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The Sixth Circuit Joins Growing Majority, Rejects BIA’s Narrow Interpretation of Section 212(h)

Released on Thu, Sep 25, 2014

Washington, D.C.—Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a precedent decision that will allow a greater number of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to avoid deportation if they can demonstrate to an immigration judge that their removal will result in extreme hardship to close family members in the United States. The American Immigration Council, which filed an amicus brief in the case, applauds the ruling and repeats its call for the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to overturn its contrary decision in Matter of Koljenovic, 25 I&N Dec. 219 (2010).

With this decision, the Sixth Circuit joins the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits in holding that the bar to a waiver under § 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) applies only to those persons with an aggravated felony conviction who became Legal Permanent Resident’s (LPR) at the time that they lawfully entered the United States. The Court found that Congress specifically intended to preserve the waiver for those who adjusted to LPR status following their entry into the U.S. For many LPRs facing removal, the § 212(h) waiver is the only means to avoid separation from U.S. family members. Read more...

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Groups Sue U.S. Government over Life-Threatening Deportation Process Against Mothers and Children

Released on Fri, Aug 22, 2014

Washington D.C. — The American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center today sued the federal government to challenge its policies denying a fair deportation process to mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States seeking safety.

The groups filed the case on behalf of mothers and children locked up at an isolated detention center in Artesia, New Mexico — hours from the nearest major metropolitan area. The complaint charges the Obama administration with enacting a new strong-arm policy to ensure rapid deportations by holding these mothers and their children to a nearly insurmountable and erroneous standard to prove their asylum claims, and by placing countless hurdles in front of them.

"These mothers and their children have sought refuge in the United States after fleeing for their lives from threats of death and violence in their home countries," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "U.S. law guarantees them a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Yet, the government's policy violates that basic law and core American values — we do not send people who are seeking asylum back into harm's way. We should not sacrifice fairness for speed in life-or-death situations."

According to the complaint, the Obama administration is violating long-established constitutional and statutory law by enacting policies that have:Read more...

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Artesia Resource Page

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The American Immigration Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the National Immigration Law Center, in collaboration with Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale and Jenner & Block, sued the government to stop deportations at DHS’ new family detention facility in Artesia, NM.  The lawsuit calls Artesia a “deportation mill,” created to send Central American mothers and children home to face certain harm, without any meaningful opportunity to be heard.  These women and children have a right to apply for asylum and to the assistance of counsel, among other protections.  Their heartbreaking stories of violence, death, rape, and other abuse suggest that the vast majority deserve to stay in this country. 

But the lawsuit alleges that government officials created Artesia to limit successful asylum claims, whether or not such individuals would face persecution in their home countries.  DHS did this by creating a new, more stringent “expedited removal” system that results in the denial of meritorious asylum claims.  The new expedited removal policy was outlined by President Obama in a June 30 letter to Congress that directed DHS to take “aggressive steps to surge resources to our Southwest border to deter both adults and children from this dangerous journey … and quickly return unlawful migrants to their home countries.” As Artesia’s supervisor yelled one day to a room full of families, “Our job is to get them deported.” Read more...

LAC's Deputy Legal Director Beth Werlin Discusses Lawsuit on Behalf of Children Facing Deportation

Published on Fri, Jul 11, 2014

Beth Werlin, Deputy Legal Director for the American Immigration Council, discusses the recent nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them with EbruNews.

Watch the clip below.


Published in the EbruNews

Groups Sue Federal Government over Failure to Provide Legal Representation for Children

Released on Wed, Jul 09, 2014

The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

Each year, the government initiates immigration court proceedings against thousands of children. Some of these youth grew up in the United States and have lived in the country for years, and many have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. The Obama Administration even recently called an influx of children coming across the Southern border a "humanitarian situation." And yet, thousands of children required to appear in immigration court each year do so without an attorney. This case seeks to remedy this unacceptable practice.

"If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts," said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. "The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone."

The plaintiffs in this case include:Read more...

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HoldCBPAccountable.org Launched to Expose Border-Related Abuse and Litigation

Released on Wed, Mar 26, 2014

An alliance of immigration advocacy groups announces the launch of HoldCBPAccountable.org, a website that catalogues lawsuits and administrative complaints brought against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). 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 have joined forces to document litigation that exposes CBP abuses, including unlawful searches and seizures, removals based on coercion and misinformation, and the use of excessive and sometimes deadly force by Border Patrol agents and CBP officers.

Among the cases included on the website:Read more...

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American Immigration Council Urges Court to Rule that TPS Recipient Is Eligible to Adjust Status

Released on Thu, Mar 13, 2014

Last week, the American Immigration Council and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) filed an amicus curiae brief urging the court to find that noncitizens granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence (i.e., adjustment of status), even if they originally entered the United States without being admitted or paroled.  This is because the grant of TPS qualifies a noncitizen as having been “admitted” to the United States—one of the requirements for adjustment of status.  In 2013, the Sixth Circuit found that the grant of TPS permits a person who initially entered without being admitted to become a lawful permanent resident, and amici urge the District Court for the Western District of Washington to reach the same result.

The case is Ramirez v. Dougherty, No. 13-1236-TSZ (W.D. Wash. amicus brief filed March 6, 2014). 

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For more information, email clearinghouse@immcouncil.org.

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LAC Issues Updated Practice Advisory on Stays of Removal in the Courts of Appeals

Released on Fri, Jan 24, 2014

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) announces the release of an updated practice advisory, Seeking a Judicial Stay of Removal in the Court of Appeals

Filing a petition for review of a removal order does not automatically stay an individual’s removal from the United States. A court of appeals, however, may issue a judicial stay of removal to prevent the government from deporting a person while his or her petition for review is pending before the court. In Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009), the Supreme Court instructed courts to adjudicate stay motions by applying the “traditional” standard for a stay. Under this standard, the courts must consider the likelihood of success on the merits, the harm to the applicant absent a stay, whether the issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding, and where the public interest lies.

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 are successful on their appeals. A sample stay motion, a sample declaration in support of a stay motion, and sample guidelines to assist families, friends and community members in writing letters in support of stay requests are attached to the advisory.

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, Washington Square Legal Services, New York University School of Law.Read more...

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Legal Action Center Issues Updated FAQ on the Asylum Clock Class Action Settlement

Released on Tue, Dec 03, 2013

The American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) is pleased to announce an update of Frequently Asked Questions About the Asylum Clock Class Action Settlement.  This updated FAQ answers questions about the benefits provided under the settlement of the nationwide class action, ABT v. USCIS, which challenged policies related to employment authorization for asylum applicants.  For more information about the ABT case, see the LAC’s Asylum Clock webpage.  The FAQ is released in coordination with co-counsel in the lawsuit, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Gibbs, Houston and Pauw.  

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

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American Immigration Council Files BALCA Brief Challenging Unfair DOL Process

Released on Fri, Nov 08, 2013

Yesterday, the American Immigration Council, in collaboration with AILA, filed an amicus brief in an en banc case pending before the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA), an administrative body at the Department of Labor (DOL) that reviews denials of PERM labor certifications.  The case involves a regulation that requires employers to notify certain U.S. employees that they have laid off about new job opportunities before the employers are permitted to hire foreign workers.   

The focus of the amicus brief is the agency’s failure to provide fair warning about its interpretation of the notification requirement before applying a new, more restrictive interpretation.  The Department is notorious for failing to provide guidance and leaving it to employers to guess at what processes the Department will find to be in compliance with the regulations.  Here, the Department offered no guidance, but, through a pattern of decision making, established a practice of approving certain notification procedures.  Amici argue that the Department acts arbitrarily and violates due process when it does an about face without giving prior notice. 

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

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