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05/26/15 | Class Action Lawsuit for Unlawful Delays in Employment Authorizations Filed

Washington D.C.– Last Friday, three immigrants and two immigration service providers filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for unlawfully delaying the adjudication of their applications for employment authorization. Filed by the American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), Gibbs Houston Pauw, Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., and Van der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP, the complaint alleges that USCIS’s policies and practices of failing to timely adjudicate applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) or, alternatively, failing to issue interim employment authorization, violate the governing regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act.  

By regulation, USCIS must either adjudicate EAD applications within a fixed time period or issue interim employment authorization. Yet, USCIS regularly fails to do either, leaving immigrants in a precarious position, unable to work legally and at risk of losing their jobs, related benefits and, in some states, their driver’s licenses. At a recent meeting with AILA members, USCIS representatives indicated that “USCIS no longer produces interim EADs.” Plaintiffs seek this Court’s intervention to compel USCIS to adjudicate EAD applications within the time period mandated by the regulations or, if the regulatory time period has expired, issue interim employment authorization. 

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05/26/15 | Divided Fifth Circuit Denies Emergency Stay as Underlying Case on Immigration Action Proceeds

Washington D.C. - In a disappointing decision, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the federal government’s request for an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction that has temporarily stopped President Obama’s deferred action initiatives from being implemented.

The court's order keeps in place the hold on implementation of these initiatives while the Fifth Circuit considers the appeal of the preliminary injunction itself. The Fifth Circuit will hear argument on the appeal in early July. The deferred action initiatives, announced last November, include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and could provide as many as 4 to 5 million immigrants with a temporary relief from deportation.

In the meantime, the underlying case is pending in the district court in Brownsville, TX before Judge Andrew Hanen. The case is still in the early stages of discovery. 

A similar suit challenging the President's actions filed by Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was dismissed by a Washington, D.C., federal court at the end of last year. It is currently on appeal before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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05/14/15 | Government Shows No Signs of Backing Down on Family Detention

Washington D.C. - Yesterday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced efforts to “enhance oversight” to help ensure that families are detained in “safe and humane facilities” and in doing so demonstrated no signs of reevaluating its misguided family detention policy. The American Immigration Council welcomes efforts to increase access to legal counsel, improve detention conditions, and provide for more supervisory review of custody determinations, but yesterday’s announcement misses the mark. It is simply unlawful, inhumane, and unnecessary to detain children and mothers on a large scale, and the government must begin taking steps to roll back its strategy of detaining those fleeing violence and persecution.

This week, the American Immigration Council, along with other groups, toured the newly built family detention center in Dilley, Texas. As of Tuesday, 776 children and women were detained there, increased from an initial capacity of 480. Construction on the 50-acre property is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month, and ICE will have the capacity to detain 2400 individuals there. The scale is unprecedented, and as the population has grown, the need for legal services for the families has rapidly overwhelmed pro bono resources.

The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project is working onsite to meet with as many women as possible to help them navigate the complex immigration process. But as the population grows exponentially week after week—and given the sheer volume and speed at which legal proceedings are taking place—many women have no opportunity to even talk to a lawyer (let alone work with a lawyer to prepare) before their legal proceeding are underway or even completed. 

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The Council in the News

In this tweet chat, English teachers discussed the benefits of telling digital stories on immigration to build community and empathy inside and outside of the classroom while being culturally sensitive to student backgrounds and needs.  Our Crossing Borders with Digital Storytelling lesson plan as well as several mentor texts were cited as helpful resources.

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| 05/07/15

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