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MilitaryIamA (Highest Ranking Officer in the ARVN's Psychological Techniques Division during the Vietnam War) AMA!

Apr 4th 2017 by alwaysvip • 37 Questions • 424 Points

My short bio:

My name is Matt Cameron. I think about, write about, and practice immigration law nearly seven days a week. I have been a licensed attorney for twelve years as of September, and the managing partner of a three-attorney law office in the Boston area for the past seven years with a special focus on deportation defense and mitigating the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. I teach "Immigration and Urban America" at Northeastern University's School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, am a member of the board of the Student Immigrant Movement, and regularly contribute background and commentary to local, state, national, and international media on American immigration matters.

I am here for you to AMA because there is probably no other major public policy issue in the U.S. with such a massive gap between the realities of the current policies and what Americans seem to believe the policies actually are. While the other big issues du jour like healthcare and climate change usually touch on things that we all have to live with, immigration is not an issue that most U.S. citizens ever have to personally confront in their own lives. (This, among many other things, might explain why we just elected a man who ran on the ugliest and most determinedly nativist platform in a century or more of American history while willfully failing to inform himself as to the system that we actually have.)

I thought an AMA might be one easy thing that I could do right now to do my part to fill the gap. For as long as I have been studying this issue, I have always seen people ask counterfactual questions like "why don't they just get in line?" or "why can't you fill out the forms like everyone else?" or "what part of legal immigration don't you understand?", and I thought this might be a good way to provide concise, factual answers to these counterfactual inquiries that could be useful to anyone who is genuinely trying to understand this stuff as well as to gain the benefit of the experience of discussing all of this with people beyond my immediate and extended social circles. (And to be clear: any and all of those three questions are absolutely welcome for further discussion, as are any others at all so long as they are made in good faith. Trolls will starve.)

I will keep my answers as objective and factually-grounded as possible, but full disclosure: I do have a strong pro-immigration (and pro-immigrant) bias, and am well past the point where I can study or work within the American immigration system without recognizing that it is foremost a function of centuries of historic racism and colonialism. So I won't pretend that I don't have my own ideological approach to this... but I also truly believe that immigration should be a non-partisan issue, and one which deserves an adult, open-minded dialectic.

I WILL NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE OR ANYTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE LEGAL ADVICE here, so please no questions requesting a complete review of possible options once your H1B has expired or if your arrest record could cause current or future immigration problems or if you have all of the right supporting documents for your marriage visa or whatever. I am more than happy to answer those questions--on the phone or in person--for money.

My Proof:

1) My MA ID and bar card: http://imgur.com/gallery/kUenPeW

2) My FB page, in which most of my public posts are about immigration issues: http://facebook.com/mattcameronlaw

3) Twitter: @matt_cam

4) A recent piece in The Baffler on the realities of the American deportation machine: https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/strangers-in-a-cruel-land

5) Boston Globe story on three of my cases this week: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/27/vermont-activists-set-post-bond-immigration-charges/eIcbvNUSCoXJqI4SQDeU5I/story.html

6) Interview this morning on Democracy Now: https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/31/is_ice_targeting_undocumented_activists_for

Q:

What is the strangest tactic you used that worked and what is the strangest tactic that didn't work?

A:

Why do you believe that they would be tortured or killed in their home countries? Has the US been pressuring those countries to make these people disappear?


Q:

What would be the best way for attorney's who don't have a background in this area to help out?

A:

You cannot say that strategy or tactics were used during the Vietnam War, because it was a war of politics. So political tactics were used. The strangest tactics used that didn't work was that if a bomb landed in the North, then the Communists would have to say that the Americans were bombing the North mainland. They would have to make that claim. The strangest tactic that did work was if that if the American forces withdrew, then the US and China, which backed the North, could then conduct trade ala Henry Kissinger.


A:

This doesn't seem to be a popular answer whenever anyone asks me this... but my first response is that if you are an attorney who does not practice immigration law, there is a much better chance that you are earning a decent living and could be in a position to help to fund the work of dedicated immigration attorneys and advocates. Consider becoming not just a donor, but a regular sustainer of a local or national organization (other than the ACLU, which I love but is doing just fine without you) which does immigration-specific work that you believe in.

I would recommend one of the following:

The Student Immigrant Movement (full disclosure: I'm on the board), which is helping DREAMers organize to protect DACA and one another: http://www.simforus.org

Kids in Need of Defense provides attorneys for minors in deportation proceedings who are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile status (a rare path to citizenship with several moving parts that most of us can't afford to do in full pro bono): http://www.supportkind.org

The National Immigration Law Center (http://nilc.org) was on the front lines of Drumpf's travel ban and has provided invaluable litigation support and resources for attorneys around the country.

Here in MA, the PAIR Project (pairproject.org) helps to set interested attorneys up with pro bono immigration cases while providing basic training and support for them. If you want to help, you may have a similar organization in your area that could use your time, money, and/or talents.


Q:

What was the sentiment among the ARVN after the Tet Offensive? From a tactical standpoint the Viet Cong were all but destroyed, but the political pressure in the United States turned against the war effort despite the overwhelming US/ARVN victory. What was the mood like amongst the ARVN after Tet?

A:

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Q:

Boston's WBUR just reported on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detaining five individuals who had "final orders for removal". They had shown up for interviews as part of the process of applying for a green card.

ICE Arrests Green Card Applicants In Lawrence, Signaling Shift In Priorities
http://www.wbur.org/news/2017/03/30/green-card-ice-arrests-lawrence

What are final orders for removal?

And, care to comment on this new development and, objectively, what it means for the various stakeholders (persons, people, government, etc.) as well as those on the spectrum of the immigration debate (both those for and against deportation of illegal/undocumented persons)?

A:

Let me tell you about the Tet Offensive, what it was was the American-allied forces wanted to test to see the sentiments of the Vietnamese people. Not to gauge the strength of the Viet Cong, but to gauge the fighting will of the Vietnamese people. For example, the Viet Cong would round up the Vietnamese villagers and put them at the front lines between the South and North forces. Many terrible tactics were used during what was supposed to be a peacetime for the Vietnamese people.


Q:

We will be happy to submit more proof if requested, just reply to my message here or hit me up via PM.

OP will deliver.

A:

This was big news in the local immigration law community this week... heard the rumor by email and I was actually on a panel a few hours later with Lawrence's (awesome) new state rep Juana Matias who confirmed early details.

A "removal" order is just the legal name for an order of deportation. Showing up to an immigration office with an old deportation order over your head is kind of like showing up to a courthouse with an old outstanding warrant... there's always a chance you'll be held. As with warrants, though, there are quite a few people out there living their lives who do not know or understand that they have these orders--which typically come either from being caught at the border and immediately returned, or from missing a scheduled immigration court hearing.

But just for perspective, this was a totally routine practice before Obama. It's only making news now because (1) it's been more than eight years since it was done anywhere and (2) Trump.

The bigger question for me is how the local USCIS district director (who is known to be firmly against allowing ICE to enforce on USCIS property) allowed (or was made to allow) this to happen.

I will say that immigration lawyers (myself included) got complacent under Obama. Although his administration was far from soft on deportations, it ended these kinds of inhumane enforcement tactics. Walking a client with an old order into a USCIS interview (always risky and never advised) is now only one of many chances that we can absolutely no longer afford to take.


Q:

At any point in time, did you ever encounter Captain Hugh Thompson Jr. while he flew civilians away from close encounter massacres?

Did the shock and awe or rapid dominance warfare techniques of US forces ever contradict the goals of the Psychological Techniques Division?

A:

Hello. Just wondering- what work do you do outside of bringing the refugees to Canada?


Q:

keep my answers as objective

Then don't call him Drumpf. I'm pro-immigration too but unflattering nicknames are not helpful for persuading those who are not.

A:

Don't recall meeting Captain Hugh Thompson Jr., but will double check.

Actually at the Psychological Techniques Division, we were never in shock and awe of the US forces. I was actually invited, along with my best friend, to come to the United States to do an exchange training program. We declined the offer because we weren't too fond of Americans at the time.

We considered the warfare techniques of the US forces to not be superior to ours. For example, when we had to assault a base, the Americans would always not want to attack the base head on. They were too scared to go in from the front. That job we always had to assign to Vietnamese forces. The Americans always wanted to attack from the side. We were not as afraid as they were.


Q:

I'm a Systems Engineer/SRE/DevOps/Security guy (I wear many hats). I work remotely for a Y Combinator startup. I'd say which one, but we are a small org, so I'd be immediately identified. Management here is pretty sympathetic to this cause, and has been more than generous in letting me spend some time helping.

Marc and Michael are lawyers

A:

Agreed--although it's more historical than unflattering--but this wasn't intentional. I still have John Oliver's "Make Donald Drumpf Again" Chrome plugin (and don't ever plan to remove it) and it automatically changed the name when I copied and pasted this comment after an edit. Fixed.


Q:

How did you end up in a re-education camp, and what were the conditions like?

A:

Obviously there will be people that want to come over and do harm, what is your plan?


Q:

[removed]

A:

Everybody in the South Vietnam army was rounded up and sent to re-education camp after the war ended. The length of stay varied, from 2 months for lower ranking military personnel up to 10 years or so for high ranking generals. I stayed for 8 years. The conditions were the worst you can imagine. We were subject to torture and forced labor. I have many stories of all the various torture tactics used in the re-education camps. One tactic they used was to issue us clothing only once per year. This lead to a lot of theft of clothing. One year I had my clothes stolen, and I said "who here dares to steal my clothes?!".


Q:

That's not really in the scope of what we are doing. We're trying to help 3 families of refugees, who helped hide Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. They also have a well documented past.

A:

Well said! The policy disconnect that I was talking about above is inevitable when a country continues to tell itself the story of how it is a welcoming place and how immigrants have made it great while simultaneously embracing and enacting policies which if in effect at the time that my great-grandparents and others came here would have resulted in a very different country.


Q:

A follow up if I may. How closely linked were ARVN's black / psy ops to those of SOG's?

A:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada screens all applicants for any security concerns.


Q:

Will the waiting time for sponsorship of family members ever speed up? I would like to be able to sponsor a family member for a green card but I believe the current wait time is something ridiculous like 15 years. Family member is Irish.

A:

My brother-in-law lead the special operations, although this is contentious because that there were two claims to the special ops groups. The ARVN army rangers was lead by my brother-in-law's rival. Some say black ops was the army rangers, and some say black ops was the red berets. The black ops (army rangers) and special ops (airborne) were closely linked. Psyops, however, was not closely linked. We were mainly stationed at The Pentagon while they both went out on suicide missions. Occasionally we would have to coordinate, for example, rescuing US Special Forces from the Viet Cong prison.


Q:

And I can tell you first hand it's a fairly extensive and comprehensive process, even for non refugees (study permit, work permit, PR).

A:

Guessing this is a sibling? Waiting times for Mexico and the Philippines are abysmal in this category... possibly over 100 years, by one calculation. Most of the recent immigration reform packages have proposed to eliminate the sibling visa and replace it with a faster merit-based visa in which ties to US citizens give the intending immigrants a substantial number of "points." (English skills, education, savings, etc are also possible factors, so your Irish (and any other white European) relatives would be in good shape if this were to happen.)


Q:

You said in a reply that American forces never wanted to attack head-on, and so Vietnamese forces were sent to do this. What were some other differences between the techniques of the two groups?

I'm wondering if these differences may have something to do with differences in culture or if they were an effect of the Americans fighting in a place that was very unfamiliar to them. Do you have any insights?

A:

For the Refugees was created to help the families of asylum-seekers in Hong Kong who sheltered Snowden. We do not have plans to bring Snowden to Canada. At the time that the families sheltered Snowden, he was lawfully in Hong Kong. There is no reason to think the U.S. would retaliate against them.


Q:

Good to know. What is the chance of such reform passing? I don't see anything happening in the next 4 years with current administration.

A:

Ah I need to clarify. American forces never wanted to be the first ones to attack head-on. They were willing to attack head-on, but not be the first ones in line. Like with Afghanistan, would they prefer to be the first ones to attack or the Afghan forces to attack first?


Q:

You can read the stories of our clients here:

Ajith

Vanessa

Supun and Nadeeka

We've also had reports that the Sri Lankan CID has been searching for our clients (see: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2073439/hong-kong-asylum-seekers-who-sheltered-edward-snowden-fear)

Sri Lanka's Security forces have a very poor record on human rights

*Edit: Whoops, I replied to the wrong question. Please disregard, my bad. (It was meant for another question from /u/Andy_Schlafly, will post this there.)

A:

I know I'm not the only one reading this hoping that this administration won't last four more months, but honestly I'd rather wait four more years than see "reform" (such as it would be) pass under Trump. Whatever Congress ultimately passes will be at least in part a disaster (if not an actual disaster full of unforeseen consequences, IIRIRA-style), but we can count on anything Trump signs to have a healthy side of evil along with the inevitable incompetence, messy compromises, and poor drafting.


Q:

What kept you sane in the re-education camps after the war?

A:

Would it be possible for a permanent resident to gain citizen status from a grandmother due to issues with a parents citizenship?


Q:

You had to remember that they were not your enemies. The guards. If it was them in the camp and the roles were reversed, then we would have done the same thing to them.

A:

I'm sorry, I'm not really sure that I understand the question. It is possible under some circumstances if the non-citizen were included as a derivative in a grandparent's petition for the parent, but this sounds like an extremely technical and specific question that you should take to a qualified immigration attorney for a private consultation.


Q:

What did you think of President Thieu & President Diem?

Were they good men in a bad situation or were they just bad men?

A:

What should I look for and what questions should I ask to find a good immigration lawyer?


Q:

You need to differentiate between Presidents during wartime and Presidents during peacetime. In wartime, they were good men although their paths were different. In peacetime they may be seen differently.

A:

Great question!

I'd start by asking around to other non-citizens if they have had (or know of someone who has had) a particularly good (or bad) experience with a local immigration attorney. This is such a personal service that nearly all of our new clients are from word of mouth.

Be sure that the law office/attorney that you are considering either exclusively practices immigration law or has it listed as one of only a select few practice areas. Be wary of someone who lists it way down the list after personal injury, bankruptcy, family law, criminal law, etc. as this is a highly specialized field which requires an intense focus.


Q:

As a DACA recipient wanting to leave the country, what is your advice when filling out the paperwork and leaving? I have no real reason to exit the US except to visit my family. Also, how does the future look for dreamers in your opinion?

A:

NOT LEGAL ADVICE! It is certainly possible to have advance parole approved to visit family (although you might want to have a lawyer look it over), but AP is a much bigger risk now than it was before the inauguration. I am strongly cautioning clients against it, as are many other immigration attorneys. I have certainly heard of many accounts of DACA recipients and others still able to re-enter with it without too many issues (e.g. http://www.immihelp.com/experience/view-1-4-advance_parole.html) but you should know the risks.

And this is just one lawyer's opinion, but I believe that if Trump were going to revoke DACA he would have done it by now. My best guess is that he's waiting for Congress to pass BRIDGE or something similar to provide yet another temporary fix for DREAMers so that he can revoke it and brag to his base that he has canceled yet another unlawful Obama program.


Q:

What's the best way for a Canadian to immigrate to the States? Is employee sponsorship the only path?

A:

You are the first Canadian in a long while I've heard inquire about this... most of the migration seems to be going the other way these days. :/

The TN visa is the best short-term option if you qualify, although it would go along with the rest of NAFTA if Trump were to make good on that campaign promise. Otherwise, Canadians are treated the same as anyone else in the immigration system. Best to consult with a qualified immigration attorney about your particular situation, though.


Q:

You and I can swap places!

A:

Seriously--I've actually always thought this should totally be a thing, as either a temporary non-immigrant visa for a given period of time or an immigrant visa. It's almost certainly undoable (although much more so now with the Internet), but I love the idea of a sort of pair exchange program in which each side of the pair is responsible for the other one not overstaying the visa or taking public benefits while on it in the other's country. It would have to be by international agreement, like the visa waiver program, but it would have enormous potential to promote international understanding and cooperation. (Also, poutine.)


Q:

You should definitely expense lunch. That is a no-brainer. You have a legal mind and a legal staff. If you can't remember to do it, delegate.

If your clients can't pay, consider having them contribute work. They can bring food, clean your workers' offices and home, garden, provide massage services to your staff, etc. or, if not arms-length enough, have them donate their labor to a local charity.

That said, if you haven't done it, consider working for a charity that can pay you.

Lastly, I've updated my notes on my stance against further immigration, and will update more later.
https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/62qvgp/i_am_a_practicing_attorney_in_boston_an_expert_on/dfooifd/

A:

I just don't.... care? I guess? I know I should, but I don't. And yes, we've traded cleaning/painting/handyperson/food services for legal services in the past. It feels good to barter, as long as both parties come out feeling like they got comparable value from the exchange.

Given the total lack of state or federal grant money for this kind of thing mentioned elsewhere in this AMA, there are only a small handful of non-profits in my area (or anywhere) which can afford to have practicing immigration attorneys on staff. There are maybe 5-6 of these jobs total available in all of New England. I was actually just yet again discussing with a friend last night how we could formally convert this office to a non-profit, which is probably the more logical direction.


Q:

What is the process of gaining permanent residency through marriage, and to what depth is it investigated? I'm from a well off country, where I had a professional job and family and a good amount of savings, but I'm still scared of the process.

My girlfriend's family doesn't know about us at all, let alone getting married because they're like religious nuts and I'm atheist, so I'm worried if they ask her family they'll say it's bull, and I'll be called a fraud.

A:

The process is different depending on whether you are adjusting status from another lawful immigration status while in the U.S. or immigrating through consular processing while living in your country. Either way, you need to provide some proof of the relationship beyond the marriage certificate (bills, leases, sworn statements from friends and family, photos, correspondence, etc.) and you need to be prepared for an interview.

And I'm sorry for your situation. I've worked with quite a few people whose parents weren't happy (or even didn't know) about the marriage and I know it adds another level of stress to everything. If it helps, immigration authorities wouldn't contact her family unless there was some reason to believe that there was an obvious, serious fraud going on... and if they're already investigating you that much (which I'm sure they wouldn't given how sincere and concerned this question reads to me) you're probably in trouble anyway. I may be somewhat biased because everyone I'm working with is legitimate (we don't get anywhere near marriage fraud) and is using an attorney to be sure it's done right, but it seems to me that if you provide everything they need up front and are open and honest at the interview that they will take things at face value. It's usually pretty easy to tell when people are only getting married for immigration benefits.

That said, I would strongly advise that you seek out a qualified immigration attorney in your area based on what you've said here. If nothing else, you'll feel much better just having someone else handle the whole process for you.


Q:

That's really great, thank you for your advice :)

A:

Good luck! I think you'll be just fine.


Q:

I brought my now wife into the US on a K1 Fiance visa from Canada without a lawyer, it was quite straightforward and easy, even 10 years ago, given online .gov websites, user forums etc. My family was never even involved or questioned.

I'm not saying there won't be reasons for YOU to need a lawyer, but we didn't, and most that we spoke to seemed to want a lot of money for a boilerplate process.

A:

No doubt. The K1 is one of the easier processes, as it is a non-immigrant visa. I've met plenty of couples over the years who have done their own marriage cases (with immigrant visas) as well. I'm not going to say that every non-citizen should need a lawyer to immigrate, no more than everyone needs an accountant to do their taxes. (But of course we're here for the same reason: it can be annoying and awful to do yourself, and with real consequences if you get it wrong.) I should also add that consular processing is very different from adjustment with USCIS, which (I think?) Is the question here.


Q:

Do you think with this new administration, will the timetable for applying to be a citizen of you're a green card holder will be longer or shorter?

A:

I don't think it will change unless Trump takes steps to defund or scale back USCIS. This is certainly possible given that (no matter what he says) it is clear that he is also intending to limit legal means of immigration. But for the moment USCIS seems to be running as usual.


Q:

How long, on average, would you say that a family would have to wait to immigrate to the US from Mexico? Let's say they're average working class people, neither poor nor wealthy.

Thanks for doing this, the answers are fascinating!

A:

An average family with no prior connections to the US would likely have no opportunity to immigrate from Mexico whatsoever. Was there a particular basis for immigration that you had in mind?


Q:

No basis in particular, I'm just looking to get a better understanding of how long the process of immigration takes / who qualifies and doesn't so that I can talk to people (republicans) from a stronger position.

An unrelated question, any books you'd recommend?

A:

Virtually no one qualifies to immigrate to the U.S. unless they have an immediate relative (not including a sibling--that's going to take a very long time, as discussed above) or have an opportunity for a high-skilled job. There's no such thing as just sort of generally immigrating or "getting in line."

As a starting point, I'd recommend "Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal" by Avi Chomsky and "Guarding the Golden Door" by Roger Daniels.


Q:

So we've basically thrown the "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." out the door, cool.

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it!

A:

JFK suggested that we should add to that "as long as they come from Northern Europe, are not too tired or too poor or slightly ill, never stole a loaf of bread, never joined any questionable organization, and can document their activities for the past two years." That was in 1961. It's much, much worse now. Thanks for reading!


Q:

I am well aware that they were both admitted as children and radicalized in this country.

The Tsarnaevs traveled to Dagestan for training

Dude, do you work for CNN? This Tsarnaev case seems to be the perfect example to support the kind of travel ban Trump proposed. Yet you claim local "close enough to hear the bomb" cred and then try to use it to further your dismissal of the OPs seemingly genuine question.

I'm glad my immigration status isn't depending on your skills in dealing with hostile parties, your credibility seems to be evaporating quickly here.

My wife immigrated from another country and I am familiar with the background checks conducted on her, as well as how easy it would have been for her to buy clean local criminal records. Another quite drunk friend shared how he purged very sketchy war-crimeish military records. I'm not at all convinced the US can effectively "screen" immigrants, especially from war ravaged primitive countries like Syria. I have friends from there too.

A:

You are a hostile party. I was hoping this could be more of a conversation than an argument.

And I am sincerely baffled by your take on the Marathon bombings. You're going to have to explain what that link has to do with the travel ban, or your point, or anything. You don't seem to know anything about the perpetrators or their immigration history.

"Buy" clean criminal records? Did you immigrate before 1965? This is a serious question.


Q:

Hi Matt,

Can someone who is the spouse of H-1B (H-4 visa) who is not allowed to work in the US, form an LLC as a "passive" member? Whats the proper language that should be in the LLC agreement to clarify that the person's role is passive?

Is it necessary to mention why the person has equal interest [33%] (e.g. contributed contacts)? Is it Ok if every member has no salary and all profits are distributed equally among members?

Anything to keep in mind to avoid problems with future green card application for the H-1B holder (spouse)?

Thanks in advance!

A:

You are seeking incredibly specific legal advice, and I'm guessing from context here that you can afford to speak with a qualified immigration attorney to get the answers you're looking for. Good luck!


Q:

This may or may not be within your grasp of law. I want to give my friend Omar 2% in my company but he is from Pakistan. How do I do this?

A:

You're right, I don't really feel qualified to answer this. Good luck to you both.


Q:

In terms of immigration, don't customs officers really have the absolute final say regardless of how thorough the paperwork you do is on the backend?

Like as thorough as you are, all it takes is that one customs officer to deny it for whatever reason they want?

EDIT: talking as someone who was denied a work visa

EDIT 2: spelling

A:

Not exactly. They can't turn you away because they don't like your Nickelback T-shirt or whatever (although, maybe flag this for future immigration reform?) but if something comes up at the time of admission that indicates that the visa was fraudulently obtained or that you intend to do something in the U.S. on it that you're not supposed to do (usually working) they can cancel it and turn you around. (E.g., you provided documentation to the consular officer in support of your tourist visa that you'd be staying with your aunt, CBP calls the "aunt" and the person who picks up doesn't know who you are. Or you're entering on a valid student visa and explain to the officer that you have a really good job waiting for you when asked what you plan to do during your stay in the U.S.)


Q:

So for someone like myself - who works for an American company at a Canadian branch - who was getting a promotion in a US branch, which involved a work visa - the customs agent basically didn't think I had enough education to back up my promotion. So I was turned away (I wasn't denied - he said he would say it was "deficient")

A:

Interesting... was this on a TN?


Q:

I believe so? It was a year ago so I'm a little hazy?

A:

Yeah, that would be my guess from what you described. TNs are fairly informal and controlled much more by CBP gut checks than other visas.


Q:

For all I know (and for all you know) every single one of them is perfectly legal. It's not my job or concern to check their immigration status, any more than it is to check yours. They are my neighbors and entire families should not be living in a single room. I'd like to assist them if I can. Please post the rest of whatever you have to say in T_D as I'm sure this gentleman doesn't value you in his AMA.

A:

All children deserve a safe and stable place to live. But there is no excuse for this kind of poverty in one of the world's most prosperous nations. Blaming immigration--especially immigration driven by our disastrous economic and foreign policy, and encouraged by employers relying upon an exploited underclass--for these problems doesn't seem like the best place to start for me.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

That depends entirely on the charges, as well as the timing and nature of the dispositions. I couldn't possibly advise you until I had complete arrest and conviction records in front of me. Proceed with extreme caution and do not file your naturalization petition until you have consulted with a qualified immigration attorney in your area.


Q:

Why is it so difficult to get a visa to the US even for just tour? Even when you have all the docs. The only reason to deny you would be travel experience. Where do they expect you to start your travel experience from ? You have got to start from somewhere right? If every embassy says travel experience then I guess no one can travel?

A:

I'm not sure what you mean by "travel experience," but most tourist visas are denied because the consular officer does not believe that you can show sufficient ties (usually financial, often personal) to your home country. They need to be convinced that you are not going to stay in the U.S. once you arrive.


Q:

Thanks for the reply. Travel experience means you have never been out of the country.

A:

I thought that's what you meant... but that's not really a factor for a tourist visa. They're mostly looking for a bank account, not a resume.


Q:

My mom just applied for citizenship after being a green card holder for almost 30 years. How long is the process? Is it longer under Trump?

She just did her fingerprints a few weeks ago.

A:

Depends on the backlog in your local field office. (It's about 5-7 months from filing here in Boston.) No changes under Trump so far.


Q:

How does the process to get a Green card works? I need to already live in the US or I can apply While still living in my home country?

A:

Totally depends on your circumstances. Some people qualify to apply for residence while they are here, some immigrate through their consulates.


Q:

I'm going to assume you don't support Don the Con, but would you say he's been good for your business?

A:

Good for business. Very, very bad for my physical and mental health. I'd happily give up the business for a better future for my clients and our country.


Q:

The grounds for allowing immigration and tolerating illegal immigration is because they are fleeing war torn places, drug cartels, seeking a better life for their family and all that. It's for the betterment of the individuals and families that come. If it is equally or more important for the money they send home and those economies, then is it actually immigration or exploitation? I'm not trying to be an a$$ about this, but I'm looking fr clear cut legal reasons why we shouldn't follow the guidance from the administration. Is it only political points of view and compassion for other humans or is there actual legal ground to stand on when defending undocumented workers that is not based upon an appeal to emotion?

A:

I'm doing my best to give you a legal answer here. The "guidance" from the administration is a set of executive federal enforcement priorities. While I can and do disagree with them, they are written fully within within the executive's authority. But they are not law. They are just how the President intends existing law to be enforced.

Several times in this thread, I think you've conflated law enforcement with law itself. In our federalist system, ICE enforces federal law and state and local authorities enforce state and local law. Obama created a system in which ICE could work entirely apart from state and local authorities to identify non-citizens who posed an immediate threat to public safety and deport them, whether or not they lived in a sanctuary city. I don't understand why Drumpf wouldn't build on that instead of wasting time arguing about whether or not state authorities should be forced (or shamed) to spend money they don't have doing things that aren't within their job description.

Finally, I don't see anything in this conversation having to do with whether or not we should enforce federal law or the desirability or efficacy of that law. That's an entirely separate conversation. Your concern seems to be with how involved state authorities (who have neither the resources nor the training nor the will to be immigration agents) should be in enforcing federal law. I hope I've been fairly clear here that there is no obligation whatsoever for them to have any role in it at all. That's not just my opinion, that's the law.


Q:

The grounds for allowing immigration and tolerating illegal immigration is because they are fleeing war torn places, drug cartels, seeking a better life for their family and all that. It's for the betterment of the individuals and families that come. If it is equally or more important for the money they send home and those economies, then is it actually immigration or exploitation? I'm not trying to be an a$$ about this, but I'm looking fr clear cut legal reasons why we shouldn't follow the guidance from the administration. Is it only political points of view and compassion for other humans or is there actual legal ground to stand on when defending undocumented workers that is not based upon an appeal to emotion?

A:

Again, if police chiefs were ordering their officers to actively interfere with ICE arrests (or shoot ICE agents on sight or whatever), that would be an obvious problem in the direction of the "rebellion" you mentioned above. But I think there's a lot of misunderstanding around what "sanctuary cities" actually are and what the implementing laws and regulations look like. Happy to clarify if I've been unclear on something here.


Q:

Are you bilingual?

Do you need to be bilingual to practice immigration law?

A:

I can understand and read Spanish, but prefer to speak back to clients through an interpreter as I don't think I sound particularly lawyerly in anything other than my native language.

And you're much better off as a practitioner if you can at least gain a basic fluency in the language that the majority of your clients speak. While most of my clients do speak some English, the things that we are discussing are far too technical and complex for me to expect them to understand them in anything other than their native language. Unless you know for sure that you would be working with a certain population that is typically fluent in English, I would advise anyone who might want to consider a career in immigration law to put the effort into learning Spanish.

All of that said, my office is run by superbly talented, fully bilingual staff who do most of my day-to-day communication on our behalf. They are the best ambassadors to our clients that we could possibly have, and I'm so proud to have them working with us.


Q:

I have had plenty of Spanish classes, but I have come to understand that I am simply not going to be fluent in conversation unless I immerse myself.

Thanks for the response.

A:

For sure. Big difference between an American Spanish class and the everyday Spanish (with many national/regional dialects and vocabularies) that your clients will be using. Getting out and talking to regular people as often as possible is the only way to truly learn any language. Happy to answer any other questions you have about what I do if you do think it's something you're interested in pursuing.


Q:

Build the wall?

A:

Did you hear that Mexico will not only be paying for, but actually hosting this thing now http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/03/29/put-border-wall-mexicos-side-trumps-interior-secretary-raises-eyebrows