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09/03/14 | 136 Leading Experts on Immigration Law Agree: President Has Legal Authority to Expand Relief

Washington D.C. — U.S. law professors sent a letter today to the White House stating that President Obama has wide legal authority to make needed changes to immigration enforcement policy. The president is considering how to use his authority to mitigate the damage caused by our dysfunctional immigration system and protect certain individuals from deportation.

The letter was written by Stephen H. Legomsky, John S. Lehmann University Professor at Washington University School of Law and former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Chief Counsel; Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor at UCLA School of Law; and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law. It was signed by professors from 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

“As part of the administration’s legal team that ironed out the details of DACA, I can personally attest that we took pains to make sure the program meticulously satisfied every conceivable legal requirement,” said Legomsky. “In this letter, 136 law professors who specialize in immigration reach the same conclusion and explain why similar programs would be equally lawful.” (DACA is the acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program the president initiated in June 2012.)

In their letter, the law professors point out that “The administration has the legal authority to use prosecutorial discretion as a tool for managing resources and protecting individuals residing in and contributing to the United States in meaningful ways.” The letter goes on to explain that presidents from both parties have used prosecutorial discretion to prevent specific, and often large, groups of immigrants from being deported.

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08/22/14 | Groups Sue U.S. Government over Life-Threatening Deportation Process Against Mothers and Children

Washington D.C. — The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center today sued the federal government to challenge its policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.

The groups filed the case on behalf of mothers and children locked up at an isolated detention center in Artesia, New Mexico — hours from the nearest major metropolitan area. The complaint charges the Obama administration with enacting a new strong-arm policy to ensure rapid deportations by holding these mothers and their children to a nearly insurmountable and erroneous standard to prove their asylum claims, and by placing countless hurdles in front of them.

"These mothers and their children have sought refuge in the United States after fleeing for their lives from threats of death and violence in their home countries," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "U.S. law guarantees them a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Yet, the government's policy violates that basic law and core American values — we do not send people who are seeking asylum back into harm's way. We should not sacrifice fairness for speed in life-or-death situations."

According to the complaint, the Obama administration is violating long-established constitutional and statutory law by enacting policies that have:

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08/22/14 | Groups Sue U.S. Government over Life-Threatening Deportation Process Against Mothers and Children

Washington D.C. — The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center today sued the federal government to challenge its policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.

The groups filed the case on behalf of mothers and children locked up at an isolated detention center in Artesia, New Mexico — hours from the nearest major metropolitan area. The complaint charges the Obama administration with enacting a new strong-arm policy to ensure rapid deportations by holding these mothers and their children to a nearly insurmountable and erroneous standard to prove their asylum claims, and by placing countless hurdles in front of them.

"These mothers and their children have sought refuge in the United States after fleeing for their lives from threats of death and violence in their home countries," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "U.S. law guarantees them a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Yet, the government's policy violates that basic law and core American values — we do not send people who are seeking asylum back into harm's way. We should not sacrifice fairness for speed in life-or-death situations."

According to the complaint, the Obama administration is violating long-established constitutional and statutory law by enacting policies that have:

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The Council in the News

A New York Times article, "Border Agency Is Authorized to Open Criminal Inquiries," which details new measures implemented by the Department of Homeland Security to respond to accusations of abuse by border agents, features data from the American Immigration Council's report "No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse':

"In recent months, the agency’s internal affairs officials have examined 876 cases raised in reports by the two groups, the Police Executive Research Forum and the American Immigration Council. Mark Morgan, the head of the internal affairs office, said 11 cases remained under criminal investigation by other agencies, while 155 cases had been reopened for further noncriminal review.

Some advocacy groups cautiously praised the new measures.

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New York Times | 09/18/14

Citing the American Immigration Council's "No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse" report, the Los Angeles Times called for more transparency within the Customs and Border Protection agency.

The editorial titled "Customs and Border Protection's deadly force problem" states the agency must respond to complaints filed against agents with scrutiny and efficiency:

"The American Immigration Council reported in May that of 809 abuse complaints (a broader category) filed from 2009 to 2012, 40% remained unresolved, and in the resolved cases, only 3% found fault with an agent's actions. Comparative statistics are hard to come by, but a study of 2002 data found that about 8% of complaints against civilian police officers were sustained.

....

These are public employees doing the public's work. The default position should be transparency."

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Los Angeles Times | 09/16/14

The New York Times recently highlighted a lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Council and other groups challenging the governments policies of denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.

The article states:

"The lawsuit, brought in Federal District Court in Washington, says that immigration authorities created a system to rush deportations from the temporary center holding about 600 mothers and their children in the isolated desert town of Artesia, N.M. The suit accuses officials of raising numerous legal and practical hurdles to discourage migrants from seeking asylum, after deciding in advance that few petitions would succeed.

'By locking up women and babies, the Obama administration has made it their mission to deport these people as quickly as possible,' said Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, one of the groups bringing the suit. 'Our message to the government is simple: Follow the law,' she said during a conference call with reporters. 'We must ensure that every person who interacts with our legal system has a fair hearing.'

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New York Times | 08/22/14