Benefits for the Economy from Meaningful Immigration Reform

Article Published in The Sacramento Bee


My family immigrated to the United States from Cape Town, South Africa, when I was just a year old, so I understand on a very personal level why people are willing to leave their family, friends and all that they know to start a new life here.

From the get-go, we considered ourselves Americans and strove to realize the American dream. My father became a chiropractor. I went to law school and in 2002, founded my own practice in San Francisco, then moved to the Sacramento area to open an office in Rancho Cordova. My family did so not just to better our own lives, but to contribute to our country.

Over my 15 years as an immigration lawyer, I have seen the vital economic contributions that thousands of immigrants make to California – and to the country – up close. Because our native-born population is aging and the global economy is becoming ever more competitive, I understand what we lose when we shut out skilled workers and entrepreneurs. This is why we urgently need to move beyond the charged political rhetoric and pass meaningful immigration reform.

Immigrant contributions to California act much like compound interest: Individuals who start businesses and hire workers not only create direct employment but also produce a multiplier effect throughout the economy as employees buy homes, dine at restaurants, take vacations and invest in greater numbers.

According to New American Economy, a bipartisan group that studies the economic impacts of immigration, there are 7,358 immigrant entrepreneurs in California’s 7th Congressional District. This includes my firm. Foreign-born residents in our district wield $3.2 billion in spending power and contributed $1.1 billion in state and local taxes in 2014. This supports public services such as schools and law enforcement. Highly skilled workers create the same knock-on effects. The engineer who designs a bridge not only enables legions of construction jobs to open up but also makes a major contribution to the economic vitality of a community that depends on this bridge to transport people and goods.

At my firm, we work with these talented, eager individuals every day. Our clients include:

  • a doctor who is conducting cutting-edge research on allergy and immunology disorders;
  • an economist who has worked on projects funded by U.S. Department of Energy;
  • an expert in plant genetics and genomics who is working on ensuring food security;
  • a researcher who is providing new advances in the field of embryology, assisted reproductive technologies and infertility treatment.

There’s really no such thing as an economy that has too many entrepreneurs or qualified workers, especially an economy that is not performing to its true potential. Our nation’s workforce is aging. In our congressional district, less than half of the native-born population is of working age, between 25 and 64. In contrast, 73 percent of immigrants fall in that range.

America is lucky to be the world’s top destination for immigrants. If we want to stay competitive in the global economy, we should be welcoming these people, not pushing them away.

A dynamic economy thrives on the ideas of the best and brightest. It’s no accident that California has the nation’s largest share of foreign-born residents and some of America’s most dynamic industry hubs, including Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Popular and trusted brands such as Google, Qualcomm, eBay, SanDisk and AMD landed in California thanks to the entrepreneurial vision of immigrants.

These individuals are helping pave the way for tomorrow’s economic prosperity: Between 2007 and 2011, immigrants founded nearly half of new businesses in California.

Immigration reform isn’t only about doing the right thing; it is also a way to act pragmatically with consideration for the economic future of all Californians, immigrant and native-born alike. We can and should be aiming for better.

Donald Trump’s First 100 Days in Office » What to Expect

The 6 top priority changes the Donald Trump Administration has on the agenda regarding immigration you need to know

In October, Trump released an action plan detailing the changes he will make during his first 100 days in office. By listing immigration changes six separate times throughout this action plan, Trump has made it very clear that immigration restructuring will take priority. Below we will analyze each of the planned changes that will affect immigration and how we predict those changes will affect those who are here without lawful status.

1. Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
In 2012 through executive action, President Obama allowed certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to receive a two-year renewable deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. As of June 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received 844,931 initial applications for DACA status, of which 741,546 were approved. Since 2012, DACA recipients have received work authorizations, social security numbers, and have felt a sense of security against deportation. However, that could all change soon. Trump could take action against DACA immediately or soon after taking office. DACA could become immediately invalid leaving over 741,546 recipients without a valid work permit. Furthermore, because DACA was created through an executive action, there are no confidentiality provisions that protect the information applicants provided to the Department of Homeland Security from being used for deportation purposes. It is imperative that all DACA recipients promptly explore any other options to gain permanent residency before Trump’s inauguration.

2. Begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back

Throughout his campaign, Trump has expressed his intent to begin massive deportations of illegal immigrants when elected president. Within his first 100 days in office he plans to begin the massive deportation of at least 2 million “criminal” illegal aliens. As president, Trump could simply instruct federal agents to begin rounding up illegal immigrants convicted of a crime and begin deportation proceedings. Most alarming is that Trump has also vowed to expand the definition of “criminal alien.” What the expansion of this definition will be is still uncertain but it could potentially include minor crimes such as driving under the influence of alcohol or Drugs.
Furthermore, Trump has declared his intent to cancel visas to countries that refuse to take deported aliens back. Some of the countries that currently refuse to take deported criminals back include Cuba, Iran and Afghanistan. Therefore, when the massive deportations begin, it is likely that relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident will be unable to come join them in the in the U.S. if bans are imposed. It is recommended that anyone who has immediate family members in any of the 23 countries that are considered recalcitrant seek an evaluation of their relative’s case.

3. Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities
As of December 2016, the Center for Immigration Studies reported that over 300 jurisdictions have been identified as having a policy that is non-cooperative with and obstructs immigration enforcement. There are many cities, counties and states that have laws, ordinances or regulations that shield illegal immigrants from ICE. Some of these shields include denying ICE access to incarcerated individuals and refusing to comply with ICE detainers (detainers are used by ICE to assume custody of an alien for deportation). Trump has vowed to cut federal finding to “sanctuary cities.” Some of these cities include Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. What this means is that those cities that depend on federal funding to run may be forced to comply with ICE and expose illegal aliens to deportation.

4. Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur

All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting. This policy is designed to exclude Islamic extremists and in general appears to be an indiscriminate blanket ban on all Muslims. Extreme vetting or extreme screening procedures will be implemented likely causing long delays and denials.

5. Restoring National Security Act
Amongst other things, it establishes new screening procedures. The act would require a determination before admission of whether an applicants’ beliefs match US values on gay rights, gender equality and religious freedoms, amongst others. Applicants already face long and intense scrutiny when seeking admission but with Trump’s proposed plan, immigration from certain areas would be indeterminately banned and additional screening would lead to longer than current delays without adding any greater security checks.

6. End Illegal Immigration Act Fully
Funding the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

President Elect Donald Trump desires to create a physical barrier between U.S. and Mexico that has been emphasized throughout his presidential campaign. Mexico’s president has made it clear that Mexico will not be financing the building of a wall. Trump later suggested that the wall may be built by taxing money that Mexican citizens working in the U.S. send home. While there is no specific plan to fund or build the wall, there is a clear intent to secure the Mexico-U.S. border which raises concerns of potential aggressive and violent action by border patrol. Similarly alarming are the excessive mandatory minimum federal prison sentences for illegal aliens who reenter the country.

Trump’s first 100 days in office seen grim for illegal immigrants. While we remain hopeful that he will fall short on his promises, we do recommend that anyone who has questions regarding their legal status has their case evaluated as soon as possible before any changes take effect.

A Dream on Hold: DAPA and Expanded DACA in Legal Limbo

Although often controversial, executive actions have been used since the 1950’s by every president to cure immigration problems in this country.

In September 2014, through a series of executive orders President Obama sought to address the immigration issues faced by millions of illegal immigrants. His Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, immigration directives, included a Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DAPA is expected to provide relief to approximately 3.8 million immigrants living in the country illegally, who have U.S. citizen children. Similar to DACA, DAPA would provide recipients security from deportation and grant them a work authorization. Moreover, the DACA expansion would give up to 300,000 more immigrants the opportunity to apply for relief. The expansion would eliminate the age cap requirement that an applicant be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2010; change the mandatory date of entry to January 1, 2010; allow for a 3 year grant instead of 2; and allow advance parole to travel.

Since September 2014, 26 states have filed lawsuits to block DAPA and DACA leading to a federal injunction placing the executive orders on hold while awaiting a court decision. On April 18, 2016, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments from the opposing states including Texas. Texas argued that the president does not have authority to make or pass immigration laws as that’s Congress’s job. President Obama has consistently contended that he is exercising his discretion in enforcing existing immigration laws; because the executive branch does not have the resources to simply place all illegal immigrants in removal proceedings, he is using the limited resources to go after “high priority” illegal immigrants, such as felons and terrorists, while granting parents of US citizens and young teens brought to the US as children deferred action regarding their illegal status.

After the passing of late Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court has been divided between four conservative and four liberal justices which could cause a 4-4 tie. Unless one of the conservative justices sides with liberal, the injunction will remain and millions of immigrants will remain without relief.

Optimistically, at least one of the conservative justices will reason that Texas has no legal standing or basis to oppose President Obama’s executive actions, thus upholding DAPA and DACA and granting relief to millions of hopefuls. Having peace of mind from being deported and being able to work lawfully to provide for themselves and their families is a dream to many of these immigrants—a dream that has been on hold for too long.

If you have immigration questions call our office at 916-613-3553 or email us at

DACA and Executive Action on Immigration

Obama’s executive action on immigration and DACA

During the State of the Union address in January, immigration reform wasn’t a talking point. In fact, it was only mentioned briefly—and as a reminder of the president’s intention to veto efforts to derail immigration reform. In December, several cities and states filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Since then, more cities and states have joined in the lawsuit, with the goal of stopping the order.

Then, in January, and with the start of the new congressional session, House Republicans began quick work on their own efforts to halt positive progress on immigration reform. Some Republicans have even started to push through legislation designed to defend Obama’s order.

This has been much of the theme for immigration for 2015. One goal of Republicans is to increase deportations. Another is to get rid of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It’s highly unlikely any bills centered on these goals will pass. If they did, the president would veto them. But, they are prime examples of the opposition immigration reform currently faces.

Right now, it looks like Obama’s plan will continue to go forward, despite the hurdles. Of course, we are hoping that it will go through but we will only know for certain once it is in effect. After Obama’s announcement in November, USCIS stated the program would be ready in about “three months”, with no specific dates in place.

The program will provide relief for about 5 million people, many of them parents and family members of US citizens. The plan will give them the opportunity to legally work and pay taxes, while removing the worry of being deported. It will also provide spouses on H4 visas the ability to get work authorization. Outside of the initial application process by the USCIS, it’s not clear when the next steps will be in place, including when permits would be issued, meaning there are still a lot of questions for those who are eager to participate in the new program.Call our office at 916-220-3137 if you have questions or email us at

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 245(i)

With the announcement of the new unlawful presence waiver this past March, we have seen many new clients asking questions to see if they qualify. Some of these individuals actually qualify for adjustment of status (the process under which you can obtain your green card, lawful permanent residency) under a law called Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 245(i).

Two of the main benefits of applying for your greencard under INA 245(i) instead of using the new unlawful presence waiver are:

  1. with INA 245(i) you can obtain your green card here in the U.S. without returning to your home country, with the unlawful presence waiver you can apply here but after approval you must return to your home country to process your immigrant visa;
  2. with INA 245(i), unlike with the unlawful presence waiver, you do not need to prove “extreme hardship” to a qualifying U.S. relative.

What is INA 245(i)?

INA 245(i) is a law allowing certain individuals who are present in the U.S. to obtain a greencard regardless of:

  • How you entered the United States (for example, entering via the border without inspection)
  • Working in the U.S. illegally (without authorization or permission)
  • Failing to continuously maintain lawful status since entry (being illegal in the U.S.)

INA 245(i) sounds amazing, how do I know if I qualify?

In order to qualify, you must:

  • Be the beneficiary of a qualified immigrant petition (Form I-130 or I-140) or application for labor certification (Form ETA-750) filed on or before April 30, 2001
  • Have been physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000
  • Be currently the beneficiary of a qualifying immigrant petition (either the original Form I-130 or I-140 through which you are grandfathered or through a subsequently filed immigrant petition)
  • Have a visa immediately available to you (immediate relatives do not have to wait for a visa number)
  • Be admissible to the U.S. (some criminal convictions will make you inadmissible, for example)

What if the petition or labor certification that was filed on my behalf before April 30, 2001 was withdrawn, denied, or revoked?

To meet the first requirement mentioned above the petition or labor certification must have been both properly filed and approvable when filed. At a minimum the filing must have been timely (filed by April 30, 2001) and meet all applicable substantive requirements (“approvable when filed”). Deficiencies such as a missing filing fee or missing signature will disqualify you.

Please contact our office to discuss the reason that your petition or labor certification was withdrawn, denied, or revoked. Whether you qualify for 245(i) will depend on whether the petition or labor certification was “approvable when filed.”

To remain eligible, the changed circumstances must relate to factors beyond your control rather than the merits at the time of filing. For example, you may still qualify for INA 245(i) if the petitioner dies, your spouse who filed the petition divorces you, your employer who filed the labor certification goes out of business, petitioner or the employer chooses to withdraw the petition or labor certification, or petitioner or employer is otherwise not able to maintain the petition or labor certification application.

What about my spouse or child?

Depending on the circumstances, a spouse or child may also be eligible to adjust status as a dependent. We can discuss this in depth during your consultation at one of our offices.

Can I work or travel while my application is pending?

Yes! Current processing times are about 90 days after filing for your employment authorization (work permit) and travel authorization.

If you think you may qualify for your greencard under INA 245(i) or if you would like to discuss other options contact us at one of our offices now. We look forward to serving you in your immigration needs.

Same Sex Couples Obtain Immigration Benefits

Click Here to read Ranchod Content in Spanish

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled the , Ranchod Law is overjoyed to help Sacramento and San Francisco couples obtain immigration relief. Immigration relief can mean several things depending on the status of the foreign national partner.

The U.S. Citizen partner may file a petition on behalf of the foreign national partner in the case of an individual who last entered the country legally. In addition to the basic requirements (certificates, photographs, proof of lawful entry, etc.), that petition should be accompanied with documentation to evidence that the couple is in a legitimate relationship and not one designed to circumvent the immigration laws.

In the case of an individual who last entered the country illegally, the U.S. Citizen partner may file a petition on behalf of the foreign national partner, as in the above scenario, but the foreign national partner will need to be the beneficiary of a hardship waiver or else face a three or ten year bar if the foreign partner leaves the country to try to obtain an immigrant visa abroad.

In both of the above scenarios the couple will be subjected to an interview with an immigration officer in which the couple must answer questions designed to detect fraudulent relationships. Also remember that in both of the above scenarios, the couple must get married in a state that recognizes same sex marriage. Simply living together is not sufficient.

In cases in which the foreign partner is abroad, the U.S. Citizen partner may file for a fiancé/fiancée visa or, if the couple is married, for an immigrant visa. Both of these cases require documentation to prove the legitimacy of the relationship in addition to the basic required documentation.

Finally, in cases in which the foreign partner is already in removal proceedings, relief might mean obtaining permission to marry from the immigration judge in bond proceedings, seeking adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident, or, having the U.S. Citizen spouse serve as a qualifying relative for purposes of cancellation of removal or a waiver.

Ranchod Law has been doing all of the aforementioned for over a decade and we are delighted to apply our expertise and dedication to the benefit of same sex couples. Please contact our office to discuss any of the aforementioned options.

Published by: Ranchod Law Group

Study about low-skilled immigration and the US economy

There is always a lot of discussion about the negative impact on the US job market by the increasing number of low-skilled immigrants. I found an interesting study, that analyses the problem in detail.

A recent study by Professor Harry J. Holzer from Georgetown University, indicates that low-skilled immigration has little impact on the wages of US citizens.

The question is raised as to why the impact of the large influx of less-educated workers on the labor market of US workers is so small.

Professor Holzer suggests three possible answers for this:

1.     Immigrants are not only producers, but consumers as well. They generate additional product demand and therefore labor demand.

2.     Immigrants are not perfect substitutes for native-born workers and mostly compete with other immigrants within the same industry.

3.     Most low-skilled jobs would likely be replaces by capital and technology if the work force was not available, instead of being filled by low-skilled native born workers.

Professor Holzer goes into further detail and analyses the costs and benefits of low-skilled immigrants for US employers, consumers and the economy at large.

He emphasizes the many positive impacts that the immigrant work force makes on the US economy.

Professor Holzer then analyses various immigration reform policies and raises the question, what his study means for them. He offers modifications to the provisions included in the mentioned bills that would raise the net benefits they provide to both native-born Americans and immigrants.

The study is very interesting and throws light on many immigration issues. I invite you to reed it here: Does Low-Skilled Immigration Hurt the US Economy
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Immigration Lawyer Considers the Issue that Won’t Go Away

Arizona Reveals Need for US Immigration Law Reform to this San Francisco Attorney

This year, many US Senators and Congressmen have been pushing for immigration
reform. The president has been lobbied, rallies have been held, debates are ongoing
but immigration reform is still a concept and not a reality. The recent incidents in
Arizona have caused a lot of discussion and activity in the San Francisco Bay area
and Sacramento, where I consul clients on immigration. Continue reading “Immigration Lawyer Considers the Issue that Won’t Go Away” »

Immigration Reform in Arizona

A Sacramento Immigration Attorney’s Take on the New Arizona Immigration Law

In my Sacramento office where I practice as an immigration lawyer, I’m constantly surrounded by news regarding the growing debate around the reform of our immigration policies. This is an issue that affects millions of Americans directly and all Americans indirectly. Arizona has a new state law regarding immigration and it is raising a lot of eyebrows. Continue reading “Immigration Reform in Arizona” »

An Immigration Attorney Considers Reform Issues

Santa Clara Immigration Attorney Discusses Various Aspects of Immigration Reform

What are the real issues surrounding immigration reform? As an immigration attorney, any type of reform is bound to have an effect on my Santa Clara office from which I work with people and organizations from all over the country. The phrase “immigration reform” means many different things to many different people. Continue reading “An Immigration Attorney Considers Reform Issues” »