Malcolm Butler Homecoming Parade in Vicksburg

On February 21, Vicksburg celebrated the homecoming of Malcolm Butler, who sealed the New England Patriots’ victory in the 2015 Super Bowl.  We love being part of such a wonderful community!

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USCIS to Extend Employment Authorization to Spouses of Some H-1B Visa Holders

Pursuant to President Obama’s November 2014 announcement on executive action, the Department of Homeland Security announced today that it will extend eligibility for employment authorization to certain dependent (H-4) spouses of H-1B visa holders who are in the process of seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence.

According to USCIS.gov, H-4 visa-holders are eligible under the work authorization expansion if their H-1B spouses:

  • Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.

USCIS will begin accepting accepting work authorization applications from eligible H-4 spouses on May 26, 2015.  In order to apply, eligible spouses must file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with all required supporting evidence and filing fees (currently $380).

Justice Department Challenges Judge Hanen’s Order Blocking DAPA / Expanded DACA

On Monday, February 23, the Justice Department filed a petition for an emergency stay asking U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to lift the preliminary injunction that he recently issued which temporarily blocked implementation of President Obama’s November 20, 2014, executive actions on DAPA and Expanded DACA.

The Justice Department stated that it may go ahead and file an appeal if Judge Hanen does not respond by the close of business on Wednesday, February 25.

Remember that the preliminary injunction (temporary hold) only affects Expanded DACA (which was set to go into effect on February 18) and DAPA (which was scheduled to go into effect in May 2015).  Applicants may still apply for the original DACA or for DACA renewal.

Please stay tuned for further updates.

USCIS to postpone acceptance of “Expanded DACA” petitions in light of federal injunction

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen enjoined President Obama’s executive orders to expand DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans).  You can read Judge Hanen’s injunction and 123-page opinion here.

The United States is appealing the decision; however, in the meantime, USCIS has postponed acceptance of DACA petitions which was scheduled originally for February 18.  In response to Judge Hanen’s decision, Secretary Jeh Johnson of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued the following response on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website:

I strongly disagree with Judge Hanen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it.

Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA.

The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.

It is important to emphasize what the District Court’s order does not affect.

The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012.

Nor does the Court’s order affect this Department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities. The priorities established in my November 20, 2014 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants” remain in full force and effect. Pursuant to those enforcement priorities, we continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security. I am pleased that an increasing percentage of removals each year are of those convicted of crimes.  I am also pleased that, due in large part to our investments in and prioritization of border security, apprehensions at the southern border – a large indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally — are now at the lowest levels in years.

For more information, visit www.dhs.gov.

Please stay tuned for more information.

The Expanded DACA instructions are out!

Update 02/18/2015:  Please be aware that a federal judge in Texas has issued an injunction against Expanded DACA and DAPA.  Therefore, these programs are on hold until further notice.

The preliminary instructions for Expanded DACA Form I-821D are here!  While USCIS has not released the forms and will not accept applications until February 18, the instructions provide guidance on the all-important evidentiary component.  Read the full preliminary instructions here.

USCIS has also released a more detailed Frequently Asked Questions section on Expanded DACA.  Please note that these FAQs do not go into effect until February 18.

(Bilingual Post / Aporte bilingüe) Northeast Mississippi: Free DACA/DAPA Workshop / Charla Gratis sobre DACA/DAPA

Are you in Northeast Mississippi?

You are invited to a free DAPA/”Expanded” DACA workshop this Sunday (February 15, 2015) at 10:30 a.m. at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Pontotoc, Mississippi:

More details here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1544245612494514/

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¿Está Ud. en el noreste de Misisipi?

Ud. está invitad@ a una charla gratis sobre DAPA/DACA Ampliada este domingo (15 del feb.) a las 10:30 am en la Iglesia San Cristóbal en Pontotoc.

Más información aquí:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1544245612494514/

It’s Carnival Season in Vicksburg!

Vicksburg loves a good celebration, and there is no better time to celebrate than Carnival.  Like our Gulf Coast neighbors to the south, we Vicksburgers celebrate the season with plenty of food, friends, music, and parades.

Yesterday, the Vicksburg Main Street Program hosted its fourteenth-annual Mardi Gras Parade in downtown Vicksburg, attracting local residents as well as plenty of tourists.  Creative “floats” representing local organizations, government agencies, and businesses rolled down the city’s historic brick streets, as riders threw beads, snacks, and other treats to the crowd.  We even had a special “throw” this year to celebrate one of Vicksburg’s hometown heroes, Malcolm Butler, whose interception helped to seal the recent Super Bowl victory for his New England Patriots:

Vicksburg Malcolm Butler cup

Wonderful community events like these are just some of the many reasons I’m proud to live and work in such a great city.  Happy Mardi Gras!