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U.S. Immigration Services Improves Access to Legal Counsel for Immigrants

Published on Sun, Jan 22, 2012

During its nine-year history, issues have arisen with respect to restrictions on counsel by the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration agencies. Tuesday, in response to calls from the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued immediate, comprehensive changes to their policies to ensure an appropriate role for attorneys in the immigration process.

Many non-citizens are forced to navigate the immigration process without representation because they cannot afford an attorney.  But even persons who can afford one, or are represented by a pro bono attorney, have at times faced severe restrictions on their representation.  This is particularly troublesome given the significant power USCIS officers wield.  For example, they decide whether a non-citizen is entitled to stay in the U.S. or not.  The assistance of an attorney well versed in the complexities of immigration law can help safeguard the rights of these non-citizens and ensure just outcomes.  

By revising its guidance, USCIS has responded to some of the most serious access concerns.  For example, the new guidance provides that an attorney generally may sit next to his or her client during an interview, may be permitted to submit relevant documents to the USCIS officer, and may raise objections to inappropriate lines of questioning. 

The American Immigration Council looks forward to commenting on the new guidance and working with the agency to make sure it is followed.  The other immigration agencies – Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – should take note of USCIS’s commitment to improving access to counsel and take similar steps to recognize the meaningful role that attorneys play in protecting noncitizens’ rights. 

Published in the Hispanically Speaking News

2007 Creative Writing Contest Winner

"Immigration To Our Great Nation"

 By Ben Groselak

 SS. Cyril & Methodius Parish and School

 Lemont, Illinois

 

A lot of people from far and wide,

come to America with nothing to hide.

A new life to start…

an American citizen…a dream in their heart.

 

Imagine the strife of traveling so far,

aboard a boat, a train or even a car.

Leaving your homeland, what a decision…

to come to a strange country of mixed composition.

 

Immigration has made a great nation…

new ideas, languages, cultures and creations.

All our lives have been touched by the blending,

the music, the foods, the inventions…by immigrants ascending.

 

What do they hope for? Why do they come?

They come for religious choice, to join their family…

they come to have a voice.

Most of all, however, they come for freedom.

 

How lucky am I to live in this land that is free!

How fortunate am I to know that I don’t have to leave!

I am blessed to be here…and I am extremely proud to say…

 

“America is just where I plan to stay!”

 

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Win Politically

Published on Wed, Apr 11, 2012

President Obama’s inability to pass much-needed comprehensive immigration reform could cost him the 2012 election.

Though recent news of a rebounding economy, coupled with Republican Party infighting suggest otherwise, the Hispanic vote is neither uniform nor clearly aligned with the Democratic Party. If Hispanics fail to support the president in four key swing states — Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado — the election could go to the likely Republican candidate, former Gov. Mitt Romney.

Time magazine kicked off the topic of Hispanic electoral power with their March 5 cover story “Yo Decido.” The author noted demographic trends that favor Hispanic predominance in certain places in the nation, and last week, it was widely reported in the U.S. media that about one in six Americans are Hispanic. Additionally, one in six workers in the U.S. are Hispanic and of legal status.

While the Republicans may have learned from earlier egregious mistakes, like former candidate Herman Cain’s jocular comment about electrifying the fence between the U.S. and Mexico, they seem to have a collective tin ear when it comes to Hispanic culture, issues, voting patterns and history. They don’t understand the importance of Hispanics among us, and, surprisingly, they don’t seem to really care.

Romney is hardly progressive or nuanced when it comes to Hispanic issues; he opposes the critically important DREAM Act, which would allow people who arrived in the U.S. as children to earn an education in America beyond high school. Common sense suggests we support a policy whereby our nation, struggling to compete in an increasingly technical, global environment, supports the education of young people who want to contribute to the social and economic development of the U.S.Read more...

Published in the Tennessean

Quick Tips

Arizona Immigration Law Critics Split On Court Ruling

Published on Mon, Jun 25, 2012

American Immigration Council director Ben Johnson was quoted in an article discussing reactions to the SB 1070 ruling:

Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said it "makes clear that the federal government — and only the federal government — has the power and authority to set the nation's immigration policies."

IPC staff lawyer Ben Winograd was also quoted in the article:

"The fact that Kennedy wrote the majority opinion is itself kind of a firewall," said Ben Winograd, an attorney with the American Immigration Council. Kennedy is widely recognized as the court's key swing vote.

Published in the Investor's Business Daily

Entrepreneurship and Economic Policy Fellowship

The Immigration Policy Center, (IPC) a division of the American Immigration Council is seeking applications for a two-year fellowship that will focus on the intersection of immigration, entrepreneurship, innovation and economic policy.

This fellowship will initially focus on two key challenges that face America in its development of a 21st century immigration policy:

  1. The importance of devising policies that permit American companies to competitively recruit and retain the best and brightest from around the world, and
  2. The growing importance of immigrant entrepreneurship in reviving economies and rebuilding communities throughout America.

In keeping with the IPC philosophy of active engagement in the immigration policy debate, the fellow would be expected to conduct original research, as well as build a network of academics and business people who can provide actual examples of immigrant innovation, growth, and entrepreneurship that make the contributions of immigrants real to the public. In addition to independent research products, the fellow will produce fact sheets, blog posts, and other materials that provide our target audiences with the tools they need to engage in a well-informed and rational discussion of immigration policy.Read more...

AIC Executive Director Ben Johnson in ABC-Univision Report

Published on Mon, Jan 14, 2013

AIC's Executive Director, Ben Johnson, was quoted in this recent ABC-Univision article:

"Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will remain at her post during President Obama's second term, a development that could have implications for the debate over immigration reform.

Officials from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed to ABC/Univision on Monday that Napolitano will stay in her current job...

'I think with Secretary Napolitano as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, it certainly is very hard to argue that the Obama administration isn't serious about enforcement. She has been very aggressive in enforcing the law,' said Benjamin Johnson, the executive director of the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C. 'She's bringing a lot of credibility and a lot of experience in making the case that we've done enforcement, and it's time to start thinking about other areas of immigration policy that have to be changed.'"

Read more here.

Published in the ABC News-Univision

Flora Singer

Retired Teacher and

Scholar of the Montgomery County Public Schools

Ms. Flora Singer was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1930 and came to the United States at the age of 16. Hers is a compelling story of her own courage and the courage of others who assisted her in evading Hitler's deadly plan for the Jews of Europe during World War II. Ms. Singer and her siblings were separated in Belgium shortly after the beginning of the war. Her father escaped to the U.S. and served in the U.S. Army. Ms. Singer and her two sisters were protected from annihilation in the concentration camps by a Benedictine monk, Father Bruno Reynders. He hid Ms. Singer and her sisters and placed them in convents where they were looked after for two years before they came to the United States with their mother to be finally reunited with their father.

Ms. Singer began her life in the United States in New York City. While living in cramped conditions and sharing one bathroom with four other families in the apartment building, she learned to read and write in English on her own at the public library. She supplemented the family income by sewing in a workshop at first, but then began to study stenography and obtained employment as a secretary and did translations. It was not until the age of 27 that she decided to resume her formal education and received her G.E.D. at Temple University in Philadelphia.

After marrying Jack Singer and having two children, Ms. Singer decided to return to school and earn her college degree. She attended the University of Maryland, College Park and received a Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude, in French and a Master of Arts degree, also in French. She was invited to complete the Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland as well as at Catholic University but did not accept either offer.Read more...

Washington Post Cites IPC in King Fact Check

Published on Mon, Jul 29, 2013

The Washington Post's blog, The Fact Checker, recently cited the IPC in an article rating the factuality of recent statements from Congressman Steve King.  The article, which gave King "Four Pinocchios," said:

"In fact, King’s fact says much less than he thinks it does. Estimates suggest that there might be about 2 million people who could eventually be eligible under the DREAM Act, almost evenly split between men and women. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that 1,000 (1/20th of one percent) are valedictorians. That would mean King assumes 100,000–or one-tenth of all “DREAMers” or about 20 percent of the men—are drug smugglers.

But the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigration group, cites a 2007 study that found that “for every ethnic group, without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds especially true for the Mexicans, Salvadorians and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population.”"

Published in the Washington Post

James C. Ho

James C. Ho is currently Solicitor General for the state of Texas. Previously he worked at the Dallas office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He has previously served as chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on the Constitution and Immigration under the chairmanship of Senator John Cornyn (R‐TX) and as a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.