3 Big Immigration Stories: Texas Seeks to Enforce US Immigration Laws, Legal Pot Seller Denied U.S. Citizenship and Massive Immigration Fee Hike Ahead

By:  Richard Hanus, Esq.

January 11, 2024

Federal lawsuit alleges state overreach as Texas enacts its own immigration enforcement statute

Per the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent, it is well established that U.S. immigration law, from the enactment of legislation to the enforcement of such measures, is a function falling exclusively within authority of the federal government.  But what happens when an individual state finds federal government immigration enforcement initiatives so lacking that it deems it necessary to enact their own immigration enforcement provisions and authorizes its own officials to arrest and criminally prosecute offenders?   This very scenario is now playing out in in Texas, and in response, the Biden Administration just this past week sued to block the implementation of the Texas initiative on the basis that it constitutes an illegal overstepping of state authority.

Referred to as the “Show Me Your Papers” law by critics, the Texas immigration measure criminalizes violations of federal immigration law and grants state and local law enforcement officers the power to detain anyone suspected of entering the U.S. illegally (between ports of entry).  The law further empowers state judges to enter summary deportation orders by skipping formal prosecution or adjudicatory processes.

The Biden Administration is challenging this law on various grounds, including that it will impede ongoing federal immigration enforcement operations and intrude on federal agency review of bona fide claims for asylum and other relief from deportation.   The lawsuit also cites concerns that the measure will lead to “unnecessary harassment” of groups of individuals based solely on their physical appearance.

Whether enacted due to Texas’ legitimate concerns for its own residents and the integrity of their border with Mexico or as a publicity stunt by Texas’ Governor Greg Abbott – or both, the measure and the ensuing courtroom proceedings are surely getting the public’s attention, both locally and nationwide.   The court battle is undoubtedly headed to the U.S. Supreme Court and developments will continue to be covered in this blog.

Marijuana dispensary owner loses fight to become a U.S. citizen

The conflict between state and federal law recently reared its ugly head again in the context of a lawful permanent resident’s efforts at obtaining U.S. citizenship. More specifically, when a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. (Green Card holder) engages in activity permitted under state law but forbidden under federal law, that resident can expect to have their application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen denied.  That is the most recent outcome faced by Maria Elena Reimers, a Green Card holder originally from El Salvador and a licensed legal marijuana dispensary co-owner in Washington state.  In the past week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to entertain arguments to overturn lower court decisions denying her naturalization application after an earlier determination by U.S. immigration authorities that her participation in the sale of a substance considered illegal under federal law presented an insurmountable bar to approval.  Clearly something has to give on this conflict since the very activity that was the basis of the application denial is specifically permitted under Washington state law.  Without some sort of fix, such as the enactment of a federal marijuana legalization measure, odd, nonsensical outcomes like this will continue to play out, especially for the many other noncitizens working in the legal marijuana industry in the U.S. or otherwise impacted by this conflict in laws.

Get your immigration applications in now and before huge filing fee increases take effect

For the first time in seven years, U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services will be increasing filing fees, including on some of the most commonly submitted applications.    US DHS/CIS is funded entirely by user application fees and according to agency officials the fee increase is necessary to keep operations afloat financially.   The increase is expected to take effect in the coming weeks, and the cost to file most applications will increase by 50% or more.  An example of one of the steepest increases involves the I-485 application to adjust status to lawful permanent residence in the U.S. (Green Card), where applicants will soon have to pay $2,820.00, more than double the current filing fee of $1,225.00.

These increases are in addition to those set to take effect for Premium Processing (expedite) filings on February 26, 2024.   Premium Processing requests are mainly available for work visa petitions and the increases set for these cases are more modest (approx. 12%).

As the controversies and legal challenges surrounding U.S. immigration law continue, from the clash between Texas and the Biden Administration to other conflicts in state and federal law, we will continue to keep you informed on the latest immigration news.

PUBLISHED January 11, 2024– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2024, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois

By |2024-01-13T11:04:18-06:00January 11th, 2024|Categories: DHS / Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)|
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