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Court Orders Release of Some Evidence of Arizona Border Patrol Detention Facilities

Order follows attempts by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to keep all evidence of unconstitutional detention conditions from the public

Released on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

Washington D.C. – Today, a federal district court unsealed some of the photographs central to ongoing litigation challenging deplorable and unconstitutional conditions in Border Patrol detention facilities in the agency’s Tucson Sector. The court also allowed the Arizona Republic newspaper to intervene in the case to argue for the release of the documents.

The initial evidence released today is only a portion of the evidence submitted in support of a motion for preliminary injunction filed in December, with the government fighting the release of additional evidence remaining under seal. The injunction is based on compelling evidence of inhumane conditions in Tucson facilities—much of which was disclosed after the Court sanctioned Border Patrol for destroying video recordings from these facilities and failing to turn over other relevant documentation.

“Border Patrol’s treatment of men, women and children in its custody is simply inexcusable and their lack of transparency shows their desire to avoid any public oversight or accountability,” said Mary Kenney, senior staff attorney for the American Immigration Council.

“Every step the Government has taken in response to this lawsuit has been designed to delay this suit and hide the conditions present at these facilities,” said Louise Stoupe of Morrison & Foerster. “The Government should be using the resources they are wasting in court to provide basic human necessities to those in its custody.”

“Migrants detained in the Tucson sector have long suffered horrific conditions,” said Dan Pochoda, senior counsel for the ACLU of Arizona. “The Border Patrol continues to resist public transparency to enable continuation of detention operations that knowingly violate U.S. and international law as well as its own standards.”
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Federal Court Grants Class-Action Status in Challenge to Obama Administration

Thousands of Children Now Covered in Lawsuit Over Lack of Legal Representation in Immigration Proceedings

Released on Mon, Jun 27, 2016

Washington D.C.— A federal court has granted class-action status to a lawsuit challenging the federal government's failure to provide children in immigration court with lawyers in their deportation hearings. Several thousand children are estimated to be members of the class.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Council, American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP.

“This ruling means that thousands of children will now have a fighting chance at getting a fair day in immigration court,” said Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “The Obama administration should stop defending its draconian practice of conducting deportation hearings against unrepresented children.”

The class covers all children under 18 who are in immigration proceedings in the Ninth Circuit on or after June 24, 2016; lack counsel; are unable to afford legal representation; and are potentially eligible for asylum or are potentially able to make colorable claims to U.S. citizenship. 

“The government will not be able to simply delay the case in hoping that a few individual cases may resolve themselves without court intervention. Instead, the government must now defend a system that pits unrepresented children against trained federal prosecutors in an adversarial court hearing that literally may carry life and death consequences for the children involved,” said Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
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Supreme Court Issues Disappointing Split Decision in United States v. Texas

Released on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

Washington D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in United States v. Texas, the case challenging expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).  This means that the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding the preliminary injunction against these initiatives will stand. This ruling does not impact the original DACA program launched in 2012. The decision is a huge disappointment for immigrant families and their defenders. It’s bad for American communities, workers and the economy. We will continue to explore all available legal avenues and will urge the government to do the same. Ultimately, the nation needs a permanent solution to our outdated immigration system, and that must come from Congress.  The fight will continue. 

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

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Lawsuit Seeks to Shed Light on Customs and Border Protection's Complaint Process

Released on Mon, Jun 06, 2016

Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council (Immigration Council), represented by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, today filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the release of additional documents related to the complaints process at United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Through this suit, the Immigration Council is seeking to update information received from CBP in its previously filed FOIA request, where it obtained data concerning 809 complaints of abuse lodged against U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents between January 2009 and January 2012.

The Immigration Council analyzed this earlier data in a May 2014 report entitled No Action Taken: Lack of CBP Accountability in Responding to Complaints of Abuse, revealing that the recorded outcome in 97 percent of the cases CBP claimed to have resolved was “no action.” The data further showed that “physical abuse” by USBP agents was the most prevalent reason given for filing a complaint (cited in 40 percent of the complaints), with “excessive use of force” referenced in 38 percent of the cases.

To determine whether there had been any improvement since January 2012, the Immigration Council filed a follow-up FOIA request to CBP on October 2, 2015, asking for documentation concerning complaints made against CBP agents and officers since January 1, 2012, as well as the process CBP has used to investigate and resolve these complaints.Read more...

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Litigation for Business Immigration Practitioners

This Practice Advisory provides information to help practitioners assess whether filing suit in federal court is the right option for challenging an employment-based petition denial. It discusses the importance of building a solid administrative record and other factors practitioners should consider before filing suit. It also discusses the components of a complaint and the standards that a federal court will apply in reviewing the agency’s decision. 

Published On: Friday, June 3, 2016 | Download File

Lawsuit Seeks Transparency in H-1B Lottery Process

Released on Mon, May 23, 2016

Washington D.C. - The American Immigration Council (Council) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have teamed up on a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) seeking information about the government’s administration of the H-1B lottery. The lawsuit, filed last Friday, was brought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. is co-counsel with attorneys from the Council.

Every year, U.S. employers seeking highly skilled foreign professionals submit petitions to USCIS on the first business day of April for the limited pool of H-1B nonimmigrant visa numbers that are available for the coming fiscal year. With an annual limit of 65,000 visas for new hires—and 20,000 additional visas for professionals with a master’s or doctoral degree from a U.S. university—employer demand for H-1B visas has exceeded the statutory cap for more than ten years. 

If USCIS determines at any time during the first five business days of the filing period that it has received more than enough petitions to meet the numerical limits, the agency uses a computer-generated random selection process (or “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to satisfy the limits, taking into account a percentage of the petitions selected which will be denied, withdrawn, or otherwise rejected. Petitions not selected are returned to the petitioning employers. U.S. employers, foreign nationals seeking H-1Bs, and immigration lawyers are keenly interested in how USCIS administers the lottery process.Read more...

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Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in U.S. v. Texas

Government Makes Strong Case for Moving DAPA Forward

Released on Mon, Apr 18, 2016

Washington D.C. - Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas. The highest court will now decide whether the President’s deferred action initiatives announced in November 2014, known as expanded DACA and DAPA, move forward.

“The lawyers arguing for the deferred action initiatives made a convincing case that the law and the Constitution are on our side. As expected, the Justices asked probing questions to both sides, demonstrating they understand the high stakes involved this case,” said Beth Werlin, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.

According to the Council’s Legal Director Melissa Crow, “Much of the argument focused on whether Texas really has standing – a sufficient stake in the outcome of the case to file a lawsuit. The arguments highlighted the fact that this is a political dispute about enforcement policies, not the type of legal dispute that should be before the Supreme Court. Texas’ arguments on standing are unconvincing. As Justice Breyer noted, a finding by the Court that Texas has standing could flood the courts with lawsuits based on all kinds of political disagreements between States and the federal government.”

President Obama’s deferred action initiatives advance common-sense enforcement priorities. To qualify for deferred action, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010, register with the government and pass a criminal background check. Instead of tearing apart families through broad enforcement actions, the President is letting law enforcement officials focus their attention on those who pose the greatest threats to public safety.

The American Immigration Council and 325 other immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor and service-provider organizations filed an amicus brief in the case outlining how families and communities would benefit from the initiatives.Read more...

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326 Immigrant Rights Groups Urge Supreme Court to Let Immigration Relief Programs Go Forward

Brief features profiles of families whose lives would improve if immigration directives were allowed to take effect

Released on Tue, Mar 08, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A diverse coalition of 326 immigration, civil rights, labor, and social service groups has filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Texas, urging the court to lift the injunction that blocked the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014.

The Obama administration’s expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) initiative were stopped by a federal district court in Texas, and that court’s order subsequently was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The lawsuit against the president’s executive actions was brought by 26 states. Late last year the federal government appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

“If the injunction is lifted, many families will be more secure, without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice,” the brief filed by the civil rights groups argues. “Many deserving individuals will also have access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities. DHS has discretion to grant or deny applications for the initiatives at issue, and the concocted argument to the contrary should not be used to prevent individuals from even applying.”Read more...

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Administrative Appeals Office Approves National Interest Waiver for Specialty Care Physician

Upholds Principle that Agency Interpretation Must be Consistent with Congressional Intent

Released on Wed, Feb 17, 2016

Washington, D.C. – The American Immigration Council applauds the Administrative Appeals Office’s (AAO) decision to withdraw the Texas Service Center Director’s (TSC) restrictive interpretation in Matter of H-V-P-, a case involving a national interest waiver. The TSC decision would have prevented a specialty care physician (hematology-oncology) from providing medical care in a community that has a government-designated shortage of health care professionals.

To obtain an employment-based visa in most categories, a noncitizen usually needs a job offer from a U.S. employer. However, in Matter of H-V-P-, the AAO recognized that the law requires USCIS to waive the job offer requirement for both primary and specialty care physicians who work full-time in an area with a shortage of health care professionals(and meet other requirements not at issue here).The AAO also concluded that TSC’s narrow interpretation of an implementing regulation as requiring a specific specialty care shortage certification was inconsistent with past USCIS practice and would “frustrate the statutory scheme Congress enacted to improve access to medical care in underserved areas.”

In reaching this conclusion, the AAO adopted many of the arguments in an amicus brief submitted by the Council, AILA and the International Medical Group Taskforce. 
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Eight of Twelve Families Targeted by ICE Have Been Released

Remaining Mothers and Children Still Unjustly Incarcerated

Released on Mon, Feb 08, 2016

Washington D.C. – After being held in detention for more than a month by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), eight of the families rounded up by ICE at the beginning of January have finally been released from detention while their cases proceed. The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project had filed appeals and won temporary stays of removal from the Board of Immigration Appeals for 12 families – 33 mothers and children who fled extreme domestic violence or were targeted for recruitment, kidnapping, assault, or extortion by transnational criminal organizations. 

CARA Project Managing Attorney Katie Shepherd noted, “These terrified mothers and children were rousted from their homes on New Year’s weekend and, even after they had obtained stays of deportation, remained detained in Dilley, Texas. Many of them endured the additional trauma of transfer to yet another detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania  – the same facility that is now on the verge of losing its state license. ICE executed one such transfer with full knowledge that a pro bono attorney from out of town was on the way to Dilley to meet with the detained mother. These families, and all asylum-seekers, deserve their liberty while they pursue their claims under U.S. law.”
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