Thursday, August 17, 2017

Families Are Getting Savvier Paying for College

Families Are Getting Savvier Paying for College

College costs may be on the rise, but families are as determined as ever to make higher education a reality for their children. What’s more, families are becoming savvier about how they meet the expense, suggests a new study.
   According to “How America Pays for College 2017,” a national study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, students and parents shared paying for college responsibilities equally in academic year 2016-17, each contributing about one-third of the expense, with scholarships and grants covering most of the rest.
   In addition, 98 percent of families surveyed took proactive measures in order to reduce college costs. That included choosing an in-state school, living at home, and enrolling in an accelerated program.
   “Throughout our 10 years of conducting this study, families have consistently demonstrated they are determined to make college happen, and they’ve also become more value-conscious as they pay for higher education,” said Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and chief executive officer, Sallie Mae.
   For those families with college-bound students, Sallie Mae recommends a 1-2-3 approach.

• Maximize money that doesn’t need to be repaid. Scholarships and grants paid 35 percent of college costs last school year; and scholarships were used by 49 percent of all families.

You can get in on this action by utilizing free scholarship search tools from companies like Fastweb, Chegg, and Sallie Mae. To stay organized, maintain a spreadsheet of each scholarship’s details, including application due dates.

• Explore federal student loans. All college-bound students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, no matter what they believe their eligibility is – and repeat this every year they are in school. This is the key to securing federal and state financial aid for college. To learn more, visit

• Consider a responsible private student loan. Regardless of cost, nearly all families (98 percent) agreed college is an investment in a student’s future, and 86 percent of families said they expected their child to attend college since he or she was preschool age or younger. Even further, 59 percent said they expected their child to pursue a graduate degree. Making these dreams happen may require seeking out a private student loan. Be sure you turn to a responsible lender so there are no surprises down the line when it comes time to pay back the loan.
   Higher education remains an important aspect of the American dream for many families. As cost remains a deciding factor, more families are taking creative and proactive steps to make college affordable. (StatePoint)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Estate Planning: Selecting An Attorney

 Estate Planning: Selecting An Attorney

Planning what to do with your estate is no easy task. There are emotional and financial decisions that go into creating a solid estate plan, so hiring an attorney should be among your first steps.
   What exactly is your estate and why is it important to plan what happens to it after your death? Your estate is made up of all of your personal property, real estate, retirement accounts, investment accounts and other assets. While the law contains an official chain of events related to the disposing of these properties, it is best to figure out the details of what happens to your assets well before the task falls to the courts.
   This is where an estate planning attorney is key. You want your will and trust to be written in a way that covers all your bases. This can be a complicated issue, so it’s best to leave it in the hands of a licensed professional.

When looking for an estate planning attorney, be prepared to invest significant time and energy to find the right fit for you. This is an important decision that requires diligent research on your part. Start by visiting your state or local bar association’s website, where you will find an active list of members that can be searched by specialty.
   You also can call a local attorney’s office for an initial consultation to go over your specific needs. Some attorneys will charge you for this session, while others won’t. Be sure to ask up front so you know what kind of investment will be required.

Board Certified Specialists
Some states allow attorneys to become certified specialists in a particular area of law, such as trusts and estates. If professional certification is available in your state, the bar association will have information about the requirements.
   Before applying for certification, an attorney must have a certain number of years of experience practicing law in a particular area, usually at least five. To become certified, an attorney must submit a number of professional references, take additional courses in that area of law and pass a lengthy written exam.

Ask Around
There are no better referrals than trusted friends and family members. Ask the people around you if they or someone you know has had a great experience with an estate planning attorney.
   Be sure to get all of the pertinent details from your connections, including cost of the estate planning process, the length of time it took to build the necessary documents and their thoughts about the attorney’s professionalism and communication skills.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men: Here’s Why

Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men: Here’s Why

Skip the spouse. Buy the house. The news and research about women and money can be dreary. Women earn less than their male counterparts, pay harsher workplace penalties for pursuing parenthood, struggle more with debt, and save less for retirement.  But there’s one area of personal finance where single women are outpacing men in the U.S., and it's a significant one: home ownership.

With low interest rates and uncertainty as to where the real estate market will be in the next six months, many people are opting into ownership and investing in a home. Interestingly, according to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 17 percent of home buyers in the United States last year were women, which is a much higher percentage than the 7 percent of single men who invested in a home. While the statistics may be interesting enough on their own, here are some of the reasons why women may be opting in. 

Single Parent Security

The numbers don't lie, and it's a fact that there are a much higher number of single mothers in the United States than fathers, which makes home ownership that much more of a benefit. With low interest rates, it's common sense that many single mothers will be flocking towards the housing market to find stable housing for their family in a market that may fluctuate in the coming months.

Making a Lifestyle Choice
The days are long gone of women having to invest in a home when they get married, and for many women being single is a very popular lifestyle choice. This means that many single women are choosing to invest on their own terms and at their own time so that they can reap the benefits of home ownership. As Jessica Lautz of the National Association of Realtors says, "They really value home ownership, and they're willing to give up a lot to have a home of their own."

It's In the Numbers
There are certainly more than a few reasons why single women are flocking to the real estate market, but demographics are changing rapidly. While it was once the case that most people were married, or would marry, more single women are opting out of marriage and opening up a wider market for single-person home purchases. Given the low interest rates and the increasing number of women choosing to be single, purchasing a home offers a solid bet and a financial boon.

With a home offering up the benefit of security and the advantage of being a good financial choice, it's no surprise that increasingly women are turning to home ownership on their own. If you're contemplating purchasing a home of your own, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information about opportunities in your area at 888-670-679

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DCA Warns Immigrant About "10-Year Visa Scam

DCA Warns Immigrant About "10-Year Visa Scam

Immigration Service Providers and Immigration Lawyers Misleading Immigrant New Yorkers into Believing that they Can Obtain a Visa or Green Card Based on 10 Years of Residency within the United States

NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today issued a warning to consumers about an immigration scam called the “10-Year Visa Scam.” Preying on fears and desperation to find a legal way to stay in the United States, some immigration service providers and immigration lawyers are telling immigrants, through word-of-mouth and deceptive advertising, that they can obtain a visa or green card if they have lived in the U.S. for 10 years. The scams are sometimes advertised under the banner “easy way to obtain a green card!” What these individuals fail to disclose is that, as part of the process for obtaining a green card or visa based upon residency, the immigrant must first enter deportation proceedings. They also often fail to explain the other requirements for this so-called “10-year visa,” including that the immigrant must prove “extreme, unusual, and exceptional hardship” to their family members, which is not “easy” to do. In at least one example, an immigrant paid a provider approximately $25,000. As a result of this scam, these consumers are left paying high costs for a service that they have been deceived into believing is safe and easy – when in fact the opposite is true.

This scam is placing immigrant New Yorkers at extraordinary risk while grossly misrepresenting the visa application process. These deceptive tactics violate the City’s Consumer Protection Law and DCA is proactively investigating anyone who engages in this practice. We encourage consumers who have witnessed advertisements promoting the 10-Year Visa Scam or who have fallen victim to the scam file a complaint about “false advertising” at or call 311.

“Some immigration service providers and immigration lawyers are preying on the desperation and fear of immigrants, all so they can turn a profit,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We want to make sure that all consumers know the hidden risks involved in this 10-Year Visa Scam, which requires immigrants to actually enter into deportation proceedings without the guarantee that their visa application will even be approved. DCA encourages New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, to utilize the City’s free and secure services to ensure they are keeping themselves and their families safe.”

In addition to the 10-Year Visa Scam, DCA would like to warn New Yorkers about illegal and predatory immigration assistance providers who prey on vulnerable New Yorkers’ fear by luring them with false promises of work authorization, green cards, or citizenship when they may not be qualified to provide the services and do so in exchange for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of their hard-earned dollars.

“The City is working to alert immigrant communities against fraudsters offering this 10-Year Visa Scam,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This scam, rather than granting ‘easy’ access to green cards, could in fact put more people at risk for deportations. I thank the Department of Consumer Affairs and Commissioner Salas for their help in informing immigrant New Yorkers of dangerous scams. And as we have done through our Know Your Rights Forums across the city, I encourage New Yorkers to call 311 to report fraud."

Additional information for immigrants:

·  Do not believe any provider that claims to have special influence with immigration authorities.

·  In New York State, a notary public, or notario público, is not an attorney. A notary public cannot give legal advice, draft legal papers, or review documents for legality.

· If someone is not an authorized immigration service provider, they can only read the form to you, translate, and write down information that you provide.

· Get a second opinion before filling out any immigration applications.

Get a consultation from an attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Call right now to set up an appointment. Call 718-222-3155. Remember, the lawyer you hire, does make a difference!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Immigrants’ Access to Counsel Topic of New Rulemaking Petition

Immigrants’ Access to Counsel Topic of New Rulemaking Petition

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (Council) have petitioned the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to issue new regulations that will ensure all immigrants have access to legal counsel in secondary and deferred inspection, as well as overseas consular interviews. If the agency fails to respond or denies the petition, AILA and the Council may pursue litigation in federal court.
Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director, explained:
“Due process is never optional but this is especially true in today’s tumultuous atmosphere. Everyone needs access to legal counsel in immigration proceedings, from start to finish – when applying for visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, when seeking recognition or relinquishment of U.S. citizenship or nationality status, and when seeking admission to the United States. Earlier this year, many immigrants were detained for hours by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at airports around the country and denied access to counsel even as officers were asking them detailed, complicated questions about their immigration status. Immigration law is incredibly complex and denying someone access to counsel is contrary to basic American principles of due process.”
Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the Council, noted:
“Access to counsel in government proceedings is fundamental to ensuring that our laws are properly executed and that due process is afforded those navigating the immigration system. Barring lawyers from participating—particularly when a complicated legal issue arises—can result in both citizens and noncitizens being subjected to prolonged and unnecessary detention and questioning at a port of entry. Moreover, the lack of meaningful access to counsel can result in an unjust refusal of a visa, denial of admission, or removal from the U.S.  The presence of counsel allows proceedings to move more efficiently and effectively, a benefit for the government in a time of backlogs and delays in the immigration arena.”
  • With few exceptions, lawyers are generally not permitted to accompany their clients to visa interviews and other proceedings at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, or during the secondary or deferred inspection processes.
  • Even close relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as employees of U.S. corporations and non-profit entities, are often denied access to their attorneys at critical stages of the immigration process.
  • Further, individuals seeking to pursue complex claims to U.S. citizenship or nationality, or to relinquish their U.S. citizenship, are often denied access to counsel.
  • The presence of counsel could improve the quality and efficiency of immigration decision‐making by ensuring that immigration officers have relevant evidence and legal analysis and by encouraging clients to be as forthcoming as possible.
  • Attorneys could also protect the rights of their clients, who often lack the specialized knowledge required to properly present their own claims, whether the issue is eligibility for a visa or admission, or a claim to U.S. citizenship.
  • For example, a U.S. business may invest many thousands of dollars in a process that ends in the unnecessary denial of a visa at the consulate. A U.S. citizen can be separated from family for years due to an easily correctable issue. While many consular adjudications and admissions decisions are based on sound reasoning, there are also countless examples of improper and unjust refusals of admission and visa denials that are ultimately overturned.  Access to counsel can make a critical difference. 
  • On February 9, 2017, Senators Harris (D-CA), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Carper (D-DE), Gillibrand (D-NY), Markey (D-MA), and Warren (D-MA) introduced a bill to guarantee access to counsel to those who are held or detained at a port of entry or at a detention facility overseen by CBP or ICE. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representative Jayapal (D-WA).

Friday, June 2, 2017

Student Loan Debt Is Strangling Generations

Student Loan Debt Is Strangling Generations

Graduation season is in full bloom. And, many students are graduating into the doom of student loans. Student loan debt can be an albatross around the neck of recent graduates. Although the number of students with debt didn’t increase by much between 2004 and 2014, the amount of debt held by students did, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. About 69% of 2014 graduates from public and nonprofit universities and colleges had debt, compared to 65% in 2004. The average debt held by 2014 graduates was $28,950 per borrower, an increase that was twice the rate of inflation. It’s gotten so bad that student loans are now delaying the decision to get married which does not forecast a promising romantic future.
   Mike Kantrow, one of the nation’s leading financial experts, in an article, Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think,, looks at the lasting impact of student lives stating: “I also found that students who graduate with excessive debt are about 10% more likely to say that it caused delays in major life events, such a buying a home, getting married, or having children. They are also about 20% more likely to say that their debt influenced their employment plans, causing them to take a job outside their field, to work more than they desired, or to work more than one job.”
   Soaring student loan debt also poses a risk to the nation's future economic growth. Before the Great Recession, total outstanding student loans ranked well below mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and home equity lines of credit as sources of household debt. Now it trails only mortgage debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. About 40 million consumers have at least one student loan, and the average debt was $29,000 last year, according to credit reporting firm Experian. Worse for students, delinquency rates on college loans are rising even as they decline for other types of household debt. The debt weighs down millions of Americans who might otherwise buy homes or start businesses. And the financial horror stories of debt-saddled students, combined with continued increases in tuition, could deter others from attending college and could produce a less-educated workforce.
  "The impact on future [economic] growth could be quite significant," said Cristian deRitis, who analyzes consumer credit economics for Moody's Analytics. The amount of outstanding student loans has skyrocketed, 76% to almost $1.2 trillion since 2009 as college costs have shot up and graduates have had difficulty finding good-paying jobs.

   The strangulation continues. Retirees  are now facing $36 billion in student loan debt. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has people talking about Americans aged 60 and older who owe billions of dollars in student loans. Really? Senior citizens? Student loans? That’s right. And what’s more, older borrowers are seeing their social security checks garnished for repayment of delinquent student loans. Some of the debt is new, taken on when the borrower decided later in life to go back to school. Some of the debt has been hanging around for years, with balances growing while the borrower struggles to keep up with payments. Still others borrowed on behalf of a child or grandchild.

   What can be done? How do we save generations from the strangulation of student loans? In a piece written for YES! Magazine, Raúl Carrillo, co-organizer for The Modern Money Network offered a solution that goes beyond debt forgiveness by arguing that instead of private or publicly funded college loans, the federal government should simply pay the tuition for those seeking higher education.

   "To put it bluntly," writes Carrillo, "there is no fiscal reason why the U.S. student debt crisis should exist. You may find this argument hard to believe," he continues, recognizing that "the way most politicians and journalists talk about the national debt and deficit spending makes free higher education sound impossible."

   Carillo says there's another way of looking at the crisis of student debt and funding of higher education—"a vision advocated by a growing movement of economists, lawyers, students, and financial practitioners who deal with the institutional nuts and bolts of the economy on a day-to-day basis."

   In simplest terms, Carillo's argument rests on the idea that the U.S. federal government, capable of printing its own money, is simply "not broke" in the way that deficit hawks, who always find money for war and prisons and tax breaks for corporations, say it is. The demand should be that government print money into existence on behalf something good, a public investment, like education.

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 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:

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 (, 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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 


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.