The people have not forgotten

There was not much mainstream media coverage and social media postings to commemorate the tragic 9/11 event this year. The obvious focus these last few days is on Hurricane Irma’s disastrous impact and the threat of extreme weather conditions in Florida in other parts of the U.S.
There were no elaborate commemorations for 9/11 in New York either compared to before. But this does not mean that 9/11 has been forgotten. In fact, the memory and the significance of 9/11 will always be a part of us and our history as a nation. Even with no big commemorations attended by politicians and well-known celebrities, including families who were affected and touched by the tragedy, what we now have is a thoughtfully and creatively installed National September 11 Memorial and Museum in the site and location of the former World Trade Center complex.
The memorial at the 180 Greenwich address tells us “not to forget” the September 11, 2001 attacks where 2,977 victims died including the reminder of the earlier 1993 bombing wherein six people were killed. The memorial and museum was designed primarily for the victims of the attacks including those who were involved in the rescue operations.

The preservation of the memory and lessons learned from the tragic 9/11 event is all but guaranteed with the memorial in New York just like how we continue to honor the memory of another historic and tragic day in our nation’s history before World War II when Pearl Harbor was bombed one December day. Then president Franklin D. Roosevelt called the day “a date which will live in infamy.”
For the next generation and for people from all over the world visiting New York, the 9/11 memorial serves as the United States' principal institution and symbol concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, which includes documenting the impact of the event and exploring 9/11's continuing significance in our lives as Americans and residents of the U.S.
In the Philippines, there was a “different 9/11 commemoration” that took place on September 11, 2017 that was supported and endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte. I am referring to the 100th birthday commemoration of former Philippine strongman and dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.
What is the significance to the nation and to the Filipino people of celebrating the 100th birthday of the late dictator? I believe that this question can be answered easily by looking at the nation’s past and recent history. For concerned Filipinos, activists, and human rights advocates who stood against the dictatorship of Marcos, they know who Marcos was and what he stood for, and what he has done to the nation and its people.
But for many who grew up in the internet and social media generation, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia provides a good introduction and overview as to who Marcos was---

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For a time ‘the world was a-changin’

In the sixties during the rise and height of the youth and student power movement in the United States, the music and poetry of Bob Dylan provided inspiration to the progressive-liberal protest movement. Actually, Bob Dylan was one of the unforgettable inspirations of that generation.
Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are a-Changin” captured the essence and the contradictions of the period. The lyrics are moving (if not powerful)---
“Come mothers and fathers / Throughout the land / And don't criticize / What you can't understand / Your sons and your daughters / Are beyond your command / Your old road is / Rapidly agin'./ Please get out of the new one / If you can't lend your hand / For the times they are a-changin'.”
The progressive protest movement of the sixties in the U.S. also influenced the students in the Philippines a great deal. It was a time when youths started expressing their concerns about what was happening in their country and this concern gave rise to youth activism and movements in the Philippines.
Then in the early seventies, the famous First Quarter Storm took place wherein progressive students and student groups challenged the Marcos-led government and establishment--- including the perceived posturing of President Ferdinand E. Marcos to extend his rule to an unprecedented third term by amending the constitution or by exercising muscle through power grab.
Five decades later, we are again witnessing chaos and unrest.
The rise to power of President Donald Trump in the U.S. and President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines were beyond people’s wildest expectations at first.
Who could imagine the sudden rapid shift of the political tide in the U.S. from “progressivism,” pro-environment activism, and multiculturalism to “white supremacism,” racism, and narrow-nationalism in America?
In the Philippines, the war on drugs has accounted for more killings in less than two years compared to the twenty-year reign of President Marcos and yet the protest movement has not surged or picked-up steam there.
Lisandro E. Claudio, an associate college professor at De La Salle University in the Philippines opined that “Dutertismo is the new dispensation in Philippine politics” and that Duterte’s critics would continue to scratch their heads about the President’s popularity until they come to terms with one fact: Duterte is popular because he is changing what it means to be a Filipino citizen. That to displace the narrative of Dutertismo, critics need to present a new story, said Prof. Claudio.
A new narrative is definitely needed.
“For the time they are a-changin” may be appropriate in the 60s to challenge the conservatism of the 50s, and the “Tama Na. Sobra Na. Palitan Na” in mid-1980s was enough to inspire the first People Power Revolt in 1986. But it is obvious that the “yellow brand” in politics has somewhat lost glitter these days.
In the hearts and minds of the Filipino people, Duterte’s “Change is coming” has not been supplanted by the “Never Again, Never Forget” call from present day anti-Martial law activists and protesters. History has been “re-told” and many even glorify the Marcos years as the Philippines’ best.
Claudio’s assertion that in order “to supplant Dutertismo there is a need to reject elements of past dispensations” has a point.
Borrowing from Bob Dylan: How many deaths and extra judicial killings (EJKs) before we realize that EJK is not the solution?
Do we risk terrible economic and natural disasters and the collapse of political institutions in the Philippines? Do we risk creating and validating a violent tradition and a culture of impunity in the country that only two years ago was chanting “mercy and compassion” as it welcomed and embraced Pope Francis during his pastoral visit in the Philippines?
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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What are My Fiduciary Duties if I Am Involved Romantically with Someone?

It is important to understand that when people live together, whether or not they are married, a ìconfidential relationshipî arises between them. For married persons this relationship arises from a legally recognized nature of matrimony. For unmarried persons, certain important legal obligations are present but may be of lesser value. Nonetheless, due to the trust and confidential nature of the relationship, duty of loyalty, care and disclosure in transactions will be imposed.

Spousal duties have evolved over the years but management and control of assets and disclosure of such assets are well established. Family Code 721 is the starting point. Subsection (b) states, ìThis confidential relationship is a fiduciary relationship subject to the same rights and duties as non-marital business partnersÖî as set forth in the Corporations Code. It imposes a duty of the highest good faith and fair dealing on each spouse, and neither shall take any unfair advantage of the other.î

Section 721 (b)(1) further entitles each spouse access to information about all things affecting any transaction which concerns the community property estate.î This duty arises by operation of law and no requests needs to be made of that status of property or assets. FC 2100 (c) makes this obligation clear that ìeach party has a continuing duty to immediately, fully, and accurately update and augment that disclosure to the extent there have been any material changes so that at the time the parties enter into an agreement for the resolution of any of these issues, or at the time of trial on these issues, each party will have a full and complete knowledge of the relevant underlying facts.î

An interesting and on point case is Marriage of Rossi. Ms. Rossi won $1,336,000 in a lottery pool and shortly thereafter filed for divorce. She never told her husband about her lottery winnings and failed to disclose the funds in any of her required disclosures. She even consulted with lottery officials how to conceal her winnings from her husband learning about the price. A judgment was entered in the divorce case without Mr. Rossi knowing about the winnings. Two years later, he inadvertently received a letter regarding the winnings. He filed a motion to set aside the divorce judgment and the court held that Ms. Rossiís failure to disclose constituted fraud, oppression and malice and award him 100% of the winnings.

Another seminal case is Marriage of Feldman. This case focuses on the duty of disclosure during dissolution proceedings and confirms the consequences of breaching those duties. The trial court found that the husband established a ìpatternî of financial non-disclosures and issued sanctions against him. The sanctions were set in an amount the court deemed sufficient to deter future noncompliance with the disclosure requirements.

Notably, unlike FC 271 which requires the court to consider the partiesí incomes, assets, and liabilities. FC 2107 addresses sanctions and attorney fees for violations for nondisclosure only require sanctions in an amount sufficient to deter bad behavior.

Transparency and honesty is required in divorce proceedings as to asset disclosures, ìhiding the ball,î means severe penalties as these two seminal cases exemplify. Preliminary and final declaration of disclosures are exchanged prior to judgment and for some cases, discovery work will be required to get all critical information about the assets obtained during marriage and their valuation thereof.
A qualified and experienced family attorney will be needed to navigate the complexities of these issues.

Any questions, call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and always visit my website for more articles, attycastaneda.com.

To receive updates on legal matters, please like our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/attycarinacastaneda/ or follow us on Twitter: @AttyCastaneda and Instagram: @atty.castaneda.

http://attycastaneda.com/fiduciary-duties-involved-romantically-someone/

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What are My Fiduciary Duties if I Am Involved Romantically with Someone?

It is important to understand that when people live together, whether or not they are married, a “confidential relationship” arises between them. For married persons this relationship arises from a legally recognized nature of matrimony. For unmarried persons, certain important legal obligations are present but may be of lesser value. Nonetheless, due to the trust and confidential nature of the relationship, duty of loyalty, care and disclosure in transactions will be imposed.

Spousal duties have evolved over the years but management and control of assets and disclosure of such assets are well established. Family Code 721 is the starting point. Subsection (b) states, “This confidential relationship is a fiduciary relationship subject to the same rights and duties as non-marital business partners…” as set forth in the Corporations Code. It imposes a duty of the highest good faith and fair dealing on each spouse, and neither shall take any unfair advantage of the other.”

Section 721 (b)(1) further entitles each spouse access to information about all things affecting any transaction which concerns the community property estate.” This duty arises by operation of law and no requests needs to be made of that status of property or assets. FC 2100 (c) makes this obligation clear that “each party has a continuing duty to immediately, fully, and accurately update and augment that disclosure to the extent there have been any material changes so that at the time the parties enter into an agreement for the resolution of any of these issues, or at the time of trial on these issues, each party will have a full and complete knowledge of the relevant underlying facts.”

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The need to refocus the Filipino ‘national agenda’

Filipino students learn early on in their history and social studies classes about the people, the significant dates and places, and the events that helped shape the Philippines as a nation.
During the month of August for example, we remember the “Cry of Pugad Lawin” in 1896 that was led by Andres Bonifacio of the revolutionary Katastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (“Katipunan”). Before the Katipunan uprising, Bonifacio wrote a poem with the title “Katapusang Hibik ng Sangkatagalugan” (The last appeal of the Philippines)---
“Mother, in the east is now risen, the sun of the Filipinos’ anger, that for three hundred centuries we suppressed, in the sea of suffering and poverty.”

Then on August 13, 1898, poet Amado Hernandez wrote--- “Ganito ring araw nang agawan ka ng laya, Labintatlo ng Agosto nang saklutin ang Maynila,” in his work “Kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking bayan,” as he expressed his thoughts, feelings and opposition to American colonialism and imperialism.
Fast forward to August 2017 and we are witnesses to the rare occurrence of a solar eclipse as the moon passes between the sun and the earth. For a moment, the bright sky darkens and where the sun should be, we see a black circle ringed by a halo of light instead.
In the Philippines the “dark skies” these days that people see and witness is not a natural phenomenon. I refer to the “obsession of killing people” in the name of the war on drugs perpetrated by unknown motorcycle-riding vigilantes and allegedly by some members of the Philippine National Police who have made numerous claims that the victims “resisted” and that they were left with no choice but to shoot and kill.
The family of the late Sen. Jose W. Diokno, a human rights and democracy icon and a fellow detainee of Sen. Ninoy Aquino who was fatally shot at the airport tarmac on August 23, 1983, released a statement recently about the gross human and civil rights violations that are taking place in the Philippines in the name of the government’s war on drugs. The Diokno family stated---
"ENOUGH of the slaughter of mostly poor Filipinos. Enough of the perversions of law in the name of the war on drugs. Killings, rather than the arrests and prosecutions mandated in our laws, have become the standard operating procedure of law enforcement. The murder of Kian de los Santos, and the deaths of thousands before him, show how little the government values the lives of Filipinos, and how much contempt it has for the law.

It is time to speak out against the killings. Silence abets murder, and we will have none of both. The Diokno family, guided by the principles of our parents, pledges to stand for justice and human rights. We lend our voices to the raging cries of the thousands killed and call on the government to comply with the Constitution and laws of our country, and stop the bloody war on drugs, which has only resulted in death, and has not reduced the influx of drugs into the country. We invite all Filipinos to stand with us, for love of country, justice and human rights."

The archbishop of Manila, His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, also asked the Filipino people to reflect, to pray, and to act in response to the increase in the number of people who have been killed as a result of the “intensified war on drugs” in the Philippines.
It appears that the only strategy of the government is to “conduct police raids” in poor residential areas while it continues to ignore the need to seek a joint solution with the country that is said to be the primary source of illegal drugs in the Philippines. What about closing the access of big-time drug lords to the country’s piers and ports?
While illegal drugs remain a problem, the nation has lost its national focus on the more telling and important problems that it must face and tackle--- poverty, lack of education, territorial dispute with China, access to affordable health care, high-level corruption of government officials, Manila traffic, and unemployment--- problems that have made drugs attractive to some people because they feel hopeless.
The “crimes of the poor” became the national focus and agenda while problems that have caused more damage to the nation, to the people, and to the national psyche and soul of the Filipino people have been ignored and not dealt with.
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105.

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‘We cannot go back to our dark past’

America is again reminded of its dark past after the violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters last week. In Charlottesville, a hit and run attack on protesters resulted in the tragic death of a 32-year-old woman, including injury to 19 people.
President Trump in response said the following after the incident: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”
There is a bold resurgence of white supremacism in our midst.
The call to organize last Friday and Saturday was for a huge rally and gathering of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, alt-right activists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and far right extremists to protest the planned removal of the statue of General Robert Lee of the Confederate Army that is situated in Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park.
Racist and hate slogans were chanted and heard during the rally--- “You will not replace us”--- including taunts against African Americans, people of color, Jews, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQs and people who the white supremacists believe have no place in American society. Their issue is based on the belief and premise that America is a white nation, that being white is supreme and superior to other races, and that America’s problems and maladies are brought about by multiculturalism.
They take President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan as a pledge to recover their “vanishing privilege and power” and thus their slogan proclaimed “You will not replace us.”
“You will not replace us” is not a new coined phrase. Even in our own immigrant story in America, Filipinos were classified as U.S. Nationals earlier and were not given any rights and privileges that Americans enjoyed. Like the Chinese who were subjected to an Exclusion Act by U.S. Congress, Filipinos as nationals were subjected to hate and discriminatory signs that were posted in businesses and commercial establishments (“No Filipinos or Dogs Allowed,” “Positively No Filipinos Allowed”).
Carlos Bulosan in his book “America Is In The Heart” gave very vivid tales and stories about the sufferings that Filipinos faced during his time because of racism. Hate is a scary thing. Hate kills. Hate is a dead-end.
One columnist wrote that America’s past experience with racism is again being resurrected by the present administration--- “Donald Trump and his attorney general are attempting to enact and effectuate policies that ring in the key of ‘You will not replace us’ every single day. Their programmatic efforts to disenfranchise minority voters, gerrymander minority voting districts, end affirmative action, ban transgender soldiers from serving in the military, increase deportations, curb immigration, and foment racially discriminatory policing, sentencing, and incarceration systems are all the modern-day equivalent of this week’s ugly battle cry, ‘You will not replace us.’”
The union of states that is the United States of America is not only a union of white nations. It is also not a confederacy of slave-owning states. It is the union of states and of the American people founded on the belief and principles of justice and equality for all.
The tragedy in Charlottesville is a reminder to every American that we cannot go back to our dark past.
There is wisdom that we all can learn from the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court when he outlawed segregation in public schools and transformed many areas in American Constitutional Law jurisprudence many years ago--- “We are now at the point where we must decide whether we honor the concept of plural society which gains strength through diversity, or whether we are to have bitter fragmentation that will result in perpetual tension and strife.” America has a painful past when it comes to bigotry and racism and we should not stop learning from our history and from the lessons of our past in order to protect our present and our future.
In a just nation that values fair play and equality, white supremacism has no place.
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105.You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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Suing a foreign country for extrajudicial killings

The U.S. State Department issued an official report on the country conditions in the Philippines in 2016 which states in part: “President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, elected in May, began the first year of his constitutionally limited six-year term on June 30. . . . Since July police and unknown vigilantes have killed more than 6,000 suspected drug dealers and users as the government pursued a policy aimed at eliminating illegal drug activity in the country by the end of the year. Extrajudicial killings have been the chief human rights concern in the country for many years and they increased sharply over the past year. https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

There is at least one mother in Hawaii whose son, who was suspected of being a drug user, was reportedly the victim of an extrajudicial killing in Ilocos Norte, Philippines after President Duterte came to power. Can the mother sue the Republic of the Philippines for the extrajudicial killing of her son and recover damages? 

The following case, decided yesterday, August 14, 2017, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, will help her answer the question. Vera v. Republic of Cuba, No. 16-1227, 08/14/2017.http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/2f53f9cc-b029-462b-9193-71e3c202cc47/1/doc/16-1227_opn.pdf#xml=http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/2f53f9cc-b029-462b-9193-71e3c202cc47/1/hilite/ 

Aldo Vera, Jr. sued in a Florida state court the Republic of Cuba for the extrajudicial killing of his father, the former police chief in Havana, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on October 25, 1976.  Vera, Sr. had fled Cuba in the 1960s and engaged in counterrevolutionary activities in Puerto Rico and Florida.  Vera Jr. alleged that agents acting on orders of the Cuban government executed Vera’s father. 

Vera Jr. obtained a default judgment for §95 million against Cuba which did not appear in the action. Although foreign states are generally immune from the jurisdiction of the United States under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA), 28 USC §§ 1602 et seq., the Florida court held that Cuba was subject to suit under a statutory exception to immunity in 28 USC § 1605(a)(7), known as the “terrorism exception”. The exception authorizes suits against foreign states that sponsor certain acts of terrorism, such as extrajudicial killings and torture. 28 USC § 1605A(a)(1). 

The Florida court found that Cuba ordered the extrajudicial killing of Vera’s father in retaliation for his participation in the anti-communist movement and that Cuba was designated to be a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982 and remains so designated. 

Vera then filed a complaint against Cuba in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking recognition and entry of the Florida judgment pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Act, 28 USC § 1738. Cuba failed to appear in the federal action and the District Court entered a default judgment against it for approximately §45 million. 

Vera served information subpoenas on the New York branches of certain foreign banks, including BBVA. The bank refused to comply with the subpoenas’ request for information regarding Cuban assets and moved to quash the subpoena. It argued that Vera’s default judgment against Cuba was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the FSIA and that the District Court lacked personal jurisdiction over BBVA. The District Court rejected BBVA’s challenge and ordered it to provide full and complete answers to Vera’s request for information on Cuban assets located in BBVA’s branches in and outside the United States. The court held BBVA in contempt when it refused to comply. BBVA appealed.

28 USC § 1604 bars state and federal courts from exercising jurisdiction when a foreign state is entitled to immunity.  28 USC § 1330 confers

jurisdiction on federal district courts only if one of the exceptions to immunity applies.

28 U.S.C. § 1605A eliminates sovereign immunity and permits suits

directly against a foreign state in any case in which money damages are sought against [the] foreign state for personal injury or death that was caused by an act of torture, extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage, hostage taking, or the provision of material support or resources for such an act if . . . engaged in by an official, employee, or agent of such foreign state while acting within the scope of his or her

office, employment, or agency.” 

Even if a foreign state has engaged in one of the terrorist acts described above, however, it is not subject to suit in the United States unless the foreign state

was “designated as a state sponsor of terrorism at the time the act . . . occurred” or was later “so designated as a result of such act.” Id. § 1605A(a)(2)(A)(i)(I).

The Court of Appeals held that the District Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Vera’s action against Cuba because Cuba was not designated a state sponsor of terrorism at the time Vera’s father was killed in 1976, and Vera failed to establish that Cuba was later designated in 1982 as a state sponsor of terrorism as a result of his father’s death. Accordingly, the FSIA’s terrorism exception to sovereign immunity – the only potential basis for subject matter jurisdiction in this case – does not apply. Therefore Cuba was immune from Vera’s federal action and the District Court had no jurisdiction to enter judgment against Cuba and to enforce the subpoenas. 

(Atty. Tipon has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School where he specialized in Constitutional Law. He has also a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He placed third in the Philippine Bar Examination in 1956. His current practice focuses on immigration law and criminal defense. He writes law books for the world’s largest law book publishing company and writes legal articles for newspapers. He has a radio show in Honolulu, Hawaii with his son Noel, senior partner of the Bilecki & Tipon law firm, where they discuss legal and political issues. Office: American Savings Bank Tower, 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 2305, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. 96813. Tel. (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Website: www.bileckilawgroup.com. He was born in Laoag City, and lived during the war in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. He served as a U.S. Immigration Officer. He is co-author with former Judge Artemio S. Tipon of the best-seller “Winning by Knowing Your Election Laws” and co-author of “Immigration Law Service, 1st ed.,” an 8-volume practice guide for immigration officers and lawyers. Atty. Tipon has personally experienced the entire immigration cycle by entering the United States on a non-immigrant working visa to write law books, adjusting his status to that of a lawful permanent resident, and becoming a naturalized United States citizen.)

 

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MAJOR CHANGES IN IMMIGRATION LAW PROPOSED BY THE SENATE

If you’ve watched the news, browsed a media website, perused a newspaper, or scrolled through social media newsfeeds in the last few days, chances are that you’ve heard about a new immigration bill recently introduced to Congress. If so far you haven’t paid too much attention to the proposals and nuances of the bill, it is now the time to listen and take appropriate action as the potential legislation could seriously impact you and your noncitizen friends and family members.
On Wednesday, August 2, President Trump appeared at the White House along with two U.S. senators to reveal the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act,” or the “RAISE” Act. The Act, which is aimed at reducing legal immigration by 50% within the next ten years, proposes significant cuts to family-based immigration and the refugee program. In addition, the Act seeks to implement a skills/merit-based point system for employment-based immigration.
In regards to family-based immigration, the proposed legislation eliminates all family-based immigration categories except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Currently, as the law stands, U.S. citizens may petition their noncitizen spouses, parents (if the U.S. citizen is over 21 years old), and children under the age of 21 as immediate relatives, providing the noncitizen with immediate visa availability. U.S. citizens may also petition their siblings as “non-immediate” relatives who are subject to limited visa availability. The law also currently allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition their adult children. However, under the proposed regulation, adult U.S. citizens would no longer be able to petition their noncitizen parents or siblings for a green card. Further, U.S. citizens would no longer be permitted to petition their adult children and lawful permanent residents would no longer be permitted to sponsor their unmarried adult children. It should be noted that while the bill restricts adult U.S. citizens from petitioning their parents, it does create a nonimmigrant classification for parents of U.S. citizens which is rather restrictive. Parents of U.S. citizens would not be eligible for work authorization or public benefits and their adult child would be responsible for arranging for health insurance coverage prior to visa issuance.
While it is uncertain whether this proposed legislation will actually become law, the clock on various avenues for immigrating family is ticking. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who want to bring their adult children, siblings, or parents to the U.S. should act now. Those who are eligible to naturalize should do so in order to be able to bring family
members here while they still can. Don’t delay - consult with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney as soon as possible to discuss family-based immigration options which may no longer be available in the near future.
The allocation of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued annually was also addressed in the recent immigration bill. If the RAISE Act passes, the current employment-based immigration categories will be replaced with a skills/merit-based system whereby applications will be evaluated and ranked pursuant to a number of factors including English language proficiency, age, educational level, investment in a commercial U.S. enterprise, and achievements such as an Olympic medal or Nobel Prize. If you believe you may be qualified for an employment-based petition such as a petition for an individual of extraordinary ability, multinational manager/executive, or an outstanding professor/researcher, you or your employer should consult with competent immigration counsel to discuss your options before a highly competitive merit-based system is implemented.
Some additional changes outlined in the RAISE Act include the total elimination of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or the “green card lottery” which currently awards 50,000 green cards to noncitizens from countries with low rates of immigration, as well as the reduction of the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to 50,000 per year.
If the RAISE Act is passed by Congress, the President has indicated he will sign it. It will become law. If it does not, the bill gives a clear indication of what Congress intends for the future of immigration in the United States. In the past, when immigration laws changed, the old law was “grandfathered” to allow those who had filed before the change to still take advantage of the old law. There is no reason to believe that will not still be the case. But to be grandfathered, you have to have an existing petition. Anyone who has any interest in reuniting their family in the U.S. or who is thinking of immigrating through employment should contact a knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer now. The clock is ticking.

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‘Faulty premises’

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law last week the senate bill that grants full government tuition subsidy in Philippine state universities and colleges. In the United States, President Donald Trump endorsed an immigration bill that proposes to slash legal immigration by half.
This immigration bill if it becomes law will limit the number visas based on family-petitions and will favor immigrants who are English speakers and have advanced degrees.
How will this affect Filipinos who want to immigrate or plan to come to the U.S.?
First let’s talk about some history here. If we look at Filipino migration in America, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 can be considered as the booster responsible for the “great leap” as it terminated organized Filipino labor importation that was prevalent during the American occupation of the Philippines.
The Act also put a stop on the restrictive national origins system which was originally passed in 1924. In the year 1934, a quota and preference system was also established for Filipinos when the Philippines became an American commonwealth after the Tydings-McDuffie Act was approved by the U.S. Congress.
It was the 1965 immigration act that allowed for a new and different wave of Filipino immigrants to come to the U.S. There was an influx of immigrants who had college and professional-level education which also saw the increase in family-based immigrant petitions (family-reunification petitions) later on.
The “manong generation” of immigrants was replaced by the arrival of more Filipino college graduates and professionals with their families unlike the manongs who entered the U.S. and immigrated as young bachelors many years earlier to work in farms and in canneries.
Now that President Duterte has signed the free-tuition bill into law, would there be more college graduates entering the labor force not only in the Philippines but also overseas (including the United States)? Will President Trump’s endorsed immigration legislation be good for Filipinos?
The proposed immigration legislation does not really address the broken immigration system of the country--- more so the economic challenges that the U.S. is facing. The bill appears to cater to the demand of Trump supporters who believe that immigrants take away jobs and are responsible for keeping wages low in the U.S.
President Trump and his supporters are not really thinking of Filipino college graduates entering the labor market as there will be a “point-system” in the proposed immigration bill’s employment-based visas. It is practical to note that employment-based visas are often filled easily and gone or taken fast. Plus, how much workers can the U.S. labor market take? A lot of American jobs have already been outsourced.
What is disappointing not only for Filipinos but for other immigrant communities as well is the proposal to slash the number of legal immigrants to be admitted under the family reunification process. This proposal is contrary to the intention and the spirit of the 1965 Act which enhanced a dual-chain system of immigration--- a family reunification (or “relative-selective”) and an employment-based (or “occupational migration”) component.
Going back to the free tuition law that President Duterte signed, I wonder what will be the law’s impact on state universities and colleges. Is it really important to produce more college graduates compared to the need to channel more resources to improve the quality of higher education in many state-run universities and colleges (and the quality of elementary and high school education in public schools for that matter)?
President Duterte’s economic managers have already voiced their concern and opposition to the law and many say that this law does not really help the poor gain access to college education.
As for President Trump and the proposed legislation on immigration that he supports, it appears to be another attempt to energize his supporters.
Both the signed bill in the Philippines and the proposed immigration legislation in the U.S. have faulty premises but as we often see in politics and government action, many laws that are passed appear to be good on the surface but a closer examination reveal otherwise.
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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Attacking Premarital Agreements

There are several ways a prenuptial agreement can be attacked and found invalid. A premarital agreement is unenforceable if a party against whom enforcement is sought proves either of the following: (1) consent was involuntary; (2) the agreement was unconscionable.

I have a client that was not represented by an attorney at the time she signed the agreement and needed an Italian translator. She is conversational in English but due to the legal terms used in the agreement should have had a translator provided. In fact, she did request that the documents be provided to her in Italian too—but was never provided to her.

The court will strongly scrutinize the facts on a case-by-case basis factors that the judge will review are if a party is not provided a fair, reasonable, and full disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party. That the party did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations and could not have reasonably obtained adequate knowledge of that information.

The issue of whether an agreement is unconscionable is a decided as a matter of law by the court. The court must find on the record and or in writing all of the following: (1) party was represented by an independent legal counsel at the time of signing the agreement or after being advised to seek an attorney, expressly waived, in writing, representation. (2) party had less than 7 calendar days between the time that the party was first presented with the agreement and advised to seek representation and the time it was signed (3) if unrepresented, the party was fully informed of the terms of the agreement (4) agreement not executed under duress, fraud, or undue influence, and the parties did not lack capacity to enter into an agreement (5) and any other factors the court deems relevant.

Independent legal counsel are recommended by the court in drafting a prenuptial agreement since the parties’ interests are often adverse. Due to the nature of the relations, there may be certain situations in which it is critical. For example, when one of the future spouses is considerably wealthier than the other, or when only spouse waives his or her rights to an elective share.

An agreement is unenforceable if not voluntary or the result of duress (Uniform Premarital And Marital Agreements Act, Section (9)(a)(1). Evidence of lack of capacity, duress, fraud, and undue influence as demonstrated by a number of factors are probative in proving involuntariness (In re Marriage of Bonds, 24 Cal.4th 1 (2000) Adequate legal representation will often be the best evidence that a spouse signed a premarital agreement knowledgeably and voluntarily.

A court may refuse to enforce a term of a premarital agreement if in the context of the agreement taken as a whole (1) a term was unconscionable at the time of signing; (2) enforcement of the term would result in substantial hardship for a party because of a material change in circumstances arising after the agreement was signed (Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, Section 9 (f))

The hearing requesting invaliding a prenuptial agreement is a complex matter and highly contested. Be prepared, this hearing will require a great deal of legal work. Any comments, feel free to call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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