Saturday, March 31, 2012

Syria Given Temporary Protected Status

Due to the upheaval in Syria, the U.S. Government has designated it a temporary protected status ("TPS") country. Nationals of Syria may apply for TPS and work authorization. TPS allows a person the remain in the United States, but it does not lead to permanent residency status.

Syrians may apply for TPS up until September 25, 2012. TPS will remain in effect until September 30, 2013, unless extended by the United States.

For more information, see the USCIS website.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Local Governments Cannot Discriminate in Housing

In the case of Villas at Parkside Partners v. City of Farmers Branch, TX, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found a local ordinance requiring adult residents of rental housing to obtain a license conditioned upon all occupants being a citizen or having lawful immigration status to be unconstitutional. The court stated that the ordinance had the sole purpose of excluding undocumented aliens, specifically Latinos, from the city. According to the court, this presented an obstacle to Federal authority.

The court cited the Third Circuit decision of Lazano v. City of Hazelton, 620 F.3d 220 (3d Cir 2010), in support of it's decision. There, the Third Circuit struck down a local ordinance addressing undocumented aliens in both the employment and housing contexts. The Fifth Circuit noted that Lazano had been vacated by the Supreme Court for further proceedings in light of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, 131 S. Ct. 1968 (2011). However, the Fifth Circuit noted that Whiting only addressed a local ordinance in the employment context, and not in the housing context. Thus, the court found Lazano was still instructive in the housing context.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Driving Without a Lincense? Beware!

If you are an undocumented alien driving without a license in Virginia, be careful. Virginia will not grant a license to someone without immigration status. If you drive anyway and get caught, it is a misdemeanor, which means there is possible jail time. Although the jail time could be short, the fact is the moment you step into the jail, you are reported to ICE. ICE will ask the local jail to keep you in jail until they can pick you up, and you will be placed in removal proceedings.

The goal, then, if you've been charged with driving without a license is to negotiate a plea with no jail time. This could mean accepting a large fine. It all depends on past criminal history, hour driving record and what agenda the Commonwealth Attorney may have. Your best bet is to hire an experienced lawyer to negotiate the plea for you.

By:  William J. Kovatch, Jr.
(703) 837-8832