Amidst the media's preoccupation with the shutdown, little was made of the Supreme Court's decision last week not to hear arguments on DACA this term. Unless the high court were to deviate from its normal procedure, this means that arguments will not likely be heard until its next term, assuming the case is taken up. As a consequence, and in light of pending litigation, current DACA recipients (and those who previously had DACA status) may continue to file for deferred action status at least through the end of 2019. The courts are still deciding whether individuals who never filed for DACA can file initial applications for the first time, but for those who have already filed and were granted DACA status, applications for renewal must still be accepted by USCIS pursuant to two federal court orders.
Driver licenses for undocumented immigrants in New Jersey has always languished in the New Jersey legislature, but with a new Governor receptive to the idea, there are some new bills that appear to be gaining traction. Ironically, the impetus is New Jersey's need to comply with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. Currently, New Jersey driver licenses do not conform; and if not addressed by October 10, 2019, residents may soon find themselves unable to board planes or enter federal facilities, since federal officials will only accept REAL ID compliant documents. Information about REAL ID can be found here: https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
Last week, we wrote about New Jersey Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive 2018-6, which directs state law enforcement to refrain from actively enforcing immigration law except in narrowly defined circumstances. Two salient aspects of the directive prohibit law enforcement from providing notice of an immigrant detainee's upcoming release from detention to ICE; and continuing detention of an immigrant detainee, pursuant to a detainer, beyond the time the person would be eligible for release. It is important to note that these two guidelines do not apply in the case in the case of foreign nationals charged with, convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent of a "violent or serious offense." Fortunately, this classification is much less ambiguous than some federal immigration terms, many of which are amorphous and subject to interpretation.
With the New Year, of course, there are always changes-unfortunately, not all good. In New Jersey, USCIS has already made the transition to its modernization campaign and eliminated self-scheduling of appointments through INFOPASS. Late last month, USCIS also announced that it will be discontinuing several USCIS service center email boxes, which have been previously used to address case-specific issues. Effective Jan 21, 2019, the following email addresses will no longer be in use or responded to: