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12/16/10 | State Lawmakers from Critical States Speak Out in Favor of DREAM Act

Washington D.C. - Today, a group of state legislators from Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Texas, and Utah participated in a briefing to share their support for federal legislation know as the DREAM Act. The bi-partisan DREAM Act passed the House of Representatives and awaits a final vote in the Senate in the days ahead. The DREAM Act offers undocumented students the opportunity to gain legal status after completing two years of college or military service, in addition to other requirements. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that 755,000 of the 1.9 million eligible unauthorized immigrants would likely satisfy the DREAM Act's postsecondary or military requirements and obtain legal permanent status. 

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12/10/10 | Scholars United Behind DREAM Act

Washington, D.C. - Today, more than fifty leading university professors urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act, noting that both their academic research and their work as teachers compelled them to speak out on behalf of the undocumented students whose future hangs in the balance over today's vote.   These scholars, who have dedicated their professional lives to studying migration-related issues, noted:

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12/01/10 | Restrictionist Group Continues Cynical Legacy of Counting Costs While Ignoring Benefits

In a new report, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) paints a misleading financial portrait of the DREAM Act.  The report, entitled Estimating the Impact of the DREAM Act, claims that the bill would be a burden on U.S. taxpayers and would "crowd out" native-born students in the classroom.  However, the available evidence does not support either of these dire predictions.  In fact:

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11/08/10 | H-1B Employees Should Not Face Arrest While Extension Pending

Late last week, the Legal Action Center of the American Immigration Council (LAC), together with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), filed an amicus brief arguing that an H-1B employee should not face arrest, detention or deportation after his initial period of admission expires if a pending extension request remains under review. The brief, filed in federal district court in Connecticut, maintains that H-1B employers who follow the law should not lose valuable employees because of widespread delays at immigration processing centers."Both existing law and common sense dictate that the government cannot sit on an employer's H-1B extension request and then arrest the employee due to its own processing delays," said Melissa Crow, director of the Legal Action Center.

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10/29/10 | Pew Omits Important Details in Report on the Labor Force

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Pew Hispanic Center released a report that has an attention-getting headline, but pays little attention to detail.  The report makes much of recent data indicating that unemployment has fallen slightly among foreign-born workers over the past year, while rising slightly among native-born workers.  Some observers will undoubtedly conclude from this that the jobs which went to foreign-born workers would have otherwise gone to native-born workers if not for the presence of immigrants in the labor market.  However, this is not the case.  In reality, immigrant and native-born workers are not interchangeable, nor do they compete with each other for some fixed number of jobs in the U.S. economy. Moreover, many immigrants are highly skilled professionals who create jobs through their inventiveness and entrepreneurship.

Unfortunately, the Pew report provides no detail about the skill level of the workers who have gained or lost jobs since last year, nor does it tell us where in the country they live.  Yet this is critical information in determining how many unemployed natives might have filled jobs which went to immigrants. As the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) pointed out in an August 2009 report, employed immigrants and unemployed natives “tend to have different levels of education, to live in different parts of the country, to have experience in different occupations, and to have different amounts of work experience. As a result, they could not simply be ‘swapped’ for one another.”

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10/07/10 | Legal Action Center Argues for Greater Federal Court Oversight of Immigration Decisions

Washington D.C. - In a continuing effort to promote greater federal court oversight of immigration decision-making, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) recently submitted amicus (friend of the court) briefs in two cases involving motions to reopen. For noncitizens facing removal from the United States, a motion to reopen (an opportunity to present new evidence in a case) may be the last and only way to pursue their claims for lawful residency in the United States. Failure to grant such a motion might prevent anyone - from an asylum seeker to a U.S. citizen's family member - from presenting new evidence that could prevent deportation.  Yet, although the federal courts are the last chance for redress, they frequently refuse to hear claims that immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals abuse their discretion when they deny motions to reopen.

The LAC argument is based on the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Kucana v. Holder that the Board of Immigration Appeals cannot shield its decisions from judicial review by labeling these decisions "discretionary." Only Congress can limit court review of motions to reopen, and it has not done so.

Given the gravity of removal from the United States, the high volume of immigration court cases, and the reality that most noncitizens do not have lawyers (only 39% of noncitizens were represented in immigration court in 2009), federal court oversight is critical to ensure due process.  For an immigration system that is widely understood to be plagued with errors, judicial checks and balances are especially critical.

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10/05/10 | The American Immigration Council Addresses Problems with Draft Immigration Detainer Policy

Washington D.C. - The American Immigration Council has joined a number of organizations in formally commenting on a proposed detainer policy issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Detainers are requests from ICE to local law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to hold people - whom they suspect may be in the country illegally or who may be deportable for other reasons - so they can be transferred into ICE's custody. There has been much criticism about how ICE uses detainers, and the use of detainers has expanded over time with enforcement programs like 287(g), Secure Communities, and the Criminal Alien Program. To address the criticisms, ICE developed new draft guidelines on the issuance of detainers.
 
The Immigration Council acknowledges ICE's attempt to ameliorate its detainer policies and is grateful for the opportunity to comment.  However, the comments identify several major problems with the proposed guidance, including:

  • The proposed guidelines do not reflect ICE's stated enforcement priorities.  In July, ICE issued a memo on its enforcement priorities, focusing on immigrants with serious criminal histories.  ICE's proposed detainer guidelines contradict those priorities.  Although ICE claims to target convicted criminals who pose a threat to public safety, the proposed guidance would allow ICE to issue detainers against people arrested for minor offenses and suspects charged with crimes but not convicted.

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09/30/10 | Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Introduced in the Senate

Washington D.C. - On Wednesday, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S.B. 3932, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010. The bill takes a broad approach to solving the wide range of problems that plague our broken immigration system. It offers proposals on border, interior, and worksite enforcement, on legalization, and on future flows of immigration. Now the Senate and House both have a vehicle (Congressman Luis Gutierrez previously introduced a CIR bill in the House last December) for generating a serious discussion on immigration reform in the coming weeks. These bills are a direct response to the overwhelming public demand for solutions to our broken immigration system. Both political parties have acknowledged that this broken system is no longer sustainable, and is disrupting America's businesses, families, and long-term economic recovery.

"It is hard to turn ideas into legislation and legislation into good law, but Senators Menendez and Leahy have injected new life into the immigration reform debate," said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. "At a time when every social issue we care about bumps up against immigration - healthcare, national security, and the economy - this bill is a step in the right direction. However, attention now turns to the rest of the Senate and House - where there are serious comprehensive proposals which lawmakers can react to and build upon - and the question remains; will they embrace this challenge or kick it down the road once again?"

The Immigration Policy Center has prepared a summary of the The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 which can be accessed at:

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09/21/10 | DREAM Delayed in the Senate

Washington D.C. - Today, the Senate voted 56 to 43 against proceeding to the Defense Authorization Act. This procedural vote, which basically followed party lines, ends consideration of critical social issues that affect the military and were to be offered as amendments to the bill. Among the amendments not considered is the DREAM Act, an immigration bill that would provide legal status to young people who graduate from high school and pursue college or military service.

The following is a statement from Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center:

"The political gridlock that has immobilized the Senate has resulted once again in a lost opportunity for the American people. By refusing to allow the Defense Authorization Act to proceed, America will not see, at this time, an up or down vote on the DREAM Act, which would have been a first legislative step in resolving our immigration crisis. The Senators who voted "no" today are ignoring unequivocal evidence that the DREAM Act is good for military readiness, the American workforce and the U.S. economy. 

The energy and enthusiasm of thousands of young people who have poured themselves into promoting the DREAM Act has not been wasted, however. Because of their efforts, more people today understand the importance of DREAM to our economy, our military, and the future of our country than ever before."

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For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at wsefsaf@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524.

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09/16/10 | LAC Seeks Greater Safeguards in Removal Proceedings for Immigrants with Mental Disabilities

Earlier this week, the American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center filed an amicus brief with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) urging the government to protect the rights of immigrants whose mental disabilities prevent them from participating meaningfully in their own removal hearings.  "This is particularly disturbing given that these immigrants are not granted court-appointed counsel in removal proceedings" said Melissa Crow, Director of the Legal Action Center.

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