Impact of A Government Shutdown on U.S. Immigration

Impact of A Government Shutdown on U.S. Immigration

There is a likelihood that the federal government will shut down at midnight if Congress cannot pass a spending bill to fund the government.

In preparation for a possible government shut down, you should anticipate slowdown in visa transfers as well as the greencard PERM process.

All fee-based government functions will continue to operate, as well as “essential” personnel.

We understand that the following immigration-related agencies will be impacted in the following manner:

USCIS: USCIS is a fee-funded agency with the exception of E-Verify, so if the government shuts down, only E-Verify shuts down. Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

DOS: Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and “life or death” emergencies.

CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.

EOIR: EOIR’s detained docket is typically considered an essential function and would therefore continue to operate. During the 2013 shutdown, EOIR continued to accept court filings, even in non-detained cases.

DOL: The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC’s web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold.

CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Minette A. Kwok leads our immigration and nationality law practice.

Tips for Safer Cycling and How to Protect Your Rights After an Accident

Tips for Safer Cycling and How to Protect Your Rights After an Accident

Bicyclists fill the bustling streets of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Cycling is increasingly seen as a practical, green, and healthy alternative to driving in the city. However, the increasing numbers of cyclists also increase the number of accidents involving motor vehicles and bicycles.

Here are tips for safer cycling, and how to protect your rights in the event of an accident.

The first and most important tip is to obey all Rules of the Road. A bicycle is required to obey the same rules as motor vehicles when operating on city streets (California Vehicle Code section 21200).

When an accident occurs, you should of course seek medical attention if you are injured. If you are able, you should take photographs of the accident scene, the damage to your bicycle and the other vehicle involved in the crash, and obtain the contact information from any eyewitnesses.

It is important to preserve your bicycle, clothing, and helmet as evidence. It is typical for drivers to claim they did not see cyclists before hitting them, so it is important for the cyclist to be able to show they were highly visible and not likely to be missed, had the driver been paying proper attention.

We recommend wearing bright or fluorescent clothing (including helmets), and reflective gear for night riding. California law requires the use of headlights and taillights after sundown (Vehicle Code section 21201(d) and (e)), and reflectors on the cyclists’ pedals or ankles, which also increases their visibility.

When a cyclist is hit by a motor vehicle, the seriousness of injuries to the rider can vary. Many injuries, such as concussions (traumatic brain injuries), may be invisible at the time of the accident and not recognized until days, weeks, or even months later.

It is important to be evaluated by a physician for a concussion after any crash if you suffer symptoms such as loss of consciousness, headache, blurred vision, changes in hearing, problems with memory, significant mood swings, or changes in personality.

These signs can be subtle and require specialists such as neurologists and neuropsychologists to prove. As traumatic brain injuries can cause serious lifelong injuries, it is essential that cyclists wear helmets at all times while riding.

Many cyclists are unaware they may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries from auto insurance in addition to that of the driver who hit them. They may also be able to recover payment through the underinsured motorist coverage of their own car insurance, or the insurance policies of relatives with whom they reside. This is true even though the cyclist is not driving a car at the time of the accident. Obtaining this compensation requires careful analysis of all applicable insurance policies and the crafting of thoughtful legal arguments.

It is important to consult with an attorney early on to discuss pursuing an accident claim, as these claims can be tricky. They may involve filing claims against public entities such as city governments, for dangerous conditions of public property, such as potholes, or negligently driven city vehicles, such as buses and trucks. There can also be issues surrounding the insurance coverage available to compensate you.

A number of our attorneys at Minami Tamaki are cyclists, members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and actively involved with nonprofit organizations that advocate for pedestrian and cyclist safety in San Francisco.

We are passionate about protecting the rights of cyclists and have vast experience in handling cycling accident cases involving cars, buses, semi-trucks, and municipalities responsible for creating dangerous roadways that cause cycling accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a cycling accident, contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Intel Processor Security Investigation

Intel Processor Security Investigation

Minami Tamaki is investigating allegations that Intel Corporation processors suffer from defects that create significant security vulnerabilities for desktop computers, laptop computers, and servers.

In late 2017, information security researchers discovered vulnerabilities in Intel x86-64x processors that could allow unauthorized users to gather sensitive information from devices.  Researchers dubbed these security flaws “Meltdown” and “Spectre.”  

In an effort to patch the security vulnerabilities, Intel has issued updates to consumers.  However, the online publication The Register reported that the operating system updates necessary to address the Meltdown vulnerability would likely result in “a ballpark figure of five to 30 percent slow down, depending on the task and the processor model.”  

Affected consumers may thus be left with the choice of using devices vulnerable to attack by hackers, installing the patch and being left with devices with subpar performance, or purchasing entirely new devices.

Consumers have alleged that the security defect impacts millions of consumers, as Intel’s x86-64x processing units have been installed in most desktop computers, laptops, and servers over the last decade.

If you have a personal computer, work computer, or server that uses an Intel processor, and would like to discuss your legal rights, you may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.  We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.  

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2017

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2017

TOP PHOTO: (back row) Partner Dale Minami (second from left) with the Hon. Holly J. Fujie (left), Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge; Pankit Doshi (second from right), incoming NAPABA national president; Ameek Sidhu (right); (front row) David Louie (left), former Attorney General for the State of Hawai’i; Joan Haratani (middle), the 2006 president of the Bar Association of San Francisco; and Michelle Park Chiu (right), AABA Bay Area board member (photo courtesy of AABA).

Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys Dale Minami, Sean Tamura-Sato, Suhi Koizumi, Lisa P. Mak, and Seema Bhatt recently attended the annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) National Convention in Washington, D.C.  The Convention had a record-breaking turnout of over 2,000 Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law students, and elected officials from around the country.

Suhi Koizumi, a Senior Associate in our Immigration Practice Group, was honored with the prestigious NAPABA Best Under 40 Award, which recognizes talented individuals in the Asian Pacific American legal community who are under the age of 40 and have achieved prominence and distinction in their respective fields, and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to Asian Pacific American civic or community affairs.

Minami Tamaki’s Suhi Koizumi (left of podium) receiving one of NAPABA’s ‘Best Under 40″ awards at the 2017 national convention (photo by Lisa P. Mak).

During CLE breakout sessions, Dale Minami, a Partner in our Personal Injury Group, joined with members of the Asian American Bar Association of New York in a moving re-enactment of the story and trial of Fred Korematsu, which resulted in the overturning of a 40-year-old conviction for Mr. Korematsu’s refusal to obey exclusion orders aimed at Japanese Americans during World War II.  Since Dale was the Lead Counsel for Fred Korematsu, he played himself in the re-enactment, which he described as “quite stressful.”

Minami Tamaki Partner Dale Minami participating in a re-enactment of the Korematsu trial (photo by Lisa P. Mak).

At the Convention, our firm also raised awareness about the Stop Repeating History ( campaign, which seeks to educate the public on the dangers of unchecked presidential power and the parallels between the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II with the current administration’s travel ban executive orders.

All of our attorneys who attended the Convention were a part of the NAPABA Solo and Small Firm Committee, which promotes the interest of small firms through “Boot Camp” seminars, networking, and cross referrals.

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA), represented by President Miriam Kim, was honored with the NAPABA Affiliate of the Year Award, which recognizes an outstanding local affiliate bar association for its best practices and accomplishments in its local community.  Nassiri & Jung LLP of San Francisco, represented by Charles Jung, was recognized as the APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year.  Pankit Doshi of San Francisco was sworn in as the new President of NAPABA.

Dale was a co-founder of AABA.  Sean Tamura-Sato, a Partner in our Consumer & Employee Rights Group, and Lisa P. Mak, an Associate in the same group, currently serve on AABA’s Board of Directors.

Associates Seema Bhatt (left) and Lisa P. Mak (right) attended their first NAPABA convention (photo courtesy of Lisa. P. Mak).

Lisa and Seema were first-time Convention attendees and were inspired by the experience of seeing so many influential API attorneys in diverse roles and meeting many judges, politicians, and other prominent members of the legal community.

Minami Tamaki is proud to continue supporting NAPABA and its efforts to address civil rights issues, promote community service, and increase diversity in the legal profession.

Partners Dale Minami (left) and Sean Tamura-Sato at the NAPABA 2017 convention (photo by Lisa P. Mak).

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2018 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration and Personal Injury Practices

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2018 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration and Personal Injury Practices

Minami Tamaki LLP has received a Tier 1 ranking on the U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list under the “Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs” and “Immigration” categories for our metro area.

This is the fourth consecutive recognition by U.S. News/Best Lawyers of our Personal Injury practice and the third consecutive year of our Immigration practice.

The U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

To be eligible for a U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metro.

Earlier this year, Partners Dale Minami, Minette A. Kwok, B. Mark Fong, and Senior Associate Olivia Serene Lee were selected by The Best Lawyers in America, which qualified the firm to be considered for the Best Law Firms list.

The attorneys in Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Practice Group fight for the rights of people who are injured or have suffered the loss of loved ones due to the carelessness of others. We use a team approach which brings all of the resources of our practice group to bear on our cases. This has allowed us to recover multi-million dollar settlements and large verdicts for our clients.

The Immigration Practice Group of Minami Tamaki LLP offers expertise in a broad array of immigration services. We routinely assist employers and employees, nation-wide, in obtaining temporary and permanent employment-based visas. And, just as often, we help individual clients to secure family-based immigration status through marriage or other qualifying family relationships.

Asian Pacific Fund Honors Minami Tamaki LLP with 2017 Leadership in Philanthropy Award

Asian Pacific Fund Honors Minami Tamaki LLP with 2017 Leadership in Philanthropy Award

The Asian Pacific Fund honored our firm with its 2017 Leadership in Philanthropy Award at the organization’s annual gala on October 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco.

The Asian Pacific Fund Annual Gala is a celebration of philanthropic leadership in the Bay Area. A special part of the evening is a presentation of the Leadership in Philanthropy Award, which recognizes those who have attained remarkable success in their field while also serving as a role model for giving back.

From the Asian Pacific Fund: “For more than 40 years, Minami Tamaki LLP has been a trailblazer in legal services and civil rights on behalf of the Asian American community. The firm made history by reopening the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Korematsu v. the United States, and overturning the conviction of Fred Korematsu.”

The outcome of that landmark case helped lead to reparations for Japanese Americans unconstitutionally incarcerated during World War II.

“The firm’s partners are equally known for helping found the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian Law Alliance as part of their ongoing mission to promote, advance, and represent the basic human, legal and civil rights of Asian Pacific Islander communities and beyond.

“As a private law firm, Minami Tamaki LLP defends some of the most vulnerable in the community by fighting against wage theft, sexual harassment, and discrimination. The firm is consistently recognized as Super Lawyers; this year, all of Minami Tamaki LLP’s Partners were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers.”

The firm “also invests its profits and resources back into the community with the firm’s partners pooling together $1 million to launch a nonprofit foundation with an additional $200,000 immediately going into the community to support immigrant rights and advocacy.”

Past honorees of the Leadership in Philanthropy Award include: author Amy Tan, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta, and chair and CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo.

Partner Dale Minami also previously received the award in 2003.

The Asian Pacific Fund is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to strengthening the Bay Area’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities. We help donors achieve their philanthropic goals, support organizations that serve our most vulnerable, and raise awareness about pressing community needs.

San Diego JACL Honors Dale Minami with Lifetime Achievement Award

San Diego JACL Honors Dale Minami with Lifetime Achievement Award

The San Diego Chapter of the National Japanese American Citizens League (San Diego JACL) honored Dale Minami and Peter Irons with Lifetime Achievement Awards on Sept. 16, 2017, at its “Never Forget – One Nation” gala commemorating the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066.

San Diego JACL also honored Norman Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and Japanese American veterans of the Korean War. The dinner event was held at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in San Diego.

Dale was nominated for the award by Lane Nishikawa.

The San Diego JACL has been a leading civil rights group in San Diego for 85 years.

Mark Fong, Dale Minami Recover $1,350,000 in Out-of-Control ATV Crash

Mark Fong, Dale Minami Recover $1,350,000 in Out-of-Control ATV Crash

John Doe, a 68-year-old retired UC Berkeley manager and his wife Jane, a 66-year-old retired school teacher, had been married for over 40 years, and were in excellent health.  They enjoyed an active and fulfilling retirement life, and especially loved taking care of their grandchildren.

On October 24, 2015, they were guests at an annual celebration hosted by the Defendants at their Napa Valley vineyard.   At the end of the party, one of the Defendants drove John and Jane in her all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”) to their car parked at the bottom of the hill. The couple sat on a bench seat in the ATV, which had no seat belts. The Defendant drove down a narrow road and hit a bump, causing her to fall out of the ATV and leave John and Jane alone in the vehicle as it careened out of control down the hill.

Their terrifying descent ended when the ATV slammed into a car at the bottom of the hill. The impact threw Jane onto the ground, where she struck her head and lost consciousness. John’s  head struck the steering wheel.  Jane  suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, a broken femur which required multiple surgeries to repair, a broken nose, and a broken heel. John suffered a broken humerus in his shoulder which required surgery, a lacerated lip, and post-concussion syndrome.

After months of painful rehabilitation, John and Jane went on to make satisfactory recoveries from their injuries.  However, the incident has had a lasting impact on their retirement and recreational activities which they had greatly looked forward to enjoying in their “golden years.”

Minami Tamaki partners B. Mark Fong (lead counsel) and Dale Minami settled John and Jane’s claims for personal injury against the ATV owners for $1 million (the limit of their liability insurance), plus an additional $350,000 paid personally by the owners.

Minami Tamaki Files German Automaker Cartel Class Action Lawsuit

Minami Tamaki Files German Automaker Cartel Class Action Lawsuit

On October 4, 2017, Minami Tamaki filed a class action lawsuit in the Northern District of California alleging that German automakers BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes Benz conspired to limit competition and stunt automotive innovation.

The German publication Der Spiegel has reported that German automakers formed a wide-ranging cartel to reach agreements related to vehicle technology, costs for components, and suppliers.  It has been reported that working groups within these companies met with each other over 1,000 times dating back to the 1990s.

The automakers allegedly colluded on technical advancements, such as limiting the tank size for chemical cleaning agents (called AdBlue) that filter harmful diesel engine emissions.  The Der Spiegel report also cites an example of the automakers agreeing to limit the maximum speed at which convertible roofs could be opened to 50 kilometers/hour.

Individuals in the U.S. who purchased vehicles marketed as the product of highly touted “German engineering” may have been misled and unknowingly overpaid for their vehicles, and may be entitled to compensation.

Reports of a German automaker cartel come on the heels of the Volkswagen “clean diesel” scandal, which revealed that the company masked the fact that its vehicles emitted pollutants greatly exceeding legal limits through the use of “defeat devices.”  Minami Tamaki filed several lawsuits against Volkswagen alleging that the company cheated consumers and lied to the government.  After consumer claims were consolidated in the Northern District of California, Minami Tamaki prosecuted this matter with attorneys around the country, which resulted in settlements of over $15 billion.

If you own or lease a BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Audi, or Porsche automobile and would like to discuss your legal rights, you may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form. We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.