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06/28/11 | LAC Issues Updated Practice Advisory on Prosecutorial Discretion Discussing June 17, 2011 Morton Memoranda

Washington, D.C.— The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of an updated practice advisory: Prosecutorial Discretion: How to Advocate for Your Client.

On June 17, 2011, John Morton, Director of ICE, issued two new memoranda encouraging the expanded use of prosecutorial discretion by ICE officers, agents, and attorneys in all phases of civil immigration enforcement. The first outlines in detail how ICE employees should approach a wide range of opportunities to apply prosecutorial discretion in line with ICE enforcement priorities; the second describes specific protections for certain crime victims, witnesses, and plaintiffs.

This practice advisory discusses these memoranda in detail. It also explains what prosecutorial discretion is, who has authority to exercise it, and how it is exercised most often in immigration cases. In addition, the advisory suggests ways that attorneys can advocate for the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion by DHS officers, whether from ICE, USCIS or CBP.

For a complete list of all LAC Practice Advisories, please visit our website.

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06/24/11 | Are States Training Law Enforcement to Implement Restrictive Immigration Laws?

Washington, D.C. - While many states legislatures rejected Arizona-style immigration laws this year in anticipation of high costs, legal challenges and charges of racial profiling, others states—like Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina—passed laws requiring law enforcement to determine the immigration status of anyone that is stopped or detained for any offense. Civil rights groups have sued in Georgia and Alabama and plan to challenge South Carolina’s law once the bill is signed. Federal courts found similar laws in Arizona and Utah unconstitutional and issued injunctions, baring law enforcement from implementing the laws. 

With lawsuits pending, however, local officials are now in a position of having to prepare for possible implementation of immigration laws. Local law enforcement, for example, is struggling to interpret the laws and provide training to officers—a struggle which could be further complicated if courts allow only some parts of the law to go forward.  In some cases, training is simply not taking place. Officials in Georgia are waiting for a judge’s ruling before training officers on the law, slated to take effect July 1st. Which begs the question, how, if at all, are law enforcement officers being trained in other states where similar laws have passed?

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06/14/11 | Once Again, Congress Pursues Costly E-Verify Legislation to the Peril of U.S. Economy

Washington D.C. - On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement will hold a hearing on the “Legal Workforce Act,” another enforcement-only bill introduced today by Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). The bill would make the electronic employment verification system “E-Verify” mandatory for all employers within two years (three for agriculture). Much like the other hearings conducted by the Subcommittee this year, Wednesday’s hearing is likely to promote tougher enforcement and more deportations as the solution to immigration reform, rather than offer a thoughtful analysis of what must be done to create an effective immigration system that stimulates our economy and supports workers and businesses.

E-Verify is a web-based technology that allows employers to check federal databases to determine whether their employees—U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and other foreign-born workers—are authorized to work in the U.S. While USCIS has made significant improvements in E-Verify, many problems still exist. An independent evaluation found that E-Verify is unable to identify unauthorized workers in half of the cases. At a time when the U.S. needs to stimulate its economy and create jobs, mandatory E-Verify will impose additional regulations and costs on businesses, and employers will have to fire U.S. citizens who are erroneously indentified as unauthorized to work. 

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06/13/11 | LAC Issues Practice Advisory on Immigration Cases Implicating DOMA

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC), in conjunction with Immigration Equality, is pleased to announce the release of a new practice advisory: Protecting and Preserving the Rights of LGBT Families: DOMA, Dorman, and Immigration Strategies.

The immigration agencies rely on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, in determining whether a marriage is valid for immigration purposes. As a result, lesbian and gay U.S. citizens and permanent residents are barred from successfully petitioning for their spouses. In addition, lesbian and gay noncitizens are precluded from obtaining other immigration benefits, including relief from removal, based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Recent developments, however, suggest that DOMA’s days may be numbered. Already, one district court has concluded that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, and the Obama Administration has decided it no longer will defend the law in federal court challenges. 

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06/09/11 | Immigrants in America: More Skilled and Educated Than Ever Before

Washington D.C. - Today, the Brookings Institution released a new report, The Geography of Immigrant Skills: Educational Profiles of Metropolitan Areas, which finds that more working-age immigrants hold college degrees than lack high-school diplomas. This newly-released data has broad implications for an immigration debate that is driven largely by myths and stereotypes of less-skilled, unauthorized immigrants while devoting scant attention to the high-skilled end of the labor spectrum. To effectively reform the U.S. immigration system to the benefit of the U.S. economy and workers, both high-skilled and less-skilled immigrants must be part of the discussion and the debate must be guided by more facts and less political rhetoric.

As the report points out “immigrants are now one-in-seven U.S. residents and almost one-in-six workers. They are a significant presence in various sectors of the economy such as construction and hospitality on the low-skill end, and information technology and health care on the high-skill end. While border enforcement and illegal immigration are a focal point, longer-term U.S. global competitiveness rests on the ability of immigrants and their children to thrive economically and to contribute to the nation’s productivity.” 

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06/08/11 | Misguided Opposition to So-Called "Sanctuary Cities" Continues

Washington D.C. - Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that he plans to resurrect his proposal to crack down on cities that provide "sanctuary" to unauthorized immigrants, even though the Department of Homeland Security and other government officials have found that so-called "sanctuary cities" do not exist. Local police agencies regularly cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identify and detain immigrants who commit crimes, so it's hard to imagine why the Governor is looking for a solution without a problem.
 
What Perry is calling "santuary cities" are cities that have implemented community policing policies that prevent police agencies from asking community residents who have not been arrested to prove their legal immigration status. Based on the tenets of community policing, these policies make it safe for immigrant crime victims and witnesses to report criminals to the police and help put them behind bars.These policies make it easier for the police to do their jobs and make communities safer.
 
Debunking the Myth of "Sanctuary Cities" Community Policing Policies Protect Americans, written by Lynn Tramonte, responds to those who claim some cities are providing "sanctuary" to unauthorized immigrants and seek to abolish their community policing policies.  In it, police officials and others explain why community policing policies are so critical to their work and to keeping American communities safe.

To view the paper in its entirety see:

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05/31/11 | LAC Issues Practice Advisory on Motions to Suppress in Removal Proceedings

Washington, D.C. - The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of a new practice advisory: “Motions to Suppress in Removal Proceedings: A General Overview.” Long used in criminal trials, motions to suppress seek to exclude evidence obtained by government agents in violation of an individual’s constitutional or other legal rights.  Though federal immigration officers often disregard immigrants’ rights, legal and practical obstacles prevent many individuals from challenging the procedures used to arrest them once placed in removal proceedings.  By filing motions to suppress more frequently, immigrants will promote greater accountability by law enforcement officers and thereby protect the rights of other noncitizens.

For a complete list of all LAC Practice Advisories, please visit our website.

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05/18/11 | Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Key Hearing on Challenges Facing Immigration Courts

Washington, D.C.—The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center commends Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for convening today’s hearing on “Improving Efficiency and Ensuring Justice in the Immigration Court System.” Immigration courts have long suffered from crushing backlogs that can delay the scheduling of hearings for years at a time.  Additionally, immigrants who appear before these courts enjoy fewer legal protections than most Americans expect from any fair system of justice.   With the dramatic and rapid escalation of immigration enforcement policies and resources, too little attention has been paid to the many challenges that face our immigration court system.

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05/17/11 | DHS Extends Temporary Protected Status to Haitians

Washington D.C. - Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took an important step on behalf of Haitians affected by last year’s devastating earthquake, demonstrating the humanitarian side of its immigration responsibilities.  Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that DHS would extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an additional eighteen months for Haitians currently residing in the United States. She also announced that she would permit Haitians who arrived up to one year after the earthquake, many of whom came in on visitor visas and other authorized measures, to apply for TPS.  The following is a statement from Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center.

“We applaud DHS’s decision both to extend the timing of TPS and to broaden the scope of people who qualify for it. In the chaotic days following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the men and women of DHS worked hard to provide relief to survivors, admitting many people temporarily to save them from devastation, disease, and starvation. While DHS quickly designated TPS status for those Haitians residing in the U.S. at the time of the earthquake, many others who came to the U.S. within days or weeks of the disaster were ineligible for TPS, but were also unable to return home. Today’s announcement addresses these problems and recognizes the extraordinary need for a compassionate and humane response to the devastation in Haiti.

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05/11/11 | Senators Reintroduce the DREAM Act

Washington, D.C. - Today, Senators Richard Durbin, Harry Reid, and Robert Menendez re-introduced the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Last fall, the DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives, and garnered the support of a majority in the Senate, but was ultimately defeated when the Senate failed to invoke cloture and proceed to debate. The sponsors of the DREAM Act hope to build on last year’s momentum and continue to highlight the importance of fully utilizing the talent and potential of thousands of young people who are Americans in every way but their birth certificates.

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