February Free Education Immigration Seminar
New Americans flocked to our February Free Immigration Seminar on Saturday, February 28th. We had a full house. The judicial blockage of President Obama's Executive Action and the threat of withholding funding from the Department of Homeland Security only heightened attendee's interest in and apprehension about their current and future status with regards to US Immigration Law.
People came from all over Ohio: farmers working the agricultural lands to the east; business people hiring foreign born employees to work in operations around the country; current clients and prospective clients eager to talk about their cases; United States citizens (USC) with their foreign born spouses; business people eager to learn about EB-5 and other employment based visas, including the H-1B, with its fast approaching April 1st deadline. Even happy past clients attended, eager to share their stories of fulfilled American Dreams.
Many friends from the news media were in attendance, including Annie Pu from Erie Chinese Journal, Pierre Bejjani from Profile News Ohio, and Dan Hanson from ClevelandPeople.com. Both Erie Chinese Journal and Profile News Ohio included ads about the event, and Dan Hanson filmed the event, both with video and candids.
Ms. Wong spoke at length about President Obama's Executive Action (EA), and the newly all-important date of November 20, 2014. She spoke of the two classes of people the EA addresses: those who stay, and those who are subject to deportation.
For those who stay, she describes three aspects: those who pursue Green Cards, those who seek protection within DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; inspired by the proposed DREAM Act [Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors]), and those who seek protection within DAPA (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability).
The Green Card, possibly the most sought-after document of legal status in the world, has many paths. Most ways to get a Green Card are via legal entry to the US, though some who enter without documentation, or overstay their visa expiration, may seek and discover Green Card eligibility.
Ms. Wong described the "three priorities" of deportation, and how an officer arresting an undocumented person may be dissuaded with the "low priority argument." Undocumented immigrants who pose a significant threat to national security are "Priority 1." "Priority 2" offenders have been convicted of a serious crime. "Priority 3" offenders have violated the immigration laws to the point they've actually been ordered to leave the country. It appears that DHS views fairly minor offenses such as driving while intoxicated (DUI) as deportable offenses -- Ms. Wong voiced concern that this seems excessive, but said you have to be realistic. Just be careful. Don't do stupid things like driving when you are impaired. Or anything illegal.
Many participants brought children, some of them United States Citizens, and others foreign born. One young man reads his school book while his father finds the Chinese translation of Ms. Wong's first book, "The Immigrant's Way: For All Immigrants, by An Immigrant" an engaging read.
Firm Partner, Francis Fungsang fielded questions about various immigration situations, including employment based immigration, such as H-1B holders wondering how to obtain a Green Card, marriage based questions, and students trying to figure out their next steps as they approach graduation.
One person had a very interesting question. This person was a farmer who has a trusted and hardworking employee who happens to be undocumented. The farmer asked whether it was better to remain undocumented and be away from the government's ability to deport, or to seek lawful status, which would open the employee to federal scrutiny, and possible deportation if some law changed, or a DHS employee felt an arrest was warranted due simply to lack of legal status.
Mr. Fungsang and Ms. Wong agreed it's better to start on the road toward legal status. There are many more benefits one has access to by being either a legal permanent resident or a naturalized citizen, over having no status whatsoever.
One New American asked if it mattered if the person seeking another person's Green Card was a foreign born Naturalized Citizen, or a native born Citizen. Mr. Fungsang replied that only one class of Citizen is recognized by USCIS, which means it doesn't matter the sponsoring individual's birth country, just the fact of her US Citizenship.
Law firm employees participating, in addition to Ms. Wong and Mr. Fungsang, were Attorney Joseph Fungsang, Community Liaison Michael Patterson, legal assistant Sage Wen, PR and marketing assistant Sarah Wagner, Vicky Ko, Leo Shipcka, and Leslie Tejada from Reception, and marketing manager, Gordon Landefeld. Ms. Wagner and Ms. Tejada assisted with Spanish translation. Ms. Ko and Ms. Wen assisted with Chinese translation. Mr. Shipcka, once and future executive chef, coordinated refreshments, Mr. Patterson assisted with directing guests, and Mr. Landefeld lent technology and logistical support.
Margaret W. Wong & Associates has seminars from time to time, and with the current heightened climate of debate Nationwide over immigration reform, we are likely to have many more seminars across the country.