Recently, the Supreme Court issued an Order announcing that the justices were deadlocked in a case that sought to challenge President Barack Obama’s immigration plan. President Obama’s executive action issued in November, 2014 would have allowed approximately five million undocumented people who were parents of citizens or permanent residents to legally work in the United States. The decision issued no precedent or reasoning, but affirmed a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals order entering an injunction which blocked the proposed program in President Obama’s executive action. As a result, President Obama’s November, 2014 executive action will not go into effect at this time, leaving millions of undocumented people in illegal status.
Our firm will be continually monitoring the effect of this Order. Our attorneys can offer assistance to anyone in need of immigration assistance. More information can be found on our website. Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.
Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.
 See, United States, et. al. v. Texas, et. al., No. 15-674 (Jun. 23, 2016), available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-674_jhlo.pdf
 See, https://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction
 See, United States, et. al. v. Texas, et. al., No. 15-674 (Jun. 23, 2016).
The United States and Cuba have agreed to open diplomatic relations between them, easing travel and business restrictions. On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced a swap of prisoners. Cuba will release American Alan Gross, who has spent the last five years in a Cuban prison on espionage charges, and the U.S. will release three Cubans convicted in 2001 of spying against the United States and contributing to the deaths of four members of the anti-Castro group Brothers to the Rescue. Alan Gross was detained in 2009 after traveling to Cuba to set up internet access that circumvented local censorship for several of the Jewish communities in the area. The President announced that 50 years of sanctions have not worked and it is time for change.
President Obama announced several policy changes towards Cuba, expanding travel under general licenses including travel to Cuba for family visits, educational visits, humanitarian projects, but still restricting tourism to the country. The ban on importing Cuban cigars is over. Travelers will be able to import $400 in goods from the country, including $100 in alcohol and tobacco (including Cuban cigars) and do business with Cuban people. U.S. credit and debit cards will be permitted for use by travelers to Cuba. The President will also expand commercial sales and exports to Cuba. Notably, U.S. officials report that the U.S. will re-open the embassy in the Cuban capital of Havana that was closed in 1961.
The United States imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1960 and ended diplomatic relations a year later. This embargo was codified in the 1996 Helms-Burton Act. Thus, while the President has some authority to ease trade and travel restrictions, only Congress can overturn the embargo.
Officials are stressing that easing diplomatic relations is an effort to promote change in Cuba. The Cuban government has promised to permit more access to the Internet and allow the Red Cross and the United Nations to return to the country. As stated in the official White House Press release – “Ultimately, it will be the Cuban people who drive economic and political reforms.”
Paloma Z. Coelho
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Photo Credit: Flickr User Alex Brown
Today, President Obama announced that he will soon sign an executive order banning employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. The announcement follows years of inaction by Congress to prevent such discrimination in the workplace. The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it unlawful for employers nationwide to harass or fire an employee based on gender identity or sexual orientation, passed the Democrat-dominated Senate, but was held up in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. President Obama’s anticipated executive order could protect up to sixteen (16) million workers and would not be dependent upon any action by Congress.
In 1964 Congress passed, and President Johnson signed into law, Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241), otherwise known as the “Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The provisions of the Civil Rights Act forbade discrimination on the basis of sex and race in hiring, promoting, and firing. It is the most common legal basis for affected employees and other citizens to protect their rights in civil lawsuits for employment discrimination and policy brutality against qualifying employers and public entities. However, today, fifty (50) years later, it is still legal to fire an employee purely based on his/her sexual orientation or gender identity in thirty-two (32) states.
Some states and municipalities have taken matters into their own hands to ban discrimination in employment and housing. Our own Broward County, Florida has been on the progressive side of history in taking the lead to prohibit such discrimination against its citizens. In 1995, the Broward County Human Rights Ordinance was passed. The Ordinance protects citizens from discrimination in housing, in employment and in public accommodations. In January 1999, Broward County passed its domestic partnership law, a piece of legislation that extended spousal-like benefits not only to county employees, but to all employees of entities doing business with Broward County.
The employment section of our own City of Fort Lauderdale’s website begins with the following statement:
AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER
All applicants receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, irrelevant physical disability, political affiliation, race, religious creed, sex or other non-merit factors (except as limited by law, Personnel Rules, Collective Bargaining Agreements, or bona fide occupational disqualifications).
The attorneys at the firm of Santucci Priore, P.L. have been proudly serving South Florida’s LGBT community for most of our legal careers, including matters involving employment litigation, business law, trademark law, copyright law and entertainment law – and also consulting businesses on compliance with employment laws.
Please watch the progress of this proposed executive order, and any action on the part of Congress in the coming weeks, and report the progress to our blog in the comments section below. Your thoughts, comments, opinions and reports are welcome and encouraged.
Michael I. Santucci
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Photo Credit: http://www.mediamatters.org