January 29, 2017

Beware of foreign travel, even after stay of executive order (i.e. “Muslim ban”)

Please note that we discourage anyone originating from one of the seven countries targeted in Friday’s (January 27, 2017) executive order from foreign travel - despite the nationwide stay issued by the Eastern District of NY. This stay was an important - but limited - victory against the executive action (“EO”). The stay only applies to the deportation of refugees and individuals from 7 affected countries already at US airports.

At the time of this posting, it is still uncertain whether or not the individuals detained at the airport will be released from detention. Further, there has been no decision reached on the rest of the executive order, and the stay may not affect whether people abroad will be allowed onto US-bound planes. Therefore, WE STILL STRONGLY DISCOURAGE MEMBERS OF THE AFFECTED COMMUNITIES (OR PEOPLE WHO MAY BE PERCEIVED TO BE MEMBERS OF THESE GROUPS) FROM TRAVELING ABROAD. There has been NO change in the administration’s policy on visa issuance and immigrant screening abroad.

The seven affected countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen. Also note that the executive order calls for the suspension of the entire refugee admissions program, not just refugees from the seven countries.

January 26, 2017

All senior management of the State Dept resigned; visa application process likely more difficult

The Washington Post reports that the State Dept’s entire senior management team resigned yesterday. This will likely carry significant implications for national security and visa issuance.

“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”

January 25, 2017

Updates on Immigration-Related Executive Actions

The latest round of executive orders from the Trump administration are aimed at cracking down on sanctuary cities and strengthening immigration enforcement policy. They include the following:

1) Prioritization of all undocumented immigrants for deportation. Whether this applies to DACA holders remains unclear.

2) Suspension of the intake of any new refugees from Syria

3) Suspension ofvisas from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

4) Authorization of the use of federal funds for the building of a wall along U.S.-Mexico border.

5) Suspension of federal funds to cities with “sanctuary” policies and request for a review from the attorney general as to whether these cities are in violation of federal law

Please note that advocates within the New Orleans community are working to support immigrants through this difficult period. We are committed to keep our community informed by sharing new information as it becomes available.

April 15, 2014

Carol Pelton featured in Clarion Herald for volunteer work at local Naturalization Workshop

“Attorney Carol Pelton works one of the eligibility tables to help an individual determine if he can qualify for U.S. citizenship at the Citizenship Mega Workshop held March 22 at the Hispanic Apostolate in Metairie,” reads the photo caption. Link to article, below.

March 21, 2014

Marco Balducci to participate in Human Rights First’s “Left Out in Louisiana Conference” on March 28

​Marco will speak on a panel discussing the legal needs of Louisiana’s immigrant population. The conference—organized by Human Rights First, Loyola Law School, the LSU Law School, and the Louisiana Bar Association—will highlight gaps in immigration legal services in Louisiana, particularly for the poor and / or detained immigrant population. It also aims to coordinate stakeholders in Louisiana to increase and enhance the provision of pro bono immigration legal services.

March 21, 2014

Marco Balducci & Carol Pelton to discuss Humanitarian Visa Options at LSBA’s Immigration Update CLE

​On Friday, April 4, 2014, Mr. Balducci and Ms. Pelton will present “Overview of Humanitarian Visa Options: VAWA, T, U, DACA” at the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Immigration Law Update CLE to be held at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel at 500 Canal St, New Orleans. This is a full-day CLE covering a range of immigration topics, including employment immigration and immigration consequences of criminal issues.

February 23, 2014

P+B will be closed on Lundi and Mardi Gras (March 3 & 4)

Our offices, like the rest of New Orleans, will be closed on Monday, March 3, and Tuesday, March 4, for the Mardi Gras. Happy Carnival!​

February 2, 2014

NOLA Loves the Philippines Fund Raiser - Sunday February 9 from 5 to 9 PM

Our friends David and Ella Delio have organized an exciting fundraiser to support Filipino fisherman whose lives and livelihoods were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. ​The Event, “NOLA Loves the Philippines,” will take place THIS SUNDAY, February 9, at the MidCity Rock ‘N’ Bowl from 5 to 9.

Check it out:

It’s a family friendly event, so bring the kids!

There will be some fabulous auction items, including

  • A signed Michalopoulos print,
  • A Saints (including Drew Brees!) autographed football,
  • A Colorado skiing vacation package, and
  • So much more!

But, wait, there’s more—live entertainment featuring:

  • Papa Gros Funk!
  • The Bone Tones!
  • The Buck Town All Stars!
  • James Andrews!

And it’s all for an excellent cause. The goal of the event is to purchase 50 fishing boats for fishermen who were the economic backbone of their families and communities and whose livelihoods were devastated by the storm.

More information is available here:

Again, anyone anywhere can make a donation through the website.

You can get updates on Facebook too:

Hope to see you there!

January 27, 2014

P+B office closed on Tuesday, January 28, due to inclement weather

We are closing the office on Tuesday, January 28, in response to weather predictions indicating that travel will be dangerous. We will still have access to electronic and telephonic communications; however, our responses may be delayed. Thanks for your understanding and stay safe!​

December 13, 2013

Pelton and Balducci, LLC moving to new location in downtown New Orleans on December 27, 2013!

We’re moving to a new location in the Energy Centre, located at 1100 Poydras St., Ste. 2725, New Orleans, LA 70163. Our phone, fax, and email will remain the same. We look forward to welcoming you to our new space!​

October 1, 2013

Carol Pelton presents at Federal Bar Assoc: What Every Attorney Should Know About Immigration Law

​The New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association will hold a CLE focusing on immigration issues at the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana at 500 Poydras St in New Orleans on November 8, 2013. Ms. Pelton will discuss the immigration consequences of criminal convictions and in particular will review the current status of ICE holds for detainees in Orleans Parish. The event includes a discussion of the impact of unconscious bias on immigration practices and procedures and will include a sitting Immigration Judge, among other panelists.

July 2, 2013

USCIS provides guidance for same-sex marriage-based petitions

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Article 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This stated that the federal government would only recognize heterosexual marriages. The Supreme Court held the law to be unconstitutional, therefore allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages. As a result, US citizens and permanent residents who are married to a noncitizen of the same sex will now be able to petition for their spouse. In guidance published today, USCIS has indicated that it will generally look to the law of state where the marriage was celebrated—not to the law of the state of the couple’s residence—when it adjudicates these petitions. This general rule is apparently subject to exceptions that have not yet been explicitly stated. USCIS’ announcement may be accessed here.

June 27, 2013

Senate passes immigration overhaul bill

​The U.S. Senate passed S. 744, a sweeping overhaul of current immigration law. The bill proposes legalization for 11 million undocumented immigrants and a long pathway to citizenship. It also dramatically increases spending on “border security” measures. THIS BILL IS ONLY A PROPOSAL AND IS NOT YET LAW. Therefore it is extremely important that no one seek to apply for immigration status on the basis of the Senate proposal. The full text of the bill that passed the Senate is available here:

In order for comprehensive immigration reform to become law, the U.S. House of Representatives must also draft a bill which must be reconciled with the Senate proposal. Speaker of the House John Boehner has indicated that he will only bring an immigration bill up for a vote in the House if it has majority Republican support.

June 27, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

​Today the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Individuals in same sex marriages will now be able to petition for immigration benefits for their noncitizen spouses. President Obama issued an immediate directive to Attorney General Eric Holder to “work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano released a statement to the press clarifying that the agency would be “working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, [to] implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

June 2, 2013

Carol Pelton to speak at the AILA Annual Conference in San Francisco

​Carol Pelton will speak on a panel discussing updates in the law of “cancellation of removal” at this year’s American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Annual Conference in San Francisco. Cancellation of removal is a defense to deportation in which respondents must demonstrate to an immigration court that they have 10 years continuous physical presence in the United States, possess good moral character, have a qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative(s) (viz., a spouse, parent, or child), that deportation would inflict “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” on the qualifying relative(s), and that the respondent is not otherwise barred. Carol’s co-panelists include Christie Popp of the Popp Law Office in Bloomington, IN and John Ovink of the Law Office of John Ovink located in Tampa, FL. The panel will take place on June 29.

May 22, 2013

Call your Senators and urge them to support S. 744

With the passage of the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” through the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday night, the bill now moves to the Senate floor. Please call your Senators and communicate your support for the passage of the immigration reform bill—including and especially the legalization program. Here is the contact info for the U.S. Senators of Louisiana and Mississippi:

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Washington, D.C. Office

703 Hart

Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-5824

Fax: 202-224-9735

David Vitter (R-LA)

516 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Main: (202) 224-4623

Fax: (202) 228-5061

Thad Cochran (R-MS)

United States Senate

113 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-2402


Roger Wicker (R-MS)

555 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Main: (202) 224-6253

Fax: (202) 228-0378

May 22, 2013

S. 744 passes Judiciary Committee ahead of schedule

S. 744 ​the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday evening ahead of schedule. The Committee had a self-imposed deadline to complete markup and voting of the bill by Memorial Day. The debate within the committee has been remarkably civil, and Senators have floated the possibility that the Senate could have as many as 70 votes to end debate on the bill and to allow it to come to a vote. Even Senator Grassley, who is openly opposed to the legalization provisions of the bill, has indicated that he would vote to end debate. This strongly suggests a real bipartisan effort to have meaningful immigration reform that will make our immigration system more sensible and humane.

For an overview of progress to-date—and a remarkably sunny perspective on DC politics—check out this interview with Crystal Williams, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

May 17, 2013

Marco Balducci discusses S. 744 with “El Faro de la Alianza” (The Lighthouse Partnership)

​Marco Balducci presented an overview of key portions of Title II of S. 744 the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” to “El Faro de la Alianza.” El Faro is a coalition of 10 churches serving predominantly Latino congregations which has regular meetings to celebrate, worship, and to discuss issues of importance to the community.

Title II comprises the core of the legalization provisions of the bill, including Registered Provisional Immigrant Status, special adjustment of status provisions for DREAMers, and the “Blue Card” for certain agricultural workers. It also creates significant changes to the preference system in family immigration, including elimination of the fourth preference (siblings of U.S. citizens) and imposing an age-out provision on the third preference (married sons and daughters of US citizens) that would preclude eligibility for anyone 32-years-old or older.

Special thanks to Pastor Pedro Perez for the invitation and to Pastor Fernando Castillo of Iglesia Nuevo Pacto for hosting the event.

Incidentally, Nuevo Pacto’s house band is excellent.

May 17, 2013

N.O. City Council passes resolution directing OPP to stop detaining immigrants on ICE holds

​In a unanimous vote, the New Orleans City Council issued a resolution directing that Orleans Parish Prison cease detaining immigrants who either are not facing criminal charges or who have posted bond. Such immigrants are regularly detained at OPP on “ICE holds” for alleged immigration violations while awaiting their transfer to ICE. The federal government does not reimburse Orleans Parish for the cost of detaining such immigrants.

This resolution is similar to resolutions or ordinances passed in other parts of the country, including Santa Clara County, CA; New York, NY; and Chicago; however, it is the first such resolution in the South. Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer indicated that an ordinance could be proposed if that were required in order that this resolution would have the force of law. Congratulations to the New Orleans Congress of Day Laborers, to the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, and to their members for their remarkable advocacy.

September 14, 2012

P + B to observe 191 years of Central American Independence Saturday with NOLA area celebration

​The Honduran Consulate celebrates Central American Independence this Saturday, September 15, 2012, by honoring its national hero, General Francisco Morazan. A celebration at the site of General Morazan’s bronze statue located in the neutral ground of Basin St. (at St. Louis St. across from the historic St. Louis Cemetary #1) in New Orleans will begin at 11:00 am. General Morazon united Central American countries in their fight for independence from Spain. The statue was a gift to the City of New Orleans from the Morazan Society of Honduras and the Republics of Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, dedicated on October 21, 1966.

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