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Court Refuses to Halt the Construction of U.S./Mexico Border Wall

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  The Supreme Court on Friday turned down a plea from opponents of President Donald Trump’s border wall to order a temporary stop to construction. By a vote of 5-4, the justices declined to lift a stay, entered just over a year ago, that allowed the federal government to continue to spend federal funds on,

 

The Supreme Court on Friday turned down a plea from opponents of President Donald Trump’s border wall to order a temporary stop to construction. By a vote of 5-4, the justices declined to lift a stay, entered just over a year ago, that allowed the federal government to continue to spend federal funds on construction while a legal challenge to the wall continues. The challengers had urged the Supreme Court to intervene last week, telling the justices that if the stay were not lifted, the Trump administration could finish the wall before the court even decides whether to take up the case on the merits.

The brief one-sentence order was the latest in the dispute over the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The clash came to the court for the first time last year, after a federal district judge in California agreed with the challengers, the Sierra Club and the Southern Borders Communities Coalition, that government officials did not have the power to spend more than Congress had already allocated for border security. U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam barred the government from using $2.5 billion in funds originally earmarked for military-personnel funds to build the border wall, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit declined to stay that ruling while the government appealed. The Trump administration then went to the Supreme Court, which – by a vote of 5-4 last July — put Gilliam’s order on hold and allowed the government to use the Pentagon funds on the wall.

After the 9th Circuit upheld Gilliam’s decision last month, the challengers asked the Supreme Court to step in and lift the stay. Otherwise, they contended, the government would be able to finish the parts of the wall that are the subject of their challenge before the litigation concludes.

The Trump administration urged the court to leave its year-old stay in place. When the justices rejected the challengers’ arguments last year, U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall posited, they were “presumably aware that the result would be construction during litigation.” And in any event, Wall added, the government plans to file its cert petition seeking review of the 9th Circuit’s decision on Aug. 7, which would allow the justices to consider it at their first conference after the summer recess.

Justice Stephen Breyer filed a short dissent from the court’s denial of the challengers’ motion to lift the stay, which was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who, the Court’s Public Information Office reported, was discharged from the hospital today after undergoing a non-surgical procedure earlier this week), Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Breyer reiterated that when the court granted the stay last year, he had suggested a middle ground that, he said, would avoid irreparable harm on both sides of the dispute: Put Gilliam’s order on hold as far as it prevented the government from finalizing the contracts for the construction of the wall, but continue to bar the government from actually spending the Pentagon funds or beginning construction. “Now,” Breyer observed, the government “has apparently finalized its contracts, avoiding the irreparable harm” that it said justified the stay last year. Because Friday’s order allowing construction to continue may effectively serve as a final judgment in the case, Breyer explained, he would have lifted the stay of Gilliam’s order.

In a statement issued shortly after Friday’s order, an attorney representing the challengers emphasized that the justices’ “temporary order does not decide the case.” Dror Ladin, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, stressed that the Trump administration “has admitted that the wall can be taken down if we ultimately prevail, and we will hold them to their word and seek the removal of every mile of unlawful wall built.”

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Source: Court Refuses to Halt the Construction of U.S./Mexico Border Wall

Amy Howe Independent Contractor and Reporter

Posted Fri, July 31st, 2020 6:16 pm

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The Green Card Process Through the Lens of a DMV Visit

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As an immigration attorney, I try to provide clients with a basic, yet insightful, understanding of various aspects of a complex immigration system. It’s not always easy, but I often find analogies to something commonplace can be helpful.  One analogy I’ve found to work well to explain the green card process beyond describing its mere,

As an immigration attorney, I try to provide clients with a basic, yet insightful, understanding of various aspects of a complex immigration system. It’s not always easy, but I often find analogies to something commonplace can be helpful.  One analogy I’ve found to work well to explain the green card process beyond describing its mere sequence of form filings likens the process to a visit to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

In my practice area of business immigration law, green card processes are mostly employment-based and involve the successive filing of a labor certification application, immigrant petition, and adjustment of status application (with the first not always required and the latter two sometimes eligible for concurrent filing). So I’ll refer to these types of filings in describing the analogy here.  But variations of the analogy may be equally applicable to other types of green card processes, such as those in which the aspiring permanent resident will apply for an immigrant visa overseas rather than adjustment of status within the United States, as well as those based on family relationships and those available to asylees and refugees.

The trappings of a visit to the DMV, no matter the state, may be familiar to you: the issuance of a waiting number determining your place in a queue, followed by a long wait for your number to be called at one of several counters to file required paperwork, followed yet again by a lengthy wait for your paperwork to be processed, and eventually – hopefully – approved without issue.  The counter at which you’ll be called, and the length of the corresponding queue (or maybe in some fortunate instances, the absence of one altogether), often depends on specific factors, such as the type of service you’re seeking.

Just as you’re issued a waiting number upon entry into a DMV office, aspiring permanent residents are issued a priority date when the first major filing in their green card process (either the labor certification application or immigrant petition) is submitted.  The priority date is the date this first filing is submitted and determines, once the immigrant petition is approved, the aspiring permanent resident’s place in any existing queue to apply for adjustment of status.

Similar to how you wait at the DMV for your number to be called to file your paperwork at the appropriate counter, aspiring permanent residents face varying wait times for their priority date to be “called” at a designated “counter” to apply for adjustment of status.  The “counter” in the green card process at which aspiring permanent residents must apply for adjustment of status is based on a combination of two main factors: their immigrant classification (which, when speaking with clients, I refer to as their “green card category”) and their country of chargeability (which I refer to as their country of birth).  Aside from some significant exceptions outside of the employment-based green card process,[1] the law limits the supply of green cards available each fiscal year.  Because the law allocates this limited supply based on a combination of both immigrant classification and country of chargeability, queues form at “counters” where the demand for green cards exceeds the available supply.  And the more severely demand exceeds supply, the longer the queue will be. This analogy helps to show why EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in India and China are often confronted with waits lasting many years for their priority date to be “called” at their designated counters,[2] while EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in most other countries often face no such queue.  In technical terms, the existence of a queue at a given “counter” means the availability of green cards associated with that counter’s classification and chargeability combination is “retrogressed.”  If there’s no queue, green card availability at that counter is “current.”

A visit to the DMV often entails a wait of several hours sitting and keeping watch of your designated counter at it serves the visitors who arrived before you until your own number is finally called.  Likewise, many aspiring permanent residents monitor the often plodding, month-to-month movement of “cut-off dates” in the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ monthly Visa Bulletins for the designated “counter” at which they must apply for adjustment of status.[3]  The Visa Bulletin for a given month contains various charts showing whether a queue for filing an adjustment of status application exists for any classification and chargeability combination, and if so, how long the queue is.  Combinations for which there is no queue are assigned a “C” notation, indicating that green card availability is current and that the adjustment of status application can thus be filed at any time that month, including in concurrence with an immigrant petition if it has not already been approved, and assuming any prerequisite labor certification has been granted. Combinations for which there is a queue, and for which green card availability is thus retrogressed, are denoted by a “cut-off date,” with older dates reflecting longer queues.  Aspiring permanent residents seeking to adjust status at a “counter” at which green card availability is retrogressed can track their place in the queue by comparing their priority date with the applicable cut-off date each month.  Priority dates that fall before the applicable cut-off date in a given month are those that have been “called,” indicating that much like counters at which green card availability is current, an adjustment of status application can be filed at any time that month, including in concurrence with an immigrant petition if it has not already been approved, and assuming again that any prerequisite labor certification has been granted.

Like processing of paperwork filed at a counter at the DMV, processing of an adjustment of status application may take a long time.  But eventually – hopefully – the application is approved without issue.  And unlike a visit to the DMV, having qualified counsel during the green card process can make all the difference in one’s chance of success.

[1] For example, “immediate relatives” (spouses and children of US citizens, and parents of US citizens if the citizen is at least 21 years old) are exempt from annual numerical limits on green card availability. INA 201(b)(2)(A)(i).
[2] Aspiring permanent residents for whom the queue for applying for adjustment of status involves a wait of several years, such as EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants born in India and China, commonly change jobs or employers in the course of their wait. Such a change can require a restart of the green card process since employment-based green card processes are generally job and employer specific.  But to allow aspiring permanents residents who change jobs or employers to keep their place in queue, the law permits them to retain their priority date under certain conditions if they are the beneficiary of a previously approved EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant petition, and likewise become the beneficiary of an approved EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant petition based on their new job or employer. 8 CFR 204.5(e). 
[3] US Citizenship and Immigration Service also publishes monthly updates indicating whether to use the Visa Bulletin’s Dates for Filing charts or its Final Action Dates charts, to determine whether an adjustment of status application may be filed.

Source: The Green Card Process Through the Lens of a DMV Visit

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