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03/25/11 | Motion to Reopen Process Provides Aliens With Protections on Par With Habeas Review

LAC Deputy Director Beth Werlin is quoted in this Law Week article regarding post departure motions to reopen.

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03/24/11 | A Rising Tide or a Shrinking Pie

Washington, D.C. - As Arizona approaches the one-year anniversary of the passage of SB 1070, the Immigration Policy Center and Center for American Progress release a new report, A Rising Tide or a Shrinking Pie: The Economic Impact of Legalization Versus Deportation in Arizona, by Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda and Marshall Fitz, which examines two very different futures for Arizona's economy.

In the first scenario, the proponents of SB 1070 achieve their stated goals and all current unauthorized immigrants leave the state-taking their labor, their spending power, and their tax dollars with them. In the second scenario, unauthorized immigrants are offered a pathway to legal status, thereby enabling them to earn higher wages, spend more, and pay more in taxes. The economic modeling shows that deporting all of Arizona's unauthorized workers, consumers, and taxpayers would eliminate 581,000 jobs and reduce state tax revenues by $4.2 billion. Conversely, legalizing the state's unauthorized immigrants would create 261,000 jobs and increase tax revenues by $1.7 billion.

According to Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, the report's author and founding director of the North American Integration and Development Center at UCLA:  "The key issue is that bills like SB 1070 that seek to eliminate the undocumented population, if successful, would represent a severe shock to the Arizona economy and create a deep hole that the state would have to claw out of. The size of that hole is what this new report measures.

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03/17/11 | IJs Should Exercise Authority to Halt Proceedings against Noncitizens with Serious Mental Disabilities

Washington D.C. - This week, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) and Texas Appleseed filed an amicus brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) supporting Immigration Judges' authority to terminate removal proceedings against noncitizens with serious mental disabilities where a full and fair hearing would be impossible. Because immigration courts lack many of the due process protections that exist in other areas of our judicial system, more specific safeguards are necessary to protect the most vulnerable populations.

The LAC and Texas Appleseed filed the brief in the case of B-Z, a longtime legal permanent resident diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, who could not understand the purpose of the proceedings, assist counsel with his defense or present coherent testimony. The brief argues that immigration courts should adopt standards for evaluating mental competency similar to those employed in federal criminal or civil trials. Furthermore, Immigration Judges should be permitted to appoint counsel where non-citizens with serious mental disabilities are not competent to proceed on their own. Additional safeguards, including the appointment of a guardian ad litem, may also be required for noncitizens who are so severely incapacitated that they cannot understand and assist with their hearings even with the assistance of counsel. Finally, the brief contends that termination is proper where no conceivable set of safeguards would enable the respondent to participate meaningfully in proceedings and the record supports some inference of eligibility for relief.

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03/11/11 | Legal Action Center Urges Court to Strike Down Regulation Barring Post-Departure Motions to Reopen

Washington D.C. - This week, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center, joined by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, submitted an amicus brief to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Contreras-Bocanegra v. Holder, urging the court to strike down the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) regulation barring review of motions to reopen filed by noncitizens outside the United States. The Legal Action Center and the National Immigration Project have coordinated litigation on this issue nationwide and call on the BIA to abandon its misguided regulation.

 

Federal law gives noncitizens the right to file motions to submit new evidence after their removal orders become final. For many years, the BIA has wrongly determined that it cannot consider such a motion if a foreign national is outside the United States. This policy gives the government a perverse incentive to remove noncitizens from the country before they have an opportunity to submit evidence that could change the outcome of their cases. Moreover, the policy is at odds with provisions of a harsh 1996 immigration law that resulted in a dramatic reduction in due process rights and expansion of expedited removal but that made it clear that noncitizens had the opportunity to seek review of unfavorable decisions from outside the United States.

 

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03/10/11 | Utah's Immigration Solution Not a National Model

Washington D.C. - Late Friday night, the Utah Legislature passed three immigration-related bills that await Governor Herbert's signature or veto. Utah's policy discussions were guided by the principles of a much-lauded Utah Compact, which brought together leaders from political parties, business, labor, and faith-based organizations for a thoughtful dialogue about immigration policy. The Compact was a welcome relief from the angry vitriol that has often dominated the debate and was well-regarded as a rational, solution-based conversation about the complexity of effective immigration reform. It recognizes that the current unauthorized immigrant population is made up of workers, taxpayers, and consumers, and that enforcement strategies must be coupled with reform of our legal system of immigration in order to meet legitimate labor force needs. Unfortunately, the Utah state legislature was not able to realize the Compact's aspirations.

The three bills represent one state's attempt to provide solutions that go beyond the enforcement-only approach of Arizona's SB1070 and similar copycats being considered in other states. It is noteworthy that Utah's legislature acknowledged that immigration is a complex issue, and that a realistic solution involves more than asking people for their papers and deporting those who lack legal status. However, what these well-intentioned Utah legislators have created is an aggressive Arizona-style enforcement program with no counter-balance. The provisions intended to create legal work status and visas are clearly at odds with the Constitution and cannot be implemented by state action alone.

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03/01/11 | Georgia State Legislature Pursuing Budget Busting Solutions to Immigration

Washington D.C. – In the face of a $1.7 billion budget shortfall in fiscal year 2011, Georgia state legislators are currently pursuing anti-immigrant legislation that could further damage the state’s bottom line.  House Bill 87, a copycat of Arizona’s SB1070, is currently working its way through the state legislature without the benefit of a fiscal note or other data to show the public the costs of the bill.  However, other states pursuing similar proposals, like Kentucky and Utah, have measured the costs which they estimate reach into the tens of millions of dollars. Aside from the costs of implementation, the expected price tag for defending these measures in court would likely cost the state millions of dollars that it doesn’t have. Georgia legislators should consider the following evidence before final votes are taken on HB 87.

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02/28/11 | New Study on Immigrant Integration Compares and Ranks the United States, Canada, and Europe

Washington D.C. - In cooperation with the Immigration Policy Center, the British Council and the Migration Policy Group release a new study today which reviews and ranks U.S. immigrant integration policies against other countries. The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX: www.mipex.eu) contrasts and compares integration policies for legal immigrants across countries in Europe and North America. The United States is ranked ninth among 31 countries. This is the first year the United States has been part of the study, and IPC is pleased to be chosen as the U.S. partner for this important study.

The MIPEX compares and ranks countries across 148 policy indicators, providing objective and comparable data presented in a reference guide and an interactive online tool to help policymakers, advocates and researchers assess and compare integration policies around the globe. The policy indicators are divided into seven categories: employment opportunities, family reunion, education, political participation, long-term residence, access to citizenship and anti-discrimination. Countries include all 27 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, and the USA.

Overall the U.S. ranked ninth in terms of integration policies, and first in terms of its strong anti-discrimination laws and protections. The U.S. also ranked high on the access to citizenship scale because it encourages newcomers to become citizens in order to fully participate in American public life. Compared with other countries, legal immigrants in the U.S. enjoy employment opportunities, educational opportunities, and the opportunity to reunite with close family members. However, MIPEX also acknowledges that the U.S.'s complex immigration laws, limited visa ability, high fees, and long backlogs may make it challenging for immigrants to integrate into the fabric of American life.

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02/10/11 | E-Verify: Burdens Businesses and Displaces U.S. Workers

Washington D.C. - Today, the House Immigration Subcommittee held its second hearing of the new session. Ironically, the hearing was titled "E-Verify - Preserving Jobs for American Workers." Some members of Congress persist in their belief that expanding E-Verify and making it mandatory is a magic-bullet solution to our immigration woes. However, data and analysis demonstrate that expanding E-Verify now would actually have harmful consequences for U.S. workers, employers, and the economy.

Earlier today, the Immigration Policy Center hosted a call with a U.S. citizen who was wrongfully terminated due to an E-Verify error, an attorney who sees first hand the economic impact voluntary E-Verify is having on U.S. businesses and workers, and policy experts.

U.S. citizen Jessica St. Pierre described her experience after being rejected by E-Verify. She spent four months trying to correct the error, which originated with her employer and E-Verify. Jessica dealt with federal agencies, credit bureaus and her former employer, trying to clear her name so she could return to work. Read Jessica's story.

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02/04/11 | Board of Immigration Appeals Overturns Previous Ruling, Narrows Grounds for Deportation

Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) modified its much-criticized interpretation of a law which wrongly expanded the number of immigrants subject to removal from the United States. The BIA's modification partially adopts the position of the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center, which argued in an amicus brief that a prior BIA decision ignored the intent of Congress when it interpreted the law to cover longtime U.S residents in addition to more recent arrivals.

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02/03/11 | Federal Court Upholds Immigrants' Right To Reopen Cases From Outside the U.S.

Washington, D.C. - Today, a federal appellate court chastised the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for preventing noncitizens from reopening their cases from outside the United States. This important ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit repudiates the government's view that immigration judges and the BIA lack "jurisdiction" over such cases.

The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, which filed a joint amicus brief in the case, applaud the Sixth Circuit's ruling. The Legal Action Center and National Immigration Project have coordinated litigation on this issue nationwide and call on the BIA to abandon its misguided regulation barring review of motions filed by noncitizens outside the United States.

"The Sixth Circuit recognized that the regulation deprives noncitizens of their statutory right to present new evidence in their cases. The decision corrects the government's unlawful attempt to separate families and opens the door for them to return to the United States," said attorney Trina Realmuto of the National Immigration Project. Beth Werlin of the Legal Action Center said, "A motion may be a person's only chance to present his case to the immigration judge. The government should take immediate steps to withdraw this unfair and outdated regulation rather than proceed with continued, unnecessary and costly litigation."

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