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Texas Sanctuary City Law Changes

Texas New Sanctuary City Law.

Unfortunatly, there is a lot of bad information floating around about the new Texas sanctuary city law. It is unfortunate because when politicians and advocacy groups dispense misinformation about immigration law to scare people, they actually empower abusers who commit family and sexual violence. That is because abusers can control their victims by giving them false information about what will happen to them if they report.

This post tries to dispell some of the worst of the fake news.

Does the new law grant police officers the right to stop and ask for “papers”?

No. The new law does not grant police officers any new powers to ask for identification. The law prohibits officers from asking victims or witnesses of crimes about their immigration status with a few exceptions.

  1. The law does not prohibit police officers from asking about your immigration status if it is relevant to the crime. For example, an officer may ask the nationality of a victim of human trafficking.
  2. The law does not prohibit police officers from talking to you about your immigration status if cooperating with the police could help you. For example, cooperation could make you eligible to obtain certain federal visas.
  3. The law does not prohibit officers from asking about your immigration status if he has probable cause that you also committed a criminal offense.

If any other law or local policy prohibits officers from talking to you about your immigration status, that will not change. In other words, the law adds prohibitions, it does not take any away or grant police officers any new rights.

The law prohibits officers from asking victims or witnesses of crimes about their immigration status with a few exceptions.

Does the new law make government officers comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

Yes. The new law requires government officers to comply with Immigratios and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This includes prohibiting agencies from enacting policies designed to thwart ICE officers from performing their duties. For example, an agency cannot have a policy to deny entry of immigration officers into jails. The new law also requires government officers to honor detainer requests unless the person detained has proof of citizenship – such as a Texas driver’s license.

Does the new law allow local governments to inform me of my rights as an immigrant?

Yes. The new law specifically authorizes agencies to have written community outreach policies. These policies can, among other things, inform immigrants that a police officer is not allowed to ask them about their immigration status when they are victims or witnesses of crimes. Specifically, the statute requires community outreach policies to include outreach to domestic violence and sexual violence victims. This is important because victims of domestic and sexual violence are often misled by perpetrators into believing they will be deported if they report their abusers.

What should I do?

You should contact an immigration attorney to determine whether you are eligible to change your status. Otherwise, just don’t break the law. The current government’s main priority for immigration enforcement is still against those who have committed crimes.

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Non-immigrant Labor Laws

No, You Can’t Just Ship Your Employees to the USA and Treat Them Badly

The US government allows companies to transfer certain foreign employees to the United States under L1-B visas. These employees have specialized knowledge needed in the United States, and already work for the company that wants to transfer them. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a  policy memo on April 12, 2017 concerning transferred employees. It explainined that businesses must treat transferred employees fairly under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). 

Businesses must treat transferred employees fairly under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA)…Businesses will need to update their policies to make sure they are treating foreign workers as well as they treat Americans

The FSLA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers. A manufacturing company wanted to transfer one of its employees to a plant in Arizona from Malaysia. The employee contract specified wages to be paid at 43,445 Malaysian ringgits per year. When the USCIS converted the ringgits to US dollars, it found that this was less than minimum wage. It ruled that the employer must prove that it will treat transferred employees according to the FSLA standards.

Not only that, but the employer may also have to prove that it is treating foreign workers fairly compared to American workers. They should not pay foreign workers less than Americans for doing the same work, for example. In addition to salary, businesses should also look at working conditions and benefits.

USCIS under the new administration does not want businesses to replace American workers with underpaid foreign workers. Moreover, it does not want businesses using the immigration system to find workers they can treat poorly. USCIS wants businesses to find workers whose skills fill a gap. Foreign workers must be paid based on their skills, not their immigration status. Going forward, businesses will need to update their policies to make sure they are treating foreign workers as well as they treat Americans.

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