Two Extremes: California’s TRUST Act and Arizona’s Immigration Law

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

The California Senate passed AB1081, called the TRUST Act. This bill seeks to prevent law enforcement officials from referring undocumented immigrants to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless the courts convict the individual of a violent crime or felony. The nickname for this bill is the “anti-Arizona law.” It opposes the provision that the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld in Arizona’s law that allows police officials to check immigration status of detained immigrants.

ICE’s Secure Communities policy states that the federal government’s limited resources should be used to remove immigrants who pose a threat to public safety or who are repeat immigration offenders. Under S-Communities, ICE set up programs with local communities like the one in operation in Escondido, CA. Escondido California currently works directly with ICE, and ICE agents even have offices within the Escondido Police Department. As it stands, local law enforcement agencies across the country share information with ICE, the FBI, and Homeland Security on fingerprints and other information.

The CA bill would limit local police collaboration with ICE by focusing only on offenders convicted of serious felonies. If the bill passes and California’s governor signs the bill, then local law enforcement would no longer be permitted to work with ICE unless a serious felony conviction exists.

Proponents contend that the bill guards against profiling and unnecessary and wrongful detainment. Opponents argue that undocumented immigration drives up medical costs, prison costs, state welfare programs, and other expenses that lead to state insolvency.

It remains to be seen how this bill will play out, if passed, and the effect it may have on the evolving U.S. immigration laws.

If you are dealing with immigration issues, consult New York employment lawyer. Our law firm keeps its finger on the pulse of ever-changing immigration laws and a knowledgeable lawyer can help protect your rights.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is an employment law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

City Bid for Immunity for Officers’ Grand Jury Appearance Is Denied

John Caher
New York Law Journal

A recent U.S. Supreme Court holding that grand jury witnesses are entitled to absolute immunity from a civil rights action will not shield a police officer accused of malicious prosecution where the officer initiated the case by signing a criminal complaint, a federal judge in Brooklyn has held.

Eastern District Judge Raymond Dearie (See Profile) said an officer cannot “escape liability merely by securing an appearance before a grand jury” and rejected an argument advanced by New York City’s Law Department in the wake of Rehberg v. Paulk, 132 S. Ct. 1497 (April 2). Read Full Article

Discrimination Lawsuit brought by DOJ against Interstate Farm Company

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

Work-authorized non-citizens brought a lawsuit against Rose Acre Farms through the Department of Justice (DOJ) that alleged discriminatory employment practices.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as explained by the DOJ, does not allow employers to require additional or other than specified documentation regarding citizenship or nationality from work-authorized employees when verifying work eligibility as part of the hiring process. The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division stated that, “The INA’s anti-discrimination provision requires employers to treat employees equally in the employment eligibility verification process, regardless of citizenship status or national origin.”

Rose Acres used an electronic employment eligibility verification software program that may have influenced its human resources professionals to request additional documentation.

The DOJ is seeking an injunction against future discrimination by Rose Acres and demands changes be made in the company’s employment verification processes and policies. It is also seeking monetary damages on behalf of harmed individuals and requiring civil penalties be placed on the company.

Employers requesting more documentation than federally required are subject to discrimination lawsuits brought by the government.

The legal counsel for Rose Acres Farm argues that the company’s practices are not discriminatory and that they take pride in the diversity of their hiring practices where 45 percent of their employees are from minority groups and the majority of their workers are Hispanic. Rose Acres is a major egg producer, operating farms in six different U.S. states.

If you suspect workplace discrimination, a New York employment lawyer can help protect your rights. Immigration and employment are often inter-related and because our law firm deals with immigration and employment matters, we are well-versed in handling these types of issues.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is a New York immigration and employment law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

Deferred Action (Relief for Dreamers)

On August 15, 2012 the USCIS published its forms and guidance for the application for deferred action for young undocumented immigrants.(FORM -821D).

Under the guidance, a person may apply for a work authorization and temporary protection from removal if:

  1. Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
  3. Has continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making his/her request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or his/her lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Is currently in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Many applicants should be aware of possible pitfalls.

First, the instructions specify that the deferred action will be available for those applicants who do not have a record of felony or serious misdemeanor convictions. It would be wise to consult with an Immigration attorney if you have a criminal record.

Second, many applicants struggle with background questions, such as “point of entry”: for obvious reasons, some of them do not have this information as were brought to the country as babies; and/or false documents were used to enter the country.

A potential applicant must remember that the deferred action is a discretionary relief, and must prepare his/her application so that it will “stand out” out of the thousands poorly prepared applications.

If you are dealing with immigration issues, consult New York lawyer. Our law firm keeps its finger on the pulse of ever-changing immigration laws and a knowledgeable lawyer can help protect your rights.

Tough Economic Times See Increases in Discrimination Claims

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

As economic conditions change, sometimes job markets favor employees and sometimes they favor employers. The supply/demand ratio in the current market shows a greater supply than demand for employees, and unemployment rates are higher than the nation has seen for decades. Such conditions make it an employer’s market. Employers can be choosier when filling positions because the employment pool is comparatively large. Yet, similar to the 2001 recession period, these tough financial times have also seen a rise in discrimination complaints.

In January, 2012, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) reported that employment discrimination in the private sector had hit an all time high for year-ending 2011. The EEOC reported the following employment discrimination statistics for the fiscal year 2011:

  • 99,947 charges of employment discrimination
  • $455.6 million in relief through the EEOC’s administrative program and litigation, which includes mediation
  • A $51 million increase in relief over the past three fiscal years
  • 5.4 million individuals benefiting from changes in workplace policies or practices
  • Record levels for EEOC mediation program resolutions at 9,831, and $28 million more than in 2010
  • 300 EEOC lawsuits resulting in $91 million in relief

The EEOC also reported that while racial and sexual discrimination allegations declined in 2011 compared to 2010, disability and age discrimination allegations increased. The Disabilities Act (ADA) produced the highest increase in monetary relief of any protected class category.

If you face workplace discrimination or harassment issues, discuss your situation with a New York immigration lawyer. Find out about your rights and get legal help to fight discrimination.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is an immigration law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

Same Sex Marriage Lawsuit Challenges DOMA as Applied to Immigration

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

Recently, a same sex couple in California filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the deportation of same sex couples. The Defense in Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that only recognizes marriages of opposite sex couples.

This particular case is brought by Jane DeLeon (who as a Philippine citizen), her U.S. citizen partner, and her 25-year old son. She and her partner have been in a same sex marriage relationship for 20 years. Numerous media outlets have covered the story, and according to the Wisconsin Gazette, when she entered the country in 1989, she used the name of her common law husband at that time. More recently, her employer sponsored her, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted an immigrant visa based on employment. However, to obtain permanent resident status, she must obtain a waiver from the USCIS by showing that deportation would impose a hardship for her U.S. citizen spouse. Typically the USCIS grants such waivers. However, in this case, it denied the waiver based on DOMA. The couple was legally married in 2008, but their marriage is not recognized under federal law because of DOMA.

The parties have filed a lawsuit, seeking class action status. If the court grants this status, other same-sex couples will also be able to sue as a class, and the outcome of this case is expected to set a precedent for other similar cases.

If you face deportation or other immigration issues, consult a New York immigration lawyer to protect your rights.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is an employment law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

Civil Rights Groups Continue Challenging Arizona Immigration Law

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

While the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision in the Arizona Immigration Law case, more lawsuits still challenge the validity of the provision that the Supreme Court upheld.

CNN reported that a coalition of civil rights organizations filed a federal court motion to block the provision that requires officers to check immigration status if reasonable suspicion exists regarding illegal status.

The legal arguments and evidence covered by the lawsuit against the provision include:

  • Extended detentions for immigrants while checking status which violate Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches
  • No established time length limiting detentions
  • Equal Protection Clause violations based on racial or natural origin discrimination (racial profiling)
  • Illegal and discriminatory language used in SB1070 intending to impose racial profiling

Civil rights organizations bringing the action include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigration Law Center, the Mexican Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

Five states — Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah, and Indiana — passed similar laws to Arizona’s immigration law and these states also face legal battles to sort out the validity of their new laws. In Arizona’s case, according to news media outlets, approximately 30 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, and the state has a 370-mile border with Mexico where undocumented immigrants cross into Arizona. It claims the federal government has not effectively dealt with the influx of immigrants who do not have legal status. Immigration reform at the federal legislative level appears to be deadlocked in diverse political views on immigration between Democrats and Republicans.

A New York immigration lawyer can help if you face deportation, other immigration issues, or wish to pursue permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is an immigration law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

Cases Where Labor Law and Immigration Law Both Apply

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

Deciding certain cases may require the court to determine the weight of immigration law versus employment law. This is what happened in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U.S. 137 (2002), a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court for final decision.

The case involved an undocumented immigrant, named Jose Castro who had entered the United States illegally and provided false papers, including a birth certificate from a friend born in Texas, so he could obtain work for Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. Castro’s action violated the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which penalizes workers who work illegally in the United States and companies as well if they knowingly employ illegal workers. In this situation, the company thought Jose’s work papers were valid. However, the company was not without its own legal violations and laid Jose Castro off because of his union organizing participation which involved handing out fliers and campaign cards. Retaliating against employees for union organization efforts violated the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA), a law that protects employees working towards unionization.

Castro brought a case against Hoffman for denying payment of his back wages. When pursuing the case in court, Castro had to disclose his illegal status, which made his case an interesting conflict of laws.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 5–4 decision to deny Castro his back pay because illegal immigrants without work authorization have no right to pay based on the IRCA. In this case, the IRCA took precedence over the NLRA.

If you have immigration or employment issues, the Law Office of Alena Shautsova can help through its legal services as both an employment and immigration law firm. Legal representation from a New York immigration lawyer or employment attorney can help protect your rights.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is a New York immigration and employment law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

New York’s Healthy Workplace Bill Addresses Bullying as Harassment

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

Bullying has been a hot button in the news for some time, often providing detailed descriptions of the devastation that school children experience when they are victims of bullying. A particular bullying incident involving a Massachusetts high school student, Phoebe Prince, led to national media headlines when she committed suicide in 2010. Bullying can also occur in the workplace, and the New York legislature has been considering a bill to address bullying as workplace harassment.

The name of the bill is the Healthy Workplace Bill. Research underlying the bill revealed that between 16 to 21% of employees directly experience health endangering workplace bullying, abuse, and harassment. This type of behavior is four times more prevalent than sexual harassment. The bill also states that such abusive behavior has detrimental effects on employees, such as:

  • Feelings of shame and humiliation
  • Stress
  • Sleep loss
  • Severe anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Reduced immunity to infection
  • Stress-related gastro-intestinal disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Pathophysiologic changes increasing risk of cardiovascular diseases

This harassment also adversely affects employers by causing—

  • Reduced employee productivity and morale
  • Higher turnover and absenteeism rates
  • Significant increases in medical and workers’ comp claims

Currently, anti-discrimination laws do not protect against bullying because such laws only apply to discrimination against protected classes based on color, race, sex, religion, age, disability, etc.

What does the bill consider abusive behavior?

The bill defines abusive conduct as conduct with malice, taken against an employee by an employer or another workplace employee. It is behavior that a reasonable person would find to be hostile, offensive, and unrelated to the employer’s legitimate business interests. In considering whether such conduct is occurring, the trier of fact should weigh the severity, nature, and frequency of the conduct.
New York employment attorneys wait to see if the legislature will pass the bill. If it does, it will create a new definition for a hostile work environment in New York.

If you suffer from workplace discrimination, discuss your situation with a New York employment lawyer and find out how to protect your rights.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is an employment law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

Obama Administration Allows Work Rights for Young Undocumented Immigrants

Author: Law Office of Alena Shautsova

The Obama Administration recently made a bold move by taking allowing thousands of young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.

The implemented policy change takes away fear of deportation or procuring a driver’s license and allows immigrants to work legally in the country, provided that they meet the following qualifications:

  • U.S. entry before age 16
  • U.S. residence for a minimum of five years
  • Attendance in high school
  • High school graduation
  • Military veterans in good standing
  • Not older than age 30
  • Clean criminal records

Some estimate that 800,000 immigrants may be able to take advantage of the new policy change, which achieves some of the DREAM Act objectives. The DREAM ACT or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors was a proposed bill that failed to pass Congress. It offered permanent residency and a path to citizenship for young immigrants up to age 35.

The New York Times quoted President Obama as saying that this recent policy change was not an amnesty, not a path to citizenship, and not a permanent fix. However, under the new policy, immigrants can apply for a work permit that lasts for two years and has no renewal limitations.

If you have issues with immigration, are facing deportation, or have goals to obtain permanent residency or citizenship, find out how a New York immigration lawyer can help.

The Law Office of Alena Shautsova is an immigration law firm serving clients in Brooklyn, New York City, Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and surrounding communities.

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