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Nashville Legal Blog

Ballroom dancing hurt by immigration crackdown

Since the tightening of immigration rules at the beginning of the Trump administration, it has become more difficult for ballroom dance studios in Tennessee and other states to hire the instructors they need. Even when studios have found the right applicants, deportations and other processes have stymied the hiring process. Since the most popular ballroom dance forms are foreign, hiring instructors from overseas is often necessary.

National representatives from a dance studio chain as well as immigration attorneys have argued that increased backlogs for visa applications and necessary evidence requests have contributed to this problem. They claim that the Trump administration has erected an invisible wall that's making it difficult for all types of industries, not just ballroom dancing, to hire the workers that they need. Data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services showed that immigration case processing time rose by 46% from 2016 to 2018.

Immigrants unlikely to move for health care, study finds

Immigrants in Tennessee and throughout the country are unlikely to move around based on what states offer them better health care access. This was one of the findings of researchers at Stanford University, who used data from the American Community Survey to determine that expansion of public health care options was unlikely to lead to an influx of immigrants.

This has been a concern raised by the Trump administration although most Democratic candidates support making health care available to all immigrants whatever their status. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that citizens are substantially more likely to have health insurance than noncitizens. Along with six other states, Washington, D.C., offers unauthorized immigrant children health care. California has expanded this benefit to unauthorized adults as well.

Expanded Expedited Removal Temporarily Blocked

Expedited removal is the process of removing a non-citizen from the United States without a hearing before an immigration judge. This is contrasted with normal removal proceedings which involve a hearing before an immigration judge to determine first the non-citizen's removability and then, if removable, any eligibility for relief under the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA").


First, expedited removal should not be confused with "reinstatement of removal," wherein a previously deported respondent is apprehended after returning unlawfully to the United States and removed without a hearing when their prior removal order is reinstated. Expedited removal is also not stipulated removal, where a respondent in removal proceedings agrees to their own removal and waives their right to a hearing. Expedited removal applies only to a certain class of non-citizens discussed below. While its use has historically been limited, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") announced in July 2019 a significant expansion of expedited removal.

Lawmakers propose special visas for Syrian Kurds

Tennessee residents who follow international news will likely be aware that President Trump recently announced that he planned to recall U.S. troops from Syria. A fierce reaction from both sides of the political aisle has prompted the White House to revise its position, but questions still linger about American intentions in the region and what will be done to protect Syrian Kurds who have put themselves in harm's way by working with U.S. troops.

American forces rely on help from local populations to overcome language barriers and navigate over hostile terrain. During recent military operations in the Middle East, thousands of Syrian Kurds worked with U.S. soldiers as guides and translators. On Oct. 30, a bill was submitted to the House of Representatives that would provide up to 4,000 special immigration visas each year for Kurds and other foreign nationals who assisted the U.S. military in the fight against the Islamic State.

White House proposes collecting DNA from immigrants

Individuals in Tennessee and around the country who are taken into custody by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would be required to provide a sample of their DNA if a measure proposed by the Trump administration on Oct. 21 is implemented. The proposal would allow information derived from the genetic material to be added to a database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The proposed policy change was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 22. The public has 20 days to submit comments about the measure.

The White House downplayed criticism of the proposed measure by pointing out that collecting DNA from individuals who enter the United States illegally was authorized by Congress in 2005. The Department of Homeland Security suspended the practice during the Obama administration. In addition to improving border security, an administration representative said the DNA collected could be used to prevent fraud and solve open criminal cases.

Trump declares immigrants must get health insurance

Tennessee readers might be interested to learn that President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Oct. 4 requiring people immigrating to the U.S. to acquire health insurance. The document states that immigrants should no longer be allowed to "saddle" the U.S. healthcare system.

According to the new rule, which takes effect on Nov. 3, immigrants applying for an entry visa must either prove they have health coverage within 30 days of arriving in the U.S. or prove they have enough money to pay for "reasonably foreseeable" medical care. For now, no set income threshold has been announced, but the government might establish one in the future. Until then, it will be up to the consular officer to judge if an applicant meets the requirements. The rule will apply to all immigrants except asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, refugees, Iraqis and Afghans applying for Special Immigration Visas and individuals issued visas before Nov. 3.

Permanent residency isn’t exactly permanent

Permanent residency is a status for people trying to move and live in the United States. Once you qualify and obtain the status of permanent resident, you will receive a green card. This allows you to live and work in the United States for the foreseeable future. This status allows you to petition for close family members to receive permanent residency as well and move to the U.S.

However, it is possible for you to lose your permanent resident status. You might have your green card taken away and face deportation if you commit certain acts.

Lawsuit alleges unfair denial of asylum

Florida residents who have been following immigration developments may have seen that a lawsuit filed on Sept.16th involves mothers and children from nearly 60 families who are suing the Trump Administration over changes in asylum laws. This suit claims that the Trump administration enacted changes to the asylum rule without warning and that, as a result, asylum seekers have been barred entry to the country unfairly. Asylum seekers were allegedly not told which standards would apply to their individual cases, which led to higher rates of rejection.

Previous lawsuits aimed to target the law itself, which states that asylum may be denied if those seeking it did not first seek safety in another country they traveled through. For example, a person who travels from Guatemala to the U.S. border must first seek safety in Mexico. The rule change has resulted in a virtual asylum ban at the border.

Judge reinstitutes nationwide asylum rule injunction

Legal experts in Tennessee and around the country have been closely following a case brought by a coalition of civil rights groups on behalf of undocumented immigrants over one of President Trump's controversial asylum rules. The rule, which requires asylum seekers to make their claims in the first safe country they enter, contradicts established U.S. immigration law, and the case is seen as an attempt to place limits on the scope of executive powers.

The administration saw an initial setback when a federal judge in California issued an injunction to prevent the rule's implementation, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the injunction should only apply in certain states. The judge who initially issued the injunction stepped back into the fray on Sept. 9 by restoring the nationwide ban. The White House has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and resolve the issue.

What Should I Do During a Traffic Stop?

Know Your Rights during a Traffic Stop

Seeing blue lights in your rear view mirror gives most people anxiety. Police officers need reasonable suspicion to stop and detain you, but Tennessee law also gives officers huge leeway in their "community caretaking" function when interacting with citizens. It is important to know your rights during any police encounter, especially when on the road, whether at a DUI checkpoint, or during a traffic stop.

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