Skip to Content

Programs:

Press Releases

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. 

Read more...
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.

Read more...
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.

 ###

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

Read more...
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.

Read more...
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."

 

Read more...
06/21/13 | LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisories on the CSPA and the APA

For Immediate Release
 

LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisories on the Child Status Protection Act and
the Administrative Procedure Act

 

Washington, D.C.—The Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the release of two updated practice advisories:

·     The Child Status Protection Act.  The CSPA was enacted to provide relief to children who “age-out” as a result of both visa backlogs and delays by USCIS in processing visa petitions and asylum and refugee applications. This practice advisory provides an overview of the CSPA, its effective date, and its interpretation and implementation by USCIS, the U.S. Department of State, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the courts.

Read more...
06/21/13 | LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisories on the CSPA and the APA

For Immediate Release


LAC Releases Updated Practice Advisories on the Child Status Protection Act and
the Administrative Procedure Act

The Child Status Protection Act.  The CSPA was enacted to provide relief to children who “age-out” as a result of both visa backlogs and delays by USCIS in processing visa petitions and asylum and refugee applications. This practice advisory provides an overview of the CSPA, its effective date, and its interpretation and implementation by USCIS, the U.S. Department of State, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the courts.

Read more...
06/11/13 | Senate Floor Debate Must Maintain Spirit of Compromise

Washington D.C. – Today, the long-awaited opportunity to reform the country’s dysfunctional immigration system moves one step closer to reality as the full Senate begins consideration of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee set a high standard for civility and transparency during its markup of the bill last month, and we urge the full Senate to continue in this vein. The bill that emerged from committee offers a workable plan that takes a balanced approach to immigration reform. Evidence, rather than grandstanding and rhetoric, should drive the debate on the Senate floor. Common sense and good policy can trump political one-upmanship, as long as Senators keep the following principles in mind.

Read more...
06/06/13 | Lawsuit Seeks to Learn How Government Responds to Complaints of Misconduct by Immigration Judges

Washington, DC - The public has a right to know whether the government adequately investigates and resolves complaints alleging misconduct by immigration judges, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said in a lawsuit filed today in federal district court in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit, filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), challenges the refusal of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to disclose complaints alleging misconduct by immigration judges and records that would reveal whether the agency adequately investigates and resolves those complaints. Public Citizen (PC) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) represent AILA in the lawsuit.

Each year, in immigration courts around the country, immigration judges conduct more than 200,000 formal court proceedings to determine whether noncitizens are subject to removal from the United States. In recent years, numerous observers have documented misconduct by immigration judges and weaknesses in the integrity of our nation's immigration courts.

Yet formal discipline of immigration judges is rare, and EOIR, the agency responsible for overseeing immigration judges, is not transparent about its process for resolving complaints. Based on aggregate statistics released by EOIR, in Fiscal Year 2012, formal disciplinary action was taken in response to only 1 percent of complaints resolved by EOIR against immigration judges. In contrast, nearly half of the complaints ended in what EOIR has vaguely termed "informal action."

AILA, a national association of more than 12,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law, submitted a FOIA request to EOIR in November 2012, asking that the agency disclose complaints against immigration judges and records that indicate how the agency resolves those complaints. To date, EOIR has failed to provide the documents, prompting today's lawsuit.

Read more...
05/21/13 | Senate Judiciary Committee Votes to Pass Immigration Bill on to Full Senate

Mark-Up Characterized by Transparency and Bipartisan Cooperation

Washington D.C. - Today, on a bipartisan vote of 13 to 5, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, out of the committe and on to the Senate floor for a full vote in the coming days. The Senate committee mark-up spanned three weeks and covered many of the 300 amendments offered on every aspect of the bill. The resulting legislation represents a concerted effort to find a workable and fair immigration policy that makes our nation stronger. 

The following is a statement by Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council: 

“We congratulate Senator Leahy and the entire Senate Judiciary Committee on the spirit of deliberation, collaboration, and transparency that marked the process. Many amendments added during the mark-up will strengthen the bill in the areas of high-skilled immigration, protections for vulnerable groups and due process. However, other amendments, like those attempting to deny citizenship, may have been driven more by rhetoric than reality. In addition, not providing some relief to siblings who face extreme hardships because of their separation and not ending the discrimination against same sex couples legally married in the United States is short-sighted and bad policy. Yet despite these high costs, the overall bill coming out of committee now gives the Senate an important and rare opportunity to complete the task we have been working on for years—passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that finally moves us to our goal of fixing our broken immigration system.

 ###

Read more...