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Nashville Legal Blog

New policy could impact legal immigrants

Some Tennessee residents who came from another country may find it harder to get a green card or visa. A new Trump administration rule would make it possible to reject applications from those who have used public assistance. It might also result in visa or permanent resident requests being denied if applicants don't have sufficient levels of income or education. These individuals could be seen as more likely to need public assistance in the future.

The acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said that the country expects immigrants to be able to be self-sufficient regardless of their income. The Department of Homeland Security says that the new rule could have an impact on 382,000 people who want to seek a visa or a green card. However, others say that it would likely impact millions of individuals.

Asylum-seeking families face clerical errors, other obstacles

Some Tennessee residents may be aware that immigrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. may have their situation complicated by clerical errors. This was the case for a woman from Honduras who was seeking asylum for herself and her two sons after they fled from violence related to her political organizing. They crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and were released on the grounds that they appear in court when summoned.

They moved to Colorado, and the woman checked the mail often, but the first thing she received was a deportation order. After hiring a lawyer, she was told there had been several errors made in her case file. Mistakes are not uncommon in the overburdened system. Many families have been placed on a fast-track list. The federal government says that all people deported have had an opportunity to present their case in court, but attorneys and immigration advocates say this is not correct.

Trump administration imposes new asylum bar

People in Tennessee and across the country are deeply concerned about the changes taking place at the U.S. southern border. In the latest development, the Trump administration has issued a rule claiming that all people who pass through another country before coming to the U.S. are ineligible for asylum. The rule aims to exclude Central American refugees in particular from making asylum claims at the border as they must generally pass through Mexico in order to do so. The rule was published in the Federal Register and will apply both to adult refugee claimants as well as children traveling alone to seek asylum.

Tens of thousands of people aim to claim asylum in the United States each month, especially those from Central American countries racked with violence and persecution. Justifying the rule, Attorney General William Barr said that the government is overwhelmed with the cost of processing asylum applications at the southern border. He also accused people of being "economic migrants" rather than truly fleeing torture or persecution. People who claim asylum go through an interview that aims to determine whether they have a credible fear of persecution in their home countries. The U.S. is rejecting more people; while only 5% were rejected based on these interviews 10 years ago, 40% are now rejected.

Visa applicants must now provide social media identifiers

The United States Department of State updated its online visa applications. The applications now require social media identifiers for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants.

As announced on June 1st, 2019, applicants for U.S. visas are being asked to identify and list any social media they have used in the last five years and the “identifier” or “handle” associated with the account.

Children's health could suffer due to immigration law changes

A proposal being supported by the Trump administration could risk access to health care and food for nearly 2 million children in Tennessee and across the country. According to one study, up to 1.9 million kids can be expected to drop out of federal programs providing children's health care and nutrition benefits if the administration pursues its plan to change immigration law. In particular, the Trump administration is proposing a redefinition of the term "public charge."

Immigrants are partially evaluated as to whether they are likely to become a "public charge" or dependent on government benefits. Typically, this has been applied to long-term support benefits rather than transitory programs for children. In particular, it is applied to cash assistance programs or institutionalization in a government facility. Under the proposal, however, an array of non-cash benefits would also be considered, including housing aid, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), Medicaid and children's health assistance programs. Experts note that families are often encouraged to enroll in these programs which aim to assist people in moving forward from poverty. Many people use these programs for a period of time to help them achieve a position in life where they are no longer necessary.

Supreme Court: warrant isn't generally needed to draw blood

In a 5-4 case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a warrant is not generally needed to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of DUI. In the case of Mitchell v. Wisconsin, the Court's Opinion stated that police are almost always allowed to order a blood draw from an unconscious driver without a warrant when they have probable case to believe the person was driving drunk.

Do I need a Tennessee Real ID?

The REAL ID Act of 2005 established security standards for the issuance of identifiction documents, and prohibited federal agencies from accepting those documents that did not adhere to the Act. It has been up to the individual states to issue driver licenses and identification that comply with the Act. Many have not done so.

On July 1, 2019 the State of Tennessee will begin issuing driver licenses and identification cards that comply with the Real ID act. So you may ask yourself, do I need a new ID?

Divorce and Child Custody in Tennessee

Tennessee is home to picturesque mountain views and gorgeous landscapes, but residents of the state still have to deal with the stark realities of divorce. Despite best efforts and intentions, some relationships reach a point at which separating is best, but this can be especially difficult for parents who are seeking a divorce.

According to FindLaw, child custody and support decisions are some of the most difficult and emotional during the process of dissolving a marriage, leaving many divorcing parents frustrated. As a result, it's important for parents to understand how custody decisions are made in order to be engaged in the process of determining parental rights.

You can be charged with failing to protect your children

Juvenile courts in Tennessee have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear matters concerning the dependency and neglect of children. These can be brought by private parties, or by the State filing a petition. These are typically the result of an investigation by the Department of Children's Services ("DCS") upon a referall by private actors, medical institutions, or law enforcement. The recent case of In Re Antoine J., et al., highlights the issues involved when abuse or neglect is committed by the romantic partner of the parent.

Tennessee does not recognize common law marriage

Tennessee doesn't recognize what other states consider to be "common law marriages." Some states allow common law marriages to be formed when two individuals in a relationship cohabitate for a set period of time. This would then create a marital union to allow for support, alimony, and surviving spouse benefits upon death. A recent case has highlighted the issues that arise when individuals who were in such a recognized relationship in another state move to Tennessee.

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