Cascade Views Podcast

Micaela Guthrie - Dissecting Immigration Law

May 13, 2022 Michael Sipe - Central Oregon Leadership Discussions
Cascade Views Podcast
Micaela Guthrie - Dissecting Immigration Law
Show Notes Transcript

Micaela Guthrie has loved the Pacific Northwest since attending the University of Puget Sound and is thrilled to have called Bend home for the last 10 years. Micaela has been drawn to immigration law since college where she majored in Comparative Sociology and discovered the power of the personal narrative. Micaela graduated from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri.

Prior to attending law school, Micaela worked in Alaska driving tour busses, volunteered in Nicaragua at a microcredit financing organization, and studied Spanish in Ecuador. She was a member of the Jessup International Moot Court Team and was awarded the Order of the Barristers for her outstanding trial advocacy skills. 

Micaela has worked in all facets of immigration law, starting as the Managing Attorney representing asylum seekers and unaccompanied minor in El Paso, Texas; representing companies in employment-based immigration matters; served as an Assistant Chief Counsel for the Office of the Principal Legal advisor; and has worked in Central Oregon representing families and asylum seekers for almost a decade. Her passion for immigration law comes from the joy of bringing families together and giving a voice to those whose stories need to be told.

When not working, Micaela spends as much time as possible in the outdoors with her husband, three children, and their two pups. She is an avid soccer mom, camper, hiker, and runner who enjoys all things that Central Oregon offers.

Unknown Speaker  0:00  
I think it's really important for us to remember that America is a nation of immigrants. And without immigration, we would really not exist. And I find beauty and the diversity. So for me personally, I think that it is important to remember how much immigrants have brought to our country and continued to bring Welcome to

Narrator  0:27  
cascade views a discussion with Central Oregon leaders. Your host is Michael SIPE, local business and community leader Best Selling Author of the Avada principle and candidate for Oregon State Representative for House District 53, which encompasses southern Redman, sisters, tremolo, and Northern bend. The purpose of these discussions is to share the views and insights of local leaders from a variety of community sectors on a range of timely and important regional and state issues. With that, now, here's your host, Michael SIPE.

Michael Sipe  1:01  
Thanks for joining us on cascade views. This is Michael SIPE, and I'm excited to welcome Mikayla Guthrie to the show today. Michaela has loved the Pacific Northwest since attending the University of Puget Sound and is thrilled to have called been home for the last 10 years. But Kayla has been drawn to immigration law since college, where she majored in comparative sociology and discovered the power of the personal narrative. The Kayla graduated from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to attending law school, Mikayla worked in Alaska driving tour buses, that would be a great topic for another discussion, volunteered in Nicaragua, another topic at a microcredit financing organization and studied Spanish in Ecuador. She was a member of the Jessup international moot court team and was awarded the Order of the barristers for her outstanding trial advocacy skills. Makayla has worked in all facets of immigration law starting as the managing attorney representing asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors in El Paso, Texas, representing companies and employment based immigration matters. She served as an assistant chief counsel for the office of the principal legal advisor and has worked in Central Oregon representing families and asylum seekers for almost a decade. You can learn about her practice at three sisters But Kayla is joining us today to talk about the topic of immigration. And I'm excited to learn from her. So it's my pleasure to welcome her to the show. Hi, Michaela.

Unknown Speaker  2:31  
Hi, Mike, thank you so much for having me today.

Michael Sipe  2:34  
Oh, you bet. Before we plunge into the meat of our topic, fill us in just a little bit on your practice.

Unknown Speaker  2:41  
So I practice immigration law with three sisters law, which was founded by Aaron Carter and Kendra Jimenez Bachmann, and we focus on serving families and immigrants in the Central Oregon Community. But we do actually have clients throughout the country. Since immigration is a federal law, we can practice from Oregon and represent clients in various states. The majority of our practice focuses on families, whether we are filing spousal petitions, or assisting permanent residents with filing for naturalization. We also advocate for victims of crime. And we do have a certain percentage of our practice dedicated to representing people who are in removal proceedings. So presenting applications for asylum and other relief before the immigration court

Michael Sipe  3:30  
would read immigration law on and why are you so passionate about the work?

Unknown Speaker  3:35  
So I've been interested in immigration law ever since high school, but really developed my passion for it. When I was studying in college, as you mentioned, I majored in comparative sociology, where we really focused on the narrative and how giving voice to certain people who don't truly have a voice for themselves is very powerful. So when I went to law school, I did go to law school, hoping to become an immigration attorney. And I have loved for the most part every minute that I've been practicing it.

Michael Sipe  4:12  
Well, that's super interesting. Here's a question for you that I find a lot of people are a little unclear on why are immigrants important to Central Oregon? And what are some of the immigration trends that you see.

Unknown Speaker  4:26  
So first, I think it's really important for us to remember that America is a nation of immigrants. And without immigration, we would really not exist. And I find beauty in the diversity. So for me personally, I think that it is important to remember how much immigrants have brought to our country and continue to bring and if you look at data from the latest census, it shows that Oregon is growing in its diversity. Some statewide statistics show that the fastest growing demographic group in the state as it is in the country at large. I Are the Hispanic Latino populations and those for multicultural backgrounds. And the statistics that I show that I saw show that nearly 14% of Oregonians now identify as Hispanic or Latino, which is an increase and up from 11.7%. In 2010, you will have to also remember that immigrants contribute to the economy in both the tax base and spending power. They contribute to the labor force, especially agriculture, fishing, farming and essential work workers. And it is also important to note there is an increased number of mixed status families. So what I mean by that is children who are born in the United States and have one or more immigrant parent, for example.

Michael Sipe  5:47  
Well, that leads me to kind of try to decipher and figure out all the different types of status, if you will. So some people might not know very much about permanent resident residents cards, also known as green cards. So how does someone get one of those? How long is it good for? And can a holder have a permanent red Istat resident status? Can they also apply for citizenship?

Unknown Speaker  6:12  
Yes, so there are various ways that individuals can obtain permanent residency status, and that status is documented by a card. So a permanent resident is somebody who was not born in the United States, a foreign born individual who is allowed to live and work permanently in the United States and can travel back and forth from the United States as a permanent resident. So it's important to note that in permanent residents, there are certain things that a permanent resident can do that will jeopardize his or her status. So that it's something even though it is permanent, there are things that can happen where an individual can lose that status, but will not get into that right now. The typical ways that individuals will obtain permanent resident status in the United States are generally through a family member, or an employer, most permanent residence cards are issued for a period of 10 years. Or if the marriage through which somebody obtains permanent residency was less than two years old. At the time they obtained that status, they will be issued a conditional residency card, which is valid for two years, and then requires the subsequent petition to be filed to show that the marriage is still valid, was entered into good faith for a couple of other exceptions. So after somebody has been a permanent resident for either five or three years, depending on how on which category they're applying for, they can file for naturalization to become a United States citizen.

Michael Sipe  7:49  
So what's that process look like? Even let's say someone's been in permanent residence status for five years, for example, what do they have to do to gain citizenship.

Unknown Speaker  8:01  
So to gain citizenship, you have to be at least 18 years of age, by the time you file your application, have been a lawful permanent resident for the requisite amount of time. So generally speaking, five years, one year for certain members of the military, or as I mentioned, three years if you've been married to and living with a US citizen during that time, you have to establish that you have conditioned continuous residence and physical presence in the United States. Be able to read, write and speak basic English, demonstrate good moral character, demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of history, US History and Government, demonstrate a loyalty to the principles of the US Constitution and be willing to take the oath of allegiance. And all individuals who apply for naturalization, go in for an interview, where there is the English language and the history civics test is administered. And then they have an interview on their application.

Michael Sipe  9:00  
I have a really good friend then that went through this process. And she was a Canadian citizen and obviously spoke English. And she found it to be quite rigorous, even as a Canadian looking to move in the United States. So it's not a walk in the park, is it?

Unknown Speaker  9:19  
No, it is not a walk in the park. And I think especially, you know, there are people who are better at taking tests than others. And it is a very nerve wracking process to but I have to say that the pride I see in my clients who are able to be naturalized US citizens is just wonderful. And being able to at time sit in while somebody is administered the oath is pretty, pretty wonderful.

Michael Sipe  9:48  
That's just got to be really heartwarming, and what a great experience. Let's step back a minute and get an overview of the immigration process. So let's start with a foreign citizen. And who wants to immigrate, not necessarily a permanent resident, but someone who lives in a foreign country, and they want to immigrate to the United States. So give us a summary of that process.

Unknown Speaker  10:12  
So as I've mentioned before, the most typical ways for individuals who are residing abroad to immigrate to the United States are typically through employers or family members. Apart from that there are some limited options. For example, there is the diversity visa, which is a lottery based system that individuals from certain countries can apply for for permanent residency. And the goal with the diversity visa is to quite literally increase the diversity of the United States. Other options for individuals that are not family or employer specific or entrepreneurial visa says, visa is for certain business owners. And those are ones that don't require a sponsor necessarily.

Michael Sipe  11:00  
On the diversity lottery, is there a is there any kind of quota system or a numerical basis for them?

Unknown Speaker  11:06  
There is a limit, I would have to go back and freshen up on or refresh my memory on how exactly it is, how they are chosen, but it takes a look at my understanding is what country is what region should we try to increase the diversity from in the United States?

Michael Sipe  11:25  
Sure, okay. Well, let's move to another situation where we have a US citizen, who has a spouse, who's a citizen of another country, what's the process for the spouse to to emigrate?

Unknown Speaker  11:38  
There are two main ways that a US citizen can file for his or her spouse. So the first one that we'll touch on has to do with adjustment of status. So that requires that the foreign national spouse have been inspected and admitted into the United States, for example, somebody who entered on a tourist visa, and then never departed the United States. Those individuals once they married can file for the process, adjustment of status to get the residency while inside the United States, and that is generally speaking, the most straightforward of ways, but it is still taking up to a year for those interviews to be conducted at the local field office in Portland. Probably the most common way that a spouse can bring a foreign born spouse to the United States is through consular processing. That requires that the foreign national remain in the home country during the entire process, which is currently taking at least two plus years. So and that is, again, relatively straightforward but very time consuming. If the foreign born spouse has never been into the United States, it requires the US citizen to file a Form I 130, which is a Petition for Alien relative, which is taking a year right now to adjudicate the submission of documentation to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center then forwards the file when it is ready for interview to the appropriate consulate in the foreign born spouses home country where an interview will then be scheduled. Typically speaking at this point, it is taking roughly three years for these relatively straightforward cases. The other way that we commonly see is when a US citizen is married to a spouse who's in the United States, but who entered without inspection or admission. In that case, the foreign born spouse will eventually need to return to his or her home country for the immigrant visa application. But prior to that they have to file a waiver for the time within which they were in the United States without permission. That adds another layer to the process, because they need to file what's called an ice 601 provisional unlawful presence waiver, which are right now taking over a year and a half to adjudicate. So the good news is that foreign born spouse can remain in the United States while that waiver is being adjudicated, but it is drastically increasing the length of the process. When I first started practicing in Oregon, these petitions were taking maybe the entire process was taking maybe two years for the individual in the United States who needed the waiver. We now have some clients who are waiting four plus years to get through the process.

Michael Sipe  14:40  
Wow, this is super complicated, and it seems like it would be really stressful on a marriage really stressful on a family.

Unknown Speaker  14:49  
It really is. I think that some people are better at living in limbo or in transitional phases than others. I know myself that transitions can tend to be very hard. And when you don't know when the next step is going to come, you're constantly waiting on the government to adjudicate applications, it does create a tremendous amount of stress.

Michael Sipe  15:13  
There's another factor here or another kind of an opportunity, which is US citizens that want to help their parents emigrate. How does that work?

Unknown Speaker  15:23  
A US citizen who is 21 years and older can file for their parents. So when I say they can file for their parents, what I mean is they can initiate the immigration process by filing the form I want 30, a Petition for Alien relative, then the question becomes, how can the parent take that and use it to immigrate to the United States, if a parent has been outside of the United States and doesn't have any unlawful presence, meaning any time in the United States that they were here without proper authorization, then it would be relatively straightforward where they would have to wait for the adjudication of the application, the National Visa Center and then the interview at the consulate abroad. However, we see so many of our clients where the parent is here in the United States. So unlike in the spousal situation, where there is a waiver available to the spouse for the time spent in the United States without permission, a parent who is trying to immigrate through a child may not have that qualifying relative. So the waiver that I was talking about requires a showing of extreme hardship to an applicant, spouse or parent who has permanent resident status or is a US citizen. So if you only have a child who is a US citizen, you would not necessarily be able to immigrate to the United States unless you remained outside of the United States for a period of at least 10 years.

Michael Sipe  16:56  
Wow. 10 years. Well, how about for other relatives like siblings.

Unknown Speaker  17:01  
So again, a US citizen who was 21 and older can file for a sibling. starting the process is straightforward. The US citizen files an Iowan 30 demonstrating their identity and the proper familial relationship. But the wait times are very long before the sibling would have an interview. The US limits how many people can immigrate in certain relationships. So for a sibling, that is a preference category, which means that the US dictates that only a certain number of people can immigrate as the sibling of a US citizen each year. And only each country is only given a certain percentage of those numbers. Does that make sense? Yeah, it does. So currently, a sibling from Mexico is now waiting over 22 years for an interview, while a sibling for most other countries excluding China, India, the Philippines and Mexico, those wait times are averaging at least 15 years.

Michael Sipe  18:05  
Wow, you got to start early. If you want to have your sister come to the country, right?

Unknown Speaker  18:09  
You have to start early. But you have to wait until you're 21. So

Michael Sipe  18:13  
oh, I guess you can't start that early. Man, this is super complicated. Well, you I think you alluded to this, but I probably didn't, I probably didn't understand it. But how about for undocumented residents? Is there a path to getting a green card? And then is there a path to citizenship. And I know you probably talked about this, but helped me stitch it together,

Unknown Speaker  18:36  
of course. So for an undocumented individual, if you are married to a US citizen, then there is generally speaking a perhaps a pathway forward for you. Again, not wanting to get into the weeds too much. It depends a lot on an individual's personal circumstances, how many times they've entered the United States with or without permission, and many other factors. But say, for example, and then documented resident who does not have a US citizen or a permanent resident spouse, there are very limited ways in which somebody can obtain permanent residency in the United States. One, for example, is if you're a crime victim, you can apply for you non immigrant status, that requires a showing that you're the victim of a specific crime that you have helped in the investigation or the prosecution of that crime, that you have suffered substantial physical or mental or emotional abuse as a result of that crime. And it requires that you have law enforcement signed a certification attesting to those. Once you have that signed, the process is now taking 10 years to obtain you non immigrant status because only 10,000 applicants a year are able to get this status and so there's a are a long line right now. After you've had us status for three years, you can apply for permanent residency, and then eventually citizenship. We also have the Violence Against Women Act, which allows victims of domestic violence or extreme cruelty who have been married to permanent residents or US citizens to file a self petition, which means that they can file for themselves in through that means obtain permanent residency. The other statuses for undocumented individuals are more temporary, we're talking about Temporary Protected Status DACA, which is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and other types of deferred action. So those in and of themselves do not lead specifically to residency, let alone citizenship.

Michael Sipe  20:51  
Wow, this is so complicated. Just even just all of the interactions with the legal system and all of that is a little mind boggling. What are some of the problems besides that, that immigrants face who are already here.

Unknown Speaker  21:07  
So immigrants who are already here face numerous obstacles. And I think that just living in the shadows, takes a toll on somebody. in day to day situation, you have individuals who have lack of access to housing, individuals who might be taken advantage of an employment situations because of a lack of resources because of language barriers, individuals who are not able to fully participate in their communities, or are isolated. And I think part of it is many people do not understand what immigrants have given up to be here in the United States, the decision to leave your home country is not one that is taken lightly. And for many individuals, once they make that decision, it is very difficult or a very, very long time before they're able to return to the home country, to see families to visit loved ones. I have heard so many stories from people who were not able to go and say goodbye to a parent before the parent passed away because of the decision they made to come here.

Michael Sipe  22:18  
As I understand it, federal law really governor's governs most of immigration matters. So given that, what actions can the state of Oregon take to help with the integration of immigrants.

Unknown Speaker  22:33  
There are quite a few things that Oregon is now doing. There are certain in state tuition costs for DACA recipients some state aid as well, for DACA and undocumented students who want to continue with higher education. Over the past couple of years, driver's licenses and state identification cards are now offered to individuals regardless of legal status. And this is for a non real ID compliant document, in having more licensed drivers obviously promotes public safety. Certain professional licensing is available for individuals regardless of legal status. And I think that just promoting English as a second language in schools to further assist and integrate students is wonderful.

Michael Sipe  23:18  
As we get close to wrapping up here, there's a fair bit of confusion over the term sanctuary state, which I believe is part of Oregon State law. This is a complicated topic, but can you explain this briefly, how and why did this come about and what are some of the implications?

Unknown Speaker  23:38  
There is really no one definition of what a sanctuary state or a sanctuary city is, but generally speaking, it encompasses states and cities, who enact policies or laws to create a greater level of cooperation and trust between local communities and law enforcement. Now, it's important to note this is not the same as harboring criminals or obstructing federal immigration within the state, which I think needs to be understood. And in Oregon, this has been the law for the past 35 plus years. So Oregon law prohibits state resources from being used for federal purposes. So basically, what it prohibits is state and local resources being used for federal immigration violations. And Oregon recently passed the sanctuary promise Act, which prohibits law, local law enforcement from gathering and sharing immigration information with federal immigration authorities or assisting immigration law enforcement. So it also prohibits federal immigration authorities from carrying out warrantless arrests in and around Oregon's courthouses and their facilities. It's an effort to promote participation in the community and with law enforcement and and not have undocumented residents fearful of being removed if they interact with law enforcement?

Michael Sipe  25:08  
Well, not everyone in Oregon is in favor of this. If if you could speak to those who are opposed, what would you say?

Unknown Speaker  25:18  
Again, I would highlight that I think that the concern that a sanctuary city or a sanctuary state is shielding or protecting certain immigrants from from deportation, or criminal prosecution is not true. And studies have shown that sanctuary policies did not prevent the deportation of people with violent convictions. And these studies, one of them I saw was based on a five year review of FBI crime data and I statistics. As a member of my local community, I want my neighbors and community members to not be afraid of speaking with law enforcement to not be afraid to report crimes to serve as witnesses in a case, I truly think there needs to be trust between local law enforcement and the community that they are serving so that we as a community feel safe and respected in our neighborhoods.

Michael Sipe  26:11  
That's a great answer. This has been super interesting. The more we talk, though, the more I realize how much there is to learn. How can our listeners learn more and maybe even help in some way?

Unknown Speaker  26:22  
Yeah, of course. So I think, for me, circling back to the personal narrative, I think it's really easy for us to forget that we're talking about individuals lives, and that each person has a story to tell. So I think that sometimes, it's really important for us to talk to our neighbors, to talk to our community members, to understand cultural differences, and to really, truly start to break down these walls that we seem to be building between us. People can volunteer at different organizations to try to foster this sense of community that we have. I know, the Latino community association has volunteer opportunities. So I would really just say, if people just spend more time talking and getting to know somebody story, I think we would all be better off for it.

Michael Sipe  27:17  
That's great advice. Mikayla, it's been great having you on the show today. Thanks for the work that you do to serve our community. My main takeaway? Well, two of them. One is just how complicated this whole topic is. I'm amazed that you're able to navigate it every day. And thank you for for being willing to do it. And then also this, your last point about the the consideration of individuals and the personal narratives and that everyone has a story and that we all are immigrants, every single one of us is as an immigrant, you know, maybe multi generations. But we all came here got here from somewhere. And so I think those points are all really valid for today. I sure appreciate your time and your message today.

Unknown Speaker  28:06  
Thank you so much for having me. It really has been a pleasure speaking with you.

Michael Sipe  28:11  
My guest for this show has been Makayla Guthrie. Mikayla is an attorney specializing in immigration matters at three sisters law. You can learn more about her practice at three sisters That's three sisters Thanks for tuning in.

Narrator  28:27  
Thanks for listening to cascade views with Michael SIPE. To find out more about Mike the upcoming election. The key issues he's focused on in his campaign to represent Central Oregon and Salem as a state representative. Visit www dot a voice for Central that's www dot a voice for Central You can get your own copy of Michael sites best selling book the Avada And finally, please vote in the upcoming election. Your Voice Matters

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