Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 25 April 2017

‘Immigrant festivals’  

Immigrants do not only come with their families and belongings when they arrive in the United States. They bring with them their cultures, languages, and traditions as well.
Immigrants do not only join and enhance the country’s work and labor force and expand entrepreneurship, business opportunities, and the consumer market (which are integral to the nation’s wealth creation). They also share their cultural traditions that enrich the multicultural fabrics and character of the towns, cities, counties, and communities where they live and raise their families.
In San Francisco, notice the many immigrants attending masses in Roman Catholic churches every late Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Imagine if there are no Filipinos, Mexicans, South and Central Americans parishioners who go and attend services at these churches. For sure many of these churches will be empty and they have to be closed.
St. Patrick’s Church in downtown San Francisco is a good example.
The church was originally an Irish parish. The face of the parish has changed and the church is now predominantly Filipino who are recent and new immigrants and who call South of Market as their new home and community. The old Irish parishioners who moved out of the community just come to worship on special occasions and holidays. Other non-immigrant churchgoers are usually tourists and visitors in San Francisco who find the church accessible for religious services and worship as it is a downtown area church.
Tourists and occasional visitors cannot sustain the parish’s religious, community rituals, and traditions. It is the devotion and dedication of many immigrant parishioners that sustain these rites and traditions at churches like St. Patrick’s.
Celebrations such as feasts of saints that are observed and practiced in the old country are also observed and noticed at churches like St. Patrick’s where immigrants worship.
For Filipinos, we celebrate the Sinulog and the Feast of Santo Nino which is popular among Cebuanos, Visayans, and Santo Nino devotees in the U.S. Then there are the celebrations to commemorate the Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz in September and the Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan every May of each year.
Irish churchgoers still come to St. Patrick’s to hold their traditional feasts and services like the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day (May 17) on the Saturday of the week when St Patrick’s Day is celebrated. Filipino parishioners usually join Irish churchgoers to celebrate at the church’s social hall. Filipinos also celebrate a feast close to St. Patrick’s Day observance, the Feast of St. Joseph, which is observed every March 19th.
Immigrant fiestas or pistahan celebrations are also not limited to the feasts of patron saints as there are also celebrations and festivals that are non-religious in nature.
At SoMa Pilipinas, there is the annual Pistahan which is held every second weekend of August at the Yerba Buena Gardens and the Barrio Fiesta (Baryo Piyesta) which is held in May at the SoMa Recreation Center.
Pistahan and Barrio Fieasta are well attended and these celebrations have been sustained by the SoMa community for many years.
The Pistahan was an original project of the Filipino American Arts and Exposition (FAAE) and this explains why there are different pavilions that showcase Filipino culture, arts, seniors, and youth-oriented activities.
The Pistahan also features Filipino food and commercial vendors, corporate and media sponsors, and a parade that is held on Market Street in San Francisco. For entertainment, local and Philippine performers and celebrities brought in from the Philippines are usually featured during the celebration.
The Barrio Fiesta in South of Market is more community initiated and oriented. It is the coming together of the families and the community in SoMa to celebrate their neighborhood’s rich immigrant history and heritage.
This year the Barrio Fiesta will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2017 at the Gene Friend Recreation Center on Sixth and Folsom Streets from 10am to 4pm.
What is unique about the Barrio Fiesta is that organizers do not only serve lechons (roasted pigs) but they actually showcase and demonstrate to the public how the pig is prepared and roasted.
Let us all give our support to these immigrant festivals and celebrations. Diversity makes this country and our communities richer!

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.

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TPS as a Pathway to a Green Card

By Attorneys Nancy E. Miller and Michael Bhotiwihok

In Ramirez v. Brown, the Ninth Circuit recently held that a Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) recipient is eligible to adjust to legal permanent resident status in the United Status. The Ninth Circuit reasoned that receiving TPS deems an individual to be in lawful status and satisfies the nonimmigrant requirements, such as inspection and admission, for adjustment of status purposes.
In Ramirez, a dispute arose over whether being a TPS designee provided a pathway to obtaining lawful permanent residence status under the adjustment statute. The United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (“USCIS”) found Ramirez ineligible to adjust to lawful permanent resident status on that ground that he last entered the country without inspection therefore he had not been inspected, admitted or paroled as required by Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) Section 245(a). The Ninth Circuit held that being a TPS designee provides a pathway to a green card. Residents in the Ninth Circuit who are TPS recipients now can adjust to lawful permanent status in the United States instead of consular processing in a foreign country.
INA Section 245(a) requires that an applicant prove that he or she has been inspected and admitted (or paroled) before being eligible to adjust status to lawful permanent residency. Because of the Ramirez decision, TPS recipients who entered the United States without inspection are now considered admitted and qualify for adjustment of status under INA Section 245(a) provided they have an independent means of immigrating.
Prior to the Ramirez decision, adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency in the United States could be achieved by proof of a legal entry, an exception under INA 245(i), advance parole, or parole based on a family member in the United States Armed Forces.
The Ninth Circuit decision is significant because of the geographic reach of the large number of TPS recipients affected in California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii. Further, TPS recipients do not have to leave the United States and consular process through a United States Embassy or Consulate. Families are kept together and lives continue in the United States.
The Ninth Circuit joins the Six Circuit in finding that noncitizens with a grant of TPS who entered the country illegally are eligible to apply for a green card in the United States. However, the Eleventh Circuit is at odds with the Ninth and Sixth Circuits thereby creating a split. Until the conflicting decisions are decided by the United States Supreme Court, there will be inconsistent application of immigration law among the Circuit Courts and throughout the country.
TPS may be granted by the USCIS to foreign nationals due to conditions in their country, such as a natural disaster or civil war, which prevent the foreign nationals who are living in the United States from returning safely to their country. The Department of Homeland Security has currently designated the following countries for TPS: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
TPS status allows foreign nationals to live and work in the United States without the fear of being removed/deported. TPS is a temporary benefit that does not directly lead to a green card. However, registration for TPS does not prevent one from applying for nonimmigrant status, adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition, or any other immigration benefit or protection.
For TPS recipients outside of the Sixth and Ninth Circuits, attention must be directed to monitoring current pending cases in their respective jurisdictions. For example this year, in Bonilla v. Johnson, the United States District Court, District of Minnesota, held that a grant of TPS satisfies the threshold requirement of admission for purposes of becoming eligible for adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident.
In addition, TPS recipients should consider alternative routes to obtaining a green card. The Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (“Provisional Waiver”) allows beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions who were not inspected and admitted to the United States to apply for a waiver of the ten-year bar that will be triggered by departing the country to apply for an immigrant visa abroad. The Provisional Waiver allows applicants to know whether their waiver is approved or not before departing the United States. Thus, the uncertainty and risks of leaving the United States to consular process are alleviated. The Provisional Waiver decreases the time that families are separated and keeps families together during the consular processing of an immigrant visa.
Any TPS recipient should seek the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to discuss his or her immigration options and eligibility to obtain a green card in the United States.

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