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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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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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