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07/09/14 | Groups Sue over Failure to Provide Lawyers for Children in Deportation Proceedings

Washington D.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

Each year, the government initiates immigration court proceedings against thousands of children. Some of these youth grew up in the United States and have lived in the country for years, and many have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. The Obama Administration even recently called an influx of children coming across the Southern border a "humanitarian situation." And yet, thousands of children required to appear in immigration court each year do so without an attorney. This case seeks to remedy this unacceptable practice.

"If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts," said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. "The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone."

The plaintiffs in this case include:

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07/09/14 | Groups Sue Federal Government over Failure to Provide Legal Representation for Children

The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

Each year, the government initiates immigration court proceedings against thousands of children. Some of these youth grew up in the United States and have lived in the country for years, and many have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. The Obama Administration even recently called an influx of children coming across the Southern border a "humanitarian situation." And yet, thousands of children required to appear in immigration court each year do so without an attorney. This case seeks to remedy this unacceptable practice.

"If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts," said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. "The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone."

The plaintiffs in this case include:

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06/30/14 | New Practice Advisory Regarding Notices to Appear

The American Immigration Council, ABA Commission on Immigration and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights are pleased to announce the release of the practice advisory, Notices to Appear:  Legal Challenges and Strategies.

The Notice to Appear is the charging document used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to notify a noncitizen about immigration charges and a future immigration court hearing. Filing a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) with the immigration court places an individual in a removal proceeding before a judge and is a significant step in the removal process. Various officials within the three major immigration-related components of the Department of Homeland Security — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — are empowered to issue NTAs, which trigger removal proceedings in immigration court. At various points after an NTA is issued, an attorney may negotiate with DHS to obtain a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion. DHS has discretion either to file the NTA with the court, thus going forward with removal proceedings, to drop or revise certain charges, or to cancel the NTA and thus end the removal proceedings. After the NTA is filed, DHS can exercise discretion through a joint motion asking the judge to administratively close or terminate proceedings. The decisions made by DHS about Notices to Appear are not just ministerial, but can impact the lives of noncitizens and their families in significant ways.

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06/30/14 | America Must Uphold Its Obligations to Protect Children and Families Fleeing Persecution

Washington D.C. - As the numbers of unaccompanied minors and mothers with children crossing our southern border grows, the U.S. government faces a critical test of its historic commitment to protect those fleeing violence and persecution. How we respond will signal to the world whether our commitment to due process and the protection of refugees is real or illusory, and it could have a profound effect on how other countries around the world respond to our call to deal fairly and humanely to refugee crises in places like Syria and the Sudan.

Unfortunately, the initial response by the Administration has been more focused on appeasing its critics with get-tough political messages that prioritize streamlined enforcement over due process and humane treatment. Most recently, the White House has sent a request to Congress asking, among other things, for the authority to process minor children from Central America more expeditiously, and media reports have indicated that their goal is to deport mothers with children as quickly as possible (some reports indicate a goal of 15 days) in order to send a message to the sending countries. This emphasis on speedy removals rather than on determining whether these children and families have a legitimate fear of persecution, and whether or where they may be safely returned to avoid further abuse or exploitation is an abandonment of fundamental principles of due process and fairness - principles that define our judicial system - and undermines the moral authority of our voice in the international community.

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06/05/14 | District Court Rules Grant of TPS Is an Admission for Adjustment of Status Purposes

Washington, D.C.The American Immigration Council welcomes last week’s ruling by the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, which held that a noncitizen’s grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) qualifies as “inspection and admission” into the United States. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, inspection and admission are eligibility requirements for lawful permanent residence (LPR). Jesus Ramirez, the plaintiff in Ramirez v Dougherty, was granted TPS in 2001 following the devastating earthquake in El Salvador, his home country, and has renewed this status ever since. He now seeks to become an LPR on the basis of his marriage to a United States citizen. The American Immigration Council and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, and subsequently NWIRP became counsel for the plaintiff.

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05/30/14 | Customs and Border Protection Releases Long-Awaited Review and Use-of-Force Policy

Washington D.C. - Today, after numerous formal and informal requests from border advocates and a lawsuit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a 2013 report by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a nonprofit research organization, analyzing the agency’s use-of-force policies and practices. CBP commissioned the report after receiving inquiries from sixteen Members of Congress following a series of deaths during encounters with CBP personnel. CBP also released its new Use of Force Policy, Guidelines and Procedures Handbook. 

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05/22/14 | Immigration Council Urges Broad Interpretation of § 212(h) Hardship Waiver

On May 19, 2014, the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to rehear Roberts v. Holder, 745 F.3d 928 (8th Cir. 2014). In that case, the court narrowly interpreted the hardship waiver found in INA § 212(h), thus depriving many lawful permanent residents (LPR) of the opportunity to apply for this waiver.  The Immigration Council and AILA urge the court to withdraw this decision and instead, to join the six other courts of appeals which have interpreted the waiver more broadly.  In doing so, the court would ensure that the class of deserving LPRs whom Congress intended to benefit are able to apply – and be considered – for the waiver.  Read more about the Immigration Council’s work on this issue here.

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For more information, email clearinghouse@immcouncil.org

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05/15/14 | Understanding ICE’s Release of Immigrants with Criminal Convictions

Washington D.C. - Understanding the complexities of immigration law and its intersection with criminal law is not easy. Over the past month, a flood of reports about enforcement policies and deportation data have compounded the confusion. Some of these reports were clearly designed to derail genuine and productive conversations around immigration policy reform. Case in point, this week the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) issued a paper that claims over 36,000 “criminal aliens” were released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.  

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05/06/14 | No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council releases No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse, by Daniel E. Martinez, Ph.D., Guillermo Cantor, Ph.D., and Walter A. Ewing, Ph.D., a report that analyzes complaints filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection between 2009 and 2012. The analysis is based on information received through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation. The report examines one of the few avenues available for people to report mistreatment by Border Patrol agents - namely, the complaint system. For a long time, advocates and legal providers on the border have highlighted the flaws in the complaint system. This report is the first systematic attempt to document the problem in a rigorous way. In addition, a coalition of immigrants' rights groups has developed and released recommendations to DHS to address the CBP Complaint Process.

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03/31/14 | New Report from Center for Immigration Studies on Deportation Data Misleads and Misinforms

Washington D.C. – Today the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released a new report that makes a range of false claims about deportation data.  Following is a statement from Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, in response to “Catch and Release: Interior Immigration Enforcement in 2013”

“A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) makes a range of false claims about deportation data. First their claim that out of 722,000 “potentially deportable aliens” encountered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement only 195,000 were charged is completely misleading.  As a result of dragnet programs like Secure Communities, any foreign-born individual that that comes into contact with law-enforcement likely falls into 722,000 number cited by CIS.  Thus, this number includes immigrants (including long time permanent residents) whose interaction with law enforcement was so minor that they are not even legally subject to removal.  In fact, that data likely includes U.S. citizens as well.  CIS is essentially asserting that a legal-permanent resident or a recently naturalized citizen with a broken tail light should be charged by ICE and removed from the country although there is no basis in law for such action. 

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