Presidents Obama and Calderon Must Move Beyond Words
Released on Wed, May 19, 2010
Washington, D.C. - Judging from his remarks today with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, President Obama understands that the horrific violence which currently afflicts our southern neighbor is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted solution. President Obama reaffirmed his administration’s commitment “to stem the southbound flow of American guns and money” which fuel the lion’s share of Mexico’s violence, as well as to develop “new approaches to reducing the demand for drugs in our country.” The President also pledged to keep up law-enforcement pressure on the criminal gangs that “traffic in drugs, guns, and people.”
A notable aspect of the President’s remarks is that his discussion of violence in Mexico was separate and distinct from his discussion of comprehensive immigration reform and the need to create a pathway to legal status for unauthorized immigrants already living in the United States. The distinction reflects the fact that unauthorized immigrants are not the cause of the violence which plagues so many communities in Mexico. This distinction stands in marked contrast to the supporters of “get tough” anti-immigrant laws, such as Arizona’s SB 1070, who frequently cite scattered episodes of violence spilling over the border from Mexico as a justification for their legislation. But cracking down on unauthorized immigrants in the United States is not going to diminish violence in border communities because unauthorized immigrants aren’t the perpetrators, criminal cartels are.Read more...
Washington, D.C. - Today, a federal appellate court chastised the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for preventing noncitizens from reopening their cases from outside the United States. This important ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit repudiates the government's view that immigration judges and the BIA lack "jurisdiction" over such cases.
The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, which filed a joint amicus brief in the case, applaud the Sixth Circuit's ruling. The Legal Action Center and National Immigration Project have coordinated litigation on this issue nationwide and call on the BIA to abandon its misguided regulation barring review of motions filed by noncitizens outside the United States.
"The Sixth Circuit recognized that the regulation deprives noncitizens of their statutory right to present new evidence in their cases. The decision corrects the government's unlawful attempt to separate families and opens the door for them to return to the United States," said attorney Trina Realmuto of the National Immigration Project. Beth Werlin of the Legal Action Center said, "A motion may be a person's only chance to present his case to the immigration judge. The government should take immediate steps to withdraw this unfair and outdated regulation rather than proceed with continued, unnecessary and costly litigation."Read more...
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On June 17, 2011, John Morton, Director of ICE, issued two new memoranda encouraging the expanded use of prosecutorial discretion by ICE officers, agents, and attorneys in all phases of civil immigration enforcement. The first outlines in detail how ICE employees should approach a wide range of opportunities to apply prosecutorial discretion in line with ICE enforcement priorities; the second describes specific protections for certain crime victims, witnesses, and plaintiffs.
This practice advisory discusses these memoranda in detail. It also explains what prosecutorial discretion is, who has authority to exercise it, and how it is exercised most often in immigration cases. In addition, the advisory suggests ways that attorneys can advocate for the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion by DHS officers, whether from ICE, USCIS or CBP.
For a complete list of all LAC Practice Advisories, please visit our website.
Washington, D.C.- Today, an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected the government’s attempt to bar noncitizens from seeking to reopen their cases from outside the United States. This is the seventh appellate court to find the “departure bar”—a regulation barring noncitizens from pursuing their cases after departure or deportation—unlawful and is a step forward in protecting the right to a fair immigration hearing. The decision is particularly significant because the Tenth Circuit had been the only court at odds with the majority. The court had granted rehearing en banc to reconsider its prior decision.
Despite the overwhelming rejection of the departure bar, the government continues to defend the regulation and apply it to cases outside the circuits that have invalidated the bar. The American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center (LAC) and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG), which filed amicus briefs in the Tenth Circuit and argued before the court, renew their call for the agency to strike this unlawful regulation.
Just the other day, I had an email from a young woman, a former student, who is trying to do what she can to pursue a nursing degree. Committed to helping others, she is a regular volunteer at Hospice of the Valley.
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. Read more...