Otherwise, he or she will endure a lengthy, and in the case of the 10-year bar, unbearable wait period.

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