Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The time has come.

The time has come for legal document preparers to be known as the best thing since sliced bread and just as commonplace. The push pull of document preparers grasp on the market place has been going on for decades. Document preparers know, consumers know, judges know, and even attorneys know that our services are part of the legal landscape. Legal document preparers struggle to continue their work offering low cost alternatives to consumers. The Florida Bar wishes we did not exist. But, if wishes were horses …

… beggars would ride.

Document preparers do not take work away from attorneys. The type of legal service that document preparers provide is not the same as what an attorney provides. Document preparers prepare documents – forms. Document preparers do not give legal advice. Document preparers do not appear in court. Many of the consumers who use document preparers would not use an attorney anyway, either because of the expense, or the consumer's belief in the old saying – once bitten twice shy.

Traditionally, consumers' knee jerk reaction when faced with any legal matter is to hire an attorney. There is a strong and pervasive bias stemming from the traditional legal establishment that every consumer needs an attorney for every legal matter. This presumption is just not true. Believe it or not, some legal matters are not contested and are documents only. Many consumers are sophisticated enough to research and find information about substantive law as needed. Consumers struggle with formatting and procedure. And the fact remains, sometimes it is just not possible or practical to pay attorney's fees.

So here we are.

I came across an article in the Denver Business Journal. It was a panel interview about market disruptors. One of the panelists was Tom Romer of Greenberg Traurig. Greenberg Traurig is an international law firm with more than 2,000 attorneys in 38 offices in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, was named the largest firm in the U.S. by Law360 in 2017, and is among the Top 20 on the 2017 Am Law Global 100.

Here is what Mr. Romer said:


“How has innovation affected current business social and legal paradigms?

ROMER: The paradigm shift that is happening in law is really interesting. The legal industry is basically a guild. We try to prevent competition and of course, protect legal service users, by prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law. Which means that no one can offer legal services without a law license. However, companies are disrupting that model and appear not to follow those rules. It’s similar to how ride share companies appeared to ignore public transportation regulations and created a business model that regulators said wasn’t compliant. But suddenly, everyone was using ride share companies and regulators had to figure out a way to approve it. If lawyers are so na├»ve as to think our little guild is going to protect us for the next 10 or 15 years, we’re going to wake up and see something new in the marketplace that is so popular our regulators will have to accept it even if it could be technically unauthorized practice of law. “

My takeaway is that legal document preparers have to become better known. Even though document preparers have been around for decades, we fail in making our services widely known. Part of the reason for that failure is the urge or need to fly under the radar to avoid attention from the Florida Bar. However, as we avoid the Florida Bar's attention, we fail to attract the attention of many consumers who might benefit from our services.

In that same article, Romer went on to say: “Lawyers and law firms have been slow to adopt change. But the conventional wisdom is that the practice of law will change more in the next 2 to 5 years than it has in over 200 years. What’s going to happen in the legal industry will be a wave of white-collar disruption.”

So let's disrupt and disrupt some more. I write about issues affecting legal document preparers and pro se litigants – legal access, unauthorized practice of law, and pro se rights. Please check out some of my other blog posts, especially “Uberish” and “We Are Disruptors”.

I welcome your questions, comments and shares.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Mind the Gap – the Justice Gap.


Signs that say “Mind the Gap” are posted in London tube stations to remind people getting on and off the subway to be careful to watch their step, that there is a gap between the train car and the platform. Stepping into the gap or falling into the gap could result in bodily harm, loss of life or limb.


The “Justice Gap” refers to the fact that many consumers face extreme difficulty being able to afford an attorney. While legal aid societies exist for the very poor; and indigent criminals are entitled to a public defender, there is little to no affordable legal help for low income or moderate income people.

The justice gap is just as treacherous, terrible, and tangible as the gap at the subway platform. Without any legal assistance, consumers can lose their homes, their children, and their money. For many people, being able to afford an attorney is as likely as being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The courts are well aware of the difficulty that many consumers have in affording legal assistance. The term, justice gap, is bandied about regularly, with lots of self-congratulatory back slapping at each and every minor effort made. More technology is touted as one of the answers. More technology in a world where, arguably, technology has already outpaced the comprehension of struggling consumers.

There is a Florida Supreme Court committee on Access to Justice, cutely named – A2J. Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, Florida Supreme Court stated:

“Florida needs a coordinated effort involving all of the entities with the potential to make permanent, systemic advances to ensure that access to justice in Florida is not limited to those who can afford it. I am particularly concerned about the circumstances facing low-income litigants for whom purchasing legal representation can pose an impossible challenge, but access to civil justice is also a problem for the middle class, many of whom do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford to hire a lawyer.”

The Chief Justice is preaching to the choir. Legal document preparers and pro se litigants know in their hearts and bones, that what he says is true. An understatement.

The Florida Supreme Court offers an app which can be downloaded free from Google Play. The app's description claims:

Florida Courts Help seeks to help Floridians who represent themselves in family law cases.

The Florida Courts Help app works on Apple and Android phones and tablets. The app offers in one place information for people seeking a divorce, adoption, orders of protection, name change, and other family law issues.

The app puts help at the fingertips for any mobile device user, with:
  • 186 Supreme Court-approved family law forms that can be filled out on the device.
  • Links and contact information for help centers all around the state.
  • Plain-language instructions and descriptions of first steps and next actions.
  • Pointers and contact for a full range of legal help from multiple online resources, free and low-cost legal services, lawyer referrals and other information, including eligibility criteria.
  • User-friendly instructions for initial steps and pointers about what happens next.


The app doesn't really work, by the way. The information is there, but you can't fill out the forms on your device as is claimed. Not on my device anyway. All the information accessed through the app is also already online on the Supreme Court's site, www.flcourts.org .

I dare to state the obvious, the emperor has no clothes … if attorneys would charge less, then more people could use them. For example, I filed a law suit a few months ago against a roofing company who never got my roof done. I paid them a $2000 deposit, relying on their promise to start the work in four weeks. They didn't ever start. Five months after paying the deposit, after asking nicely for the return of my deposit, I sued for its return. I was almost there, as a pro se litigant, when the roofers lawyered up at the last minute, just two days before the hearing on my motion for summary judgment. Their attorney filed a motion to dismiss, and was out to bury me, the pro se litigant, citing all sorts of problems with my pleadings, legal argument, etc. Due to my good luck, and maybe my good Karma, a friend of a friend who is an attorney helped me settle the case for free before I was buried. I got my full deposit back, and the satisfaction of knowing that the roofers had to pay their attorney something.

The economics of retaining counsel to sue for $2000 just doesn't work. I was already out $2000, and paying a second $2000 or so to retain counsel just doesn't seem reasonable. Even if I won, and even if I was awarded a judgment, and even if the roofers were ordered to reimburse attorney's fees, no telling how much time and effort would be required to recover on that judgment.

I am a legal document preparer. I make my living preparing legal documents for pro se litigants. I have a BA in Legal Studies, although I am not allowed to advertise that particular fact. Advertising the fact that I have such a degree is considered, (by the Florida Bar), to be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). I have more experience preparing legal documents than the average consumer. Also according to the Florida Bar, my stating that I have experience preparing legal documents is engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. This blog article is not an advertisement, I hope that in writing this I have better First Amendment protections than I do in advertising my services.

Despite my degree and my experience, I did not want to go head to head with an attorney who was out to bury me. But, at least I did know how to prepare and file the complaint, have the parties served, have one of the party defendants dropped, and another party defendant defaulted. I'm glad my case settled. I'm glad that an attorney helped me out. Things could have gone my way had we continued on and the summary judgment hearing had taken place. Or, my law suit could have been dismissed, burying me as the attorney wanted. But, in the end, all I really wanted was my money back. And I got that, my story has a happy ending.

Many other consumers do not have happy endings in court. Many consumers free fall into the justice gap and never recover. Document preparers can bridge the justice gap. We are the innovators of the legal system. We do not need to rely on technology alone, we bring with us the business agility to provide affordable alternative legal services to consumers. We can't do everything that an attorney can do – no legal advice/ no representation. But, other than those two things, we can provide consumers with services which they would otherwise go without.

MIND THE GAP.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

When is a Divorce Final? (and other details)


When It's Over, It's Over – Or is it? It seems logical and reasonable that when the judge signs your final order of dissolution that the whole process is over. But, there are times when this just ain't so. A final order can be appealed; either party can request that the order is to be corrected; and either party can file a motion for rehearing. Any one of these needs to be filed with the court within thirty days of the judge signing the order. Often, the reason people are curious about when a divorce is final is because they want to get married to someone else, and don't want to delay. In general, thirty days after the judge signs the final order, a person is free to marry someone else.

So, is it over then? Not exactly. Either party can reopen the case at a later date to modify the final order. The modification must be based on a substantial change in circumstances affecting any of the parties. This is usually either child support or child custody/ timesharing, and it can also be alimony. Substantial change needs to be, well substantial. It can't be a minor or petty change in circumstances. The most common reason a person might want to modify child support is that one or both of the parent's incomes have changed drastically. Reasons might be a job termination; lay off; or injury or illness serious enough for that parent to be off work for some time. The change must be expected to last at least a year and must be unanticipated. A child or children simply growing older, is not considered enough reason, by itself, to be a reason to modify child support, timesharing, or custody. But, if a child has additional needs due to his age, those might be enough to modify child support.

A modification for child custody/ timesharing can be triggered by several factors. Around the age of twelve, courts will consider a child's preferences in deciding where the child lives. If a child has a compelling reason to spend more time with one parent or the other, the court's will listen. Or the parents can agree that a new arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

If one of the parents needs to move more than fifty miles away, he or she can request that the other parent to agree in writing to the proposed move. If the other parent disagrees and does not provide written consent, then the parent wanting to relocated can file a petition for relocation and ask the court to grant permission. Courts tend to grant a request for relocation only for a compelling reason, most commonly a bona fide job offer. Either way, the case may still need to be reopened in order to file a long distance relocation parenting plan. Frequency and length of visitations are almost always affected when the parents no longer live nearby.

Yet another reason that a divorce case may need to be reopened is when one of the parties has not complied with the terms of the final judgment. Sometimes there is no other way to force compliance, than to file a motion for civil enforcement/contempt. Reasons to file this type of motion are things like: failure to pay child support; failure to follow the parenting plan; failure to deliver property; failure to refinance an asset such as a boat or a house; or anything else that was ordered in the final judgment but the other party failed to do.

Separating lives which have grown intertwined through marriage is a process. Preparing for divorce before either spouse files with the court or at least at the very beginning stages, may ensure less time going back and reopening your case. The Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers is in the process of building an online course, Divorce & Paternity Preparedness Training, that will help consumers become better at managing the process.

Our course isn't ready yet. We're still gathering resources to help you on your journey. So far we've completed the first two modules (chapters) and will open them for registration by May 1st, 2018. Initially, as an introductory offer, the course registration fee will only be $24.99.  As we add information and resources, we'll raise the course fee. But, once enrolled, you won't be charged any additional course fee. You'll be able to come back time and time again to take advantage of the information we add. Ultimately, once the course is complete, we plan to charge $150, We're recruiting document preparers to discount their fees to consumers who complete our preparedness course. We hope to also have some attorneys to refer consumers to. [We are not allowed to receive any compensation for referring to attorneys, and would never do so.] 


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Women Making History


March is women's history month. An annual tribute that sprang up in the seventies when women in history were first noticed and studied.

Women Making History:

Ruth Bader Ginsberg ~ The Notorious RBG


Ruth Bader Ginsberg, now 84 years old, has had a career spanning her life time. In her role as lead counsel for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, Ginsburg believed the most effective way to achieve lasting results was to pick cases that were winnable and would set precedents that would chip away at the legal barriers imposed on women. "Not all feminist issues should be litigated now," she cautioned in the early '70s, "because some are losers, given the current political climate, and could set back our efforts to develop favorable law." In this way, bit by bit, Ginsburg set out to construct an unshakeable legal foundation for women’s equality, which would hold until society was ready to pass a more sweeping measure—say, an Equal Rights Amendment—explicitly banning gender discrimination. Ginsburg’s slow and steady approach drew the ire of some feminists who felt the ACLU wasn’t being bold enough.

Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was the second woman appointed. With no end in sight. Justice Bader Ginsberg has said on many occasions that she has no plans to retire any time soon.

On May 4, a documentary about Justice Bader Ginsberg's life and career will open at selected theatres.


***

Emma Watson


We first head of Emma Watson at a young age for her portrayal of the brainy Hermione Granger in the widely beloved Harry Potter film series. Quite the overachiever herself, Watson earned her degree in English literature from Brown University in 2014 and later that year, was appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Her dedicated work for women’s rights around the globe includes acting as advocate for the UN’s HeForShe solidarity campaign, which encourages men and boys to be agents of change in the fight for gender equality. She has also spent time in Zambia and Bangladesh to promote education for girls and served as an ambassador for Camfed International, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating rampant poverty in Africa through the empowerment of women. Just 25 years old today, Watson is destined to have an inspiring and productive career ahead of her.  



***


Val Demings, Hometown Hero

In 2007, Val Demings made history when she became the first female chief of police in Orlando, Fla. and decreased the department's crime rate by 40 percent. After retiring from police work in 2011, Demings decided to run for Congress and won in the 2016 election.

Recently at a CNN Town Hall on gun policy, Florida Senator Marco Rubio publicly supported “gun violence restraining orders.” He previously backed the idea and. U.S. Rep. Val Demings (Orlando, FL), a former police chief, is a cosponsor of the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act.
The act would set up procedures by which families can ask a local court to prevent a loved one from owning a firearm, if the court finds that the individual poses a risk of injury to themselves or others. Senator Nelson also backs the idea. The bill has 60 cosponsors in the U.S. House. However, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has refused to move the bill forward.

At the town hall Senator Rubio said, “I've already announced ... a concept called a gun violence restraining order that allows authorities -- and it has to be someone in your immediate family, it has to be somebody you live with, it has to be a parent, it has to be an administrator -- can go to authorities and allow someone to not just be prevented from purchasing any firearm and allow those to be taken from them -- and the person will have due process…I support that and I hope they will pass that.”

And, Rep. Demings said, “I’m glad that Senator Rubio has supported this common-sense idea. Families are our first line of defense. If something is wrong, it is nearly always a loved one who notices first. The mother of the Parkland shooter called police dozens of times about her son. If this law had been in place, law enforcement officers might have been able to take the shooter’s guns before he could use them on our children. I urge Senator Rubio to put his words into action and push his GOP colleagues to bring this proposal up for a vote.”



I honor these women and so many others who are working daily to promote gender equality.

Who do you admire?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Is America Great?

I got into an argument today with some folks (on Facebook of course) about whether or not the United States is a great country. To my astonishment, many of the people on the feed denied that the United States is great at all and proceeded to compare the U.S. to third world countries and worse. I've traveled to other countries, and from what I have personally seen, the U.S. has a lot going for it.

I absolutely agree that the U.S. has some problems that need to be sorted out. In my opinion, however, the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

The U.S. has a very high standard of living. Real GDP/capita is currently $57,608 [in 2018], which is not the highest, but arguably the highest among large countries. Compare that to China’s $15,395 . Astonishing, right?

It’s the most popular immigration destination. Clearly the US has the largest immigrant population among all the countries in the world. This is is even more impressive when you consider that the US’s immigration policy is very restrictive. According to the U.N.'s 2015 report 46,627,102 people living in the United States were born in other countries. So there must be some compelling reasons for people to want to come.

The U.S. is culturally and racially diverse, and was shaped by large waves of immigration from Europe and beyond. American literature, art and music reflect the rich heritage of the country’s people

It’s a great place to do business. Every year, Swiss business school IMD conducts a ranking on which countries are the most competitive. This is the most reputable competitiveness ranking in the world. In the 2017 ranking, the US is ranked #3.

 The U.S. economy is the world’s largest in terms of gross domestic product, and also the most technologically powerful. The country’s most significant exports are computers and electrical machinery, vehicles, chemical products, food, live animals and military equipment. The U.S. also has the world’s largest coal reserves.

In addition, the U.S. Influences other countries by the export of intangible products like movies, TV shows, music, software, and video games. Essentially, almost all media we consume today in the west is American, and many cultures are strongly influenced by the US’s.

The United States is top-notch for research and education. It has not only the vast majority of the world’s best universities: MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and Caltech. The United States has had the most Nobel Prize winners, with 336 winners overall. It has been most successful in the area of Physiology or Medicine, with 94 laureates since 1901.




Monday, January 15, 2018

"I Have a Dream" - Martin Luther King speech

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.*We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only."* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!





Thursday, January 11, 2018

DACA, TPS, and four reasons why we should welcome immigrants.

Judge Alsup's January 9 ruling to block the Trump regime from ending DACA, and allowing Dreamers to stay, was a victory. But don't pop the champagne cork just yet.

DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”. Minors who were brought to the U.S. Illegally are affected by DACA. This group, called Dreamers, has been allowed to stay in the U.S. even though they came in illegally, because they were children at the time of arrival, and should not be held responsible for their parents' act. Many Dreamers did not know they did not have legal immigration status until they were grown and faced with grown up things, such as college, financial aid, job hunting, and, even getting a driver's license.

Trump ended DACA renewals. Judge Alsup's order blocked Trump's end to DACA, but only ended it temporarily and only with some additional hoops to jump through. Trump and his Department of Justice will likely appeal Judge Alsup's order, and may well request a stay in upholding the order pending a final ruling. Also, the ruling gives USCIS time to begin accepting DACA renewals again. I was not able to find out when that will happen.



Also this month, the Trump regime ended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from El Salvador. This at the same time as the state department issued travel advisories to El Salvador because of its crime rate and is now listed as unsafe. Safe enough to deport people to – not safe enough to visit. The removal of protected status affects about 200,000 refugees from El Salvador who have been told to find another way to stay in the U.S. or face deportation.

And or January 9, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided ninety-eight 7-11 stores in search of illegal immigrants. The raids yielded a whopping 21 arrests. I wonder what that cost the tax payers. The convenience store raids were apparently meant to punish employers who ignore the rules about hiring illegal immigrants.

  1. Immigrants help keep the work force young. The U.S. does not want to be an aging nation with an aging work force. The largest group of U.S. residents is baby boomers, and those boomers are getting old. We need new young people to work to keep the economy growing and vibrant.
  2. Immigrants help keep the birth rate high. The lower the mother's educational level the more babies she will have. The U.S. needs more babies to grow up and become the next work force.
  3. Humanitarian. Allowing immigrants into America is the right thing to do. We have the physical space. There is no reason to keep our beautiful country to ourselves.
  4. The U.S. Is a country of immigrants. Most natural born U.S. citizens cannot trace their family origins in the U.S. more than a couple of generations back.

I support immigration and have little tolerance for illegal immigration. In general, I believe if people want to come to the U.S. they should come legally or not at all. But, I also recognize extenuating circumstances. Some people are eligible but unable to pay the fees. For that reason, we created our FALDP Get Documented Initiative. Our document preparers can refer people for a low interest loan to cover their immigration needs. The available loan amount is between $700 and $20,000, and is based on the consumer's banking history.