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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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12/18/12 | The American Immigration Council Mourns the Passing of Senator Daniel Inouye

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council mourns the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye. As the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, he was a stalwart supporter of immigration reform and spoke eloquently about his support for giving young undocumented youth the opportunity to become fully American.

The American Immigration Council was pleased to award Senator Inouye our “Stephen K. Fischel Distinguished Public Service Award” in the Spring of 2011 - an award given to individuals who exhibit a commitment and dedication to our heritage as a nation of immigrants and to the struggle to create fair and humane immigration policies in the United States.

In December of 2010, Senator Inouye made the following statement after the Senate’s failure to pass the DREAM Act during the lame duck session of Congress:

“The comprehensive immigration reform we claim we want in this country will not occur if we do not allow for the basic education of children and if we do not nurture the patriotic spirit of those brave enough to put on the uniform and fight for this country.  I was once labeled an enemy Alien by this country but we petitioned the government to allow us to fight and by the end of World War II the 442 Regimental Combat team had suffered the most casualties in the European campaign but was also the most decorated unit of its size in the history of the United States military.   By allowing the DREAM Act to sit idle, we extinguish hope for a lot of people and deny too many the opportunity I was given.”

The American Immigration Council sends its condolences to those who knew and loved Senator Inouye. We are a better nation for his service and will stand with those who work to advance the issues he most cared about.

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12/14/12 | The American Immigration Council Welcomes Customs and Border Protection’s New Guidance on Interpretation

Washington D.C. - The American Immigration Council (AIC) welcomes U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) decision, announced yesterday, to stop providing interpretation assistance to other law enforcement agencies.  This decision, which is set forth in new agency guidance that has not been publicly released, reportedly directs CBP personnel to refer requests for language translation to a list of private regional and state interpreter associations.  The guidance does not affect CBP’s authority to respond to requests from law enforcement agencies for other types of assistance.

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12/14/12 | The AIC Welcomes Customs and Border Protection’s New Guidance on Interpretation

The American Immigration Council (AIC) welcomes U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) decision, announced yesterday, to stop providing interpretation assistance to other law enforcement agencies.  This decision, which is set forth in new agency guidance that has not been publicly released, reportedly directs CBP personnel to refer requests for language translation to a list of private regional and state interpreter associations.  The guidance does not affect CBP’s authority to respond to requests from law enforcement agencies for other types of assistance.

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11/29/12 | Federal Judge Orders USCIS to Release Records on Access to Counsel

This week, a federal district court issued an opinion highly critical of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) handling of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the American Immigration Council (AIC) for records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel. The Court ordered USCIS to turn over records that it previously had refused to produce. 

Most decisions about immigration status—including whether to grant lawful permanent residence, asylum or citizenship—are made by government officials outside the courtroom. Given the significant impact such decisions have on the lives of noncitizens and their families, it is critical that they be allowed to have their private attorneys with them during complex administrative proceedings.  

Historically, USCIS has imposed unwarranted restrictions on access to counsel, though in recent months the agency has made significant progress toward addressing these problems. Through its FOIA request, the AIC hopes to shed light on USCIS policies about counsel. 

After waiting almost a year for USCIS to respond to the request, the AIC’s Legal Action Center and co-counsel Dorsey & Whitney LLP filed a FOIA suit on behalf of the AIC, alleging that USCIS had failed to turn over records responsive to the FOIA request. After filing suit, USCIS determined that it had over 2042 pages of documents responsive to the request.  However, it withheld 1169 pages and released 418 pages with redactions, claiming FOIA exemptions protected the records from disclosure. In response to the government’s motion for summary judgment, the AIC argued that USCIS had not demonstrated the adequacy of its search and had improperly withheld numerous documents not protected under the FOIA exemptions.  

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11/28/12 | AIC Challenges Denial of Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained Through Unlawful Conduct

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center argued that local police violated the Fourth Amendment by unnecessarily prolonging an individual’s detention based solely on the suspicion that he was not lawfully present in the United States.  In Arizona v. United States, the Supreme Court cautioned against prolonging a detention to investigate immigration status when it sanctioned Section 2(B) of SB1070, which requires local police to investigate immigration status during a lawful stop or arrest based on reasonable suspicion of unlawful presence.

The Legal Action Center filed an amicus brief in Jimenez-Domingo v. Holder, No. 12-14048-D, which is currently pending in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Following a routine traffic stop, the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department detained the Petitioner and other passengers for over an hour to await the arrival of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  Rejecting the Petitioner’s repeated requests to consult his lawyer, CBP arrested, interrogated and placed him in removal proceedings.

The Council challenged the Board of Immigration Appeals’ denial of the Petitioner’s motion to suppress evidence obtained through the police’s unlawful conduct.  Although the Supreme Court has held that evidence unlawfully obtained by federal immigration officers need not always be excluded from removal proceedings, the Court’s rationale does not apply to situations in which evidence was obtained through a constitutional violation by local law enforcement officers. 

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11/23/12 | Thankful for a New Conversation on Immigration Reform

Dear Friend:

Two weeks ago, many national leaders awoke to a new political and demographic reality—one that they had long suspected and been warned about, but couldn’t quite believe until the election results were in. The unmistakable lessons of this political season are that national elections are won by uniting a diverse coalition of American voters and promoting positive solutions to the challenges that face our nation. 

The good news for our political system is that neither party has a monopoly on the ability to meet this new demand. These lessons reflect a need and an opportunity to break through the partisan gridlock that has crippled the nation and to build broad coalitions in support of real solutions that are driven by messages that unite us rather than divide us.   Nowhere is this clearer than in the immigration debate.   Misguided and mean-spirited ideas like “self-deportation” no longer have credibility on the national stage. The strategy of ignoring the human and economic toll of “enforcement only” policies and refusing to reform an outdated and dysfunctional immigration system must be put to rest once and for all.   The shrill voices of the nativist fringe must give way to the chorus of conservative and progressive voices that have long called for a path towards citizenship for the 11 million undocumented (including the courageous DREAMers who helped to shape this new political reality) and the creation of a 21st century immigration system that allows families and businesses to flourish and succeed.

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