Blog & News

Due to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has announced his decision to designate Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. As a result, eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone who are currently residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Federal Register notices provide details and procedures for applying for TPS and are available at www.uscis.gov/tps.

The TPS designations for the three countries are effective Nov. 21, 2014 and will be in effect for 18 months. The designations mean that eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in one of those three countries) will not be removed from the United States and are authorized to work and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The 180-day TPS registration period begins Nov. 21, 2014 and runs through May 20, 2015.

To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria, including that they have been “continuously residing” in the United States since Nov. 20, 2014 and “continuously physically present in” the United States since Nov. 21, 2014. Applicants also undergo thorough security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS. The eligibility requirements are fully described in the Federal Register notices and on the TPS Web page at www.uscis.gov/tps

Liberians currently covered under the two-year extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) based on President Obama’s Sept. 26, 2014 memorandum may apply for TPS. If they do not apply for TPS within the initial 180-day registration period, they risk being ineligible for TPS because they will have missed the initial registration period. Liberians covered by DED who already possess or have applied for an EAD do not need to also apply for one related to this TPS designation. However, such individuals who are granted TPS may request a TPS-related EAD at a later date as long as the TPS designation for Liberia remains in effect.

Applicants may request that USCIS waive any or all fees based on demonstrated inability to pay by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by submitting a written request. Fee-waiver requests must be accompanied by supporting documentation. USCIS will reject any TPS application that does not include the required filing fee or a properly documented fee-waiver request.

PLEASE CONTACT UCHECHI UCHEGBU, ESQ., ON (301) 814 – 9595 or at UCHECHI@THEMERCYFIRM.COM WITH ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS.

 

On November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. These initiatives include:

Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to young people who came to this country before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.

Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been present in the country since January 1, 2010, to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, provided they pass required background checks.

Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

Modernizing, improving and clarifying immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs.

Promoting citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents and providing an option for naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: THESE INITIATIVES HAVE NOT YET BEEN IMPLEMENTED, AND USCIS IS NOT ACCEPTING ANY REQUESTS OR APPLICATIONS AT THIS TIME. BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO OFFERS TO HELP YOU SUBMIT AN APPLICATION OR A REQUEST FOR ANY OF THESE ACTIONS BEFORE THEY ARE AVAILABLE. YOU COULD BECOME A VICTIM OF AN IMMIGRATION SCAM.

PLEASE CONTACT UCHECHI UCHEGBU, ESQ., ON (301) 814 – 9595 or at UCHECHI@THEMERCYFIRM.COM WITH ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS.

Earlier this summer, a woman from Philadelphia was visiting Ocean City, Maryland with her family when she fell out of her wheelchair and fractured her arm. According to a report by DelmarvaNow, the woman is claiming that the city was negligent in its maintenance of the sidewalk and that she deserves compensation for her injuries as a result.

Evidently, the woman was visiting the boardwalk with her family around 8:00 in the evening. On their way back to their rental condo, the woman was being pushed by her daughter when the family decided to cross from east to west across Philadelphia Avenue.

As the woman’s daughter was pushing her across the street, the woman’s wheelchair suddenly stopped when it hit a raised piece of a rubber warning mat on the ramp on the other end of the intersection. The jolt caused the woman to fall out of her wheelchair and fracture her arm as a result.

The woman is claiming that the rubber mat was not flat and uniform, as is required by law, and that the condition of the sidewalk should have been discovered and remedied by town employees. She is seeking $750,000 in damages for her physical pain, mental anguish, and lost wages, as well as her loss of enjoyment in participating in normal daily and physical activities. She is pursuing her claims under the theories of negligence and strict liability, as well as under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The City of Ocean City responded that they were not the ones who placed the rubber warning mats on the sidewalk, and that the State Highway Administration was responsible for the mats. Thus, the City denies all liability.

Sidewalk and Road Maintainence

As the article notes, it may be that the State of Maryland, rather than Ocean City, is responsible for the rubber mats that caused the accident leading to the fracturing of the woman’s arm. However, either way, it is some government agency that was responsible for the mats.

Governments have an affirmative duty to keep safe streets and well-maintained sidewalks. Therefore, when an unsafe sidewalk causes an injury, the government may be held liable for its role in causing the accident. In order to do so, however, a plaintiff may need to show that the government knew or should have known that the dangerous condition existed.

Have You Been Injured While on Public Roads or Sidewalks?

If you have recently slipped or tripped and fallen down on an unsafe public road or sidewalk, you may be entitled to monetary damages to help you cover your medical bills as well as any pain and suffering you have endured. If you have, contact us, and let us help you. Call now at (301) 814-9595

A class action lawsuit accuses insurer Northwestern Mutual of illegally rejecting qualified non-U.S. citizen job candidates without permanent resident visas, a legal team of Outten & Golden LLP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) announced [July 9, 2014].

Filed in New York federal court, the first-impression alienage discrimination lawsuit alleges that Northwestern Mutual blocked Ruben Juarez, a 25-year-old honors college graduate, from receiving a financial representative internship in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1981.

A resident of Yonkers, N.Y., Mr. Juarez graduated summa cum laude from Lehman College, a liberal arts college within the City University of New York, with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in May. He is authorized to work in the U.S. through DACA, the federal government’s immigration program for undocumented youth created by Executive Order of President Obama, through which he obtained a Social Security number and a work permit.

In September 2012, Mr. Juarez applied for and was granted DACA status the following month. He also was granted a Social Security number. As of Feb. 6, 2014, the federal government had approved more than 500,000 requests for DACA.

On Oct. 6, 2013, a Northwestern Mutual recruiter invited Mr. Juarez to an information session at the company’s offices in Stamford, Connecticut. On Dec. 11, 2013, Mr. Juarez was interviewed and Northwestern Mutual expressed strong interest in hiring him. The company asked Mr. Juarez for verification documents. He provided a valid federal Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work permit and his Social Security number. A company representative then asked Mr. Juarez whether he had a “green card” or whether he was a U.S. citizen. Mr. Juarez responded that he had DACA status and an EAD and explained that he was authorized to legally work in the United States.

When Northwestern Mutual learned that Mr. Juarez was not a U.S. citizen and did not have a green card, it blocked him from receiving a job offer and informed him that he did not meet their immigration status requirement, the lawsuit asserts.

Adam T. Klein, of Outten & Golden, said, “Northwestern Mutual recognized that Ruben Juarez is an extraordinary prospective hire with an exemplary record and a promising future, but the company’s hiring policies and human resource personnel do not comply with federal law. We hope this lawsuit prompts necessary policy changes at Northwestern Mutual.”

Victor Viramontes, of MALDEF, said, “This lawsuit should serve as a warning that employers cannot pick and choose which verification documents or residency histories they will accept from a prospective employees who are otherwise excellent employment candidates and meet their obligations under the law.”

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF, said, “With its wrongheaded hiring restrictions, Northwestern Mutual has not only cut itself off from some of the most entrepreneurial potential agents available, but has plainly and publicly violated the law in disqualifying work-authorized immigrants from joining the company. The right to contract free of irrational bias and discrimination is a bedrock principle of American law.”

The legal team for Mr. Juarez will seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action to include persons living in the U.S. who were legally authorized but denied the right to work at Northwestern Mutual since July 9, 2010. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the company’s hiring practices are unlawful, back pay and damages, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.

Our firm is pleased to announce that we are now accepting clients in need of bankruptcy help. Our bankruptcy services will help individuals and families who are facing concerns that range from falling behind on auto loans and credit card payments, to crushing medical costs and burdensome home mortgage payments. In recent months, even with the improvement in the nation’s economic posture, many of our neighbors are having difficulty making ends meet, often through no fault of their own.

We will help our clients address the most common areas of financial insolvency, such as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, as well as counselling clients on how to avoid bankruptcy if possible..

All applications filed by 7/30/2014, will receive a 30% discount on their attorney fees*. Call us today at 301-814-9595 for an appointment and start your journey to financial recovery.


* DISCOUNT DOES NOT APPLY TO COURT FILING FEES. NON DISCOUNTED ATTORNEY RATE FOR SINGLE CHAPTER 7 FILING IS $1200 AND $1800 FOR JOINT FILINGS.

While cell phones are now a way of life, drivers who are distracted while using their cell phones are more likely to cause an accident then those who focused on the road. People tend to forget that a motor vehicle can be a deadly weapon. While driving, just put the phone down. Nothing is more important than arriving to your destination safely. If your vehicle is equipped for a hands free device, please read your manuals and set it up.

You can protect yourself and your passengers by being aware of the vehicles around you. Be extra vigilant and keep a long following distance from a vehicle that seems to have a distracted driver. According to a recent study, a person texting while driving is 23% more likely to cause an accident and a person talking on the phone while driving is 40% more likely to cause an accident than a person paying attention to the road.

If you or a love one has been injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving, call today. We can help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to under the law. Call us today at 301-814-9595 to schedule a consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer or visit our website www.themercylawfirm.com.

Throughout the years, local jails have held illegal immigrants at the request of immigration officials for any reason. An investigation revealed that over 40 percent of individuals who were being held for deportation at the request of immigration officials never actually had a criminal record. Now, a Maryland detention center will only detain immigrants if they have committed and were charged with a serious crime.

A program called Secure Communities was developed in order to apprehend and deport immigrants who have committed serious criminal activity. However, a large number of detained deportees who only committed civil violations or traffic-related offenses were held for deportation. This high amount of individuals being detained made immigrants fearful of reporting crimes or even testifying as a witness to avoid deportation. The age-old ways of automatically detaining immigrants has come to a screeching halt.

Reportedly, the local jail facilities will only honor requests to hold immigrants if the individuals were charged with a felony or a high misdemeanor. The governor would like to focus more on immigrants who are a threat to the community rather than those who are harmless. Throughout the country, lawmakers are implementing programs to safeguard immigrants from certain policies.

Immigration reform is still on the rise. Activists and other officials have requested that the president stop deportations altogether nationwide, particularly for those who would be allowed citizenship under the immigration reform. Maryland immigrants who were accused of a crime or are at risk for deportation may benefit from becoming knowledgeable about their legal rights to increase the odds of the best possible outcome.

If you have been charged with a drunk-driving offense for the first time, do not make a bad situation worse by blindly pleading guilty. This advice applies even if pleading guilty seems like the honorable decision. You might reason that usually, when you make a poor decision, you own up to it, take responsibility, and change your behavior. This impulse might be reinforced when well-intentioned friends and family urge you to plead guilty and hope for mercy. After all, you won’t have to face the stress and uncertainty of a trial, and you can hold out hope that maybe the judge will go easy on you if you’re sincerely repentant and promise to change.

The problem with this approach is that ignores the reality of DUI prosecutions. Specifically, if you plead guilty, you aren’t really throwing yourself on the mercy of the court—the terms of the plea bargain will be set by the Office of the Attorney General. The OAG does not give any credit for a guilty plea. If you plead guilty, you will face probation, mandatory alcohol counseling, and community service. If you don’t plead guilty but are convicted anyway, you will still face probation, mandatory alcohol counseling, and community service. Not a great deal.

It is especially problematic to enter a guilty plea when you have no way of evaluating the state’s case against you. If you don’t know:

-whether the police had a constitutional basis to detain you in the first place,
-whether they administered the roadside field sobriety tests properly,

-whether they recorded the results of the field tests,

-whether they actually took the time to record their observations of your behavior and appearance

-whether they properly obtained your consent for chemical testing,

-whether they administered the chemical tests in compliance with Constitutional precedent

-whether any evidence proffered by the prosecution can be excluded

-whether any testimony offered by the police can be undermined

-whether there are any witnesses to establish your side of the story

then it would be extremely ill-advised to make a decision before speaking to an experienced DUI attorney. It’s true that there may be situations where the case against you is strong enough that accepting a guilty plea is the right decision. But you won’t know that unless an experienced DUI attorney has evaluated the facts of your case.

Finally, you should reject any suggestion that that there’s something dishonorable about asserting your right to a fair trial. When you assert your right to be free from unreasonable searches, and to have a fair trial, you are participating in a process that the Framers protected in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, specifically to safeguard against government overreach. There is nothing wrong in making the government prove the charges it has brought against you.

For a consultation on what to do more in depth if you have obtained a DUI, contact us today (301) 814-9595.

For an adoption to take place, the person available to be adopted must be placed in the home of a person or persons eligible to adopt. Prospective parents in Maryland can be single, married, or part of a same sex couple. In addition, a stepparent can adopt the birth child of his or her spouse. There are many types of circumstances that might lead a family to pursue a step parent adoption. For example, if a mother remarries, her new husband may want to adopt her child. In some cases, same-sex domestic partnerships can use this type of adoption as well.

Some families have birth children, and some don’t. Maryland families don’t have to be wealthy to be approved to adopt or provide foster care for a child. All that is necessary is for them to have sufficient financial resources to provide adequate care for a child and to meet the family’s financial responsibilities. Families don’t have to own a home either, they can be renters.

Any adult may petition to adopt a child. If a petitioner is married, the petitioner’s spouse shall join in the petition unless the spouse:

-Is separated from the petitioner

-Is not competent to join in the petition

-Is a parent of the child and consents to the adoption

If you know of someone or you, yourself are looking to adopt, contact us today and we can help lead you through the process of being able to have a family of your own.

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Haiti for an additional 18 months, effective July 23, 2014 through Jan. 22, 2016.

Current Haitian beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS status must re-register during a 60-day period that runs from March 3, 2014, through May 2, 2014. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day period begins. USCIS will not accept applications before March 3, 2014.

The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligible Haitian TPS beneficiaries who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of Jan. 22, 2016. USCIS recognizes that some re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current EADs expire. Therefore, USCIS is automatically extending current TPS Haiti EADs bearing a July 22, 2014 expiration date for an additional six months. These existing EADs are now valid through Jan. 22, 2015.

To re-register, current TPS beneficiaries must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Re-registrants do not need to pay the Form I-821 application fee, but they must submit the biometric services fee, or a fee-waiver request, if they are age 14 or older. All TPS re-registrants must also submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. TPS re-registrants requesting an EAD must submit the Form I-765 application fee, or a fee-waiver request. If the re-registrant does not want an EAD, no application fee is required.

Applicants may request that USCIS waive the Form I-765 application fee or biometrics fee based on an inability to pay by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by submitting a written request. Fee waiver requests must be accompanied by supporting documentation. Failure to submit the required filing fees or a properly documented fee-waiver request will result in the rejection of the TPS application.

If you are a Haitian in need of a TPS renewable contact us today, and we can help.

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