20 Nov Latest Immigration Updates
Written by: Ashik Jahan, Esq.
Immigrant Investor Program
The Immigrant Investor Program, commonly known as EB-5, was established to stimulate the U.S. economy by giving foreign entrepreneurs the opportunity to permanently live and work in the U.S. after investing in an American commercial enterprise. Recently, USCIS has raised the required $500,000/$1 million minimum investment requirement to $900,000/$1.8 million. The new rule also changes how Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) are identified by removing the state’s right to designate census tracts that qualify as TEAs, which will now be determined solely by the USCIS. It is believed that this change will prevent gerrymandering of TEAs.
The new rule will go into effect on November 21, 2019 and is the first raise in the minimum investment amount since the program was launched in 1990. The USCIS is raising the cost of investment to account for inflation and has indicated that the investment threshold will also adjust for inflation every five years.
U.S. Border Agents and ICE Violated Fourth Amendment
A federal Judge has ruled that U.S. border agents and ICE have violated Fourth Amendment protections of unreasonable search and seizures under their current policy. CBP and ICE were previously allowed to search smartphones and laptops without cause. This has been a concerning trend in the recent years as searches skyrocketed from 8,500 in 2015 to 30,000 in 2018 (New York Times). U.S. District Court Judge, Denise Casper, ruled that agents would need “reasonable suspicion” to search anyone’s smartphone or laptop for contraband such as national security information or child pornography. They will not need a warrant to search a phone or laptop, but they will need to be able to point out facts that made them search someone’s personal data. The lawsuit was filed by 11 travelers, 10 U.S. citizens and 1 lawful resident, that claimed U.S. border agents illegally searched their electronic devices. Civil liberties advocates have praised the ruling saying that it gives travelers their Fourth Amendment rights that have previously been violated, and rules out the “exception to the Fourth Amendment” that was previously allowed.
Updates to the Current Asylum Process
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently released a proposal that would change the current asylum process for immigrants fleeing to the United States. The new rule is aimed at immigrants who have, or who plan to, enter the country without documentation, and would deny work authorization to them while the asylum process plays out. However, other classes of asylum seekers may also be impacted. For example, the new rule would also potentially give the government the authority to deny work permit renewals for those who previously entered the US without documentation, applied for asylum and have since obtained work authorization. Already in the midst of a long delayed asylum process, many asylum seekers may now face a precarious wait, without the means to find legal employment and financially support support themselves.
Viewed by many as a roadblock for asylum seekers, USCIS instead claims that such intending immigrants are taking advantage of the current asylum process for economic opportunity; the claim is that many immigrants are not in need of true asylum, and file for asylum solely for economic reasons.