A Review of the U.S Immigration Law

The United States has been dubbed the land of opportunities. For this reason, many people seek to move there in search of better livelihoods. The US has a complex immigration law, which was established to stipulate who are allowed to move into the country, and how long they are allowed to live and work in the US. The immigration law similarly dictates the deportation process of individuals who enter and live in the country illegally.

picture of immigration documents

Immigration to the US is often based on several factors. These include the reunification of family members, the admission of skilled immigrants who might benefit the country’s economy, the protection of refugees fleeing from war torn countries, and the promotion of national diversity. Understanding these provisions can help one to establish how America’s legal immigration system works.

Family-Based Immigration

The unification of families is one of the most significant principles that govern the US immigration law. In this regard, the law allows LPR’s and US citizens to bring specific family members into the country. Family based immigrants may either be admitted as immediate relatives of American citizens or via the family preference systems. Those who are allowed into the US via this system include spouses of American citizens, unmarried children of US citizens who are under 21 years old, and parents of American citizens.

Employment-Based Immigration

The United States allows immigrants who have valuable skills to work in the country on temporary or permanent basis. Temporary employment visas allow foreign nationals to work in the country for limited periods. Their ability to change jobs is equally limited. On the other hand, permanent employment-based immigration visas allow immigrants and their eligible spouses and unmarried children to enter the country.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

The US immigration law is dedicated to protecting refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable persons. Refugees can be allowed to enter the US if it is proven that they face persecution by returning to their home countries. The number of refugees who can be admitted into the US every year is determined by the President and the Congress, which places an admission ceiling.

The Diversity Visa Program

This visa program was created in 1990 and targets countries that have low immigration rates into the US. Each year, 55,000 visas are randomly allocated to citizens from nations with less than 50,000 immigrants to the US over the last five years. To be eligible for this program, one must have attained high school education or its equivalence.

Senate Procedure: The Filibuster and More

Procedure in the U.S. Senate is a complicated subject. Yet, several aspects of it have been in the news lately because of the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court. Democrats in the Senate tried to prevent the Senate from confirming Gorsuch by filibustering his nomination. In response, Senate Republicans used a technical procedure called the nuclear option to invoke cloture and defeat the Democrats’ filibuster. Let’s take a closer look at what all this means.

Filibuster

A filibuster can take many forms, but when most people think of a filibuster, they probably imagine a lone senator keeping command of the Senate floor by talking for hours on end. This tactic was memorably depicted by Jimmy Stewart in the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But today, a filibuster is usually much less dramatic than that. As long as some senators refuse to allow a vote on a bill or nomination, the Senate must first take a vote about whether it should vote on the bill or nomination. (See? Senate procedure is complicated!) If enough senators vote no, they can prevent a vote indefinitely, unless enough senators on the other side invoke cloture.

Cloture

To end a filibuster, 16 senators can team up to file a cloture petition with the Senate clerk. Two days after the petition is filed, it becomes “ripe” and can be voted on. How many senators it takes to invoke cloture depends on the matter up for a vote. If it’s legislation, it takes the affirmative vote of at least 60 senators to invoke cloture. But for nominations, only 51 votes are required. After cloture is invoked in this way, senators can only debate the issue for 30 more hours. Once that 30 hours expires, they’ll have to take a vote.

The Nuclear Option

The nuclear option is a tactic that is rooted in the constitutional power of a simple majority in the Senate (i.e., 51 senators) to change Senate rules. The nuclear option has been used twice in recent history. The first time was in 2013. Before then, invoking cloture on a lower-court or executive nomination required 60 votes, just like it still does for legislation. But in November 2013, Democrats in the Senate used the nuclear option to change that requirement to 51 votes. The second time was this year, when Republicans in the Senate used the same approach to change the required cloture vote for Supreme Court nominations. Now, cloture can be invoked on any nomination if 51 senators vote for it. Thanks to the increasing partisanship among senators, it may be only a matter of time before a Republican or Democratic majority decides to use the nuclear option to change the required cloture vote for legislation, too. But for now it remains fixed at 60.

Of course, Senate procedure is even more complicated than this brief blog post lets on. Really, we’ve only scratched the surface. But hopefully you now have a better understanding of this little slice of procedure in the Senate that’s been so prominent in the news lately.

Does Social Media Permit Defamation

If you go on any Instagram post of a celebrity or social media influencer, you are bound to see a bunch of false claims about them. Almost every day that I get online, I read some article or comment about someone in the spotlight that contains incorrect information. The growth of social media has also created the growth of false information; it has allowed for this false information to travel all around the world. Since there are so many people using social media all day long, I feel as though the creators of these platforms find it futile to try to control everything that every user says. By allowing all of these false things to be published by users, is social media permitting defamation?

I believe that it does. For whatever reason, people feel extremely powerful behind their computer screens. In a way, that is a great. It is important that people have a place to voice their thoughts and opinions. Social media allows people to voice their thoughts and opinions on any topic that they please. That being said, a lot of people abuse that power. They think that social media is a place for them to talk about other people in a negative light, and shed gossip and lies all over the internet.

The major problem with that, is that there are not always a lot of repercussions for doing these things. When it comes to celebrities, I understand that it would be impossible to stop people from spreading lies about them since they are in the light, and have a large following on social media. I also think that a lot people are desensitized to the false media, and know when a lot of information is not true. However, I feel that as many false claims should be as monitored as possible – even for celebrities.

People are now creating false websites, tweets, Facebook pages about non-celebrities. Reputations, livelihoods, and families have been ruined by defamation through social media. There needs to be something to stop permitting defamation through social media. Some kind of repercussion. You will never be able to fully stop murder, stealing, defamation, etc. However, there can be a way to control those things. We need to begin addressing these different issues that come with social media by taking legal action.

What do you all think about this topic?

What is Impeachment

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment involves the misconduct of public officials who potentially misuse or abuse the public’s trust.

The framers of the Constitution were so fearful that a person with too much executive power may be tempted to abuse it, that they felt it was mandatory to include it in their writing. During the Federal Constitutional Convention they decided to describe the proper venue, process for such a trial, classify which crimes should be considered as impeachable offenses, and finally address the likelihood of gaining a conviction.

Reasons for Impeachment
At the top of the list were treason and bribery. After some discussion, they added an all-encompassing, kind of catch-all phrase: high crimes and misdemeanors. While it was broad, it wasn’t very specific.
The House of Representatives has begun impeachment proceedings nearly 60 times, but only 8 were convicted and removed from office by the Senate. These 8 were federal judges. In 1876, a cabinet secretary was impeached and in 1797, a North Carolina senator was impeached.

In any impeachment process the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over the Senate’s trial.
Only two U.S. Presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Vice President Johnson assumed the presidency upon the death of Abraham Lincoln. Johnson had been a major obstacle and non-supporter of the Radical Republicans’ reconstruction program. Finally the U.S. House of Representatives, which is the only body allowed to bring impeachment charges, tired of his defiance and brought charges against him. The trial lasted 11 weeks and Johnson escaped being removed from office by only one vote.

In 1998, the House of Representatives approved an article of impeachment again President Bill Clinton. He was accused of lying to a federal grand jury about the nature of his relationship with an intern. The Senate put the president on trial but the president was acquitted.

Neil Gorsuch: Supreme Court Justice

On April 10th, 2017, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to become the United States’ latest Supreme Court Justice. Who exactly is Justice Gorsuch, and how will his legal philosophy impact the American judiciary?

Replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia, 49-year-old Justice Gorsuch ascended to America’s highest court after a long and bitter conflict in the US Senate regarding his nomination. The nearly 14 month-long confirmation process, which captured headlines and inspired partisan fervor on both sides of the aisle, reached its conclusion when the Harvard Law School graduate was sworn in as the 113th Justice at a public ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

Justice Gorsuch received a “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association leading up to his confirmation, the highest such rating given by the association. Nominated by President Donald J. Trump, Gorsuch had previously served on 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for over a decade, having been nominated to said court by President George W. Bush.
Like Justice Scalia before him, Justice Gorsuch identifies as a strict “originalist”, believing there is little room for interpreting the constitution in legal rulings, opting instead to adhere to the original intent of the constitution’s framers at the time of its writing. To Justice Gorsuch, legal statutes are to be read narrowly, with little wiggle room allowed for modern reinterpretation or dispute.

The ascension of Justice Gorsuch to America’s highest court broke the deadlocked 4-4 court, and will permit our nation’s chief judiciary institution to have votes with all 9 members present.

One of the more notable aspects of Justice Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is his ardent opposition to the Chevron deference. This principle, established in a 1984 Supreme Court case, posits that courts and judges should leave interpretation of legal statutes to regulatory agencies, rather than weighing in on the issues themselves. Vehemently dissenting to this principle in a 2016 dissent, Justice Gorsuch put forward that such a deference put far too much power in the hands of un-elected bureaucracies.
Highly lauded by conservatives, Justice Gorsuch’s first issued opinion for the Supreme Court was regarding the definition of a debt collector. In a unanimous decision, the court decided that debt collector’s regulations are not applicable to companies that purchase debts.

All Supreme Court Justices serve for life, or until they retire. What are your thoughts on the Supreme Court? Leave a comment down below!

Ways to Post Bail

weighing options in court

If you’ve been suspected of committing a crime, a judge may have ordered you to post bail to stay out of jail until you are required to return to court. The bail amount is set by a judge at the arraignment (or at a hearing, if necessary). There are a number of methods of posting bail. In this article, we’ll explore the options that defendants have to securing their freedom before a court appearance.

Cash
Cash is the most widely accepted form of bail payment. Simply pay the full amount of cash and you will be set free. The money will be refunded 2 – 6 weeks after making your appearance in court.

Check
Similar to cash, a check made out for the full amount can secure your freedom. This option isn’t always accepted by every jurisdiction. After all, a check may be returned with insufficient funds. For this reason, only cashiers checks can be used.

Property
Your property can help you post bail. Signing over ownership rights for your property worth the full amount can be used in lieu of cash. Your property can be your home, your vehicle(s), jewelry, and other forms. If you don’t show up for court, your property will be seized.

Bonds
A bond (known as a “surety bond”) is a guaranteed payment of the full amount. By contacting a bail bondsman, they cover the full amount while a defendant only has to pay 10% of the bail to guarantee their freedom. Some bond sellers may require collateral, which is a financial stake in a person’s property (i.e. vehicle, house) that can make sure that the professional gets a return on their investment should a person not appear in court.

a judge deciding on bail amounts

Remember that your money will be returned for all of the aforementioned methods of payment. However, if you are using a specialist, your money won’t be refunded. Essentially, a bail bondsman puts up the entire amount of bail in exchange for keeping 10% of the bond. If your bail is set at $10,000, you only have to pay $1,000 to guarantee your freedom until your court date.

Credit Card
One of the newer and more controversial methods of posting bond is using a credit card. The reason being that credit itself is a type of loan and may not have the same binding effect that cash or property have on ensuring that people show up for court dates. Services like GovSwipe can assist those that lack the other forms of payment and avoid costly incarceration. Not every state accepts credit cards, and the states that do accept credit cards only accept certain credit cards.

There you have it! These are the more popular methods used to help people get out of jail. If you are in a jam and need to get out fast, the above options will be the easiest route for you and your loved ones. Let me know your thoughts, please leave a comment below.

Should Felons Have the Right to Vote?

I love writing about these controversial topics. They push me to think, research, and search the brains of others. I have never really thought about this particular issue. Now that I have, I cannot stop thinking about it.

I feel pretty passionate about this topic, because I already feel like the prison system is flawed in so many ways. I was reading some comments that people wrote about this topic, and two stuck out at me. They were contrary opinions, but they each made me think. One comment was against felons and prisoners having the right to vote. The comment stated that when prisoners committed their crimes, they have (depending on the crime) taken or affected the rights of others, so their own rights should be taken or affected. I felt that that was a good point. When felons steal, kill, cheat on taxes, etc., they are affecting the rights of others to some degree. However, they are not affecting everything single right that that person has. I personally do not see the correlation between someone stealing and someone voting. I understand that this is a punishment, but I also thought that the prison sentence and being ostracized by society was the punishment. I don’t know if taking away someone’s voting rights is an effective or necessary punishment.

That brings me to the next comment that I read. This comment supported the idea of prisoners (which I am assuming included felons), having the right to vote. The comment stated that prison dehumanizes people enough, which makes it harder from them to be successful when they are finally a part of society again. Taking away the right to vote isolates them even more. I could not agree more with that comment. I wrote an article before that somewhat discussed the dehumanizing issue within prisons. Taking away a felon’s right to vote seems to only serve the purpose of making them feel like they are nothing, I don’t know if that is going to make them feel like they should improve themselves. I don’t.

voting rights for felons

There are also other factors to think about. Perhaps voting should depend on the crime that a person commits. I don’t think that all prisoner’s and felons can be lumped into one category. Some felons made one horrible mistake, others had a bad upbringing, maybe the felon shouldn’t even be a felon at all and the real felon is out there living his life and voting. There may be some felons who should have their voting rights taken away, but I do not believe that that should be a generalized solution.

I am curious to know what you guys think about this. Please share whether you think felons should be allowed to vote or not in the comment section below.

Common Crimes People Are Arrested For

Being arrested is not a common occurrence for most people. Being arrested means that you have been caught doing something illegal or that you are suspected of having committed a criminal offence. There are however common crimes or offences that people are often arrested for more often than other crimes.

Below are the common crimes that people are arrested for:

Assault

People arrested for assault have threatened to commit harm to another person showing that they have the ability to do so. Not to be confused with battery, people charged with assault have not actually carried out the physical harm but only threaten to.

DUI

Being arrested for a DUI means that you were caught driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is a common crime that people are arrested for especially during routine traffic stops carried out by police officers.

Disorderly Conduct

graph of crimesPeople arrested for disorderly conduct are deemed to be disturbing the peace. This can apply to people intoxicated in public, loitering or behaving in a disorderly conduct to themselves or others in a public place. Disorderly conduct is not classed as a serious criminal offence but a misdemeanor. Disorderly conduct can include people arrested for fighting in public.

Possession Of Drugs

Possession of illegal narcotics and drugs is an arrest able offence. Each state differs as to the penalties and charges for drug possession. There is a difference between people in possession of small amounts of drugs and those found to be carrying large amounts where there is an intent to sell.

Public Intoxication

If a person is visibly intoxicated in public they can be arrested. Arrests for public intoxication are common, especially around big sporting events or holidays when people consume large amounts of alcohol. People arrested for public intoxication can also be arrested and charged for disorderly conduct if they are disturbing the peace.

Resisting Arrest

A person can be arrested and charged with resisting arrest. This is quite a common crime that people commit when police officers are attempting to apprehend an individual. If a person gives chase or does not cooperate whilst being arrested then they will be charged with resisting arrest.

Vehicle Theft

Motor vehicle theft, or grand theft auto, is a criminal offence that people are commonly arrested for. The be arrested and charged with stealing a motor vehicle the person either needs to have stolen the car or have attempted to steal it.

The Difference Between Prosecution Lawyers and Defence Lawyers

During a trial you often hear of ‘the prosecution’ and ‘the defense’. There is a big difference between the two and the role that each play during a court case. Both the prosecution and defense lawyer are university educated and hold degrees from law school. They have both also passed the state bar exam in the state that they are practicing law. Both are in court with the aim to win the case. However, the prosecution is arguing that the accused is guilty of a crime on behalf of the state and must receive a penalty usually jail time. The defense on the other hand is defending their client against the charges by the state. Before you read this article, this post on Carrington College’s site will provide some more background info.

Here are the key things to know about both:

Prosecution Lawyer

The prosecution lawyer is employed by the government to represent the state in criminal law cases. They can decide to drop charges against the accused in a criminal case, or to press charges and go ahead with a criminal trial. During a criminal trial in court, they aim to prove that the accused is guilty of the charged crime. They call witnesses to the stand to testify against the accused and presents evidence to the judge and jury. The lawyer must by law present all evidence found during the pre-trial investigation, even if it is not favorable to the case. He or she can offer a plea bargain or deal to the defendant pre-trial. This means that the accused agrees to plead guilty to lesser charges, in exchange for less prison time or something of that nature in return from the prosecution.

Defense Lawyer

A defense lawyer will be hired once the accused is arrested or charged with a crime. A criminal attorney can either by hired by the defendant himself or herself, or can be appointed by the state. The role of a this person during a criminal trial is to defend the accused as best as they can. They aim to prove their clients innocence. They also want to ensure the best outcome for their client. This can sometimes mean that a lesser sentence is the goal, over a large or life sentence in large criminal trials. He or she will assist their client pre-trial, during trial and post trial. Unlike the prosecution a defense lawyer does not by law have to present all evidence uncovered during the pre-trial investigation.