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A hope renewed


By the terms of an agreement reached between the Trump administration, the ACLU, and other legal teams representing families separated at the border, some of the parents formerly prevented from doing so will likely be able to re-apply for asylum. The agreement must be approved by the presiding federal judge.

According to the ACLU, “The cases of parents who are still in the United States and who have been ordered deported will be reviewed to determine whether they have a credible fear of persecution. They will be able to consult with lawyers and present new or additional information in their asylum cases.”

For those who were deported, the new agreement may open a way for them to return and also re-submit asylum applications: “The government has maintained that parents who have already been deported are not eligible for asylum, but the settlement may create the possibility that some deported parents will be able to return to the U.S.”

Learn more here.

Another possibility


Three Texas lawmakers have proposed another way of addressing “unauthorized border crossings.” According to reporter Roque Planas,“Veronica Escobar, gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who’s running for Senate, all called for some form of decriminalization.”

The cost savings, as well as the prospect of a more direct approach to immigration reform than the end of ICE, are among the factors at issues in these proposals.
Escobar, a candidate for congress, who “arrived at the conclusion that immigration violations should be decriminalized from a human rights perspective,” also focused on the cost of the current Trump administration policy: “When we treat asylum-seekers like criminals, the next step is we have to jail them, we have to incarcerate them,” which is “incredibly costly.”

Valdez, who has served as both Dallas County Sheriff and Customs agent argues that
“The majority of people are not coming in to do harm. … We still have to have some kind of checking and verifying, but I don’t think coming in here undocumented should be a criminal issue.”

For his part, O’Rourke, who is running against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz, calls attention to the desperate situation of Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty in their own countries “who do what I think any human would do, which is to request asylum in between ports of entry.” O’Rourke speaks for all three lawmakers when he says “We should not criminalize that.”

Learn more here.

Thanks to Professor Nancy Casciato for writing this blog post.

The Power of Discovering Your Life Purpose

Life is short. This sad truth was reinforced recently when I read that Martin Luther King Jr (one of my heroes) was killed when he was only 39 years old. It’s remarkable, however, what he was able to accomplish without ever crossing into his forties. Dr. King made such a huge impact on the world because he clearly understood his life purpose and acted with urgency and great courage. Each of us should do our best to figure out our own key purpose or cause here on earth. This will enable us to avoid wasting our most precious resource – time – and will allow us to leave a powerful legacy once we’re gone.

The Benefits of Knowing “Why”

I’m almost finished with an excellent book called “The Power of Why” by Simon Sinek. He clearly lays out how identifying your own key purpose, cause or belief will dramatically change the way you think and live. Most of us have an intuitive sense of why we chose a certain career, studied a particular subject, or chose to move to a particular place. It’s often challenging to pinpoint our own personal “why,” but it’s extremely useful because it allows us to focus and assess when we get off track. Knowing what is your deepest motivation or fundamental purpose also provides an enormous amount of energy when circumstances are tough.

Our “Why”

Here in this post I want to share the fundamental purpose – the “why” – behind Passage Immigration and my motivation for founding this law firm. Although the precise words may change as I crystallize my thinking further, a good summary of our core purpose is to help people “Live Globally.” To break this down, to “Live Globally” consists of two key concepts.

First, to “Live Globally” means that it should be possible in this world to live in the place where you can fulfill your highest potential. If an incredibly brilliant mathematics student happens to have been born in a developing country, our world would be better off if we found a way to help this student reach her full potential through studying with other world class mathematicians somewhere in the world with the resources necessary to help her reach her full potential. But note that the benefit of living globally doesn’t always have to mean moving from a place with a lower standard of living to a higher one. The best experiences of my own life (and for many of my friends and colleagues) involved living in a country with a lower standard of living than the U.S. We were able to grow and serve and contribute in a much more meaningful way than if we never left the U.S.

Second, to “Live Globally” also means to possess a state of mind that considers the entire world. For those of us who experience international travel or moving to a different country, we know that life is immeasurably richer, more enjoyable, and genuinely fascinating as a result. As St. Augustine said, “Life is a book and those who don’t travel read only the first page.”  In addition, our world has enormous challenges and our actions have big repercussions across the globe. We need to think about how we are helping or hurting others and future generations by our actions.

What is Your “Why”

Have you identified your own fundamental cause, purpose, or belief? What is your “why” that gives you the motivation to keep going when times are inevitably tough? We are incredibly grateful for our clients, friends, and colleagues who are supporting us as Passage Immigration Law seeks to live out our fundamental purpose: Living Globally.

Thankfully, nothing is more satisfying than helping others, and we look forward to helping you and others reach your full potential.

What about ICE?

Nancy Casciato

July 26, 2018

July 20, “ICE Capades,” This American Life.

This story brings undocumented men and women together with an unlikely champion, an ICE official who pursued the unscrupulous person who promised green cards, then stole their money.  For a reminder that everyone from ICE agents to asylum seekers is a human being with a heart, a mind, and a choice to make, this story is a must-listen.

July 25, “What Would Happen if We #AbolishICE?” Crooked Conversations.

Finally, for an informative explanation that charts the formation of ICE in the wake of 9/11, as well as a detailed discussion of its current practices and consequences, this conversation between Crooked Media’s Julissa Arce and UCLA Law professor Hiroshi Motomura offers welcome and necessary clarity.  This comprehensive discussion of the various agencies involved in U. S. immigration dispels confusion by providing history and context for our current moment.

. . . And a taste of hope

The new PBS Series “No Passport Required” (OPB, Tuesdays, 9:00pm) follows New York chef Marcus Samuelsson as he travels around the country to taste the way immigrants expand the nation’s cultural palate and enrich us from the inside out.  In the most recent episode, the irrepressible Swedish-African Samuelsson, himself an immigrant, visits the vibrant Vietnamese community that flourishes on the edge of New Orleans.  As a second generation of young cooks, inspired by their parents’ example and by the promise of America, bring Vietnamese customs and flavors into the heart of this city celebrated for its merging of culinary wonders, they are creating what one established New Orleans chef calls “the new Creole.”

Immigration has been in the news a lot this week, so we’re reaching out to share some important updates.

Families will no longer be separated at the border, but will they be reunified?

President Trump issued an executive order on June 20 to halt the separation of families at the border. More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents after entering the US in May and June. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement, announced it would reunite families that are subject to deportation. However, there is no official plan in place to reunify families in the process of claiming asylum.

Supreme Court rules to uphold travel ban

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven predominately Muslim countries. Justice Sonia Sotomayor compared the court’s decision to the 1944 decision that allowed the US government to detain thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

You can learn more about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the travel ban here, and you can learn about the decision to detain Japanese-Americans here.

USCIS will begin processing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests online

USCIS has launched a new system that will (hopefully) allow users to submit, manage, and receive FOIA requests online. Previously, FOIA requests had to be made by mail, fax, or email, and the results were mailed back on a CD.

Protests sweep the country

In the wake of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policies, groups of protestors have converged at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Portland, OR, and elsewhere in the U.S. Colleen discusses these protests in depth here.


We’re here for you

All of us at Passage have a personal connection to the immigration process. Our mission is to help families, individuals, and businesses feel safe and secure. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you or your community.

Nancy Casciato

June 22, 2018

There is no specific road map to guide the implementation of President Trump’s executive order reversing the policy of separating parents and children at the border, so advocates for these parents and children must grapple with a level of confusion that Jack Healy, reporting in a front-page story in the NYTimes (“Rules Shifted, But Reunions Are Uncertain,” 6/22/2018),  explains this way:  “Across the country, immigration lawyers said they were slogging through confusion, bureaucracy and secrecy as they tried to locate children,” and “many were tapping private social media networks to find social workers who might know their clients’ children.”  Their search for information about the location of separated children and their parents resulted in “asking colleagues in other cities to search immigration court dockets for the name of a child’s parent” and “preparing legal complaints to force the release of children being held by the government.”  As Healy’s report suggests, the big picture of this crisis continues to be that there is no big picture; because the Trump policy to separate children from their parents was put into practice without a plan to track the whereabouts of either group, and because there remains confusion within the Trump Administration itself about the meaning and the way forward when it come to the new executive order, the reuniting of these families remains, at best, precarious.

In addition to this report, one might also glean a better understanding of the scope of the project to bring parents and children back together by listening to this interview by NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly with John Sandweg, who served as acting director of ICE under the Obama administration:

U.S. Military Quitely Discharging Noncitizens

Colleen Muñoz

July 12, 2018

In the wake of the global war on terror, President George Bush signed an executive order permitting immigrants the opportunity to enlist and serve in the U.S. military. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the development benefited the U.S. military by bringing strength in numbers, diversity in language-capabilities, and expansion in technical skills. In exchange for their service, the U.S. Government promised participants eligibility to naturalize as U.S. citizens.

In 2008, the Bush administration piloted a program recruiting and enlisting eligible individuals in the U.S. Army Reserve through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. Since September 11, 2001, approximately 110,000 troops have benefitted from the program and served in various U.S. military branches.

Generally, the program limits recruits to those obtaining permanent residency in the United States prior to enlisting. However, the Army and the Department of Defense exercise discretion in determining who becomes eligible for admission into the program and have extended the offer to noncitizens and DACA recipients, as well. The program promises enlisted soldiers an expedited path to U.S. citizenship.

Much to their surprise, several dozen recruits were quitely discharged without an explanation. Other recruits received intel that they were considered security risks due to their relatives abroad, or that their background checks had not yet been completely processed.

Authorities are unable to identify an exact number of dismissed recruits; however, Army immigration attorneys are circulating figures quantifying approximately 40 recruits dismissed thus far.

Private Lucas Calixto, an immigrant from Brazil, represents one of the several dozen recruits quietly dismissed. Mr. Calixto was dismissed after serving in the U.S. Army for two years, and a year after applying for naturalization. Shortly thereafter, he received a notice ordering his removal from the Army. Mr. Calixto’s vacant disciplinary record and recent promotion served as no warrant for a dismissal. On June 28, 2018, Mr. Calixto filed suit against the Army following his abrupt, inexplicable dismissal and inability to respond to the order.

Honorable discharge characterizations protect recruits from deportation and authorize naturalization as promised. However, a dishonorable discharge will not permit an application for naturalization. The quiet discharge several of the MAVNI recruits recently received were classified as “uncharacterized discharges”, neither honorable nor dishonorable. The ambiguous classification thus exposes the recruits to the sight of limbo wherein the threat of deportation seems more tangible.

The Department of Defense notes that all recruits must receive a background check. In light of the U.S. government’s recently aggressive approach to immigration, background checks have become backlogged and more extensive, including screenings from the CIA, FBI and National Intelligence Agency. For many of the discharged recruits, their participation in the U.S. military halted due to the lagging administration of their background check. In effect, the recruits were then quietly dismissed and left to determine their own fate in remaining lawfully in the United States.

MAVNI is currently unavailable for new recruits. Department of Defense officials confirm they are working to resolve the existing recruits’ naturalization delays and will then reassess the program.

Noncitizens have served in the U.S. military since 1775 and have provided exceptional benefits throughout the Revolutionary War, World War II, and the global war or terror. Mr. Calixto explains in his complaint, “I was devastated, because I love the U.S. and was so honored to be able to serve this great country. . . . I put my life on the line for this country, but I feel like I’m being treated like trash. If I am not eligible to become a U.S. citizen, I am really scared to return to my country.”

First Deadline for Family Reunification

Colleen Muñoz

July 10, 2018

Today marks the 20-day deadline to reunite children migrants with their parents. In the alternative, federal officers must place children with appropriate sponsors. So today we ask: has the government met their deadline? Unfortunately, no.

Government officials have refused to release exact numbers to identify the number of detained children separated from their parents. Further, their estimated number of children in government custody has only increased.

Mass separation arose from the President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy criminally prosecuting all immigrants entering the United States illegally. The United States federal government imprisons criminal adults in separate federal detention centers than minors. Once immigrant parents stepped foot on American soil without authorization, President Trump’s administration detained them as criminals and forcefully separated them from their children. The children were sent to refugee resettlement shelters and government facilities throughout sixteen different states across the country. Meanwhile, immigrant adults were overflowing detention centers at the border and were relocated to facilities all around the United States.

In June 2018, US District Judge Dana Sabraw from the Southern District of California, issued a preliminary injunction mandating that all migrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents as a result of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, be alas reunited with their parents. Judge Sabraw declared July 10, 2018 as the final reunification deadline for all children under the age of five. All other remaining children must be reunited with their parents by July 26, 2018.

Government agencies have adopted several methods in an attempt to meet their reunification deadline. At the forefront of their methods, agencies are conducting cheek swab DNA tests on all detainees. In the wake of failing to properly register the parents and children upon their arrival at the border, government officials justify their unconsented DNA testing in the spirit of child safety. An anonymous government official claimed, “the safety and security is paramount, and it is not uncommon for children to be trafficked or smuggled by those claiming to be parents.”

The approaching deadline has caused several problems for the Trump administration to adhere to. Some of the parents have been deported, few have been released, and many others remain in federal custody charged with criminal offenses as a result of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy. So long as the parents remain in federal prisons, their children will not be reunited.

On Monday, the Trump administration made a desperate attempt to overturn a long-standing precedent which forbids extended detention of children in federal custody beyond 20 days. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of California criticized the Trump administration’s plea as a “cynical attempt to undo a longstanding court settlement.”

The government has created a list of 102 children under five years of age to reunite with their parents. Of the 102 children, only 54 are expected to be reunited with their parents by the mandated deadline. The remaining children separated from their parents rises to a figure upwards of 3,000. They have until July 26, 2018.

Occupy ICE Protests

Colleen Muñoz

June 28, 2018

In the wake of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policies, communities across the nation are finding a voice.

Peaceful protests begin with a candlelight vigil in Portland, Oregon to express respect and support of the families separated and criminally charged upon reaching the United States-Mexican border.

Stark emotional reactions swept the nation upon hearing the cries of thousands of children separated from their families. Over 2,300 children were confirmed separated, increasing in number daily. Despite insistently placing blame and exclusive responsibility upon Congress to end the separation, on June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order to end his administration’s separation procedures.

Following President Trump’s executive order, uncertainty and questioning flooded.

Children were still separated, lost from their parents. Immigrant parents were still detained and prevented from seeking legal counsel. No procedure was in place for reuniting the parents with their children. Many adult detainees have been transferred to different detention centers across the nation and a procedure for reuniting children will find their parents has yet to be set in place.

As a nation founded on immigrants, Portland, Oregon, among other cities, did not rest easily to the newly-implemented immigration policy. On June 17, protesters began congregating around the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in southwest Portland. Over the course of several days, the number of protesters grew exponentially. Protesters pitched tents outside the facility blocking the entrances and driveways. The idea was: if the judges, immigration officers, and adjudicators were unable to move forward with business, the separations and criminal convictions of immigrations could not proceed.  

The movement known as Occupy ICE PDX had begun. On June 20, the ICE facility involuntarily closed. The crowd of protesters grew and more tents were erected. Cameras on the ICE building were covered and personal information about the officers were posted throughout the city with damaging messages.

On Monday, June 25, law enforcement officers issued notices to vacate the federal property on the grounds that it was preventing access to the buildings and obstructing entrances, parking lots, offices, etc. within the federal facilities. Recognizing the right of demonstrators to voice their opinion on non-federal property, the Federal Protective Services ordered the protesters remove themselves from the federal property.

Despite the notices to vacate, the protesters remained. Early Thursday morning, Federal officers began removing the tents. Nine protesters were confirmed arrested.

The Occupy ICE movement has spread across the country, including cities such as Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, etc. The nation seeks to find the right platform to voice their concerns regarding the current immigration policies of the United States, meanwhile demanding respect for immigrant families.

The removal of conditions process usually takes about six months. However, processing times are currently taking much longer. In this video, Erick discusses how to protect yourself while your case is pending.

Key points:

  • Your green card’s expiration date is automatically extended by one year when you submit your I-751;
  • You can request USCIS to further extend your green card by scheduling an InfoPass appointment;
  • You may be eligible to file for naturalization while your case is being processed.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments challenging the Trump administration’s “travel ban” last week. This ban has limited travel into the United States by people from seven countries.

We proudly represent or have represented families from several of these countries, and hope the Supreme Court will rule in favor family reunification. Let us know if you have any questions about how the travel ban affects your community.