We hope that everyone enjoyed a wonderful Holiday Season. Once again, we take the opportunity to say Thank you for your business and friendship!
NEW JERSEY TO OFFER IN-STATE TUITION TO DREAMERS
In late December, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that will allow undocumented immigrants who have attended at least three years of high school in New Jersey to qualify for in-state tuition at all public colleges and universities. With this bill, New Jersey joins 15 other states, including Texas and California, who have already passed similar legislation. The New Jersey Dream Act Coalition has been working hard for several years to get this legislation passed, reaching out to communities all over New Jersey to push the state government to make changes. Although this is a great accomplishment, it is just the first step in the fight for equality, as this bill does not allow undocumented students to be eligible for financial aid.
JUDGES RETIREMENT LEADS TO INCREASED BACKLOG OF IMMIGRATION CASES
In 2014, approximately half of the nation’s 220 immigration court judges will be eligible to retire. At the moment, there are already 32 vacancies in the country’s 59 immigration courts, which no doubt has contributed to the current backlog of 350,000 cases. Even though the typical retirement rate among immigration judges is 5% per year—which equates to 11 judges—the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges believes that existing tough conditions will cause many to retire at their first opportunity. For instance, caseloads for immigration judges have jumped 15% since 2011 and these judges have no bailiff, no court reporter, and are not guaranteed a court clerk. Caseloads vary across the country; in Houston, there are 6 judges with 6,000 cases each while in Honolulu there are 2 judges with 100 cases each. A 2008 survey found that immigration judges exhibited more burnout “than prison wardens and physicians in busy hospitals.” If many judges retire this year, in addition to a further backlog in cases, it will also mean more expenses for taxpayers as cases are delayed and people spend more time in prison.
ARIZONA TO GRANT DRIVER’S LICENSES TO SOME ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has decided to allow those individuals granted “parole in place” to apply for driver’s licenses. Parole in Place (PIP) is a policy that applies to undocumented relatives of those serving in the military as well as family members of veterans. PIP status includes a temporary work permit, is granted for one year but subject to renewal, and, most importantly, makes the participant free from the risk of deportation. The ADOT has come under scrutiny for not allowing those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to apply for driver’s licenses as well.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact the office!
Susan W. Scheer and Staff