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01/27/15 | Second Circuit Narrowly Interprets Aggravated Felony Bar Under INA § 212(h)

Washington, D.C.—Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second 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 Court held that the bar to a waiver under § 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) applies only to those persons with an aggravated felony conviction who became LPRs at the time that they lawfully entered the United States. The American Immigration Council (Immigration Council) filed an amicus brief in the case with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). 

The Immigration Council 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). With this decision, the Second Circuit joins the seven other Courts of Appeal—an overwhelming majority—to have rejected Matter of Koljenovic. To date, the Eighth Circuit stands alone in upholding the BIA’s decision. The First and the Tenth Circuits have not yet ruled on the issue, although the Council and AILA have filed amicus briefs in two pending cases in the Tenth Circuit. The Second Circuit case is Husic v. Holder, No. 14‐607. Thomas E. Moseley represented the petitioner.

 

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01/27/15 | Leadership Team Changes at the American Immigration Council

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council announces changes to our organizational leadership team. Beth Werlin will become the Director of Policy, and Guillermo Cantor will become our Deputy Director of Research. These changes will fill the gap created by the departure of Mary Giovagnoli, who will join the Department of Homeland Security as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration Policy next month.

Beth Werlin, Esq., will become our new Director of Policy. Beth has been with the Council for almost 14 years as part of our legal team and has a deep understanding of our mission and history. She is a talented lawyer who is widely-respected for her knowledge and dedication. She has been involved in nearly every major legal issue the Council has tackled over the last decade and has worked to protect the rights of noncitizens and ensure that the immigration agencies are held accountable for violations of the law. Her insight and experience have played a critical role in increasing the collaboration and integration of our work across all programs. In her new role, she will put her knowledge and experience to work in deepening and strengthening our relationships and ensuring that the work of our policy and legal teams is even more complementary.

Guillermo Cantor, Ph.D., will become our new Deputy Director of Research. In just two years with the Council, Guillermo has done a tremendous job in shaping, transforming, and strengthening our work. Using his extensive experience as a social science researcher committed to impacting policy, he has enhanced our research, expanded our partnerships with the academic community, explored new research and funding strategies, and has stepped forward as a leader within our office and within the broader immigration community. As the new Deputy Director of Research, Guillermo will be responsible for leading our research efforts and managing our research team.

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12/29/14 | Immigration, Civil Rights and Labor Groups Join Legal Effort to Defend Immigration Action

Washington D.C. - Today, immigration, civil rights and labor groups joined the legal effort to defend President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration by filing an amicus “friend of the court” brief in the case, State of Texas vs. United States. In the days after the President’s November 20th announcement, two lawsuits were filed seeking to block implementation of the new deferred action initiatives. Both lawsuits seek a “preliminary injunction”—a temporary block of the programs during the life of a lawsuit. The amicus brief, which was written in support of the federal government, provides powerful economic, fiscal, and societal reasons to allow these programs to take effect later this year.

The American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Define American, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, Service Employees International Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and United We Dream filed a brief opposing the states’ request for a preliminary injunction against the administration’s new deferred action initiatives. 

In their brief, the groups provide powerful testimonials about potential beneficiaries of the new deferred action initiatives, many of whom are already entrepreneurs and community leaders. These individuals include a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, community leaders, and primary breadwinners for U.S. citizen children. The groups also explain how the deferred action initiatives will positively impact the U.S. economy, raising wages, increasing tax revenue, and creating new jobs.

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12/22/14 | U.S. District Court in D.C. Hears First Arguments Against Executive Action on Immigration

Washington D.C. - Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in the case brought against executive action by notorious Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is seeking to enjoin the DACA and DAPA programs based on the increased burden on his law enforcement office that would allegedly result from these programs. Specifically, Arpaio’s theory is that the President’s executive actions will cause a “flood” of “millions more illegal aliens,” and in turn a “crime wave”—because many “illegal aliens… are repeat offenders.”

Melissa Crow, the Legal Director at the American Immigration Council was in the courtroom today and issued the following statement:

“It was clear that attorney representing Arpaio, Larry Klayman, a well-known conservative lawyer who founded Freedom Watch and Judicial Watch, was struggling to demonstrate the type of “concrete and particularized” injury that is required to bring a challenge of this nature, or that the alleged harms would be a direct result of DACA or DAPA.  While disagreeing adamantly with the government’s argument that DACA and DAPA would promote public safety by enabling DHS to focus on high priority threats, he failed to provide any compelling explanation for his position.

“Judge Beryl Howell asked probing questions to determine whether Sheriff Arpaio had established that he had “standing” under the law. She listened attentively to Mr. Klayman’s responses, but seemed skeptical that he had met his burden of proof. Before concluding the hearing, Judge Howell indicated that she would issue her rulings very shortly on both Sheriff Arpaio’s motion for a preliminary injunction and the government’s motion to dismiss the case.

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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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