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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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07/29/13 | LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisory on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

For Immediate Release

LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisory on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Washington, DC-The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of an updated practice advisory, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  This advisory includes the latest information about DACA adjudication trends and agency policies contained in the DACA Standard Operating Procedures Manual. It also offers strategic advice for attorneys representing potential DACA requesters whose cases involve potential gang-related issues and certain drinking and driving offenses. The LAC issued this advisory jointly with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

All Legal Action Center practice advisories can be found on the LAC website.

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

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07/25/13 | LAC and Immigration Equality Release Practice Advisory on Post-DOMA Issues

Washington, D.C.—The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of a new practice advisory, Immigration Benefits and Pitfalls for LGBT Families in a Post-DOMA World.  Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.  With the end of DOMA, married LGBT binational couples can access the panoply of marriage-based immigration benefits and relief from removal.  This practice advisory provides an overview of the agencies’ initial responses to Windsor and highlights some of the issues LGBT families will face in a post-DOMA world.  The LAC issued this advisory jointly with Immigration Equality. 

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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07/12/13 | Court Says ICE Failed to Satisfy FOIA Requirements in Council’s Suit to Compel Disclosure of Records on Access to Counsel

Court Says ICE Failed to Satisfy FOIA Requirements in Council’s Suit to Compel
Disclosure of Records on Access to Counsel

A federal district court recently issued an opinion addressing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) failure to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  According to the court, ICE did not show that it had conducted an adequate search for records in response to the American Immigration Council’s (Council) FOIA request regarding noncitizens’ access to counsel in interactions with the agency.  The court also rejected ICE’s justifications for withholding numerous records. 

Under the U.S. immigration system, many decisions impacting the lives of noncitizens are made by ICE officers at field offices, detention centers and arrest sites nationwide.  Reports from immigration lawyers across the country indicate that the actions of ICE officers routinely impact attorneys’ efforts to represent their clients.  Yet, ICE’s policies about access to counsel have not always been easy to ascertain and appear to vary by location.  Through its FOIA request, the Council hopes to shed light on these policies.

After waiting more than a year for ICE to respond to the request, the Council’s Legal Action Center and co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP filed a FOIA suit on behalf of the Council, alleging that ICE had failed to turn over records responsive to the FOIA request.  After filing suit, ICE released 1084 pages, many of which were heavily redacted or withheld entirely.  It subsequently released several thousand records related to detention facilities, which the Council is not challenging. 

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07/09/13 | Frequently Asked Questions about the Asylum Clock Class Action Settlement

Frequently Asked Questions about the Asylum Clock Class Action Settlement

Washington, D.C.—The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC), along with its co-counsel, recently announced a settlement of A.B.T., et al. v. USCIS, et al., a nationwide class action challenging the manner in which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) determine an asylum applicant’s eligibility for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  This FAQ addresses key questions related to the settlement agreement, such as: who is a class member; what policies and practices are changed by the settlement; how class members will benefit from these changes; when the changes go into effect; and how a class member can complain if the settlement is not properly implemented in his or her case. 

The lawsuit was brought by the LAC, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Massachusetts Law Reform Project, and the Law Offices of Gibbs Houston and Pauw.  For more information about the lawsuit, including a copy of the settlement agreement, visit the LAC’s Asylum Clock webpage.

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06/27/13 | The American Immigration Council Applauds Senate Passage of Historic Immigration Reform Legislation

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council applauds the U.S. Senate for passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation (S. 744) by a vote of 68-32 (including 14 Republicans). This vote reflects how far the country has come in understanding the significance of immigration reform to the health and well-being of the nation as a whole. Regardless of what may come next, today’s vote reflects the irrefutable fact that the social and economic benefits of immigration reform are tangible and achievable. There will be much work ahead to continue to perfect the policies reflected in this bill. But for the moment, we should thank the Senate, led by the Gang of Eight, for the courage and vision to finally move the country forward on immigration.

“Today’s vote is a game-changer. The debate around immigration reform is forever changed, the notion that the Senate cannot act on immigration is a thing of the past, and now we know that it is possible to find bi-partisan agreement on an issue once deemed toxic,” said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

“There is little doubt that today’s vote offers the country a chance to start again on immigration. While the compromises necessary to achieve a significant bipartisan vote were many, this is a lesson for us all in democracy—we can respect deep disagreements on policy grounds, yet still find a way forward. The Senate should be commended for giving us all a chance to change the conversation on immigration,” said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center.

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

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06/26/13 | American Immigration Council Applauds DOMA Decision

 For Immediate ReleaseAmerican Immigration Council Applauds DOMA Decision June 26, 2013 Washington D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court unequivocally affirmed that there is no legitimate reason for the federal government to discriminate against married couples on account of their sexual orientation.  The Justices struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, noting in their decision, “DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal.” Today’s historic decision means that our immigration system must stop treating gay and lesbian families differently than other families.   For far too long, gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have been barred from obtaining immigration status for their noncitizen spouses.  As a result, families have been separated and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents have been deported from the United States.  President Obama issued an immediate directive to the Attorney General to “work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.” The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano also issued a statement to press confirming that DHS is “working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, [to] implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws."“Far too often, exceptions have been carved out to exclude immigrants from basic rights and protections. We are pleased that the Administration has made it clear it intends for this important decision to apply fully to the immigration system” said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

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06/26/13 | American Immigration Council Applauds DOMA Decision

Washington D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court unequivocally affirmed that there is no legitimate reason for the federal government to discriminate against married couples on account of their sexual orientation.  The Justices struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, noting in their decision, “DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal.”

Today’s historic decision means that our immigration system must stop treating gay and lesbian families differently than other families.   For far too long, gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have been barred from obtaining immigration status for their noncitizen spouses.  As a result, families have been separated and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents have been deported from the United States. 

President Obama issued an immediate directive to the Attorney General to “work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano also issued a statement to press confirming that DHS is “working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, [to] implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws."

 

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