Skip to Content

Programs:

Legalization

Litigation Clearinghouse Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 19

This issue covers "arriving alien" and parolee adjustments, court review of denied continuances, and in absentia motions to reopen from outside the United States.

Published On: Monday, October 30, 2006 | Download File

The Failure of Border Security

Published on Mon, Feb 28, 2011

With Democrats condemning House Republicans for slashing funding for border security in their budget, the American Independent reports on two new policy briefs that argue that increased U.S. funding and personnel for enforcement of the border with Mexico are proving totally ineffective at actually securing the border.

The National Immigration Forum’s report observes that despite hyperbolic political rhetoric to the contrary, Border Patrol funding has been increasing dramatically since 2005, rising at an average of $300 million per year. Under the combined efforts of the Bush and Obama administrations, the Border Patrol now has over 21,000 personnel, twice the amount they had in 2000, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) providing an additional 3,000 agents at the border. The reallocation of National Guard troops to prevent the feared “spillover effects” from Mexican drug violence costs $300 million every year. This in spite of the fact that “crime rates were already down in the border region” before the National Guard was deployed, with border cities like El Paso, Texas and San Diego, Calif. boasting some of the lowest crime rates in the country. Absurdly, the Obama administration’s unprecedented campaign to deport as many law-abiding immigrants as possible is costing the taxpayer $23,000 per immigrant. Read more...

Published in the Campus Progress

Lawsuit on Visa Bulletin, Adjustment of Status

The class action lawsuit, which we prepared but ultimately did not have to file, argued that the government must comply with its own regulations and policies and accept the "green card" applications of tens of thousands of intending immigrants.

The Legal Action Center was poised to file a lawsuit on July 17, 2007 but because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) resolved the issues, we did not have to file the suit. The LAC prepared the class action lawsuit, which alleged that the federal government's refusal to accept tens of thousands of applications for green cards (and discouragement of thousands of other workers from even applying) violated federal statutes, regulations and policies, as well as the U.S. Constitution. The suit would have argued that the government must comply with its own regulations and policies and accept the adjustment of status ("green card") applications. AILF is pleased that the DHS and DOS allowed intending immigrants to file applications for adjustment of status until and including August 17, 2007. They also allowed these applicants to pay the fee amounts that were in effect before the increase on July 30th, 2007.

LAC Welcomes Government Reversal on Permanent Resident Applications ("Green Cards") (July 19, 2007)

The Legal Action Center is pleased that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) have announced they will comply with their own regulations and policies and accept the "green card" applications of tens of thousands of intending immigrants. A class action lawsuit scheduled to be filed by the LAC on July 17, 2007 on behalf of all affected intending immigrants argued that the government must do exactly that. See the LAC's complaint. The LAC is gratified that the government accepted our arguments and belatedly is doing what it should have done in the first place.Read more...

Anne Glassl Walks in Memphis

March, 2010

Anne Glassl came to the United States from Hamburg, Germany. She is training in Memphis, Tennessee in the field of product development. On a previous vacation to the U.S., Anne had the chance to visit Memphis. When the opportunity came to train in the Southern city, she had a good idea of what to expect, describing Memphis as “a very charming town.” Read more...

Enforcement remains biggest chunk of federal immigration spending

Published on Tue, Apr 26, 2011

The budget recently approved by Congress to keep the federal government running through the 2011 fiscal year includes a series of cuts to major federal immigration agencies that will impact immigrants and immigration programs over the next year.

According to the American Immigration Council:

The bar on spending for immigrant integration programs, present in the initial budget passed by the House (H.R. 1), was not present in the final 2011 budget (H.R. 1473) signed by the President. Immigrant integration funding is a great investment for the U.S.—the costs are minimal, and the benefits can be huge. If well-integrated, immigrants are entrepreneurs and innovators who can help revitalize communities.

The council adds that “the 2011 budget cuts U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by more than a third ($87.7 million) from 2010 funding, whereas the initial budget would have increased USCIS funding by $41.2 million.”

Citizenship and Immigration Services is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.

The Council also states that “immigration enforcement remains the biggest part of the budget, despite what restrictionists might have you think. The 2011 budget appropriates $8.2 billion for Customs and Border Protection salaries and expenses, $574.2 million for border fencing, infrastructure, and technology, and $5.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement salaries and expenses.”

Earlier this year, the National Immigration Forum and the Immigration Policy Center — the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council — released reports that state that as part of broad immigration reform, border security and enforcement spending has to be shifted to avoid the ineffective use of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Published in the Florida Independent

America's red-blue divide widens on illegal immigrants

Published on Tue, Jun 21, 2011

America's red and blue states are increasingly going in exactly opposite directions on the issue of illegal immigration – a testament to how difficult finding middle ground has become on the federal level.

Earlier this month, Alabama followed Georgia and, most famously, Arizona in passing sweeping anti-illegal-immigration legislation. In many respects, Alabama's is the most comprehensive bill of the three, forcing schools to report how much they're spending to educate kids of illegal immigrants, for example.

That same week, however, New York State followed the lead of Illinois and opted out of the federal Secure Communities program, which is designed to identify and deport illegal immigrants in US jails who are convicted of certain felonies. They have criticized the program as casting too broad a net, deporting even "busboys and nannies." Several days later, Massachusetts also opted out, and California could be next.

As Washington has punted on federal immigration reform, states have become the laboratories to test new approaches. The picture that is emerging, though, is one of a nation divided against itself on the issue.

In the broadest terms, states with a long history of assimilating foreign-born migrants are largely defending the ideal of the United States as a "nation of immigrants," legal or illegal. Meanwhile, states that have before been largely isolated from immigration patterns are now taking a "the law is the law" approach.

The result is a pattern that roughly fits the red-blue divide with the South and inner West opposed by the Northeast and West Coast. But the patchwork of immigration policy could have a silver lining: As states struggle with the issue, their efforts could provide starting points for more meaningful federal reform.Read more...

Published in the Christian Science Monitor

Court Rejects Application of “Aggravated Felony” Label to Some State Law Marijuana Distribution Convictions

Moncrieffe v. Holder, 569 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 1678 (2013)

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court held that a state conviction for a marijuana distribution is not a drug trafficking aggravated felony where the state statute upon which it was based covers social sharing of a small amount of marijuana. Thus, noncitizens facing deportation based upon such convictions are not barred from pursuing discretionary relief.

In an opinion written by Justice Sotomayor, the Court unequivocally affirmed the applicability of the categorical approach.  The Court explained that the Georgia drug offense at issue would only qualify as an aggravated felony if it necessarily prescribes felony punishment under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA treats distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration as misdemeanors.  See 21 USC §§ 841(a), (b)(4). As a result, a conviction under a state statute that encompasses such distribution offenses is not necessarily punishable as a felony under the CSA and thus is not an aggravated felony.  The Court rejected the government’s arguments that immigration courts should re-litigate criminal cases to determine whether convictions involved only a small amount of marijuana for no remuneration. 

Justices Thomas and Alito issued dissents.

Practice AdvisoryMoncrieffe v. Holder:  Implications for Drug Changes and Other Issues Involving the Categorical Approach (May 2, 2013)