Video: What is Open Borders?

November 23, 2022Shahid Haque

Evaluate your case with Open Borders, the free immigration guide!

November 8, 2022Shahid Haque
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We are proud to announce the launch of Open Borders, a free immigration guide created by the Border Crossing Law Firm, P.C.  The app is available now in both English and Spanish on the WebAndroid, iPhone/iPad, and Mac.

This guide was created by Shahid Haque, an immigration attorney and former law professor who has spent more than 17 years representing thousands of clients in the U.S. immigration system.

“After conducting thousands of immigration consultations, an immigration attorney develops a system for evaluating cases and identifying the important factors that affect a client’s options,” Mr. Haque said.  “I wanted to use my knowledge of immigration law to benefit people around the world, so I spent several years writing a guide that offers a free, automated assessment of your immigration options.”

“While I can only be in one place at one time, Open Borders can help thousands of clients at once,” Mr. Haque said. 

By asking a series of important questions, we will evaluate your case and explain what you can do to get legal status in the country.

✅ We simplify our complex immigration laws, by presenting you with information that is relevant to your circumstances.

✅ We can help you explore the options you have to come to the United States, or remain here with lawful status.

✅ We assess complex immigration fact patterns, even those involving one or more illegal entries into the country.

✅ We can explain what relief you may qualify for in deportation or removal proceedings.

🙋🏽‍♂️ If at any point you want our help, you can schedule a consultation by phone or video, or hire us for full representation.

 We believe that legal representation is critical in immigration cases, and do not encourage you to file any applications without the assistance of a qualified attorney. Even though we provide personalized information based on your answers, this is not legal advice, and using this app does not make us your attorneys. 

Try it now on the Web:

https://openborders.io

USCIS Implements New Process for Venezuelans

October 18, 2022Shahid Haque
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On Oct. 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new process for Venezuelans. This new process will provide a lawful and streamlined way for nationals of Venezuela who are outside the United States to come to the United States.

Through a fully online process, individuals can be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for advance authorization to travel to the United States for a temporary period of parole for up to two years, provided that they have a supporter in the United States who will provide financial and other support.

USCIS says they will begin implementing this new process on Oct. 18, 2022. For additional information on the process and eligibility requirements, please see USCIS’ Process for Venezuelans webpage.

Is it still possible to apply for DACA?

September 27, 2022Shahid Haque
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Right now, USCIS is approving renewals of DACA status, but not initial applications.

 

Deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) was a program created in 2012, which allows you to get a work permit, and be protected from deportation. The specific requirements are:

→ You entered the country when you were under 16 years old.

→ You were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 (when the law went into effect).

→ You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time.

→ You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and remain here now.

→ You were out of lawful status on June 15, 2012.

→ You are currently in school, have graduated, got a general education development (GED), or are a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States.

⚠️ President Trump eliminated the DACA program, but this was challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the program was incorrectly terminated.  This meant that DACA applications were briefly permitted once again. Unfortunately, a lawsuit was filed, and a federal district court once again held that DACA is an unlawful program. Because of that ruling, DACA is only open for renewals right now, but not first-time applications.

⛔️ It is not truly possible to file an initial application right now.  Any initial DACA applications that are filed are being put on hold, and not decided, until this legal battle is resolved.

☀️ It is still possible to file your application, and put it in the queue, in the hopes of approval.  If you would like our help, you can hire us to represent you, or set up a consultation.

Shahid Haque Speaking at 2021 AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law

June 6, 2021Shahid Haque
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We will be presenting on a panel at the 2021 AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law on June 9–12, 2021.

Montana joins deportation lawsuit against Biden administration

March 9, 2021Shahid Haque
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The Montana Free Press reports:

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has signed the state on to a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its January directive to largely suspend deportations of noncitizens except in cases that pose a threat to national security.

. . .

The potential impact of Biden’s change in deportation policy on Montana, as opposed to states that border Mexico or have large federal detention centers, will be debated in court proceedings.

“We do not have any long-term holding facilities for immigrant detainees,” said Shahid Haque, president of the Border Crossing Law Firm in Helena and a former immigration law professor at the University of Montana. “When ICE arrests someone in Montana, they are moved within days to a federal detention facility in Tacoma, Washington or Las Vegas, Nevada. If anyone was released from custody, it would be in those states.”

Haque also disputed that drug trafficking in Montana can be connected to newly arrived immigrants, adding that someone accused of such a crime “would have to stand for trial in state court before being turned over to immigration for deportation. Since drug trafficking is an aggravated felony, the person would remain an enforcement priority for ICE, and it would be unlikely that they would release the person.”

A hearing for the case has yet to be scheduled.

Montana’s congressional delegation split on DACA ruling

June 19, 2020Shahid Haque
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The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports:

Montana Democrats supported the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday that President Donald Trump’s push to end legal protections for about 700,000 young immigrants may not continue. Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation disagreed with the decision.

Trump sought to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows “Dreamers” to continue to work and be protected from deportation. DACA was created in 2012 under the Obama administration and Trump included terminating DACA as part of his presidential campaign.

The court voted 5-4 to uphold the program, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining four more liberal justices in the majority.

There were 70 DACA recipients in Montana as of the end of 2019, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
. . .

Thursday’s decision was a pleasant surprise to Shahid Haque, a Helena-based immigration attorney with Border Crossing Law Firm who has several clients in the Gallatin Valley.

“Unless Trump and the administration writes new reasons to get rid of DACA and change reasoning for that, the policy should be here to stay,” Haque said.

Immigrants who entered the country illegally as children could apply for a two-year protection under the program.

Since 2017, no new DACA applications were allowed. Recipients of the protections were still allowed to renew, but Haque said many of his clients couldn’t establish long-term plans in fears of deportation as they were unsure of potential law changes. Many, he said, were ordered to be deported and the Supreme Court’s ruling could alter their appeals process.

Montana Supreme Court: Local police can’t make immigration arrests

March 30, 2020Shahid Haque
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Montana joined several other states by making it clear that local law enforcement officials may not arrest and detain immigrants under federal immigration detainers.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state had violated its own laws when a law enforcement officer in Lincoln County detained a man for possible immigration violations after his arrest on suspicion of burglary.

Agustin Ramon, a French and Mexican national, had attempted to post his $25,000 bail but was denied based on a federal immigration detainer request. He was detained for 48 hours after his two-day incarceration, then spent the next two months in jail in Lincoln County.

Ramon filed a lawsuit against Lincoln County sheriff Darren Short, represented by the ACLU of Montana, the ACLU and the Border Crossing Law Firm. While a state court judge sided with the county, Ramon eventually found success with the Montana Supreme Court.

Read the full article here.

Finding home: UM soccer coach’s journey to U.S. citizenship

October 24, 2019Shahid Haque
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We recently spoke with Dante Filpula Ankney of the Montana Kaimin about UM soccer coach Chris Citowicki’s immigration journey.

Citowicki’s application to become a citizen did not come without hardships, but it was comparably easier than what other immigrants have experienced in the United States.

Obtaining citizenship has become harder for all immigrants under President Trump and his administration, according to Shahid Haque, an immigration lawyer and founder of Border Crossing Law Firm in Helena.

In fact, during President Trump’s first year in office, there was an increase of petitions filed to become citizens, but the number of people who were actually granted citizenship decreased by more than 40,000, according to the 2017 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

At the same time, the number of deportations by ICE increased by over 15,000, according to the 2017 ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report.

Also in Trump’s first year in office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be repealed, and President Trump instituted an executive order that stopped travel to the U.S. for six Muslim majority countries, as well as all refugees for 120 days.

“You are facing an agency that is looking to deny your case if they can,” Haque said, “and are happy to deny your case if they can.”

According to Haque, marrying a U.S. citizen is one of the easier pathways to attain a green card and become a U.S. citizen. However, applicants are put through interviews that scrutinize the legitimacy of the marriage throughout the process.

When the interview finally took place, he and his wife were separated into different rooms. Citowicki recalls being nervous and unsure of the birth dates of his wife and two kids.

“Oh, my God I hope our answers match on each side,” Citowicki said.

Both Citowicki and his wife agreed that waiting for the green card approval was the most stressful part of becoming a citizen. Those seeking citizenship must have a green card for five years prior to the citizenship process, according to Haque.

After having a green card for more than five years and meeting all other qualifications, it should take 10 1/2 to 16 1/2 months at Helena to become a citizen after filing your paperwork according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Citowicki had renewed his green card once before and would have had to renew it again in 2022 if he didn’t become a citizen. Luckily, he did.

Many immigrants today have trouble obtaining a green card to set themselves up to become a citizen. According to Haque, it is not easy for immigrants to attain citizenship in the U.S. right now, and it’s even harder for refugees.

Refugees are people seeking asylum in another country because they have been displaced by possible persecution, war, or natural disaster in their own country. They have to register with the U.N. outside of their country to become a refugee, according to Soft Landing Missoula’s website.

According to Haque, it is difficult to prove that you are even a refugee in order to seek asylum, let alone start the process to become a permanent resident after you are given asylum.

Immigrants are like Citowicki: people choosing to enter a country on their own accords. They enter the U.S. through a visa that defines the amount of time you are allowed to stay.

Visas, green cards and citizenship all result in a lot of paperwork and headaches for applicants. One small misstep, one missing document, and your case could be denied. That is why, Haque said, an attorney is helpful, though not necessary.

Citowicki said he and his wife spent $5,000 to $6,000 on attorney fees to become a citizen, most of which was spent in the process of getting a green card.

In the end, from taking the first step at an Ontario, California Airport to the ceremony at Great Falls, Citowicki’s process to becoming a citizen took a year and a half.

His personal views on immigration are molded from his experiences growing up — living in a refugee camp as a child, bouncing around the world to find a home.

“People need to be given opportunities to start their lives again if they are coming from a place that isn’t treating them well,” Citowicki said, “and America gives you the opportunity to do that. It’s what this country has been doing forever.”

Please check out the whole article here.

Article: Congress looks to remove ‘illegal alien’ from federal use

October 23, 2019Shahid Haque
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From Samantha Hawkins, Capital News Service

The word cloud above highlights which words Trump most frequently says around his use of the word “alien,” based on an analysis by Capital News Service.

WASHINGTON – Just three years ago, the words “oriental” and “negro” were removed from federal laws and regulations, after a bill to ban the offensive words unanimously passed Congress.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, pushed the legislation through, under the premise that words matter, and can cause harm and division.

Another attempt to change the federal government’s vocabulary is underway, but unlike its predecessor in 2016, the bill seems far less likely to fly through Congress.

The term proposed for the chopping block is “illegal alien,” under legislation sponsored by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.

The phrase refers to noncitizens who are in the country without proper authorization, and fell mostly out of use with politicians until last year, when President Donald Trump amped up his use of the term to refer to all authorized immigrants.

We spoke to the Capital News Service about our thoughts on the term, which we first shared over a decade ago:

In April 2013, the Associated Press revised its guidelines to abandon “alien” and “illegal alien” in news stories and instead encouraged journalists to specify how someone entered the country and from where.

For example, an unauthorized immigrant may have been brought to the United States against their will, such as a victim of sex trafficking. Some might have come under “temporary protected status” because of turmoil in their home country, and the government later removed their protected status. And it’s estimated that about half of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. came here legally, but overstayed their visas.

“The term is a problem because you would think if someone is an illegal alien, that means they are all in the same boat,” Shahid Haque, an immigration lawyer in Montana, said, adding that “illegal alien” is overly simplistic and legally inaccurate. He also said the word can do a lot of harm in the way immigrants are treated.

“It allows characterization of a large group of people to be less entitled to compassion or dignity,” Haque said. “It allows people to dehumanize the immigrants themselves and cast their entire existence as illegal.”

“The broader the term is used, the more it’s meant to demonize immigrants and portray them as criminals,” he said.

Most immigrants aren’t criminals. Because crossing the border without authorization is a misdemeanor, but overstaying a visa is a civil infraction, a migrant’s unauthorized presence in the United States is not a criminal offense.

And the notion that immigrants are dangerous has been dashed by several studies showing both legal and illegal immigration does not lead to rising crime. While 6% of U.S. citizens are felons, only 2% of immigrants are felons.

But “criminal aliens” is an even more frequent phrase in Trump’s vocabulary than “illegal aliens.”

Please read the full article here.

Advocating for immigrants.

The Border Crossing Law Firm is a full-service immigration law firm, offering help with visas, green cards, citizenship, and deportation proceedings. We have been committed to the immigrant community for two decades, representing thousands of immigrants and their families across the country.

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