A policy change announced earlier this month by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, puts more immigrants at risk for deportation.
USCIS handles immigration benefits like certain work visas, student visas, green cards, and naturalization ceremonies, and has some deportation powers — specifically through issuing a “notice to appear” or NTA: a document that initiates removal proceedings and
orders immigrants to appear before a judge.
A memo made public earlier this month now grants the agency the ability to issue an NTA in a wider range of circumstances, including instances when an immigrant is found to have a history of criminal offense or fraud.
USCIS can also issue an NTA if an immigrant’s application is denied of if they are found to be unlawfully present in the United States.
Previously, if their application for a benefit was denied, immigrants would have the chance to appeal the decision, re-apply, or leave the country voluntarily if they fall out of status.
USCIS says that the change would help align the agency’s practices with the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement priorities.
For some expert insight into this matter, we’re joined by Pinoy Panawagan legal counsel Atty. Lou Tancinco.