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12/05/14 | Immigration Council Strongly Reaffirms Research on Reagan-Bush Family Fairness Policy

Washington D.C. - This week, the Washington Post issued another editorial in its campaign against President Obama’s decision to authorize temporary deportation relief for several million undocumented parents of U.S citizen children. In particular, the Post argues that there is no historical precedent for President Obama’s action, discounting the parallel that the President and many others have drawn between past executive actions, such as the Family Fairness program instituted by Presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr. In fact, the Post called this analogy indefensible, essentially arguing that supporters of the Immigration Accountability Executive Action were attempting to recast history in an exaggerated attempt to justify the President’s overreach. The opposite is true. As the first organization to publicly lay out the case for the strong precedent for executive action in immigration, we believe it is important to set the Post, and the record, straight on the political significance of the Family Fairness program and why actions from almost a quarter of a century ago matter today.

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11/21/14 | American Immigration Council Executive Director, Ben Johnson Comments on Executive Action

Washington D.C. - Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council offers the following quotes on the policies released yesterday by the Obama Administration:

What this all means: "After decades of congressional neglect, President Obama took a crucial and courageous step toward reforming our immigration system. He announced that he will provide immediate relief for many of those impacted by of our broken system, and he is offering Congress an architecture for the permanent reforms that our country desperately needs."

Legality of the Action: "Both the Courts and current immigration law empower the Department of Homeland Security to make choices about immigration enforcement. Since at least 1956, every U.S. President has granted temporary immigration relief to one or more groups in need of assistance. Like his predecessors, President Obama is not providing a permanent legal status to anyone – only Congress can do that."

Economic Benefits of this Executive Action: "The majority of economic literature has long-pointed to the fact that when workers work legally, they earn more and spend more, thereby growing the economy and expanding the labor market. Their tax contributions also increase and positively impact both state and federal coffers.  Bringing millions of workers who are already living and working here out of the shadows and into the full, open economy will be good for American workers and for local economies around the nation."

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11/20/14 | President Provides Immediate Relief, Creates Architecture for Reform

Washington D.C. - After decades of congressional neglect, tonight President Obama took a crucial and courageous step toward reforming our immigration system. He announced that he will provide immediate relief for many of those impacted by of our broken system, and he is offering Congress an architecture for the permanent reforms that our country desperately needs.

Under the new policies announced, the Obama Administration will build on the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by providing temporary relief for the parents of U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents. The new program, to be called Deferred Action for Parents (DAP), will ensure that millions of U.S. Citizen and lawful permanent resident children will remain unified with their parents. The President also announced new enforcement policies and steps to improve the adjudication of business and family visas.  

Mindful that the full impact of the President’s announcement will reveal itself in the months ahead, the American Immigration Council will keep a close watch over how the agencies administer these new policies. We will work to ensure that they are implemented in a way that respects fundamental principles of fairness and due process. 

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11/18/14 | Department of Homeland Security Doubles Down on Family Detention

Washington D.C. - Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced plans to close the detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, where it detains mothers and children. Unfortunately, the closure of this facility does not mark the end of a dark chapter in our country’s immigration history. Instead it signifies the government’s decision to double down on its commitment to extended detention of families seeking refuge in the United States. The closure of Artesia comes with the opening of a permanent, drastically larger family detention center in Dilley, Texas. There the government boasts its potential to detain up to 2,400 women and children, while it expedites their removals.

Since last June, DHS has locked up mothers and children at the isolated detention center in Artesia, hours from the nearest major metropolitan area and far from adequate legal services. There, the government has created a deportation mill, carrying out new, strong-arm policies designed to ensure the rapid removals of Central American families. Many of these families fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and came to the United States seeking protection. Yet, in Artesia, they are deprived of a fair opportunity to present their asylum claims. We have no reason to believe anything will be different in Dilley. 

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11/06/14 | President’s Executive Actions on Immigration Should Spur Congressional Action

Washington D.C. – From the perspective of immigration reformers, Tuesday’s election is unlikely to change the gridlock that has stymied immigration reform for more than 15 years. Since at least 1998, there has been bipartisan agreement that our current immigration system is broken and that Congress must act to fix it. Since then, regardless of who has controlled Congress or the White House, the country has been waiting for the political stars to align in such a way as to make immigration reform a reality. In the meantime, families have been torn apart and our economy has been denied a powerful tool for innovation and entrepreneurship. The reason is clear. Too few of America’s lawmakers have the courage to lead on immigration and too many are content to play politics with this critical issue.

Despite the threat (and likelihood) of political tantrums from those who have consistently blocked reform, the most likely catalyst for change on immigration at this point is bold, decisive leadership by the President of the United States, who re-affirmed yesterday that he would “take whatever lawful actions I can take” by the end of the year. 

President Obama can and must show the way forward by using the tools at his disposal to fix as much of our broken immigration system as he can, and to protect millions of unauthorized immigrants who have built their lives here and contribute to our society and economy, but have no means of attaining legal status under our outdated immigration system.

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10/21/14 | Immigrant Rights Advocates Sue to Reveal Policies and Procedures at Artesia Family Detention Facility

Washington D.C. - Immigrant rights groups today filed Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) litigation to compel the release of documents regarding the use of the expedited removal process against families with children, including those detained at the family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. To date, the government has not publicly released critical information about the policies and procedures governing its operations at the Artesia facility, despite the potentially life-threatening consequences for the women and children detained there. The release of these policies and procedures is particularly urgent given that the government has opened another family detention center in Karnes, Texas and has announced plans to open a massive 2,400-bed family detention facility in Dilley, Texas.  

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09/25/14 | The Sixth Circuit Joins Growing Majority, Rejects BIA’s Narrow Interpretation of Section 212(h)

Washington, D.C.—Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a precedent decision that will allow a greater number of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to avoid deportation if they can demonstrate to an immigration judge that their removal will result in extreme hardship to close family members in the United States. The American Immigration Council, which filed an amicus brief in the case, applauds the ruling and repeats its call for the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to overturn its contrary decision in Matter of Koljenovic, 25 I&N Dec. 219 (2010).

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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.

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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.

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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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