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04/11/11 | Filling the Leadership Void: What is President Obama’s Vision on Immigration?

Washington D.C. - More than two years into the Obama Administration, it is still unclear whether President Obama’s immigration agenda will ultimately be remembered as an enforcement-driven enterprise, or one that uses the full force of executive branch authority to improve our badly broken system. On the one hand, the President continues to voice support for comprehensive immigration reform that would create a new immigration system that is more fair, just, and practical than the unworkable system now in place. On the other hand, the Administration repeatedly trumpets the fact that it is deporting more people with greater efficiency than its predecessors. When confronted by this apparent contradiction, Administration officials claim that, in the absence of Congressional action, their hands are tied and they must simply enforce the dysfunctional laws that are now on the books. This response ignores the important and completely legitimate role that the Executive branch of government has always played in interpreting and implementing existing laws.

It is time for the Administration to more clearly define a vision for what its legacy on immigration will be, then take action to ensure that vision is reflected in its interpretation and implementation of immigration law. Without bold and decisive action, President Obama’s legacy on immigration will come to be defined by a do-nothing Congress with a chronic inability to pass legislative reform.

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04/06/11 | AILA/AIC Letter to Secretary Napolitano on DHS' Use of Prosecutorial Discretion

AILA and AIC submitted a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano expressing concerns and offering assistance and perspective with respect to implementing a well-balanced policy on the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

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04/06/11 | Defense of Marriage Act letters to DHS, EOIR and OIL

AILA and AIC, joined by dozens of other organizations, submitted letters to DHS, EOIR and OIL urging the adoption of interim measures in immigration cases involving same-sex marriages pending final judicial or legislative resolution regarding Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Among the interim measures proposed, the letters ask the agencies to hold in abeyance all petitions and applications that are based upon a same-sex marriage and to administratively close or otherwise continue all removal cases in which relief may be available based upon a same-sex marriage.

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04/05/11 | House Subcommittee Continues Assault on All Forms of Immigration

Washington D.C. - Opponents of immigration reform are often quick to differentiate their disdain for unauthorized immigration from their alleged support of legal immigration. However, finding any evidence of that support has always been elusive and, over the past several months, the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement has conducted hearings that question the value of all forms of immigration. They continue to perpetuate the myth that all immigrants - including legal immigrants - are stealing jobs from native-born workers.

Today, the committee continues these same attacks on legal channels of immigration with a hearing on diversity visas, a program which provides 55,000 green cards annually by lottery to persons from countries that do not currently send many immigrants to the United States. The diversity visa is a relatively small program designed to increase the diversity of our immigrant flows. One prime example of a diversity visa winner is famed soccer player Freddy Adu.

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04/04/11 | American Immigration Council Urges DOJ to Undertake Regulatory Reform

In response to the Department of Justice’s request for comments regarding a review of its existing regulations, the American Immigration Council highlighted several issues we previously have brought to the attention of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. We urge the Department to: (1) withdraw the departure bar to motions to reopen; (2) issue clear yet flexible rules governing ineffective assistance of counsel claims; (3) initiate a rulemaking process to establish fair removal procedures for noncitizens with mental disabilities; and (4) consider regulatory amendments that would remedy Employment Authorization Document asylum clock problems. Our letter describes these four requests and provides accompanying information detailing the need for regulatory reform.

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03/30/11 | Legal Action Center Pursues Campaign to Protect Judicial Review

Washington D.C. - In a continuing effort to protect the right to judicial review and promote greater federal court oversight of immigration decisions, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) recently submitted an amicus brief in another case involving a sua sponte motion to reopen. A three-judge panel in this case, Salado-Alva v. Holder, No. 10-73142 (9th Cir.), said that the Board of Immigration Appeals' denial of the sua sponte motion was not reviewable. The panel relied on prior cases holding that decisions on sua sponte motions "are committed to agency discretion." The LAC is urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case en banc.

The LAC argues that under the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Kucana v. Holder, the Board of Immigration Appeals cannot shield its decisions from judicial review by labeling decisions on sua sponte motions "discretionary." Only Congress can limit court review of motions to reopen, and it has not done so. Moreover, the result in this case is irreconcilable with other Ninth Circuit decisions. The petitioner is represented by the U.C. Davis Immigration Law Clinic.

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For more information contact Brian Yourish at 202-507-7516 or byourish@immcouncil.org.

 

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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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