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06/04/12 | Groups Seek Information on CBP’s "Translation" Activities in Northern Border States

Washington, D.C. - Last week an alliance of immigration advocacy groups represented by the Legal Action Center filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The FOIA requests seek information regarding CBP policies on providing translation assistance to other law enforcement agencies and on participating in 911 dispatch activities. The filing coincided with a federal agency decision finding the U.S. Forest Service’s policy of using Border Patrol agents as interpreters to be discriminatory. The alliance is seeking documents explaining the relevant legal authority, applicable procedural guidance, training materials, statistical data, and complaints filed with the government as a result of CBP's practices.

Over the past year, advocates in states along the northern border of the United States have reported that Border Patrol agents frequently “assist” other law enforcement agencies by serving as Spanish-English interpreters and participating in 911 dispatch activities. Capitalizing on their access to noncitizens, Border Patrol agents often use these opportunities to question individuals about their immigration status and, in many cases, initiate removal proceedings.

There is little public information about the scope and purpose of CBP's collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. The alliance hopes to promote greater transparency regarding these practices and includes the American Immigration Council, the Michigan Organizing Project/Alliance for Immigrants & Reform Michigan, Migrant Justice, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and OneAmerica.


To view the FOIA requests in their entirety see:

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06/04/12 | Immigration Groups Seek Information on Customs and Border Protection’s “Translation” Activities in Northern Border States

For Immediate Release

Immigration Groups Seek Information on Customs and Border Protection’s “Translation” Activities in Northern Border States

Last week an alliance of immigration advocacy groups represented by the Legal Action Center filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The FOIA requests seek information regarding CBP poliies on providingc translation assistance to other law enforcement agencies and on participating in 911 dispatch activities. The filing coincided with a federal agency decision finding the U.S. Forest Service’s policy of using Border Patrol agents as interpreters to be discriminatory. The alliance is seeking documents explaining the relevant legal authority, applicable procedural guidance, training materials, statistical data, and complaints filed with the government as a result of CBP's practices.

Over the past year, advocates in states along the northern border of the United States have reported that Border Patrol agents frequently “assist” other law enforcement agencies by serving as Spanish-English interpreters and participating in 911 dispatch activities. Capitalizing on their access to noncitizens, Border Patrol agents often use these opportunities to question individuals about their immigration status and, in many cases, initiate removal proceedings.

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05/31/12 | AIC Reveals Government’s Interference with Noncitizens’ Access to Legal Counsel

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center released a report and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on the pressing issue of noncitizens’ access to counsel. Reports from across the country indicate that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration agencies—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—often interfere with noncitizens’ access to counsel in benefits interviews, interrogations, and other types of administrative proceedings outside of immigration court. Depending on the context, immigration officers completely bar attorney participation, impose unwarranted restrictions on access to legal counsel, or strongly discourage noncitizens from seeking legal representation at their own expense.

A joint report by the Legal Action Center and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights, Behind Closed Doors: An Overview of DHS Restrictions on Access to Counsel, describes restrictions on access to legal representation before DHS, provides a legal landscape, and offers recommendations designed to combat these harmful practices. It also addresses recent changes to USCIS’s guidance that are intended to expand access to legal representation.

Also today, in collaboration with Dorsey & Whitney LLP, the Legal Action Center filed a lawsuit against ICE and DHS to compel the release of records relating to noncitizens’ access to counsel before ICE. This is the third of three FOIA lawsuits filed by the LAC seeking records from DHS’s immigration agencies regarding their policies on access to counsel in DHS proceedings.

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05/30/12 | Practice Advisory on Seeking a Judicial Stay of Removal

Washington, D.C.—The Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce the issuance of a new Practice Advisory, Seeking a Judicial Stay of Removal in the Court of Appeal. This Practice Advisory provides background information about requesting stays of removal from the courts of appeals, discusses the legal standard for obtaining a stay, and addresses the implications of the government’s policy with respect to return of individuals who win their appeals. The LAC issued this advisory jointly with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Boston College Post-Deportation Human Rights Project, and the Immigrant Rights Clinic, NYU School of Law.

All of the LAC’s Practice Advisories are available on our website at http://www.legalactioncenter.org/practice-advisories.

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For questions contact Geena Jackson at gjackson@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7516.

 

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04/23/12 | AIC Challenges BIA Decision Denying Miranda-like Warnings to Immigrants Under Arrest

Washington, D.C.—On Friday, the American Immigration Council challenged a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruling that immigrants who are arrested without a warrant do not need to receive certain Miranda-like warnings before being interrogated.  

Under federal regulations, immigration officers must advise such noncitizens of the reason for their arrest, of their right to legal representation, and that anything they say may be used against them in a subsequent proceeding. Last August, however, the BIA ruled that these warnings are not required until after questioning has ended and charging papers are filed with an immigration court. 

In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Council argued that the BIA misinterpreted both the text and purpose of the regulation.  

“As a matter of law and fundamental fairness, people placed under arrest should be advised of their rights before questioning, not after,” said Melissa Crow, Director of the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center. “The BIA’s ruling renders the notifications virtually meaningless and will subject countless immigrants to coercive questioning by federal officers.” 

The brief was joined by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the National Immigration Law Center, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Northwest Immigrants Rights Project. 

The Ninth Circuit case is Miranda Fuentes v. Holder, No. 11-72641. The BIA ruling under challenge is Matter of E-R-M-F- & A-S-M-, 25 I&N Dec. 580 (BIA 2011).  

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04/05/12 | Practice Advisory on Supreme Court’s Favorable Decision in Vartelas v. Holder

Washington, D.C.—Last week, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Vartelas v. Holder, holding that the Fleuti doctrine still applies to lawful permanent residents (LPRs) with pre-IIRIRA convictions. This means that LPRs with convictions before April 1, 1997 who travel abroad do not, upon their return, face inadmissibility if their trip was brief, casual and innocent.

Today, the Legal Action Center, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild are issuing a Practice Advisory, Vartelas v. Holder: Implications for LPRs Who Take Brief Trips Abroad and Other Potential Favorable Impacts, which describes the Court’s decision and offers strategies for LPRs who are affected by it. Of particularly note, some LPRs with final orders may want to consider filing motions to reconsider within 30 days of the Court’s March 28 decision. The advisory also discusses some of the other potential favorable impacts of the decision, including support for challenging the retroactive application of other immigration provisions and support for a broad reading of the criminal defense lawyer’s duty under Padilla v. Kentucky.

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For more information, contact Seth Garfinkel at sgarfinkel@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7516.

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03/29/12 | The Council Applauds Supreme Court Decision Rejecting Retroactive Application of Immigration Law Provision

Washington, D.C.—Yesterday morning, the Supreme Court issued an important decision, Vartelas v. Holder, No. 10-1211, rejecting the retroactive application of a provision of a law passed by Congress in 1996 that has prevented many lawful permanent residents (LPRs) from returning to the United States after a trip abroad.  Citing the "deeply rooted presumption" against applying new laws retroactively, the Court ruled 6-3 that LPRs who temporarily leave the country cannot be denied readmission on account of criminal convictions that occurred before the law took effect.  

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03/28/12 | Mocking Humane Immigration Detention Standards

Washington D.C. - Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on new immigration detention standards recently issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Cynically entitled “Holiday on ICE,” the hearing reflects Chairman Lamar Smith’s allegation that the new standards—which set minimum requirements for medical care, access to counsel, and other living conditions—are a “hospitality guideline” for detained immigrants. Roughly 34,000 immigrants, including lawful permanent residents, and many immigrants who have never been convicted of a crime, are detained under civil immigration laws each day. It is anticipated that the hearing will be a vehicle for promoting mandatory detention proposals sponsored by Chairman Smith, who maintains that more detention, rather than less, should be the goal of our civil immigration system. 

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03/12/12 | Advocates File Suit Against DHS for Refusal to Disclose Records on Enforcement Program

Washington D.C. - Last week, an alliance of national immigration advocacy organizations filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), seeking to compel the release of documents concerning the agency’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP).

Seeking greater transparency, the American Immigration Council (AIC) and the Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) brought the suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which requires federal agencies to produce responsive, non-exempt records upon request.   For years, the public has been unable to scrutinize CAP because DHS has shrouded the program in secrecy. AIC and AILA Connecticut requested a variety of documents related to CAP last year, but DHS has not produced a single one.

CAP is the workhorse of the federal immigration enforcement system. Under CAP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are stationed in prisons and jails, visit other detention facilities, and initiate deportation proceedings against people convicted of criminal offenses. However, CAP also sweeps up individuals who have been arrested but never convicted of any crime. And while DHS is still rolling out Secure Communities, CAP — a more far-reaching program — has been operational for years. Over the past five years alone, CAP has led to the arrest of more than a million people, and the program was implicated in approximately half of all removal proceedings in FY 2009. 

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01/31/12 | Missouri State Legislature Pursing Budget Busting Solutions to Immigration

Washington D.C. – As Missouri faces a $704 million shortfall in fiscal year 2012, state legislators are currently pursuing a costly and short-sighted anti-immigrant law. Senate Bill 590 is similar to the immigration law passed in Alabama and is currently working its way through the state legislature. The costs associated with the bill are unknown because the fiscal note attached to it is woefully incomplete. According to the Missouri fiscal note, the law would cost taxpayers $156,000 the first year, and $43,000 in subsequent years, primarily for recording and reporting the immigration status of Missouri’s school children.  However, the fiscal note claims that the provisions to detain, arrest, jail, and prosecute suspected unauthorized immigrants will have no additional costs.   The note further claims the costs for enforcement activities will be “absorbed with existing resources,” meaning that resources will be diverted away from other important law enforcement activities.

Other states pursuing similar measures, such as Kentucky and Utah, have estimated the costs, which reach into the tens of millions of dollars. Aside from the costs of implementation there are whopping costs for defending these measures in court. Missouri legislators should consider the following evidence before final votes on SB 590.

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