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11/05/13 | Court Approves Settlement in National Class Action Lawsuit on Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers

Washington, DC – On Monday, November 4, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones ordered the final approval of a nationwide class action settlement agreement. The settlement will help ensure that asylum seekers, who have fled persecution in their home countries, are not unlawfully prevented from working and supporting their families while the government adjudicates their cases.  The changes will commence on December 3, 2013.

The agreement stems from a case filed in December 2011 by the American Immigration Council and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), with co-counsel from the Seattle law firm Gibbs Houston Pauw and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.  The complaint challenged widespread problems with the “asylum clock”—the system government agencies use to determine when immigrants who have applied for asylum may obtain permission to work lawfully in the United States.

The case, filed on behalf of asylum seekers around the country, alleged that the current system unlawfully denies asylum applicants the opportunity to obtain employment authorization if their asylum applications have been pending for six months or more. Some end up waiting several months or years for the government to make a decision on their asylum applications.  Indeed, one plaintiff from China had been waiting nearly 10 years for his case to be resolved.

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10/02/13 | House Democrats Unveil Comprehensive Immigration Reform Proposal

Washington D.C. - Today, in an important effort to keep the conversation and momentum on immigration reform moving forward in the House, a group of centrist Democrats introduced their version of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Although the full text has not yet been made available, it is said to be a modification of the bipartisan Senate bill of the same name adopted earlier this year. Among other reported changes, the House bill takes a different path on border security, incorporating a bill introduced by Republican Congressman Mike McCaul which passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Homeland Security in May of 2013. The House sponsors—including Representatives Garcia, Chu, Polis, DelBene, and Horsford—adopted provisions of the McCaul-Thompson bill as a replacement for the costly, controversial “border surge” strategy adopted by the Senate under the Corker-Hoeven amendment.  

Substantively, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced today reflects a series of bipartisan policy and political compromises made during deliberations in the Senate. The original co-sponsors represent diverse interests from within the Democratic Party, including the New Democrats Coalition, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

The following is a statement from the American Immigration Council’s Executive Director, Benjamin Johnson:

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10/01/13 | First Circuit Holds That Immigrants Can Pursue Cases From Outside the United States

Washington, D.C. - Last week, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals who have been deported must have the opportunity to pursue motions to reopen their cases from outside the United States.  A motion to reopen is an important procedural safeguard that helps ensure noncitizens are afforded a fair immigration hearing.  The American Immigration Council and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), which filed an amicus brief in the First Circuit and argued before the court, welcome the court’s ruling in Perez Santana v. Holder.

Despite having lost in nine other circuits, the government continued to vigorously defend a regulation – the so called “departure bar” – barring individuals from pursuing their cases from outside the United States.  This most recent decision means that all but one circuit court of appeals has rejected the government’s arguments and concluded that the regulation is unlawful.  Only the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the legality of the departure bar.  The American Immigration Council and NIPNLG renew their call for the agency to strike this unlawful regulation.

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08/28/13 | LAC and CLINIC Release Practice Advisory on Advanced Parole for DACA Recipients

Washington, D.C.—The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC), in collaboration with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), is pleased to announce the release of a new practice advisory, Advance Parole For Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients. One of the benefits of DACA is that a recipient may seek permission – through a process known as “advance parole” – to travel abroad temporarily for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes. This practice advisory provides guidance on advance parole eligibility for DACA recipients; outlines how a DACA recipient may apply for advance parole; addresses the legal issues that can confront a DACA recipient considering travel on advance parole, including any potential risks; and finally, covers the impact that the travel may have on the DACA recipient’s future immigration benefits. 

For a complete list of the LAC’s Practice Advisories, please visit our website.

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For more information, contact clearinghouse@immcouncil.org or call 202-507-7516.

 

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08/15/13 | How DACA is Impacting the Lives of Those Who Are Now DACAmented

Washington D.C. - Today, on the one-year anniversary of USCIS’ implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Immigration Policy Center, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California, releases early findings from the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP)—a longitudinal mixed-methods study of the impact of DACA on the educational, labor market, health, and civic engagement outcomes of young adult immigrants.

While the DACA program does not provide permanent legal status or a path to citizenship, it does provide a two-year renewable grant of deferral from deportation for certain young immigrants and allows them to apply for work permits and social security cards. The research finds that DACA is increasing their opportunities for economic and social incorporation. According to the survey, many recipients also seek further social integration beyond DACA. In fact, almost all DACA recipients indicate that they would apply for U.S. citizenship if given the opportunity. The study also shows that DACA recipients are often fearful that family members and friends could be deported at any time.

Overall, the research indicates that although DACA opens up some economic opportunities for young aspiring Americans, it does not address the constant threat of deportation still facing those closest to them, including mothers, fathers, and siblings.

To view the research summary see:

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08/15/13 | LAC Issues New 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:  Cracking Down on Fourth Amendment Violations by State and Local Law Enforcement Officers.

Increasingly, state and local law enforcement officers are assisting the federal government in immigration enforcement, whether through formal agreements under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; through participation in Secure Communities and the Criminal Alien Program; through state laws such as those enacted in Arizona, Alabama, and elsewhere; or through policies promoted by local mayors, sheriffs, and police chiefs.  Motions to suppress seek to exclude evidence obtained by such officers in violation of an individual’s constitutional or other legal rights.

The LAC’s new practice advisory deals primarily with Fourth Amendment limitations on state and local immigration enforcement efforts and also briefly addresses Fifth Amendment violations that may arise from the same types of encounters with state and local officers.  It also discusses some of the legal issues that may arise when noncitizens in removal proceedings move to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a constitutional violation by such officers.

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08/14/13 | New “Pocket DACA” Mobile App Helps Young Immigrants Apply for Deferred Action

Washington, D.C. - The American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), and the Own the Dream campaign are proud to announce the launch of a new "Pocket DACA" app for smartphones and tablets that will help immigrants brought to this country as children understand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. Through DACA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is granting two-year, renewable reprieves from deportation to eligible young immigrants who meet certain criteria.

The free app, available for download from the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores, offers a self-screening tool for DACA applicants to understand their eligibility and a searchable directory of listings for immigration legal services providers, including non-profit groups, in all 50 states. The app also includes links to news about the deferred action process and frequently asked questions.

"This app is yet another way that AILA's national organization and members are reaching out to the young undocumented population who may be eligible for this potentially life-changing opportunity, while offering protection from scammers who may try to take advantage of a vulnerable population," said Laura Lichter, AILA's Immediate Past President who was involved in developing a related online screening tool.

"AIC is proud to have been a part of the development of this new app, which includes an easy-to-use and accurate screening tool and answers questions potential applicants may have. This free app will leverage the power of technology and social media to help young immigrants decide whether to apply for this temporary relief," said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

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08/09/13 | American Immigration Council Commends Decision Expanding Availability of Hardship Waivers to LPRs

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a unanimous decision that will allow more lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to avoid deportation if their removal would result in extreme hardship to family members in the United States.  The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center, which collaborated with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) on an amicus brief in the case, applauds today’s ruling and repeats its call for the Board to overturn its contrary decision in Matter of Koljenovic, 25 I&N Dec. 219 (2010).

With this decision, the Seventh Circuit joined the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits in holding that Section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) precludes a waiver only for those persons who, at the time they lawfully entered the United States, had become lawful permanent residents.  For many LPRs facing removal, such waivers are the only means to avoid separation from U.S. family members.  In their amicus brief, the Council and NIJC argued that the Board ignored the plain language of the INA, which distinguishes between applicants who entered the country as LPRs and those who gained LPR status post-entry.

The case is Papazoglou v. Holder, No. 12-2372.  Maria Baldini-Potermin of Chicago represented the petitioner.

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For more information, contact clearinghouse@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7516.

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08/02/13 | ICE Agrees to Release Thousands of Previously-Withheld Records

Washington, DC – Yesterday, a U.S. District Court in Connecticut approved a settlement in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit challenging the refusal of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release tens of thousands of documents about the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), one of the agency’s largest enforcement programs. CAP currently is active in all state and federal prisons, as well as more than 300 local jails throughout the country and is implicated in approximately half of all deportation proceedings.  Although CAP supposedly targets the worst criminal offenders, the program also appears to target individuals with little or no criminal history for deportation and to incentivize pretextual stops and racial profiling.

Although CAP facilitates the removal of hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, very little information about the program is available to the public. To better understand CAP, the American Immigration Council (AIC), in collaboration with the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of Yale Law School and the Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), filed a FOIA lawsuit to compel ICE to disclose information about CAP. 

Under the terms of the settlement, ICE has agreed to produce numerous previously-withheld records, including:

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08/02/13 | ICE Agrees to Release Thousands of Previously-Withheld Records

Washington, DC – Yesterday, a U.S. District Court in Connecticut approved a settlement in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit challenging the refusal of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release tens of thousands of documents about the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), one of the agency’s largest enforcement programs. CAP currently is active in all state and federal prisons, as well as more than 300 local jails throughout the country and is implicated in approximately half of all deportation proceedings. Although CAP supposedly targets the worst criminal offenders, the program also appears to target individuals with little or no criminal history for deportation and to incentivize pretextual stops and racial profiling.

Although CAP facilitates the removal of hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, very little information about the program is available to the public. To better understand CAP, the American Immigration Council (AIC), in collaboration with the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic of Yale Law School and the Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), filed a FOIA lawsuit to compel ICE to disclose information about CAP. 

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