Use your widget sidebars in the admin Design tab to change this little blurb here. Add the text widget to the Blurb Sidebar!

Curbelo and Grayson Introduce the Venezuelan Refugee Assistance Act

Posted: November 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, National News, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »
Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Two Florida members of Congress introduced a bill that would allow Venezuelans who arrived in the U.S. prior to Jan 1, 2013, to adjust status to permanent resident. No word on how likely this is to move forward.

Washington, D.C.—In response to the continued instability in Venezuela, Reps. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and Alan Grayson (FL-09), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) have introduced the Venezuelan Refugee Assistance Act, H.R. 3744, to provide immigration relief to Venezuelans that have long-resided in the U.S., unable to return to their homeland:

“For the past decade, thousands of Venezuelans were forced to flee the brutal Chavez dictatorship. The situation has not improved under his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro. In the last few months alone we have seen countless examples of the regime’s thuggish tactics, unethical behavior, and lethal force. They’ve arrested top opposition leaders like Leopoldo Lopez and the Mayor or Caracas, and banned others from running for public office, like Maria Machado. They’ve also arrested over 3,000 opposition protestors in a riot that left dozens dead. This bill will help those Venezuelan nationals who have made a new home in the United States to remain here if they choose to since it is dangerous to return home.

Specifically, this legislation would address the issue by adjusting the status of Venezuelans that arrived in the U.S. prior to Jan 1, 2013 as long as they do not have a criminal record and were never involved in the persecution of others. They have until January 1, 2019 to register for adjustment.

I applaud the Venezuelan-American community in the United States for their continued efforts on behalf of the people of Venezuela and I stand in unity for their noble cause of justice and freedom and thank Rep. Grayson for his leadership throughout the years to help the Venezuelan people. I would also like to thank Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Wasserman Schultz for being original co-sponsors,” said Rep. Curbelo.

“I’m proud to join my Florida colleague Rep. Carlos Curbelo in introducing this important piece of bipartisan legislation. The political turmoil in Venezuela demands that the United States do everything in its power to protect those who have been able to escape to freedom in America. We cannot in good conscience force Venezuelans to return to a country where they face arrest, torture, and execution only because they oppose the government. Granting them permanent residence status is the best, most logical way to ensure their safety. I thank Rep. Curbelo for all he has done for the Venezuelan American community, and look forward to working with him to see this legislation out of committee and onto the floor for a vote,” said Rep. Grayson.

Rep. Curbelo will be holding a press conference regarding H.R. 3744 on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 in his Miami district office.


Sarasota Attorney Victoria Karins Elected Chair of AILA

Posted: June 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Victoria Karins Re-Assumes Role as Leader of Central Florida Immigration Attorneys

Sarasota Immigration Attorney Victoria Jaensch Karins

Sarasota Immigration Attorney Victoria Jaensch Karins

Sarasota, FL 6/16/2014: Sarasota attorney Victoria Jaensch Karins was re-elected Chair of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in June.  She assumes this leadership role amid an era of change in immigration law.

The announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has been followed by the stall of immigration reform in the House.  During this time, the Obama Administration has made additional changes at the Federal level to immigration procedure that build on Deferred Action.

Changes have also occurred at the state level.  Bills that allow undocumented childhood arrivals to qualify for in-state tuition and to practice law in Florida are among a few of the latest developments.

Ms. Karins brings continuity and experience to her role as Chair.  This is the second year in a row she’s been elected to the leadership and she has practiced immigration law for almost 20 years.

She has been taking an active part in her role; traveling to DC twice to speak before lawmakers and blogging for the AILA website.

“I’m honored to have been elected to the leadership by such dedicated and hard-working peers,” Ms. Karins said.  “It’s very interesting to be so involved at this time of transformation,” she continued.

What’s Happening to Florida?

Posted: May 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, Jaensch Immigration Law Firm | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Attorney Victoria Karins was asked to write a guest blog post on the AILA Blog.  We reposted the article below.

Author:  on 05/08/2014

shutterstock_33919990Last week, the Florida legislature passed two bills that are heading to Governor Rick Scott, who has stated that he will sign them. One grants in-state tuition to undocumented “Dreamers.” Another will allow Jose Godinez-Samperio, a DACA recipient and law school graduate, the ability to be a licensed attorney in the State. Jose was in Tallahassee in the gallery on the day the Florida House passed the bill. He was given a standing ovation.

I am still shaking my head. What happened to Florida? Gov. Scott ran on a platform in 2010 that called for Arizona-type laws to be enacted. Four years later, he is supporting significant pro-immigration legislation. I thought we could easily count on current Florida leadership to remain oppositional to any pro-immigration issue that was not forced upon them.

It would be easy to be cynical and chalk it up to politics. It is an election year, after all, and perhaps some politicians are finally realizing it is not a bad idea to try to garner favor in the immigrant community.

Certainly I believe that is a big part of it. But, I also think that we may be witnessing a change in attitude across the board.

After the vote last Friday, I was contacted by a local newspaper columnist who had written earlier in the week in support of the Jose Godinez-Samperio bill. He had received responses from readers asking questions such as “Why didn’t he apply for citizenship?” “Why does he need a special law, couldn’t he have started the citizenship process during law school?” “Didn’t he want to become a citizen?”

He contacted me to make sure he was not missing anything – that there had been no change to federal immigration law recently of which he was not aware. I assured him that no, there had been no recent change.

The columnist, Tom Lyons, from the Sarasota Herald Tribune, then wrote a follow-up column clarifying that Jose did not have the option of obtaining citizenship and said of the questioners:

the more I thought about those people who wanted to know why that would-be lawyer hadn’t applied for citizenship, the more I thought kindly of them. Though they apparently missed a key point in the nation’s immigration debate, I think their question was based on a nice assumption. They assumed that U.S. law couldn’t be as rigid and mean as it actually is.

This illustrates what I believe is also happening in Florida; people are becoming more educated about the issues. And as they get more educated, they may be becoming more compassionate…and passionate to do the right thing.

I only hope that the individuals in office at the national level take a look at what is happening in Florida since I hear Florida might just be a tad bit important when it comes to presidential elections.  I hope they realize that the House really needs to follow Florida’s lead and move forward on immigration reform.

By Victoria Jaensch Karins, Chair, AILA Central Florida Chapter

Victoria Jaensch Karins Quoted in SRQ Herald Tribune

Posted: April 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Scroll to bottom to see her quote. Reposted from Herald Tribune Website:

Making a case for in-state tuition

By Zac Anderson , Herald-Tribune
/ Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mylena DeMaman has been working and saving for college since graduating from Sarasota High School in 2012, but the high cost of continuing her education can be disheartening.

The 19-year-old recently filled out an application to attend State College of Florida and was dismayed to learn she may have to pay much more than most students — $11,595 annually to attend full-time versus $3,074 for the typical Florida resident.

Mylena DeMaman has lived in Sarasota for a decade, plenty of time to qualify for cheaper in-state tuition at a Florida university. DeMaman is applying to State College of Florida and hopes to get an associate's degree before moving on to a Florida university.  But because DeMaman's parents brought her to the country illegally as a young girl, the bright 19-year-old with ambitions of becoming a doctor will have to pay triple what other Florida residents do for college. DeMaman believes that is unfair. Surprisingly, many state lawmakers agree. Legislation has already cleared the House and is advancing in the Senate that would give undocumented college students such as DeMaman in-state tuition.    (Apr. 2, 2014; Herald-Tribune staff photo by Mike Lang)

Mylena DeMaman is applying to State College of Florida and hopes to get an associate’s degree before moving on to a Florida university. But because DeMaman’s parents brought her to the country illegally as a young girl, the bright 19-year-old with ambitions of becoming a doctor will have to pay triple what other Florida residents do for college.  (Staff photo by Mike Lang)

The extra cost stems from the fact that DeMaman’s family came to the United States from Brazil illegally a decade ago.

Undocumented immigrants pay the higher “out of state” tuition rate at most Florida colleges and universities, but that could soon change. In a surprising move that has divided Republicans and contradicts previous efforts by state leaders such as Gov. Rick Scott to crack down on immigrants who came to the country illegally, momentum is building to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students who have attended Florida high schools.

Political observers say the legislation — which has cleared the House and passed a second Senate committee this week — is a concession to the demographic changes shaping Florida.

Hispanics are an increasingly influential voting bloc. They made up 17 percent of the Florida electorate in the 2012 presidential election, up from 14 percent in 2008, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. These voters lean heavily Democratic: President Barack Obama won 60 percent of Florida Hispanics in 2012. Republicans would like to change that equation going forward.

“2012 was a demographic reality check for Republican strategists,” said New College of Florida political science professor Frank Alcock.

The in-state tuition bill is a significant step by Florida GOP leaders toward Hispanic outreach. It has been championed by House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican seen as a potential candidate for statewide office. But the legislation is not without political risks, especially for Scott.

The governor won office in 2010 touting a tough Arizona immigration law that critics said amounted to racial profiling. He also supported forcing Florida businesses to electronically verify that their workers are in the country legally.

Scott’s hard-line immigration views endeared him to the Tea Party and likely contributed to his closely contested primary victory. Many conservatives strongly oppose the in-state tuition bill and say Scott’s signature on the legislation would be a betrayal.

“He’d be making a mistake to support this bill,” said Beth Colvin with the Sarasota Patriots, a local Tea Party group. “I just feel the majority of the conservatives have faith in him because he does have his values and his heart in the right place and I just don’t feel like there’s any need for us to reach out to illegals.”

Yet Scott long ago stopped talking about the Arizona immigration law or E-verify, and appears to be moving toward the center on immigration issues. He expressed support for the Senate tuition bill this week, but avoided talking specifically about illegal immigrants.

Lawmakers have sweetened the legislation by including one of Scott’s top priorities in the bill, a provision that limits universities from hiking tuition without legislative approval.

That allows Scott to sell the legislation as a financial boon for all students, not just undocumented immigrants.

“On behalf of all of Florida’s families who dream of a brighter future for their kids, and all of our students who aspire to achieve success in the classroom and in the workforce, we will keep fighting to help every student in Florida afford a college education,” Scott said in a statement after the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday by a 7-2 vote, with four Republicans in support and two in opposition.

Alcock said Scott is walking a fine line with the tuition measure, trying to “have his cake and eat it” by quietly backing a priority of the Hispanic community while working to minimize Tea Party anger. Ultimately, the rewards are probably worth the risk.

“Tea Party people are going to show up no matter what and they’re not going to vote for” Scott’s Democratic opponent, expected to be Charlie Crist, Alcock said.

The legislation still has two more committee stops in the Senate. The fact that top Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted for the bill is a favorable sign for the measure. Supporters included Sen. John Thrasher, the former Republican Party of Florida chairman, and Sen. Andy Gardiner, the next Senate president.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, voted against the bill at an earlier committee stop but has agreed to let it be heard next by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, which Galvano chairs. Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, also is on the committee.

There is strong interest in the issue among the Hispanic population in Sarasota and Manatee counties, said Victoria Karins, a Sarasota immigration attorney who has helped DeMaman and roughly 150 other young people in the region gain a measure of legal status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program announced by President Barack Obama in 2012.

Deferred action allows younger immigrants who have been in the country for years to obtain a driver’s license, Social Security number and limited protection against deportation.

The in-state tuition bill is another step toward “being able to really fully integrate them into society,” Karins said.

DeMaman’s father works as a mechanic. Her mother cleans houses. They emphasize the importance of education.

“They always tell us, ‘The reason why we brought you to this country was to do good in school,’ and fortunately I really like school,” said DeMaman, who has lived in Sarasota since the fourth grade and speaks without an accent.

Bright and highly motivated, DeMaman has long been focused on a medical career. She took medical billing classes at the Sarasota County Technical Institute while in high school and served as president of SCTI’s Future Business Leaders of America club.

Working at a medical practice over the last year has sparked an interest in becoming a doctor. But the costs can seem daunting.

“It is discouraging,” she said. “And why would you want to discourage somebody from getting an education?”

Legislature Debates In-State Tuition Rates for Undocumented Students

Posted: March 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Reposted from ABC7’s
Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 4:56 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Florida House of Representatives is taking up a bill that would offer in-state tuition rates to children of undocumented immigrants living in Florida, with hundreds of affected students in Tallahassee today urging more lawmakers to support the cause.

In-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants has been a controversial topic, though the move has gotten bipartisan support in recent months.

“I just started this semester and for two classes I paid almost $3,000,” says Thania Erresuris, a student at State College of Florida. While $3,000 for one semester may not sound all that alarming, that amount is 380 percent higher than the in-state rate. Erresuris is forced to pay the higher rate despite the fact that she’s lived in Florida for most of her life.

“I had to do the Dream Act, so I’m basically not a resident in the eyes of the school, so I have to do out-of-state tuition,” she says. “I don’t like it because I’ve been here since I was 3 and this is my home, and I feel like it’s unfair because I’ve never been over to Mexico or anything.”

Erresuris is one of the many undocumented students facing what she calls unjust tuition rates.

“If it was regular tuition I would be able to take more classes, but because of [the higher cost] I can only take two,” she says.

The issue has caught the attention of lawmakers, with the Senate Education Committee passing a measure to that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition. With the bill coming before the entire House Wednesday, immigration attorney Victoria Karins says passage would have a major impact

“This bill will largely benefit the Hispanic community, as that population is trying its hardest to advance in our society by attempting to get a better education [and] better jobs,” Karins says.

For dreamers like Erresuris, who is also a single mother on a fixed income, yes votes for HB 851 and SB 1400 would allow her to take more than two classes a semester, in turn helping her reach her ultimate goal much quicker.

“For me, education is important because I want to prove to my daughter that they need education. … I want to study nursing. I want to be a nurse. I want to actually further it to be a doctor, and I need this education to be able to further my self in life.” Erresuris says.
The House was still debating the measure as we published this story. We will update this page as more information about the vote becomes available.

Signs that Immigration Reform May Happen This Year

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I recently returned from the AILA CFC conference where one of the topics of discussion was immigration reform.  Below I’ve included some signs that AILA sees as positive for immigration reform this year.

  1. John Boehner hired Rebecca Tallent, a top immigration policy aide who formerly worked for Sen McCain
  2. Only 16 Republicans signed on to a recent letter to Obama stating their opposition to immigration reform
  3. Rep. Goodlatte took over the House Judiciary Committee (the committee from which any immigration bill will derive)  from Rep. Lamar Smith, one of the most anti-immigrant legislators of the last two decades.  Some of that anti-immigrant staff loyal to Lamar and the anti-immigrant slant remain on Goodlatte’s staff, who are still very publicly anti-immigration reform.  But Goodlatte has of late been slowly stepping out publicly about immigration reform’s chances (for instance, saying that House Republicans will push to make it harder for undocumented to have a path to citizenship but easier to live and work in the U.S. – meaning some form of legalization seems to now be acceptable to House Republicans if there is no path to citizenship.
  4. NY Times: GOP Leadership Backs Legal Status for Many Undocumented Immigrants.  According to The New York Times, the House Republican leadership’s outline of immigration principles will call for a path to legal status, but not citizenship, for many of the 11 million adult undocumented immigrants in this country. For immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, however, Republicans would offer a path to citizenship.

New Immigration Policy: Parole-in-Place

Posted: January 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

President Obama Announces New Policy That Could Lead to Wider Immigration Reform

New Parole-in-Place Policy May Create the Precedent for a General Amnesty

President Obama has announced a new policy that could serve as the model for immigration reform if Congress doesn’t act.  It’s called “Parole-in-Place” and it allows undocumented immigrant spouses, children under 21 and parents of current US service members, reservists and veterans to apply to live legally in the US.

Under prior rules, anyone who entered the U.S. without Immigration inspection was subject to deportation and most could not adjust to permanent residence. Their only option was to pursue a lengthy and uncertain waiver process that requires a return to their home country.  But leaving the United States triggers a 10-year bar from returning for any immigrant who entered without inspection.

“This is good news for immigrants because it creates another way for those who would otherwise be caught in an impossible situation to adjust their status without suffering the hardship of a 10-year bar,” says Peter Jaensch, military veteran, prominent Sarasota immigration attorney and founder of Jaensch Immigration Law Firm.

Immigrants who are paroled-in-place can obtain work and travel permission without leaving the US.  With work permission, the applicant can obtain a Social Security number.  If parole-in-place is granted and the applicant is a spouse, child under 21, or parent of a U.S. citizen, he or she would also be able to apply for a Green card.

President Obama has publicly stated several times that he supports immigration reform.  In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill but the House of Representatives has not taken it up.  House Speaker Boehner recently announced that the House will not hold formal compromise talks on the bill.

In the meantime, President Obama has pursued immigration reform through prosecutorial discretion.  In June 2012, in a policy change similar to “Parole-in-Place,” the President announced the Deferred Action policy.  It allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, obtained a high school diploma or equivalent and remained under a certain age, to obtain work and travel permission.  In August, the President instructed DHS officials, when finalizing removal orders for undocumented parents, to take into account the potential hardship for their minor children.  With this new policy, Obama moves closer to his goal of immigration reform.

There is no government fee for the parole-in-place application, as there usually is.  Parole-in-place will be granted in one-year increments.

“As a military veteran myself I am glad to see the government doing more to support our service members and veterans,” says Mr. Jaensch.  “And we are ready to do our part as well.”  Jaensch Immigration Law Firm is offering free consultations to military family members who want to know more about this policy.

IN SPANISH: Cesar Gomez explica la nueva política de parole-in-place.

Florida College Presidents To Congress: Pass Immigration Reform

Posted: September 24th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Employer & Student Visas, Immigration Reform | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

This article is reposted from Miami radio station WLRN’s website.

Florida college and university presidents are calling on Congress to pass immigration reform this year, saying it would be better for the state’s economy if foreign students could stay after graduation, instead of being forced to take their diplomas and leave.

The “brain drain” of U.S.-educated foreign students is worrying economic and education leaders who say the students soon become competitors.

Credit Florida Immigrant Coalition


In a conference call with reporters Monday, University of Miami President Donna Shalala said a high percentage of non-citizens earn degrees in the high-paying STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and then depart.

“Half of all of Ph.D. and masters students in the STEM fields in our research universities are students who come from other countries,” Shalala said. “Many of them would like to stay, and we need immigration reform to give them that opportunity and to capture the talent that we’re educating.”

In a Sept. 16 letter to Florida’s Congressional delegation, Shalala and the other presidents wrote that in 2009, 53 percent of students earning masters or doctoral degrees in STEM fields from Florida’s research-intensive universities were non-citizens. More than 60 percent of students earning recent doctorates in engineering were non-citizens.

“As soon as we hand them their diploma, we also basically are handing them an airline ticket and saying, ‘Thanks very much for coming here – go home,'” said Ed Moore, president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

What’s worse, he said, is that those students usually end up working for Florida’s competitors in the global economy.

“Say they’re from China. They may end up being hired by a company in Brazil or a company in Italy or a company in England,” Moore said. “They go there and work to compete against American industry on the global market. It makes absolutely no sense.”

The Democratic-led U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June. It includes a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, a temporary worker program and more visas for skilled non-citizens. But the measure is stalled in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Conservative opposition is fierce. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has played a leading role in the debate, was booed at the Americans for Prosperity conference in Orlando last month, taking the stage to shouts of “No amnesty!” – a reference to allowing illegal immigrants to become U.S citizens.

But Anthony Catanese, president of the Florida Institute of Technology, said he doesn’t see the issue as a political one.

“Getting these young people to the highest level of American technological education and then making them return – I think we should see that as a non-controversial reason for getting the STEM graduates, especially at the graduate level, to have an opportunity to work for the United States and put them on a path toward citizenship,” Catanese said.

In their letter to Florida’s U.S. House members, the presidents noted that a recent study by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Enterprise Institute found that for every 100 foreign-born graduates of a U.S. graduate program who stay in the country, working in a STEM field, 262 jobs are created for American workers.

“Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business, and immigrant-owned businesses in Florida generate about $13.3 billion in income for the state each year,” they wrote. “But in Florida our share of foreign-born STEM advanced degree holders working in STEM fields decreased by 17 percent between 2000 and 2010.”

Moore said that many House members have said they have too many other issues on their plates to deal with immigration reform.

“That’s nonsense,” he said. “I know they’re busy in Syria and all these other issues, but immigration should stay on the front burner of Congressional action this year.”

Construction Firms Seek More Workers from Abroad

Posted: September 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Employer & Student Visas, Immigration Reform, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Facing an acute labor shortage, big firms are lobbying to lift caps on foreign construction workers.


A national survey of construction firms found 74 percent were having problems finding qualified workers amid growing labor shortages in the industry.

The survey by Associated General Contractors of America comes as similar concerns have been raised among builders in Southwest Florida, with the new homes market ramping up and a tight inventory of existing homes.

In the Sunshine State, 80 percent of respondents told the AGC that they were having trouble filling key construction jobs.  Carpenters, laborers and iron workers were the most sought after positions.  The AGC said that builders nationwide are concerned that the problem is going to get worse.  “We need to take short- and long-term steps to make sure there are enough workers to meet future demand and avoid the costly construction delays that would come with labor shortages,” said Stephen Sandherr, the trade organization’s chief executive.
Some of the survey’s findings:
  • Seventy-four percent of the 700 responding firms nationwide said the jobs that were most difficult to fill were carpenters, equipment operators and laborers.
  • Fifty-three percent said they were also having a difficult time finding project supervisors, estimators and engineers.
  • Eighty-six percent of respondents said they expect it will remain difficult or get harder to find qualified craft workers while 72 percent say the market for professional positions will remain difficult or get worse.

To deal with the situation, 48 percent of responding firms said they are mentoring future craft workers while 38 percent are participating in career fairs and 33 percent are supporting high school-level construction skills academies.

Forty-seven percent said they are offering internships for construction professionals.

Looking to veterans

There was a 70 percent uptick in new home construction activity in Sarasota and Manatee counties this summer, but the industry is now running 50 percent below its employment peak in 2006, state records show.

As of July, construction accounted for 15,100 jobs in the two counties.

Area home builders have found at least one potential answer to the shortage: Military veterans.

The Home Builders Association Manatee-Sarasota and Suncoast Workforce, an entity that operates three Jobs Etc. employment center in the region, have crafted a pilot program aimed at alleviating the problem and providing jobs for vets, who sometimes struggle with unemployment.

Florida has an estimated 744,000 veterans in its labor force. Suncoast Workforce, meanwhile, has seen the number of veterans seeking help in Sarasota and Manatee counties rise 40 percent over the last two years, with about 1,900 now in the system looking for work.

New incentives provided by Congress in late 2011 could help homebuilders hire more vets. The IRS-guided VOW Hire Heroes Act extends tax breaks of $2,400 to employers who hire a veteran who has been jobless for a month, $5,600 for those unemployed at least six months and $9,600 for veterans who have been out of work six months or more and have a service-related disability.

The incentives can increase if the vet is also receiving some type of government assistance.

If builders have to train the new hires, the federal government also will help pick up the tab, paying half of the trainees’ paycheck for up to six months.


To deal with the issue at a national level, Sandherr, the AGC chief executive, is urging Congress to “jettison arbitrary caps” on construction workers that were included in immigration reform the U.S. Senate passed this year.

“Lifting those restrictions will go a long way to ensuring construction jobs left vacant by domestic labor shortages go to workers who are in the country legally,” he said.

The CEO also is urging local officials to “do more to ensure public school students have an opportunity to participate in programs that teach skills like construction.”

His organization’s survey, conducted in July and August, included nearly 700 construction firms, including Florida.

Immigration Lawyers Attend Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Vern Buchanan; Learn House’s Perspective on Immigration Reform

Posted: July 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, National News, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

On Saturday, July 20th, Congressman Vern Buchanan held a town hall meeting in Lakewood Ranch.  Jaensch Immigration Law Firm marketing coordinator, Michael Marquet, attended on behalf of the firm and several thousand of eligible local residents in order to ascertain the House of Representatives’ position on Immigration Reform.

Congressman Vern Buchanan speaks with constituents about Immigration Reform

Congressman Vern Buchanan speaks with constituents about Immigration Reform

After discussing the debt and deficit, issues most closely related to the Congressman’s work on the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Buchanan opened the floor to questions.  Several people spoke about the immigration reform bill the Senate passed earlier in July.  That bill, S.744, was co-drafted by Senator Marco Rubio, also of Florida.  Several attendees expressed their displeasure with S.744.

Congressman Buchanan hinted that the House might not take up the Senate’s version of immigration reform.  He spoke strongly against “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants and reiterated his dedication to security measures such as increasing border securitycreating a system for prosecuting visa overstays, and creating a mandatory, nation-wide e-verify system.

We at Jaensch Immigration Law Firm understand that there is reluctance towards creating a pathway to legalization and citizenship for people who entered the country without inspection or overstayed their visa.  At the same time, from our reading of the bill S.744, we believe there are several provisions that we think would undoubtedly benefit our economy while maintaining or strengthening our system of rule of law.  These provisions include the expansion of the number of H-1B Work Visas so corporations can recruit more of the world’s best talent to our shores, the creation of a Retiree Visa for immigrants over a certain age who invest in our economy through the purchase of a home, the Extension of Stay for Canadians who purchase property in the US, and the creation of a Start-up Visa for immigrants who have the idea and drive to start a business in the United States.

All these provisions are contained in S.744 along with a pathway to legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.  At one point Mr. Marquet stood to address to Congressman to bring his attention to these economy-enhancing immigration reforms.  He urged the Congressman to consider the economic benefits of these reforms and asked the Congressman to speak clearly about whether the House would consider the Senate bill or break it up and vote on its provisions piecemeal.

Congressman Buchanan confirmed his view that the House was not going to take up the Senate Immigration Reform bill.  He mentioned a few of the immigration reform bills the House had already produced and said that more would probably appear after the August recess, in September and October.  

Congressman Vern Buchanan speaks with constituents about Immigration Reform

Congressman Vern Buchanan speaks with constituents about Immigration Reform

We hope that Mr. Buchanan will continue to consider the many ways that immigration reform could benefit our economy.  In Florida, from 2006-2010, there were 286,144 new immigrant business owners.  In 2010 these same business owners accounted for $13.3 billion in revenue, 23.8% of all business income in the state.  Immigrants invest, start businesses, and apply their expertise in our companies and corporations.  The legal entry of foreign persons who wish to pursue such activities should be encouraged.

Manatee Community Federal Credit Union Announces New President, Sherod Halliburton

Posted: July 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, Jaensch Immigration Law Firm | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Sherod Halliburton on his appointment to President of Manatee Community Federal Credit Union.  Jaensch Immigration Law Firm is working closely with MCFCU to enable those who may wish to apply for legalization under the potential new immigration reform may begin saving money in order to do so.  If Immigration Reform passes, applying for legalization would be expensive.  Applicants would have to pay government fees as well as back taxes.  The total amount is still uncertain but is estimated to be in the thousands of dollars per person.  Fortunately, MCFCU has developed a financial instrument that will allow those who qualify to begin saving money now.  For more information readers are welcome to contact Jaensch Immigration Law Firm (941) 366-9841 or MCFCU (941) 941-748-7704 ext. 103.

MCFCU President Sherod Halliburton

MCFCU President Sherod Halliburton

In the meantime we are including the press release announcement of Sherod’s appointment below:

Manatee Community Federal Credit Union announces the appointment of Sherod Halliburton to President effective July 1, 2013. He replaces the long standing President Cindy Barco who retired after thirty-five years of exemplary service.  Mr. Halliburton has been employed by MCFCU as Executive Vice President since February 2012.  Prior to that Mr. Halliburton served as the Executive Director for the Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency (CCRA) for over seven years.

While at the Bradenton CCRA Halliburton was instrumental in launching three key economic development organizations – the Central Economic Development Center, the award winning CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, and Suncoast Community Capital. All three organizations have thrived and have filled very important gaps in economic and community development programming in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Under Halliburton’s direction, CareerEdge was awarded the President’s Award from the Florida Redevelopment Association which celebrates the number one redevelopment project in the state of Florida.  More recently CareerEdge was honored with the Exemplary Collaborative Award from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions given to the top National Fund sites in the country.  “Mr. Halliburton has connections deeply rooted in the community and provides the credit union the ability to deliver financial services and programs that are much needed by our members”, said Vin Foderingham, MCFCU Chief Financial Officer and Board Member.  “The credit union has a great future ahead of it and with Sherod’s leadership there’s no doubt that we will reach another level of success.  We certainly thank Cindy Barco for her exemplary service over the years and wish her well in her retirement.”

Manatee Community Federal Credit Union was founded as Tropicana Employees Federal Credit Union in 1958. Halliburton’s relationship with MCFCU dates back to 2007 when he was the first non-Tropicana employee ever appointed to the board of directors where he served with distinction for five years.  Mr. Halliburton was instrumental in the transformation of MCFCU from exclusively serving Tropicana Employees into one of only three credit unions in Florida designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution.  This designation recognizes MCFCU’s commitment to providing quality and specialized financial serves to underserved consumers throughout Manatee County.   “It’s evident that Sherod has a way with making positive changes with all that he undertakes. He has a proven track record as a result of his forward thinking and vision.  I am confident that within the credit union movement he will continue this pattern which can only enhance the lives of our MCFCU members, their families and our community,” says Cindy Barco, retiring MCFCU President.

Find out more about how Manatee Community Federal Credit Union and Jaensch Immigration Law Firm are working together to help Sarasota-Manatee residents prepare for the potential Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Latest News on Immigration Reform, From Across the Web

Posted: June 20th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, National News, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »

CBO: Senate immigration bill would cut deficits by $200 billion over decade. “The immigration bill under consideration in the Senate would reduce federal deficits by nearly $200 billion over the next decade, and continue generating savings in the years beyond, even after millions of new citizens became eligible for health-care and welfare benefits, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday. The long-awaited report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office marked a major victory for the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators who have spent months negotiating the details of the measure.” Lori Montgomery in The Washington Post.

Read: The CBO report.

…Here are the key numbers. “While the bill increases spending by $262 billion over 10 years, it increases revenue by $459 billion, for a deficit reduction of $197 billion in total. Additionally, it projects $690 billion in deficit reduction in the second decade of implementation, from 2024 to 2033. The reports predicts that the bill will add 10.4 million permanent U.S. residents and 1.6 million new temporary visa-holders, and reduce the undocumented immigrant population by 1.6 million.” Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

@petersuderman: CBO estimates that the immigration bill will cut deficits by $197b over 10 years. Basically: More legal labor=more revenue=lower deficits.

…It’s a free lunch, the CBO is saying. “This isn’t just a good CBO report. It’s a wildly good CBO report. They’re basically saying immigration reform is a free lunch: It cuts the deficit by growing the economy. It makes Americans better off and it makes immigrants better off. At a time when the U.S. economy desperately needs a bit of help, this bill, according to the CBO, helps. And politically, it forces opponents of the bill onto the ground they’re least comfortable occupying: They have to argue that immigration reform is bad for cultural or ethical reasons rather than economic ones.” Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

@reihan: CBO analysis accounts for population increase, but not potential productivity gains. It also doesn’t account for technological risk.

2 amendments to immigration bill passed, 2 defeated. “Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.): The senator has several proposals regarding non-native children adopted by American parents, a longtime interest of hers. Under a 2000 law, children lawfully adopted by American parents are automatically granted citizenship. Landrieu’s amendment would extend those rights to children who turned 18 before the law was passed.” Ed O’Keefe in The Washington Post.

House panel approves enforcement-based immigration bill. “The House Judiciary Committee late Tuesday approved its first immigration bill, advancing on a party-line vote a proposal to boost interior enforcement and border security. After a day-long mark-up, the Republican-led panel cleared the SAFE Act on a 20-15 vote shortly before 11 p.m. It is one of several bills that Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) says the committee plans to send to the House floor in the coming weeks.” Russell Berman in The Hill.

@dylanmatt: The CBO report is a good reminder that the case against expanded immigration isn’t economic, it’s sociological.

Reid: Bill could pass Senate right now. “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill can pass the Senate in its current form, although he’s open to border security changes that don’t destroy the bill’s pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants…As Reid spoke to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Republican senators like John Hoeven (N.D.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) were working with some members of the Gang of Eight to craft a way to strengthen the bill’s border security measures while also not turning off Democrats.” Burgess Everett in Politico.

…And Reid is threatening to file cloture on immigration reform. “The Senate must speed ahead on its attempt to remake U.S. immigration policy, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday morning, threatening to file to cut off debate by Monday. Reid said the workload for the Senate will be heavier than usual and that if the Senate doesn’t get to work on agreement on tranches of amendment votes, it will find itself working on the weekend — a familiar threat from the Nevada Democrat. Reid hopes to finish the legislation before the July 4 recess.” Burgess Everett in Politico.

Boehner assures colleagues: No immigration bill without majority GOP support. “The fate of the sprawling immigration reform proposal winding its way through Congress may now be in the hands of some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he will not advance any bill that did not have the support of a majority of the House GOP, which will mean engaging some of the proposal’s biggest detractors and harshest critics.” Ed O’Keefe in The Washington Post.

…And he says he’s not in favor of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he will adhere to the “Hastert Rule” on immigration reform and denied claims that he is for a “comprehensive” solution. Boehner’s remarks seek to appease conservatives who have grown increasingly restless about where House Republicans are headed on the thorny matter.” Molly K. Hooper in The Hill.

Keeping undocumented immigrants off the dole is easier said than done. “[T]he conflicts over eligibility for Obamacare subsidies and Social Security/Medicare could be more intractable. The question of whether unauthorized immigrants should be able to get public money for health care, or get retirement money based on work they did while in the country illegally, isn’t a technical one. It’s a moral and ethical one on which those concerned primarily with the welfare of poor immigrants and those concerned primarily with ensuring that legal processes are fair and don’t reward certain behavior, are bound to disagree.” Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Digital March for Immigration Reform: Take Action

Posted: May 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: | No Comments »

Immigration Reform supporters are uniting on May 22 and 23, 2013 to take digital action. Use the widget below to contact your senator and let them know that you support legislation that will bring further innovation and investment to our nation.

Press Release: New Legal/Financial Alliance Will Help Sarasota Immigrants Pay for Immigration Reform

Posted: April 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Download the Jaensch and MCFCU Press Release.

Download the Jaensch and MCFCU Press Release in Spanish.


Sarasota, FL – Preparing for possible immigration reform, Jaensch Immigration Law Firm is building relationships with local financial institutions in order to help area immigrants get access to credit and obtain the funds necessary to pay the associated costs of immigration reform.

We will probably see an immigration reform bill very soon.  The “Gang of 8,” which includes Marco Rubio, is finalizing a bill.  Their plan will most likely include a path to legalization for the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants living in this country.  Applicants will likely have to pay a penalty fee in addition to the normal government fee connected with the application.  The total costs for immigrants and their families are uncertain, but expected to be in the thousands of dollars.  

Jaensch Immigration Law Firm has developed a program with Manatee Community Federal Credit Union that will allow immigrants and their families to begin preparing now for these costs.  In many cases, the immigrant and his or her family may have no credit or tarnished credit.  The new program will enable an immigrant or family member to establish or improve his or her credit score in order to be eligible for future loans.

Under the new joint-initiative, any person with a social security or tax ID number who lives, works, attends school or worships in Manatee County will be eligible to open an account with the credit union and receive a secured loan for $1,000.  The loan proceeds will remain on deposit with the credit union.  During that time, the loan recipient will pay back the loan in full plus interest. 

When the recipient pays off the loan, the proceeds remain as deposit money and he or she will have established a payment history with the credit union.  The recipient may then use the funds to pay for immigration-related expenses and may be eligible for an unsecured loan which could be used for other costs associated with immigration reform.

“We see this as a triple-win for area immigrants,” says Managing Attorney P. Christopher Jaensch.  “Immigrants would establish a relationship with a financial institution that understands their needs and educates them on financial management.  They could build a credit history even if they have had problems in the past.  And they could begin to save and prepare for the costs of comprehensive immigration reform, which could be significant.”

A key participant in developing this partnership is Sherod A. Halliburton, the current EVP of Strategic Initiatives at Manatee Community Federal Credit Union.  “We believe that the immigrant population and their families may be underserved by local financial institutions and we are proud to create a program that improves their ties to the community and helps them achieve their goals,” says Halliburton.

Jaensch Immigration Law Firm seeks other financial industry partnerships to help as many area immigrants as possible. 

Sarasota, FL – Preparándose para una posible reforma inmigratoria, Jaensch Immigraiton Law Firm está desarrollando relaciones con instituciones financieras locales con la meta de ayudar a los inmigrantes de Sarasota y Manatee Counties (MCFCU) a establecer buen crédito y obtener fondos para pagar los costos que llevará la reforma.

Creemos que veremos una propuesta para la reforma esta semana.  El “Gang of 8” grupo de ocho senadores, que incluye a Senador Marco Rubio, está terminando su propuesta  y es muy probable que su plan incluirá un camino hacia la legalización para los indocumentados.  Para ser elegible un solicitante probablemente tendrá que incurrir en pagos de una multa, más los costos de gobierno para tramitar la solicitud.  El costo final para inmigrantes y sus familias no es cierto, pero creemos que será entre los miles de dólares.

Una nueva asociación de Jaensch Immigration Law Firm y Manatee County Federal Credit Union permitirá a los inmigrantes y sus familias prepararse para poder costear los costos de legalización.

Bajo el nuevo programa que han diseñado, cualquier persona con número de seguro social o Tax ID que vive, trabaja, asiste a la escuela, o que está vinculado de alguna forma con el Condado de Manatee será elegible para abrir una cuenta con MCFCU y recibir un préstamo asegurado de $1,000.  Los fondos se quedarán en el credit union por 12 meses y, mientras tanto, el recipiente paga el préstamo más interés.

A punto de pagar el préstamo, las ganancias se quedan como depósito y el recipiente tendrá una historia de pagos con el credit unión.  El recipiente puede usar sus nuevos fondos para pagar los costos relacionados con la reforma inmigratoria y será elegible para un nuevo préstamo.

“Este es un triple-win para inmigrantes,” dice abogado gerente de Jaensch Immigration Law Firm, Chris Jaensch.  “Inmigrantes establecerán una relación con una institución financiera que comprende su situación y les ayuda a manejar bien sus fianzas, forjar buen crédito no obstante problemas pasados, y empezar a ahorrar para los costos asociados con la reforma inmigratoria, que pueden ser significantes.”

Sherod A. Halliburton, EVP of Strategic Initiatives en MCFCU concurre: “Nosotros sabemos que los inmigrantes y sus familias no tienen acceso a los servicios financieros que les corresponde.  Estamos orgullosos de diseñar un nuevo programa que mejorará  sus conexiones con la comunidad y les ayuda a lograr sus metas financieras.”

Jaensch Immigration Law Firm busca asociaciones con otras instituciones financieras locales para ayudar al máximo número de inmigrantes posible.

Sarasota Immigrants Come in All Colors, Even Rainbow

Posted: March 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: National News, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »


Jane Lees is a Sarasota Immigrant with a Green Thumb

Jane Lees is a Sarasota Immigrant with a Green Thumb

Jane Lees ran a landscaping business in Great Britain.  She visited Sarasota in 1998 for a friend’s wedding and happened to meet her future partner.  No longer content to stay in Great Britain she and her partner began searching for ways for Jane to immigrate to the United States.

For most people the easiest way to immigrate would be to marry their partner,  but in a same sex relationship like Jane’s, that was not an option.  She had to find another way.

Immigration attorney Victoria Jaensch Karins advised forming a landscaping business in Sarasota and transferring Jane as its manager from the UK to the US under an L-1 visa.  Jane agreed.  Her partner opened a corporation for the business here in the US and the new business venture, JML Gardens of Sarasota, was born.

A year later the L-1 renewal  was denied despite the fact that her business was thriving.  Now Jane was an undocumented alien, in legal limbo.   Jane could not return to the UK without triggering a bar from coming back to the US.  Even worse, the business in the UK was struggling without her attention.

Victoria advised applying for a green card under Section 245(i) and appealing the L-1 application.  For four years Jane remained in the United States in legal limbo and during that time, her Mother became seriously ill.  Finally, in early 2004, Jane’s green card application was approved and she was able to see her mother before she passed away, which occurred in April 2004.

Today Jane still runs her business out of her home, with 1 full-time employee and her partner, who is also her business partner.  She became a citizen of the US in August 2012.  The business supports her and was recently featured in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.  Spring is a very busy time for her and she advises all the green thumbs reading this article to check their irrigation systems are functioning correctly to minimize water loss, fertilize their gardens and get ready for the growing season.

Jane Lees.Sarasota Immigrant with Green Thumb3

Jane Lees.Sarasota Immigrant with Green Thumb2

The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments for and against California’s Proposition 8.  Jane can attest to the legal disadvantages of being gay, not only in terms of immigration law, but in terms of healthcare and tax law as well.  The decision is still months away but could be momentous.  In the meantime, immigration reformers are considering whether to expand the definition of married immigrant couples to include LGBT couples.    Although this is now a non-issue for Jane, she knows there are other couples out there who are kept apart because of this law and she hopes reformers consider her story when deciding on this issue.

Jane Lees is a LGBT Immigrant