Newsletter Vol I #1

Bernardo Mendez-Lugo Trade and Business Consul, Mexican Consulate in San Francisco
I met Jonathan Dunten in San Francisco and as Mexican Trade Consul during my San Francisco tenure 2001-2006, I had to ask Jonathan for advise in a wide range of legal issues and he was speaker in different business workshops that I organized at the Consulate and other venues in the Bay Area. I highly appreciate his professionalism and excellent command of Spanish as a native speaker. I know that Attorney Dunten is a member of the American Bar Association and was a media liaison for the Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. For several years Mr. Dunten has been an attorney advisor for the Department of Protection and Legal Affairs at the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco and loves to teach and to be a Mentor. He is also a former professor of immigration and criminal law at East Bay Law School in Oakland, California.

Happy New year! Welcome to our quarterly newsletter, Immigration Advantage! Our news capsules will contain simplified case law summaries and legislative updates of the ever-changing immigration laws, including articles on “how-to” file for various benefits with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, what to expect at interviews, conduct affecting one’s immigration status, confronting state and federal law enforcement, and many other topics to help guide you through the labyrinth called immigration law.

Many immigrants share similar aspirations and problems, both before and after they obtain permanent residence. Consequently, we will also offer solutions and inspiration through reader contributed articles and letters to the editor that discuss the cultural, political, and economic aspects of immigrant life in the U.S.

Additionally, we will host a general law forum and ask our professional colleagues to answer our readers questions concerning life’s other problems , not just immigration. We regularly receive questions regarding, adoption, child custody, divorce, employment, health, property, and retirement. We hope the Immigration Advantage Forum becomes the first place you turn to when preparing to stage a legal endeavor.

There is no substitute for an individual, uninterrupted, consultation with a licensed attorney that specializes in your needed area of law. This is why Immigration Advantage will contain a directory of licensed attorneys and not-for-profit organizations that may be of service to you. We hope you look forward to our seasonal newsletter and welcome your contributions as a writer and as a presenter of questions in the general law forum!

pic1For the past three years, the Obama Administration has been unable to secure a comprehensive immigration reform. The president has however prompted internal immigration directives, known as memorandums or “memos” through his Secretaries. For example the President’s Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton, last summer ordered his department to humanely prioritize cases and instructed immigration officials to dispose of cases found appropriate for prosecutorial discretion. This so-called “new law” has been incorrectly portrayed by media or fraudulent people as a type of blanket amnesty. It is not. It is rather an internal directive benefiting only those already in removal proceedings, who meet elements identified in the Memo. Specifically, Secretary Morton instructs attorneys representing the case against you to consider the following factors in your favor. He also reminds them that they continue to have the power to terminate the case against you if you:

  • are not a criminal and have been in the country since childhood (DREAM Act students)
  • have strong community ties
  • are a veteran or a relative of

a person in the armed services

  • are a caregiver
  • have serious health issues
  • are a victim of a crime

or otherwise have a strong basis for remaining in the United States.

Once the government has obtained a clear picture of the case, it can decide whether or not to exercise prosecutorial discretion over your case; prosecution being your removal or deportation proceedings and discretion being the analysis of your facts upon the Memo’s considerations. Those who lie undetected will not benefit by Secretary Morton’s Memo. According to the Office of Chief Counsel for ICE in San Francisco, those who benefit from prosecutorial discretion will gain no other benefit than they already have. The Benefit of work authorization upon case closure has been expressed. Interpretation and execution of the Memo by the lower rank and file of ICE remains to be seen. Grumbles from conservative, unionized, ICE employees, have already been heard.

According to Secretary Morton, his Department’s enforcement efforts have also shifted from employee to employer violators and the Department’s focus has also become one of criminal alien identification and apprehension. To this aim, immigration police must now consider your criminal and immigration history, age, family ties and time in the United States when deciding whether or not to “arrest” you.

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