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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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03/13/13 | National Wave of Complaints Highlights Abuse by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

For Immediate Release

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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02/05/13 | Carmen A. DiPlacido – A Champion and a Friend

The American Immigration Council mourns the loss of Carmen A. DiPlacido, an extraordinary lawyer known as much for his kind and gentle spirit as for his singular expertise in citizenship, naturalization and consular practice.  He had superb intellect, enormous practical knowledge, huge institutional memory, and unstinting and consistent generosity in sharing it all.

Before joining the private bar in 1997, Carmen had a distinguished 27-year career in the U.S. Department of State, where he served in numerous positions, including Director, Office of Citizens Consular Services and Director, Office of Policy Review and Interagency Liaison, Overseas Citizens Services, as well as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizens Services.  A singular contribution of his was the landmark Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which Carmen authored to imbue derivative citizenship with his trademark fairness and compassion.

In addition to his long-time support for our work here at the Immigration Council, Carmen was an ardent supporter of individuals with special needs, and was the president of the board of directors of Porto Charities, Inc., a charitable organization dedicated to actively assisting people with developmental or intellectual disabilities; their community and their environment.  

Carmen is survived by his wife, Ann, and his daughter, Christie.

Carmen was a colleague and a dear friend to us all.  He will be missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.

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01/30/13 | LAC Releases Two Practice Advisories Relating to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

For Immediate Release

LAC Releases Two Practice Advisories Relating to
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Washington, D.C. - The Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to release two new practice advisories relating to issues faced by DACA applicants:

“Brief, Casual and Innocent” Absences from the United States

“Brief, casual and innocent” absences from the United States do not interrupt continuous residence for purposes of DACA eligibility.  This practice advisory discusses the “brief, casual and innocent” standard under existing case law.  Though such case law may inform USCIS’s review of absences from the United States, DACA adjudicators are not bound by these decisions.  Courts have often adopted generous interpretations of the “brief, casual and innocent” standard, and it is hoped that USCIS will do the same in the DACA context.

Inspection and Entry at a Port of Entry: Where is There an Admission? 

The second practice advisory – which applies beyond the DACA context – discusses entries in three common situations: where a noncitizen is “waved” through a port of entry with no questions asked; where entry is gained by fraud or misrepresentation; and where there is a false claim to U.S. citizenship.  With respect to each situation, the practice advisory explores whether an “admission” has occurred, the individual’s immigration status upon entry, and the immigration consequences of the action.  It also discusses the impact of these three types of entries on a DACA application.

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01/29/13 | President Obama Provides Moral Imperative for Immigration Reform

Washington D.C. - Today, in Las Vegas, President Obama urged the country to join him in moving forward on immigration reform, offering a proposal that addresses the pressing economic, cultural, and moral crisis facing the nation over immigration.  In doing so, he brought policies and principles down to one very important idea—that our American identity is directly tied to our heritage as immigrants and thus we owe it to each other to fix the immigration system once and for all. In laying out a moral and economic imperative for immigration reform, the President argued for a rational and productive debate, free of rancor and fear, reminding Americans that the nation was built by immigrants and “most of us used to be them.” His remarks today follow yesterday’s announcement from the United States Senate that a “gang of eight” bipartisan members have developed a set of principles to move immigration reform forward in the 113th Congress.

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01/28/13 | The American Immigration Council Welcomes Senate's Bipartisan Principles on Immigration Reform

Washington D.C. - Today, a bipartisan group of eight Senators unveiled a new set of comprehensive immigration reform principles, adding to the growing body of evidence that legislation to fix our nation’s broken immigration system is not only necessary, but possible. Although the framework offers only a very rough outline of what comprehensive immigration reform legislation might look like, the principles are a very strong starting point for legislative negotiations that should now begin in earnest.     

In presenting their proposal, the Senators reflect an understanding of the important role immigrants play in shaping our social and economic futures, and the critical need to create a fair and workable roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals living and working in the United States. Many issues remain to be debated and refined, and elements of the principles raise some real concerns that will need to be addressed in the months ahead.

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


“The American Immigration Council congratulates Senators Schumer, McCain, Durbin, Graham, Menendez, Rubio, Bennett and Flake for reaching across the aisle and beginning an honest, bipartisan effort to confront the many difficult issues that must be resolved for immigration reform to become a reality. With the addition of a renewed commitment from President Obama, and the strengthened voices of those whose lives and livelihood have been damaged by the failure to act, the environment is better than it has been in many years for restoring fairness and integrity to our broken immigration system.”

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