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01/28/14 | Immigration Reform and the State of the Union

Washington D.C. - Tonight, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button and laid out his priorities for 2014—and, ultimately, the final leg of his presidency. During the State of the Union address, the President discussed the need to create jobs and greater opportunity for all. He also made it clear that immigration reform and economic recovery go hand-in-hand, and he expects the House of Representatives to make the next move on immigration reform. The President said: 

“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.  Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted.  I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.  Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.  And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone.  So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”

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01/24/14 | LAC Issues Updated Practice Advisory on Stays of Removal in the Courts of Appeals

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) announces the release of an updated practice advisory, Seeking a Judicial Stay of Removal in the Court of Appeals

Filing a petition for review of a removal order does not automatically stay an individual’s removal from the United States. A court of appeals, however, may issue a judicial stay of removal to prevent the government from deporting a person while his or her petition for review is pending before the court. In Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009), the Supreme Court instructed courts to adjudicate stay motions by applying the “traditional” standard for a stay. Under this standard, the courts must consider the likelihood of success on the merits, the harm to the applicant absent a stay, whether the issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding, and where the public interest lies.

This Practice Advisory provides background information about requesting stays of removal from the courts of appeals, discusses the legal standard for obtaining a stay, and addresses the implications of the government’s policy with respect to return of individuals who are successful on their appeals. A sample stay motion, a sample declaration in support of a stay motion, and sample guidelines to assist families, friends and community members in writing letters in support of stay requests are attached to the advisory.

The LAC issued this advisory jointly with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Boston College Post Deportation Human Rights Project and the Immigrant Rights Clinic, Washington Square Legal Services, New York University School of Law.

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12/03/13 | Legal Action Center Issues Updated FAQ on the Asylum Clock Class Action Settlement

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce an update of Frequently Asked Questions About the Asylum Clock Class Action Settlement.  This updated FAQ answers questions about the benefits provided under the settlement of the nationwide class action, ABT v. USCIS, which challenged policies related to employment authorization for asylum applicants.  For more information about the ABT case, see the LAC’s Asylum Clock webpage.  The FAQ is released in coordination with co-counsel in the lawsuit, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Gibbs, Houston and Pauw.  

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

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11/20/13 | Departure Bar to Motions to Reopen and Reconsider: Legal Overview and Related Issues

This practice advisory discusses the "departure bar" to motions to reopen and arguments adopted by circuit courts that have rejected or upheld the bar.

 

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11/14/13 | Speaker Boehner Ignores the Costs of Doing Nothing

Washington D.C. - Yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner reassured the far-right wing of the Republican Party and anti-immigrant activists that he would never agree to a conference to hammer out an agreement on a House immigration bill and S. 744, the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill that passed in June. While that statement may have been reassuring to a few die-hard anti-immigration reform activists, it had the opposite effect for the vast majority of Americans. The Speaker’s statement does not stop the clock on the economic, social, and societal costs of doing nothing on immigration. It also does not honor the hard work of Democrats and Republicans who have worked in good faith to pass the Senate bill and negotiate on various fronts in the House.  

However, what Speaker Boehner's statement does do is open the door to more protests and public outrage, encourage states to continue to take the lead on immigration policy and leave the administration in the difficult situation of deciding how long they will let Congressional inaction continue before they will intervene. When Congress refuses to act they make themselves less relevant and reinforce the idea that they cannot work constructively to fix our nation's most pressing problems.

Thus, rather than tamp down the flames of reform, the Speaker’s statements will embolden those who will work to fix immigration policy on their own - for better or worse. It’s inevitable that immigration reform will happen it’s just a matter of how much our economy, communities, and the Republican Party will lose in the meantime

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For press inquiries contact, Wendy Feliz at wfeliz@immcouncil.org or 202-812-2499

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11/13/13 | LAC Issues New Practice Advisory on Motions to Suppress Evidence Unlawfully Obtained by CBP

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) has just released a new practice advisory, Motions to Suppress in Removal Proceedings: Fighting Back Against Unlawful Conduct by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Since 9/11, Congressional appropriations for border security have skyrocketed.  This influx of resources to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has corresponded with increased reports of pretextual arrests, racial profiling, excessive use of force, and coercive tactics to aid immigration enforcement along both borders.  Although these enforcement practices often violate the constitutional, statutory or regulatory framework governing the conduct of CBP officers, they are rarely challenged in immigration court. 

The LAC’s new practice advisory discusses some of the factual scenarios that may give rise to successful motions to suppress evidence obtained unlawfully by CBP officers, including CBP inspectors stationed at ports of entry and Border Patrol agents, who operate between ports of entry.  It also addresses some of the legal issues specific to motions to suppress evidence obtained at and near the border.  If successful, a motion to suppress can prevent the government from using unlawfully obtained evidence to prove alienage, which may result in the termination of removal proceedings. 

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11/08/13 | American Immigration Council Files BALCA Brief Challenging Unfair DOL Process

Yesterday, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with AILA, filed an amicus brief in an en banc case pending before the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA), an administrative body at the Department of Labor (DOL) that reviews denials of PERM labor certifications.  The case involves a regulation that requires employers to notify certain U.S. employees that they have laid off about new job opportunities before the employers are permitted to hire foreign workers.   

The focus of the amicus brief is the agency’s failure to provide fair warning about its interpretation of the notification requirement before applying a new, more restrictive interpretation.  The Department is notorious for failing to provide guidance and leaving it to employers to guess at what processes the Department will find to be in compliance with the regulations.  Here, the Department offered no guidance, but, through a pattern of decision making, established a practice of approving certain notification procedures.  Amici argue that the Department acts arbitrarily and violates due process when it does an about face without giving prior notice. 

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For more information, contact Wendy Feliz at wfeliz@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7524.

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11/06/13 | Immigration Advocacy Groups Urge Supreme Court to Interpret Child Status Protection Act Broadly

Washington, D.C.—This week, the American Immigration Council filed an amicus curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of young adults who, due to long delays caused by visa backlogs, lost the opportunity to obtain their “green cards” before they turned 21. The brief was filed in collaboration with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Immigrant Justice Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The case, Cuellar de Osorio v. Mayorkas, involves a provision of the Child Status Protection Act of 2002 (CSPA).  The amicus brief argues that in the CSPA, Congress specifically remedied the problem of children who, due to long delays caused by visa backlogs, turned 21 and lost the opportunity to immigrate with their families before a visa became available.  Specifically, the brief argues that children listed as beneficiaries on all types of visa petitions – and not simply those filed by lawful permanent residents, as the government argues – are entitled to retain the earlier filing date of their parents’ visa petitions when new visa petitions are filed for them as adults.  As a result, they do not have to wait as long for new visas. The brief presents compelling case histories illustrating the hardship that these families have suffered as the result of the government’s narrow interpretation.    

The amici were represented on a pro bono basis by Lori Alvino McGill and Nicole Ries Fox of Latham and Watkins, LLP.  Read more about this case and the Child Status Protection Act on our website.

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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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