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05/13/13 | Creating a Workable Future Flow Program in Senate Immigration Bill

Washington D.C. - Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee continues “mark-up” of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The Committee will take up amendments related to Title Four, which addresses the majority of non-immigrant, temporary visas including those for high and less skilled immigrant workers, entrepreneurship and innovation programs, and a range of miscellaneous visitor visas. Title Four became one of the most intensely negotiated portions of the Gang of 8 bill, in part because issues regarding the future flow of immigrant workers strike at the heart of broad differences in opinion about how we supplement the American workforce through immigration. 

Inherent in this debate are deeply nuanced questions about the best way to create a competitive business climate that does not undermine worker rights and protections, as well as the need to promote and encourage innovation and growth through immigration.  The Gang of 8 should be applauded for tackling this enormous challenge and crafting solutions that attempt to address these concerns.  This makes the bill significantly different from what was adopted in 1986—when a legalization program went forward without tackling the question of how to regulate the future demand for workers.  

In this section of the bill, perhaps more than anywhere else, there will be disagreement about the best way to achieve a balance in S. 744 as it is readied for debate before the full Senate. In order to develop a smart and fair future flow program, Senators should keep in mind the following principles:

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05/09/13 | Senate Legislative Process Must Maintain Spirit of Compromise

Washington D.C. - Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee begins “mark-up” of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. In an unprecedented move by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Charles Grassley, all amendments have been made publicly available in order to make the process more transparent and inclusive. Although nearly 300 amendments have been filed, the Committee will only take up a limited number over the course of the mark-up. It’s important that the amendments considered are those that really seek to improve and perfect the bill, rather than attempt to undermine it.

The point of a committee mark-up process is to expose a bill to careful scrutiny and debate. It is not the place for political grandstanding. Now more than ever, the Senate Judiciary Committee must use its authority to ensure that the immigration bill is workable, fair, and practical.

The United States needs a workable, efficient, and flexible immigration system that responds to the rapidly changing demands of a 21st century economy, technologies, and migration patterns. People live and work and create in ways that are different than they were twenty years ago, and yet our immigration system continues to operate on a series of static quotas and rigid requirements that ignore advances in every sector of our economy and the way we live today.

Additionally, we cannot wall ourselves away from the world. Many of the amendments that will be offered today will deal with border security and revisit the oft-repeated attempts to build a wall around this country—either through border fencing or by adding layers of national security screenings. We need to do what is smart, secure, and effective for immigration policy, but we should not revert back to the period of fear and suspicion that dominated immigration reform in the last decade. To be clear:

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05/06/13 | Bloated Estimate of Legalization Costs Ignores Immigration Reform's Broader Economic Benefits

Washington D.C. – Today, the Heritage Foundation released a report which attempts to assess the fiscal costs associated with legalizing the 11 million unauthorized individuals living in the United States. The new report is similar to a 2007 study, which was widely criticized at the time of publication and continues to be re-rejected today by conservatives. As such, this report serves as a reminder of why fiscal cost analyses cannot replace broader economic analyses.

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

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05/03/13 | Moncrieffe v. Holder: Implications for Drug Charges and Other Categorical Approach Issues

Washington, D.C.—Last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Moncrieffe v. Holder, holding that a state drug conviction is not an aggravated felony when the statute of conviction extends to the social sharing of a small amount of marijuana.  The case has important implications not only for noncitizens charged with drug trafficking, but also for the application of the categorical approach in immigration proceedings. 

Yesterday, the Legal Action Center, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild issued a Practice Advisory, “Moncrieffe v. Holder:  Implications for Drug Charges and Other Issues Involving the Categorical Approach.”  The advisory discusses the holding of the case, the decision’s potentially broader implications, strategies for representing noncitizen criminal defendants, and steps that lawyers should take immediately in pending or already concluded removal proceedings affected by Moncrieffe.

All of the LAC’s Practice Advisories are available on the LAC website.

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

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04/30/13 | LAC Issues Practice Advisory on Reinstatement of Removal

For Immediate Release


Washington, D.C.—The Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the issuance of a new practice advisory, Reinstatement of Removal. A person who has been removed and illegally reenters the United States may be subject to reinstatement of removal under INA § 241(a)(5). This Practice Advisory provides an overview of the reinstatement statute and implementing regulations. It also addresses federal court review of reinstatement orders and potential arguments to challenge the legality of reinstatement orders, including challenges to the underlying removal order.

This practice advisory includes a sample reinstatement order, a sample letter to DHS requesting a copy of the reinstatement order, a checklist for potential challenges to reinstatement orders, and an appendix of published reinstatement decisions. The LAC issued this advisory jointly with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

All of the LAC’s Practice Advisories are available on the LAC website.


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

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04/23/13 | Eleventh Circuit Holds that Filing Limitations on Motions to Reopen Are Subject to Equitable Tolling

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Over the last two weeks, the Eleventh Circuit issued two decisions holding that the time and numerical limitations on motions to reopen are subject to equitable tolling. Noncitizens ordered removed in the Eleventh Circuit now may seek, under certain circumstances, to reopen their cases even if they already have filed a motion to reopen or the applicable deadline for filing motions has passed.

In Avila-Santoyo v. Holder, — F.3d. —, No. 11-14941 (11th Cir. Apr. 12, 2013) (en banc), the court granted rehearing en banc and overturned Circuit precedent that had barred equitable tolling, finding that the filing deadline is not jurisdictional and may thus be tolled. The court also granted rehearing and issued a unanimous panel decision in Ruiz-Turcios v. Holder, — F.3d. —, No. 12-11503 (11th Cir. Apr. 19, 2013), holding that the numerical limitation on motions to reopen (i.e., the one motion rule) may be tolled. The LAC and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild submitted an amicus brief in support of the petition for rehearing in Ruiz-Turcios.

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04/17/13 | The American Immigration Council Welcomes Bi-Partisan Senate Immigration Bill

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council applauds the “Gang of Eight” Senators who have introduced the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act."  The Senators and their staff have been working tirelessly, for months, to create a bi-partisan solution that attempts to fix our broken immigration system. The Senate is to be commended for having the courage to lean into this difficult issue and bring forth a detailed and comprehensive proposal. In addition, labor and business groups should be acknowledged for their role in negotiating, in advance, some of the toughest sticking points to help ensure a smooth path through Congress. 

In the coming days and weeks as the bill is analyzed and debated, there will be many who criticize both the policy remedies in the bill, as well as the sheer length of the legislation. It is important to keep in mind, however, that developing a comprehensive solution requires striking a delicate balance between a diverse cross section of stakeholders and impacted constituencies. Furthermore, the dysfunctional system that we have developed over the past two decades is in dire need of deep and precise reforms. While there will be fair criticisms of some of the bill’s contents it is important to keep the spirit of the debate productive and to ensure room for compromise. 

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04/15/13 | Agreement Reached in National Class Action Lawsuit on Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers

Washington D.C. - The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have agreed to settle a nationwide class action lawsuit challenging the denial of work authorization to asylum seekers who have been waiting six months or more for a decision on their asylum applications. If approved by a federal judge, this agreement 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 settlement agreement represents the culmination of years of advocacy by the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) and other groups on behalf of deserving asylum seekers.

The agreement stems from a case filed in December 2011 by the LAC and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), with co-counsel from the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the Seattle law firm Gibbs Houston Pauw.  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.

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03/19/13 | Two Systems of Justice: How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice

For Immediate Release

Two Systems of Justice:
How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council issued Two Systems of Justice: How the Immigration System Falls Short of American Ideals of Justice. This new report explores how the justice system for immigrants falls far short of the American values of due process and fundamental fairness. In fact, the immigration system lacks nearly all the procedural safeguards we expect in the U.S. criminal justice system.  Given the high stakes involved in immigration cases and the increasing criminalization of immigration law, the report concludes that we must no longer tolerate a system that deprives countless individuals of a fair judicial process.

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03/13/13 | National Wave of Complaints Highlights Rampant Abuse by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Dire Need for Reform

Washington, D.C. – Over the past week, an alliance of immigration groups, private attorneys and a law school clinic joined forces in filing complaints targeting abuses by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) across the country. Ten damages cases have been filed alleging unlawful CBP conduct in northern and southern border states. These cases are the latest illustrations of an ongoing pattern of rampant misconduct against both immigrants and U.S. citizens in these states.   

This effort, which was coordinated by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, highlights CBP agents’ unlawful use of their enforcement authority. Border Patrol agents routinely exceed their statutory mandate by conducting enforcement activities outside border regions, making racially motivated arrests, employing derogatory and coercive interrogation tactics, and imprisoning arrestees under inhumane conditions. The cases include claims for unlawful search and seizure, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery.

Among the cases filed:

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