Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘United States Supreme Court’

26th July 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new set of answers to frequently asked questions stemming from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In previous postings on this blog the fact that lawful permanent residents and American Citizens with same-sex spouses can now file for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse has been discussed at length. That said, USCIS discussed this issue in their recently issued FAQ release, to quote directly from the USCIS website:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. [italics added]

As previously pointed out on this blog, the ability of American Citizens to file for immigration benefits for a same-sex foreign spouse is a fairly clear cut result of the recent Supreme Court decision finding Section 3 of DOMA unConstituional. It should be noted that the USCIS seems to also imply that a K3 visa would also now be a possibility for same sex couples as it could be construed to be an “applicable accompanying application”. However, an issue that was not so clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court’s decision pertains to the K-1 visa (US fiance visa). As Fiance visas are, by  definition, not based upon a marriage, but an intended marriage; further clarification from USCIS on these types of visas post-DOMA is considered by some to be quite helpful. To quote further from the aforementioned USCIS FAQ section:

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes.  You may file a Form I-129F.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. [italics added]

This clarification from USCIS regarding the fiance visa in the context of same sex marriage, while helpful, is slightly qualified by the next section of the same FAQ page:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. [italics added]

Clearly, the US fiance visa is now a viable option for same sex couples with a bona fide intention to marry in those jurisdictions of the United States which recognize same sex marriage. Since the jurisdiction of the celebration of the intended marriage is USCIS’s primary concern it would appear that a K1 visa itself will be a possibility for same sex couples in the future. However, it would appear that some ancillary immigration benefits may or may not be available at this time for some same sex bi-national couples depending upon the unique residency circumstances of those couples.

Of further interest to some same sex couples will likely be the fact that there are benefits for the foreign same sex spouse of an American Citizen with respect to naturalization:

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?
A8. Yes.  As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident.  But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen.  For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Therefore, the same sex spouse of an American Citizen will be treated the same way as the opposite sex spouse of an American for purposes of obtaining US Citizenship based upon the couple’s marriage and lawful permanent residence obtained thereby. Finally, of further note in this recently issued USCIS FAQ page relates to the I-601 waiver process:

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances.  For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident.  In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?
A9.Yes.   Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Waivers of inadmissibility can be difficult to obtain under certain circumstances as they are, by definition, a discretionary waiver. However, one major hurdle for many same-sex bi-national couples in the US immigration sphere has been cast aside by the comendable decision of the United States Supreme Court. USCIS deserves comendation as well for their efforts to quickly and decisively implement policies which bring immigration regulations in line with changes in the law.

Readers are encouraged to read the USCIS website and the FAQ section quoted above to find out further details regarding immigration regulations pertaining to same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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13th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision apparently found certain sections of the law enacting American health care reform to be unconstitutional. In order to provide further details this blogger is compelled  to quote directly from an article written by JENNIFER HABERKORN and posted to the website of Politico, Politico.com:

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that the health care reform law’s requirement that nearly all Americans buy insurance is unconstitutional, a striking blow to the legislation that increases the odds the Supreme Court will choose to review the law…The 2-1 ruling marks the first time a judge appointed by a Democrat has voted to strike down the mandate. Judge Frank Hull, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, joined Chief Judge Joel Dubina, who was appointed by George H.W. Bush, to strike down the mandate…

The administration of this blog asks interested readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting and insightful article in its entirety.

Where governmental officials impose restrictions upon individual rights there may be an argument that said activity violates the United States Constitution. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether this case will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court and, if it is appealed; whether the Supreme Court will grant Certiorari. Even if the Supreme Court opts to review the matter it is difficult to speculate as to their decision since Supreme Court decisions should never be considered foregone conclusions. Hopefully the ultimate decision in the matter benefits all concerned while remaining in compliance the the law and principles of the United States Constitution.

In news pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community was noted for comments regarding ASEAN’s perspective on economic issues in the United States and Europe. To provide further elucidation on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the website MYSinchew.com:

MANADO, Indonesia, Aug 12 (Bernama) — The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) learns a lot from debt crisis in Europe and the United States, looking ways to avoid such disaster, a high-ranking official at the Asean Secretariat told Xinhua news agency in an exclusive interview on the side lines of Asean Ministers Meeting in North Sulawesi provincial capital city of Manado. Deputy Secretary-General of Asean for Asean Economic Community Sundram Pushpanathan said that in term of the current situation in Europe, Asean has agreed to stay vigilant. “After experiencing two crises in the region (in the past), ASEAN recognizes the importance of coordination of policies and keeping each other informed, so that the region stays stable in the situation. And of course, I think that from the EU, we have learned a lot of lesson,” he said…[sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Many of the jurisdictions which comprise ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) have shown strong growth in economic terms. Meanwhile, further integration facilitated by trade is likely to lead to further economic advantages for the ASEAN region in the coming months and years. Discussion regarding a unified ASEAN visa could result in tangible benefits to business travelers and those wishing to streamline regional business operations.

For information about legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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11th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that officials from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are being encouraged to implement the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from a fascinating article posted to the Live Trading News website, LiveTradingNews.com:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wednesday was urged to implement the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2015 timely. “This year’s ASEAN Economic Ministerial meeting takes place at a critical juncture when there is so much uncertainty about the global economy given the fiscal situations in the United States and members of the European Union. From Indonesia’s perspective, it is imperative that ASEAN implements the AEC Blueprint 2015 on time as this will bring benefits to all of its members and allow ASEAN to grow together with our dialogue partners,” said Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu…

Readers are encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Those who read this web log with any frequency may be aware of the fact that there have been many significant developments pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). One major announcement, from this blogger’s perspective, was the broaching of the subject of a possibly unified ASEAN visa similar to the Schengen visa scheme currently utilized in Europe. Concurrently, in the context of the Kingdom of Thailand; there has been discussion surrounding the idea of creating Thailand Plazas throughout the ASEAN jurisdictions in order to promote Thai business interests in the region. With respect to geopolitics, ASEAN has been in the news recently as this organization seems poised to eventually promulgate a formal declaration with respect to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. How such matters will ultimately evolve remains to be seen.

In news pertaining to United States immigration, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Governor of the sovereign State of Arizona has petitioned for Supreme Court review of that State’s recently enacted immigration law. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Politico, Politico.com:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced late Wednesday she has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to consider her state’s appeal to a lower court ruling that put on hold key parts of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law. “I am hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will choose to take this case and issue much-needed clarity for states, such as Arizona, that are grappling with the significant human and financial costs of illegal immigration,” Brewer said in a statement released by her office. “For too long the Federal government has turned a blind eye as this problem has manifested itself in the form of drop houses in our neighborhoods and crime in our communities. SB1070 was Arizona’s way of saying that we won’t wait patiently for federal action any longer. If the federal government won’t enforce its immigration laws, we will.” Brewer, a Republican, vowed this spring to take the case to the high court after a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting her motion to throw out a district court’s ruling that blocked implementation of parts of the law. The deadline to do so was Wednesday…

This blogger asks interested readers to click upon the relevant links above to read this article in detail.

As noted previously on this web log, the powers related to immigration and often wielded by the federal legislature and the federal executive are plenary in nature as immigration is one of the relatively few areas in which the United States federal government maintains virtually unfettered seemingly exclusive jurisdiction. That stated, how said jurisdiction interrelates with reserved States’ Rights and prerogatives is an interesting and almost interminably unsettled question. Hopefully, the Supreme Court of the United States can provide insight into these issues and possibly delineate a framework which will facilitate a better understanding of all of these issues and their interaction within the context of the United States Constitution.

For information related to US immigration from the Kingdom of Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

For information pertaining to general legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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20th May 2011

It recently came to the attention of this blogger that the United States Supreme Court may be hearing a case pertaining to issues surrounding the issuance of Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Such documents are generally issued by Consular Officers of the Department of State at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad.  To quote directly from a May 2nd posting by Lyle Denniston on ScotusBlog at scotusblog.com:

Stepping into a significant test of the President’s foreign policy powers, the Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether Congress had the authority to dictate how the Executive Branch makes out birth certificates for U.S. citizens born abroad — in this case, in Jerusalem, a city that the U.S. government does not recognize as an official part of Israel.  At issue is the validity of a nine-year-old law in which Congress aimed to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  That dispute came in one of two cases the Court agreed on Monday to hear, at its next Term.

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click the hyperlinks above to read this posting on ScotusBlog in its entirety as it cogently provides information about what could prove to be a very pertinent issue in the days and weeks ahead.

Although the issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad may seem innocuous, especially to American Citizens who do not have a great deal of international experience; but it should be noted that this document is very important as issuance of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad documents the fact that an American Citizen was born overseas. This document is thereby used to obtain a US passport as well as other documentation. To continue quoting from the aforementioned article:

After State Department officials refused to fill out a report on the foreign birth of a boy born in 2002 in a Jerusalem hospital to show that his birthplace was “Israel,” his parents sued, seeking to enforce the 2002 law that ordered the State Department to do just that, when asked to do so.   A federal judge and the D.C. Circuit Court refused to decide the case, saying the controversy was a “political question” that the courts had no authority to resolve.

The law noted above attempts to deal with a somewhat difficult issue as Jerusalem is not technically considered to be part of the Greater State of Israel. In order to provide more insight on this complex issue it may be best to quote directly from the preamble to the opposition’s brief in this case:

QUESTION PRESENTED

Whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the dismissal of petitioner’s suit seeking to compel the Secretary of State to record “Israel” as his place of birth in his United States passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad, instead of “Jerusalem,” when the panel unanimously agreed that the decision how to record the place of birth for a citizen born in Jerusalem in official United States government documents is committed exclusively to the Executive Branch by the Constitution.

The administration urges readers to click on the hyperlink noted above to read the opposition’s brief in detail.

It would appear to this blogger as though the issues in this case are likely to result in any finding having tremendous ramifications. This is due to the fact that there really are two important notions in competition. Namely, the right of the individual or family to choose the manner in which a report of birth abroad is promulgated and the right of the Executive Branch to conduct foreign policy.

It remains to be seen how the Court will rule on these issues, but one this is certain: cases involving a “political question” often make for the most interesting decisions.

For related information please see: Certificate of Citizenship or Legal.

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12th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a 9th circuit decision in the United States Federal Court System regarding issues associated with the 4th Amendment as well as issues which could impact American agencies such as the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, but sometimes referred to simply as ICE) has been handed down.  To quote directly from a recent article posted on Yahoo News at Yahoo.com:

If you can’t let a day go by without accessing your personal data and files, you’d better think twice about crossing the border back into the U.S. with your computer.  That’s because digital devices such as a laptop computer can be seized at the border without a warrant and sent to a secondary site for forensic inspection.

That ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week is the second in less than a year that allows the U.S. government to conduct offsite searches of digital devices seized at the border without a warrant, Network World reported.

This could have big implications for business travelers, in particular, who are increasingly mobile and frequently carry laptops and other digital devices containing sensitive personal and company information across our borders. If your data reveals traces of criminality or illegal kinkiness when examined, your troubles will go way beyond temporary data denial.

This blogger has yet to take a great deal of exception with regard to American policy regarding the 4th Amendment at Ports of Entry in the United States of America as most occurrences that this blogger deals with in connection to such matters involve those who are not American Citizens, or for that matter sometimes not even lawful permanent residents or non-immigrants. Therefore, due to the wide latitude granted to Congress under their plenary authority regarding matters touching upon non-US Citizens and immigration policy it is difficult for this blogger to make cogent hypothetical arguments for people who have few, if any, rights under the American legal system. That said, when it comes to the search and seizure of American Citizens it is clear that Constitutional protections of Americans’ liberties must be taken into zealous consideration. The aforementioned article continued on Yahoo.com:

Writing for the majority, Judge Richard Tallman said, “The border search doctrine is not so rigid as to require the United States to equip every entry point — no matter how desolate or infrequently traveled — with inspectors and sophisticated forensics equipment.”

The administration of this blog highly encourages all readers to click upon the above cited hyperlinks to read more from this thought provoking story.

This blogger does not particularly take exception with the notion of the so-called “border search doctrine” per se, but this blogger has always felt as though little consideration has been accorded to the notion of the rights, privileges, and immunities of both United States Citizenship as well as underlying State Citizenship (if applicable to the individual being legally analyzed as some individuals come by their United States Citizenship either through operation of law or naturalization).

With all due respect to this Court as their decision had to be made pursuant to the unique set of law and facts available under the circumstances, this blogger’s “hackles get raised” anytime the issues associated with the fundamental rights, privileges, and immunities of United States Citizenship are at issue. Therefore, in order to shed more light upon this subject to the readership of this blog this blogger felt it might be enlightening to note some language from the introduction of the dissent in this case as quoted directly from Judge Betty B. Flecther:

I respectfully dissent. The “sticking point” of this case is not whether the Government’s authority “to subject incoming travelers to inspection for entry also permits the Government to transport property not yet cleared for entry away from the border to complete its search.” Maj. Op. at 4219-20. The real issue, as this case is framed by the government and the majority, is whether the Government has authority to seize an individual’s property in order to conduct an exhaustive search that takes days, weeks, or even months, with no reason to suspect that the property contains contraband.[1] In other words, the problem with this case is not that the Government searched Cotterman’s computer in Tucson as opposed to Lukeville. The problem is that the Government seized Cotterman’s laptop so it could conduct a computer forensic search, a time consuming and tremendously invasive process, without any particularized suspicion whatsoever. [emphasis added]

Those reading this blog are highly encouraged to click upon the links above to read the entire opinion as posted on Google Scholar.

Clearly, the ruling in this case could have a dramatic impact upon those individuals traveling in or through the United States of America. That said, it remains to be seen whether or not this case sees appeal to the United States Supreme Court and should such an appeal be heard: the opinion thereof.

For related information please see: Arrest Warrant.

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