Monday, May 15, 2017

AILA Attorney Hosts Series of Immigration Training Seminars to Combat Deportation of Immigrants

AILA Attorney Hosts Series of Immigration Training Seminars to Combat Deportation of Immigrants 


New York’s top immigration attorney, and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) member, Brian Figeroux, launched a series of immigration forums in April to defend at least 2.2 million immigrants against deportation. 

In February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island to detain and arrest more than a dozen undocumented residents in their homes and workplaces.
  

 According to the Pew Research Center’s five facts on illegal immigration, there were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S in 2014, accounting for at least 5 percent of the U.S. labor force. Some undocumented immigrants hope to receive permanent residency through a green card, a permit that allows a national to work and live in the U.S, the naturalization test, obtaining citizenship after an application and exam, enrolling in the U.S. military member or being a dependent of an armed forced member.

There are no shortcuts to U.S. citizenship. Some foreign-born residents, however, are lured to the U.S. by a company’s promise of jobs and economic opportunity. According to the Urban Labor Institute, employment-based green cards are sometimes used as a tool in labor trafficking, forcing undocumented people to work less than the minimum wage.”

 “Women and men subject themselves to green card slavery,” said Figeroux, who finds that immigrants only do jobs that Americans don’t want.  “Go by Home-Depot, pick up workers for a day. If you need a nanny you’re not getting a U.S citizen or green card holder – you are hiring an undocumented person.”
For years, the U.S. had a bittersweet relationship with the nation’s rising immigrant population. In the early 1930s, the Mexican Repatriation movement sent more than a million Latinos to the U.S. to work during a labor shortage after the Great Depression. Despite a history of using immigrants to work in the U.S. the anti-immigrant sentiment is growing in the country.
 
 “The atmosphere for immigrants changes from one decade to another,” Figeroux said. “Sometimes they like us. Sometimes they don’t. We want to look at immigration from a civil rights perspective.”
   
If an undocumented person is served with a Notice to Appear (NTA), it means that they must appear in Immigration Court on the date specified or at a scheduled date in the future, according to Figeroux. The NTA will list the reasons for an alleged removal including if a person is not a U.S. citizen, citizen of a home country or if they entered the country through a different city and whether the entry was authorized.
  
Figeroux advises clients to access the information or documents that U.S immigration officers have collected on them through a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act), where they can request a copy of their immigration file. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the FOIA requests can take up 35 days to process for individuals who are scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge.
  
For more information or immigration advice contact the Law Offices of Brian Figeroux and Associates at (718) 834-0916. Also, new immigration training sessions begin on Saturday, July 5, 2017 at 1pm. For more information, visit www.freeparalegal.org or call 718-722-9217.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Making the decision to rent or buy

Making the decision to rent or buy

Buying a home is exciting. It’s also one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make. Choosing a mortgage to pay for your new home is just as important as choosing the right home.

Becoming a homeowner can be a great decision for many people, but it isn’t the right choice for everyone. Home ownership makes sense for different people at different stages of their lives. If you’re not sure whether you should make the move to buy your own home, it makes sense to consider both your personal and financial goals.

Buying a home is one of the largest financial decisions most people make and it’s also a big personal decision. Some people buy because they want more space, the freedom to decorate and renovate, or because they want to live in a particular school district. Many people become homeowners because they want to build equity and have stable housing costs. On the other hand, some people rent for the flexibility of knowing they could move if they needed to, or because they’re not ready to take on the financial and maintenance responsibilities that come with home ownership, or because it is more financially advantageous in their circumstances. Here is one common financial consideration to keep in mind as you decide whether or not owning a home is the right decision for you right now.


Understand when you will—and won’t—build equity
At some point, someone has probably told you that if you rent, you’re “throwing away” money. When people say this, they’re usually talking about the opportunity to build wealth in a home over time by building home equity. If you rent, you won’t build wealth in your home over time.
Home equity is the difference between the market value of your home and the amount of money you owe on it. Essentially, it’s the wealth you hold in your home. The equity in your home grows over time as you pay down the balance of your mortgage. If the market value of your home increases, your equity will also increase. If the market value of your home decreases, your equity will also decrease.
Buying a home is a long-term financial commitment and you will build home equity by paying down your mortgage over time. In the first several years of your mortgage, you build equity slowly. That’s because your monthly mortgage payments primarily go towards interest in those first years of ownership—not towards building equity. That’s why you shouldn’t depend on being able to sell your home to get out of a mortgage, especially in the early years. 

If you hold on to your home for many years, the share of your monthly payment that goes towards paying down the principal—and building equity—increases, and the share that goes to paying interest decreases. That means that the longer you’ve had your mortgage, the faster you build equity with your monthly payments. But remember: your home equity also goes up or down as the market value of your home increases or decreases. 

If you decide, or need, to move and sell your home within the first few years of owning it, it’s possible that after paying the transaction costs of selling the home, you will not have any more equity than you started with. In fact, you may even have less equity than you started with. Keep in mind that if home prices go down instead of up—as they did from 2007-2012—you could lose some or all of your equity, including the initial down payment, when you sell.

Extracted from an article by Nicole Shea, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 
Next posting will focus on: Understand how having a mortgage will—or won’t—affect your taxes

For assistance, contact Equity Smart Realty Inc at 888-670-6791.

Friday, April 7, 2017

USCIS Reaches FY 2018 H-1B Cap

USCIS Reaches FY 2018 H-1B Cap

WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  However, please keep in mind USCIS suspended premium processing     April 3 for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge.

If you are interested in learning about Getting A Green Card Through Employment, please register for our FREE seminar at:  goo.gl/qtvxWj

Campaign to End Racial Profiling




Campaign to End Racial Profiling


Unless you have been living under a rock, we’ve all heard the saying, “Driving While Black”. Deborah Jacobs, in her capacity as Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey, once said, “We want to send a message to the victims about their rights, and to the state about its obligations. We need real police reform and we need to answer the suffering of the many victims of the New Jersey Turnpike."
 A few years ago, "Getting the State of New Jersey to stop racial profiling is like pulling teeth," headlined a new advertisement unveiled at a press conference in Newark. 
The ad featured Orange, NJ dentist Dr. Elmo Randolph, an African-American man who was pulled over approximately 100 times over a five-year period without ever receiving a ticket. In the ad, Dr. Randolph describes his experience with the police, stating that, "The police searched my car and I had to prove to the troopers that being an African-American man in a nice car doesn't mean that I am a drug dealer or car thief." Flash forward to 2017, not much has changed. 
According to Civil Rights attorney, Brian Figeroux, of Figeroux & Associates, the Campaign to End Racial Profiling, failed because Congress, President Bush, Jr. and President Obama, for “national security” purposes needed the cover of law to “target” Muslims; consequently, African Americans, Hispanics, other minorities suffered.  Congress and the President need to end racial profiling not ban Muslims. 
What is Racial Profiling?
The term “racial profiling” means the practice of a law enforcement agent or agency relying, to any degree, on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation in selecting which individual to subject to routine or spontaneous investigatory activities or in deciding upon the scope and substance of law enforcement activity following the initial investigatory procedure, except when there is trustworthy information, relevant to the locality and timeframe, that links a person with a particular characteristic described in this paragraph to an identified criminal incident or scheme. – H. R. 1933 (End Racial Profiling Act of 2015)
 According to One America (www.OneAmerica.org), a civil rights organization, these communities regularly experience the injustices of racial profiling:
•Members of African American, Native American and Latino (Hispanic) communities are stopped and searched more often, for example, when driving while black or brown, than whites;
•Since September 11, 2001, members of Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities have increasingly been searched, interrogated and detained in the name of national security, oftentimes labeled terrorism suspects when in reality many were only charged with misdemeanors or minor immigration violations, if they were charged at all.
One America, as a civil rights organization, “advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state and national levels by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies.” 
The following is an email interview with Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica.org, concerning his organization’s advocacy supporting the End Racial Profiling Act, Revising the 2003 DOJ guide on racial profiling and eliminating the DHS programs.
1) Were the changes you recommended under the Obama administration ever implemented?
The Department of Justice issued a revised profiling guidance in 2014, and that guidance responded to the majority of our recommendations.  However, the guidance excluded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which raised significant concerns over what accountability would apply to DHS and its various sub-agencies.
2) If those changes were implemented, what is their current status under the Trump administration? 
The guidance is still official policy for non-DHS agencies, at least until the new Attorney General decides to rescind or change it.  There are additional profiling guidances that agencies like Customs & Border Protection did adopt.  We are concerned, however, that the executive orders recently announced under the Trump Administration contradict the existing guidance.
3) Does your organization recommend the same policy advice to the Trump administration? If so, what lobbying efforts are you currently working on?
Our recommendations have not changed. From our perspective, profiling is not only unconstitutional but it’s poor law enforcement practice.  We will continue to advocate for reforms at DHS and its element agencies, but the leadership of these agencies have either been less open to these discussions, or there are still positions not yet filled.  Our other venue is Congress, where these issues can be raised in the context of oversight and confirmation hearings.  Finally, we anticipate that members of Congress will be introducing the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act, which will be a vehicle to build coalitions and advocacy against profiling in Congress and in the broader community.  The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is an excellent resource that provide more detailed information on the content of that legislation.
End Racial Profiling Act of 2015
Prohibits any law enforcement agent or agency from engaging in racial profiling. Grants the United States or an individual injured by racial profiling, the right to obtain declaratory or injunctive relief.
   Requires federal law enforcement agencies to maintain adequate policies and procedures to eliminate racial profiling and to cease existing practices that permit racial profiling.
   Requires state or local governmental entities or state, local or tribal law enforcement agencies that apply for grants under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and the Cops on the Beat Program to certify that they maintain adequate policies and procedures for eliminating racial profiling and have eliminated any existing practices that permit or encourage racial profiling.
   Authorizes the Attorney General to award grants and contracts for the collection of data relating to racial profiling and for the development of best practices and systems to eliminate racial profiling. Requires the Attorney General to issue regulations for the collection and compilation of data on racial profiling and for the implementation of this Act. 
End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2017
This bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) on February 16, 2017.
As stated by the Human Rights Watch:
The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from targeting a person based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation without trustworthy information that is relevant to linking a person to a crime. The bill would require law enforcement to maintain adequate policies and procedures designed to eliminate profiling, including increased data collection in order to accurately assess the extent of the problem. The bill would also require training for law enforcement officials on issues of profiling and mandates the creation of procedures for receiving, investigating and responding to complaints of alleged profiling.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dangers of Winter Weather

Dangers of Winter Weather




There are a number of different ways that winter storms can impact a region and the people who live there. Winter storms are considered deceptive killers because most deaths are not directly related to the storm itself. People could get in an automobile accident on icy roads,
have a heart attack while shoveling snow, or suffer frostbite
or hypothermia from prolonged exposure to the cold.

Wind
Some winter storms have extremely strong winds that can create blizzard conditions with blinding, wind driven snow, drifting, and
dangerous wind chills. These intense winds can bring down trees and poles, and can also cause damage to homes and other buildings.

Snow
Heavy snow accumulations can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, strand motorists, stop the flow of supplies, and disrupt emergency services. Buildings may collapse, and trees and power lines can be destroyed from heavy snow. In rural regions, homes and farms may be isolated for days, and livestock could be lost.

Ice
Heavy ice accumulations can bring down objects like trees, utility poles and lines, and communication towers. Power can be disrupted or lost for days while utility companies repair the damage. Even a small amount of ice can cause hazardous conditions for motorists and pedestrians.

Cold
Extremely cold temperatures can accompany winter storms and be left in their wake. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to prolonged exposure to the cold, which can cause potentially life-threatening conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite. Below freezing temperatures can damage vegetation and cause pipes to freeze and burst inside homes. Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and become life-threatening. What constitutes extreme cold varies in different parts of the country. In the South, near freezing temperatures are considered extreme cold. In the North, extreme cold means temperatures well below zero. Freezing temperatures can cause severe damage to citrus fruit crops and other vegetation. Pipes may freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat. 



Source: http://www.crh.noaa.gov

Be safe. Be careful. stay warm.

If you are in an auto or slip and fall accident, please call us at 855-868-8845. We will get the maximum settlement for you. 

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Eligible for the H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs

USCIS Announces Addition of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Eligible Countries for the H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State, have added St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs for the coming year. The notice listing the eligible countries was published on Oct. 26, 2016 in the Federal Register. DHS reserves the right to add countries to the eligible countries list at any time, and to remove any country at any time DHS determines that a country fails to meet the requirements for continued designation.
   The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, respectively. Typically, USCIS only approves H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs. USCIS, however, may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of countries not on the list if it is determined to be in the interest of the United States.

For a FREE consultation, call 855-768-8845.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Considering a Spring Home Sale? Learn How to Appraise Your Selling Chances Like a Pro


The springtime is known to be one of the best times to put your home up for sale.  However, if you're not necessarily planning on engaging a real estate agent, it's important to be prepared for all of the hard work involved in putting your home up for sale. Whether you're new to the market or you've never sold a home on your own before, here are some questions to ask yourself so you're prepared for selling in the coming season.


Do You Know the Market?
The neighborhood you live in and the buying market you're dealing with are important factors in how your home is going to sell, so you'll need to know a little about both when determining your ideal price. By looking through the listings in the area and seeing what homes like yours have sold for, you may be able to give yourself a range for the offers you can expect.

How Will You Sell It?
One of the added benefits of social media is that you can use sites like Facebook and Twitter to announce your home sale and even highlight its best features. While this may make selling seem much easier, you'll still need to make sure you have good photography that captures your home and a website where home buyers can learn more details. Be aware that while these items may seem easy enough, it can take a lot of time to manage these details on your own. 

Are You Prepared to Negotiate?
It's a good feeling to get an offer on your home, but in all likelihood it will be less than what you're expecting and this means engaging in the art of negotiation. According to the National Association of Realtors, those who sell their home generally get 10-20% less than those who utilize an agent, so it's important to be comfortable negotiating before you dive in. If you're confident in your acumen, you may want to go it alone, but if you have doubts, it can be a better financial decision to engage the help of an agent.
   Before you decide to sell your home on your own, it's worth appraising your skills to determine if it will be worth the time and effort you'll have to put in. If you've come to the conclusion that you'd like to utilize an agent after all, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information. Schedule an appointment today. Call 888-670-6791
not necessarily planning on engaging a real estate agent, it's important to be prepared for all of the hard work involved in putting your home up for sale. Whether you're new to the market or you've never sold a home on your own before, here are some questions to ask yourself so you're prepared for selling in the coming season.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

If Stopped by ICE Agents: Know Your Rights


If you are stopped by police officers, immigration agents or other public authorities, you have rights. It does not matter if you entered the country by crossing the border in Mexico, if you are an overstay, green card holder or citizen. As long as you are within the borders of the United States, you have rights. Know them. Use them.

   The first step is to call your immigration law and deportation defense attorneys at Figeroux & Associates. The Law Firm team has represented clients across the United States and has a 24/7 emergency line, 855-768-8845. It does not matter what day or time it is — pulled over or stopped by Immigration Authorities, call Figeroux & Associates today.  Here’s what to do if you’re stopped by ICE Agents:

1) No ICE officer should stop anybody based on appearance alone; regardless of your ethnicity, the color of your skin, the way you dress or talk or the language you’re speaking. It’s the law.

2) If an immigration officer asks for proof that you are a legal resident of the United States and wants to see some identification, you have the right to refuse to give them your ID. You can also refuse to answer any of their questions. Unless they have a warrant, you have no obligation to interact with them at all. You can ask, “Am I arrested?” If the answer is no, you do not need to give them any information regarding your legal status in the U.S. Showing them ID is totally optional.

3) If you are being interrogated do not give false information, and do not give them false documentation. You can be charged with identity theft if you show them forged documents, or someone else’s documents, even if you have legal status. Remember that everything you say or do can be used against you.

4) If immigration officials (ICE) begin to knock on your door, you have the right not to open the door. They only have the right to enter to your home if they have a warrant from a judge.

5) If you are arrested in an immigration detention center and you don’t want to return to your home country, you have the right to request a meeting with an immigration officer.

6) Do not sign anything you don’t understand. You might be signing a voluntary deportation order.

7) Some cases can be resolved with the help of an immigration attorney. The lawyer can request for a court date to meet with an immigration judge and help solve your case. You don’t have the right to an attorney provided by the state, but you do have the right to see your own attorney. Call the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates, at 855-768-8845.

8) Who should you call: Your family member to contact an immigration lawyer. When you enter an immigration center, they will assign you an A#, which is your alien number. Make sure you give your A# to the people you talk to on the outside helping with your case. If you have no one else to call you should call the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates at 855-768-8845.


THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. CONSULT AN ATTORNEY. CALL 855-768-8845.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Uncontested Divorce Means that You Agree 100%

If a couple pursues an uncontested divorce, they must agree on the many complicated issues presented by their divorce. They each sign the divorce papers and it is complete. Though uncontested divorce may be a quick way out, there are many ways that it can backfire.


If you feel there is nothing to argue about right now, you might get burned in the long run. Talk to an attorney at Figeroux & Associates before pursuing an uncontested divorce. Contact our attorneys in Brooklyn, New York, at 1-855-678-8845 for a consultation. Don't get burned in an uncontested divorce.

The Drawbacks of Uncontested Divorce
Though uncontested divorce has a reputation for being free or low cost, many times this is not the case. The two main ways that an uncontested divorce fails are as follows:

  1. An agreement blows up once the two spouses begin to discuss plans in detail
  2. Someone finds out too late that their former spouse did not disclose all assets
Both of these scenarios can be avoided by seeking proper legal representation from a skilled attorney from day one.

Protect Your Future
When making important life decisions such as divorce and child custody arrangements, why leave yourself unprotected? A knowledgeable attorney can guide you and provide advice to protect your future.


At Figeroux & Associates, we will carefully assess the circumstances of your situation and advise you on how to proceed. Call 855-768-8845. 

Divorce your spouse; not your money or kids.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Facing Foreclosure?



The possibility of losing your home because you can’t make the mortgage payments, can be terrifying. Perhaps you’re having trouble making ends meet because you or a family member lost a job, or you’re having other financial problems. Or maybe you’re one of the many consumers who took out a mortgage that had a fixed rate for the first two or three years and then had an adjustable rate – and you want to know what your payments will be and whether you’ll be able to make them.
   Regardless of the reason for your mortgage anxiety, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know how to help save your home, and how to recognize and avoid foreclosure scams.

Know Your Mortgage
Do you know what kind of mortgage you have? Do you know whether your payments are going to increase? If you can’t tell by reading the mortgage documents you received at settlement, contact your loan servicer and ask. A loan servicer is responsible for collecting your monthly loan payments and crediting your account.

If You’re Behind on Your Payments

If you are having trouble making your payments, contact your loan servicer to discuss your options as early as you can. The longer you wait to call, the fewer options you will have.
   Many loan servicers are expanding the options available to borrowers – it’s worth calling your servicer even if your request has been turned down before. Servicers are getting lots of calls: Be patient, and be persistent if you don’t reach your servicer on the first try.

Avoiding Default and Foreclosure
If you have fallen behind on your payments, consider discussing the following foreclosure prevention options with your loan provider:
  • Reinstatement
  • Repayment Plan
  • Forbearance
  • Selling Your Home
  • Loan Modification

Bankruptcy
Personal bankruptcy generally is considered the debt management option of last resort because the results are long-lasting and far-reaching. A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to get credit, buy another home, get life insurance, or sometimes, get a job. Still, it is a legal procedure that can offer a fresh start for people who can’t satisfy their debts.
   If you and your loan servicer cannot agree on a repayment plan or other remedy, you may want to investigate filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you have a regular income, Chapter 13 may allow you to keep property, like a mortgaged house or car, that you might otherwise lose. In Chapter 13, the court approves a repayment plan that allows you to use your future income toward payment of your debts during a three-to-five-year period, rather than surrender the property. After you have made all the payments under the plan, you receive a discharge of certain debts.

Call 855-768-8845 for a FREE, no obligation legal consultation.