NEWS & EVENTS
The U.S. government is renewing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for both Sudanese and South Sudanese nationals. TPS is a temporary immigration status that allows individuals from certain countries to stay and work legally in the U.S. Anyone from Sudan or South Sudan who already has TPS needs to register between now and March 11, 2013. Get more information here: Sudan or South Sudan.
The exciting news is that the U.S. government re-designated both countries for TPS. This means that any Sudanese or South Sudanese individual who has been in the U.S. since before January 9, 2013, can apply for this status. In other words, anyone who may be here without immigration status (with a denied asylum application or an overstayed visa, for example), or is here as a temporary visitor could be eligible to apply to stay.
ILAP is happy to assist anyone who qualifies to complete their re-registration forms and/or to do a consult to determine eligibility to apply. Contact us at 207-780-1593 or 800-497-8505.
USCIS is now accepting applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Anyone who thinks they might qualify for DACA can contact ILAP for eligibility screening and application assistance at 207-780-1593 or 800-497-8505. More information about the program and its requirements (in English and Spanish) is available here.
Relief for DREAMers
On June 15th, President Obama announced the Administration’s new directive to stop the removal of some qualifying youth and to grant them deferred action and employment authorization for a period of two years. ILAP applauds this important step towards immigration fairness and hopes that Congress will follow this move and pass the Dream Act so that children will have a path to permanent legal status. The President’s announcement was not a change in the law but rather a change in enforcement policy and does not give individuals a permanent legal status. Deferred action is a temporary protection from removal and permits an individual to apply for employment authorization and a social security number.
To qualify, an individual must meet the following criteria: must have entered the US before the age 16; continuously resided in the US for five years; currently be in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the US; not have a felony offense, significant misdemeanor (which includes OUI), multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the US; and must be between the ages of 15 and 30.
Only those in removal proceedings or those encountered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may be granted deferred action at this point. Those who are not in removal proceedings will apply for deferred action with US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS has sixty days to implement the application program and has not yet begun accepting applications.
It is important that individuals who think they may qualify for deferred action consult with an immigration lawyer before they apply. Some individuals who are found not to meet the criteria may be detained and/or deported.
Ensuring Food Benefits for Maine’s Low-Income Immigrants
The 2012 Maine state budget, passed in mid-2011, introduced harsh cuts to state-funded benefits programs, including the elimination of benefits for most legal immigrants. In order to institute these cuts, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had the difficult task of enacting policies that would severely limit eligibility for these programs. DHHS drafted changes to the Food Supplement Program, in particular, as a broad sweep to eliminate benefits for many individuals. The changes, however, were broader than intended and eliminated some individuals that DHHS sought to remain eligible, including asylum seekers.
To point out the unintended consequences of the proposed policy changes, ILAP and the Maine Equal Justice Partners (MEJP) testified and submitted comments at a DHHS hearing to clarify that asylum seekers are entitled to Food Supplement benefits if they meet hardship requirements. ILAP also suggested that certain immigration documents be listed as documentation to can be provided to prove that someone is a victim of domestic violence. DHHS revised their policies based on the comments submitted by ILAP and MEJP, ensuring that eligible immigrants continue to receive their rightful benefits.
ILAP serves on the State Advisory Committee on Bias-Based Profiling
The State Advisory Committee on Bias-Based Profiling, which includes ILAP representative Andrea Summers, presented its findings to the Maine Legislature in February. Read the Committee's report here.