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07/01/16 | Asylum Seekers File Class Action Lawsuit Against DHS

Washington D.C. - The U.S. Government has placed unnecessary hurdles in front of asylum seekers who are attempting to file asylum applications within the required time period. In fact, bureaucratic obstacles, a well-documented court backlog, and jurisdictional disputes between agencies often make it impossible for individuals to file their asylum applications by the deadline, leaving them ineligible for asylum and subject to deportation. 

In an attempt to bring order and fairness to what has become an overly bureaucratic and chaotic process, today, 4 asylum-seekers filed a class action lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) failure to advise them of the deadline for filing their asylum applications, as well as both DHS’s and the immigration courts’ failure to adopt procedures which would ensure that an individual is able to file an asylum application by the deadline.  

Plaintiffs, represented by the American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Dobrin & Han, PC, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, sue on behalf of themselves and all other individuals in the United States who are in the same situation.

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06/27/16 | Federal Court Grants Class-Action Status in Challenge to Obama Administration

Washington D.C.— A federal court has granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the federal government's failure to provide children in immigration court with lawyers in their deportation hearings. Several thousand children are estimated to be members of the class.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP.

“This ruling means that thousands of children will now have a fighting chance at getting a fair day in immigration court,” said Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “The Obama administration should stop defending its draconian practice of conducting deportation hearings against unrepresented children.”

The class covers all children under 18 who are in immigration proceedings in the Ninth Circuit on or after June 24, 2016; lack counsel; are unable to afford legal representation; and are potentially eligible for asylum or are potentially able to make colorable claims to U.S. citizenship. 

“The government will not be able to simply delay the case in hoping that a few individual cases may resolve themselves without court intervention. Instead, the government must now defend a system that pits unrepresented children against trained federal prosecutors in an adversarial court hearing that literally may carry life and death consequences for the children involved,” said Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

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06/27/16 | Court Orders Release of Some Evidence of Arizona Border Patrol Detention Facilities

Washington D.C. – Today, a federal district court unsealed some of the photographs central to ongoing litigation challenging deplorable and unconstitutional conditions in Border Patrol detention facilities in the agency’s Tucson Sector. The court also allowed the Arizona Republic newspaper to intervene in the case to argue for the release of the documents.

The initial evidence released today is only a portion of the evidence submitted in support of a motion for preliminary injunction filed in December, with the government fighting the release of additional evidence remaining under seal. The injunction is based on compelling evidence of inhumane conditions in Tucson facilities—much of which was disclosed after the Court sanctioned Border Patrol for destroying video recordings from these facilities and failing to turn over other relevant documentation.

“Border Patrol’s treatment of men, women and children in its custody is simply inexcusable and their lack of transparency shows their desire to avoid any public oversight or accountability,” said Mary Kenney, senior staff attorney for the American Immigration Council.

“Every step the Government has taken in response to this lawsuit has been designed to delay this suit and hide the conditions present at these facilities,” said Louise Stoupe of Morrison & Foerster. “The Government should be using the resources they are wasting in court to provide basic human necessities to those in its custody.”

“Migrants detained in the Tucson sector have long suffered horrific conditions,” said Dan Pochoda, senior counsel for the ACLU of Arizona. “The Border Patrol continues to resist public transparency to enable continuation of detention operations that knowingly violate U.S. and international law as well as its own standards.”

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The Council in the News

CNN cited the American Immigration Council's recent report The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States and by quoting Senior Researcher Walter Ewing in "Immigrants and crime: Crunching the numbers":

"'Government statistics on who is being removed from the country can be somewhat deceptive,' says Walter Ewing, a senior researcher for the American Immigration Council who helped author a report released this week that argues immigrants are less likely to be criminals than native-born U.S. citizens."

The article went on to point out figures from the Council’s recent report which dispells anti-immigrant rhetoric through facts, noting:

…the percentage of foreign-born men in the United States who are incarcerated (1.6%) is less than the percentage of U.S.-born men who are imprisoned (3.3%). And the reason they're behind bars is often tied to immigration offenses.”

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CNN | 07/08/15

Patrick Taurel, Legal Fellow and the American Immigration Council, provides an in-depth look into the implementation of President Obama’s executive order on immigration and the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) programs.

Watch the C-Span segment below:

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C-Span | 02/09/15

The Durham Academy News Feed recently highlighted remarks made by the American Immigration Council's Executive Director Ben Johsnon.

Johnson spoke at the Durham Academy Upper School's annual Martin Luther King assembly and noted that lessons can be gleaned on a big-picture scale from the civil rights movement.

"One component of the Civil Rights Movement and its genesis from slavery wasn't just about the people who were being abused and whose rights were being denied," Johnson said. "It was about us. It was about our commitment to freedom, fairness and equality. In that context, we can have a conversation about where else do we have questions and challenges about our commitment to these principles."

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Durham Academy Newsfeed | 01/16/15