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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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09/15/10 | DREAM Act Coming to the Senate Floor

Washington, D.C. - Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would attach the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to the Department of Defense authorization bill expected to come before the Senate as early as next week. The vote will be an important test of whether Congress can transcend partisan politics and work together on crafting solutions to the broken immigration system that both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge is in desperate need of reform. That the proposal will be considered as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill is appropriate, given the Department of Defense's support for DREAM Act as a way to improve military readiness. 

First introduced in 2001, the DREAM Act would address the plight of young immigrants who have been raised in the U.S. and managed to succeed despite the challenges of being brought to the U.S. without proper documentation. The proposal would offer a path to legal status to those who have graduated from high-school, have stayed out of trouble and plan to attend college or serve in the U.S. military for at least two years.
 
Each year, approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school, many at the top of their classes, but cannot go to college, join the military, work, or otherwise pursue their dreams. They belong to the 1.5 generation - any (first generation) immigrants brought to the United States at a young age who were largely raised in this country and therefore share much in common with second generation Americans. These students are culturally American, growing up here and often having little attachment to their country of birth. They tend to be bicultural and fluent in English.

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09/07/10 | American Immigration Council Announces New Leadership of its Legal Action Center

The American Immigration Council (AIC) is pleased to announce a new leadership team at our Legal Action Center (LAC). Melissa Crow has joined our staff as the new Director and Beth Werlin has been promoted to Deputy Director of the LAC. These two incredibly talented lawyers bring a diverse set of skills and experiences that will strengthen and expand the important work of the Center.

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09/02/10 | 14th Annual Creative Writing Contest Launched

The American Immigration Council's Community Education Center has launced the 14th Annual "Celebrate America" creative writing contest.  Every year thousands of 5th graders from across the country participate in local contests.

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08/11/10 | Pew Report Sheds Little Light on Birthright Citizenship

Washington D.C. - Over the last several weeks, a handful of elected officials have re-ignited a call for the repeal of birthright citizenship. Claiming that countless unauthorized and temporary immigrants are coming to the United States solely to give birth, some are suggesting changing the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, thereby forcing the U.S. government to individually determine the citizenship of every single child born in the country.

A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center is intended to provide data on the numbers of children born to unauthorized immigrants each year. However, the report offers no real clarity on the question of birthright citizenship. Limitations in the Census data upon which the report is based make it impossible to determine how many children are born into families in which both parents are unauthorized or temporarily in the United States. As a result, the report is only able estimate that 340,000 of the 4.3 million children born in the United States in 2008 had at least one unauthorized parent. In other words, this figure includes families in which one parent is unauthorized and the other a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant, so we still have no idea how many children would be affected by a change to the Fourteenth Amendment. If anything, the Pew report highlights how complicated this issue is given that so many unauthorized immigrants live in "mixed status" families that also include U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.

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07/28/10 | Arizona Judge Delineates Between State and Federal Authority

Washington, D.C. - Today, Phoenix district court judge Susan Bolton enjoined key provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB1070. The judge recognized that the federal government has primary authority over making and enforcing immigration law, and that while states have limited authority in this arena, they cannot interfere with federal enforcement or undermine federal priorities. The decision acknowledges the complex nature of immigration law and the harmful consequences of local police attempting to make immigration determinations. The judge also recognized the serious strain that the Arizona law would place on federal resources, which would detract from the federal government's ability to enforce immigration laws in other states and target resources toward serious criminals.

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07/20/10 | Lawsuit Filed Against DHS and USCIS Seeks Transparency Promised by Obama Administration

The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) seeking the public release of records concerning agency policies and procedures for the "H-1B" visa program - a program which allows U.S. businesses to temporarily employ highly-skilled foreign workers.

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07/19/10 | AIC/AILA Litigation Institute

Strengthen your litigation skills in Leesburg, Va., this fall, via our hands-on, educational format! Now more than ever immigration lawyers need to be equipped to litigate issues on behalf of their clients. This Institute will enable both neophytes and experienced practitioners to acquire new skills, to practice their technique, and to become confident and knowledgeable about litigation in immigration court and in the federal courts. Please see http://www.aila.org/li for registration information.

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07/06/10 | FAIR's Distorted Fiscal Snapshot of Unauthorized Immigrants

Washington D.C. -  Today, Fox News is reporting on data provided to them by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which amounts to a highly misleading fiscal snapshot of the costs allegedly imposed on U.S. taxpayers by unauthorized immigrants.  However, in its rush to portray unauthorized immigrants as nothing more than a drain on the public treasury, FAIR completely discounts the economic contributions of unauthorized workers and consumers.  Moreover, FAIR inflates their cost estimate by indiscriminately lumping together native-born, U.S.-citizen children with their unauthorized parents.


FAIR's report suffers from three fatal flaws:

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07/06/10 | The United States v. Arizona: Drawing a Clear Line Between Federal and State Immigration Authority

Washington, D.C. - Today, the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona in federal court. The lawsuit, prompted by passage of SB 1070 in the Arizona legislature, will argue that federal law trumps the state statute and enforcing immigration law is a federal responsibility. The Department has requested a preliminary injunction to delay enactment of the law, arguing that the law's operation will cause "irreparable harm."
 
"The federal government is taking an important step to reassert its authority over immigration policy in the United States," said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. "While a legal challenge by the Department of Justice won't resolve the public's frustration with our broken immigration system, it will seek to define and protect the federal government's constitutional authority to manage immigration."
 
Although states have always played a role in federal immigration enforcement, over the last 10 years more and more states have chosen to impose their local policies, priorities, and politics on our national immigration system. America can only have one immigration system, and the federal government must make clear where states' authority begins and where it ends. The federal government must assert its authority to establish a uniform immigration policy that it can be held accountable for. In the current environment it is unclear who is responsible for setting immigration enforcement priorities and who is responsible for their success or failure.

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